Grace and peace be unto you.
Do you know how to recognize false prophets and teachers? The Bible teaches that in the last days, false teachers and prophets will pretend to be disciples of Christ, and lead many people astray (Matthew 24:11). Hence, Christians should be on the alert so they are not deceived. The Bible further mentioned that Satan masquerades as an angel of light, likewise, his servants pretend to be servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
These are the most common characteristics of false teachers and prophets.
1. They have many embellished stories of visions, angelic visitations, or prophetic anointing. The purpose of the stories is to impress their listeners and gain their confidence as the “Voice of God.” In that respected position, false prophets and teachers are better able to manipulate their followers once they have earned their trust.
The Bible teaches that Christ’s disciples should rely on the Holy Spirit to guide their message and delivery, so that people are influenced to worship God and not them, “And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:4).
2. They claim to have supernatural powers from God but their powers are from Satan (Exodus 7:12). Sometimes they have no powers, for example, some false prophets reported that they had healed people but investigation showed that the people were not healed.
3. Their prophecies are not fulfilled (Deuteronomy 18:22), or their doctrine deviate from accurate Biblical teachings (2 Peter 2:1). For example, some prophets prophesied that the world would have ended in 2000, and it is still in existence, while some false teachers teach that people can pay money (sow a seed) and receive healing.
Nonetheless, the Bible teaches that only God knows when the world will end, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). In regards to healing, the Bible teaches that it is free, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
4. Some false prophets claim to be God, Christ, or Elijah the prophet. Scripture says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5), “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god” (Isaiah 44:6). God also said he will not give his glory to another (Isaiah 42:8).
5. Their integrity is questionable. They love money, possessions, or sex. Hence, they engage in unethical or illegal activities to fulfill their unhealthy desires. For example, some of them participate in extra-marital affairs while others fleece their flock. On the contrary, the Bible teaches self-control and being satisfied with God’s blessings.
“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5).
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1 John 2:15).
“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
6. They are deceitful, manipulative, and calculating. At the beginning of their ministry, they talk about God’s goodness and encourage their listeners to obey him, while hiding their evil plans and true nature. However, as soon as they have an adequate number of loyal followers, they slowly reveal their agenda and evil nature. By that time, their loyal followers are willing to obey all instructions, no matter the cost. Sadly, most times, they use their followers to carry out their evil deeds while they watch or wait for the report. The apostle Paul wrote, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Scripture further says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15).