And the Lord said to me: "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. - Jeremiah 14: 14 (ESV)
I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, 'I have dreamed, I have dreamed!'How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. - Jeremiah 23: 25-28 (ESV)
It is always amazing to me to read portions of the Biblical narrative and see the parallels from ages long since passed to the current age. To truly grasp what was meant in Ecclesiastes when we learn that there is nothing new under the sun. Sometimes we tend to think what we are going through is somehow new or special but the truth is God has seen it a hundred times before. As humans we will always be creatures of habit. Even when it comes to sin or misrepresenting the Lord, the Bible is given to us as instruction, that we might learn. So let us reason together today on the subject of false prophets. It is a plague that is rampant in the church today. People line up and pay silly money to hear someone lie to them in the name of God. Yet this phenomenon is hardly new. The two verse sets as today's key verses remind us that there were false prophets in the days of Jeremiah, who was a true prophet of the Lord. What the Lord spoke against these false prophets almost 2700 years ago He still speaks against the charlatans of today. What can we learn from the past before we come to the present?
First of all, the false prophets speak lies. Now that may seem obvious but not so fast. The assertion made by today's false prophets is that as they hone their "gift" they might "miss one" here or there. Miss one meaning that they prophesy incorrectly. Despite the fact that the Bible called for the stoning of such a person, the brash deceivers of today actually brag that a 65% correct prophecy rate is pretty good. This is what false prophets Chuck Pierce and Dutch Sheets for example believe. So they claim to receive direct words from God but are wrong up to 35% of the time. The sad thing is the people buy into this nonsense. Beloved, if someone utters a "prophesy" that does not come to pass the first thing we must realize is that they are lying. Maybe not consciously. Maybe they cannot even realize they are being lied to by the father of lies, Satan. It matters not. The Bible says that in these last days many will flat out reject the truth to chase after lies.
The second lesson here is that they will have no shame in using the Lord for filthy gain. They prophesy directly in the name of God, showing utter contempt for Him. Showing they have no fear of the Lord whatsoever. They will say God sent them when He most certainly did not. Oh how long shall there be lies in the hearts of lying prophets? Until Jesus comes back beloved. Until then it is our job as Christians to discern:
to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. - 1Corinthians 12: 10 (ESV)
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. - 1John 4: 1 (ESV)
The verse from Corinthians teaches us that actual discernment is not about little hairs on the back of our necks or goose-bumpy feelings. It is not about intuition either. It is about distinguishing between spirits. The admonition in 1John confirms this. While we live in the physical world we are surrounded by the spirit realm. There is the Holy Spirit of God and then there are spirits that are of this world. Evil spirits and principalities that serve their master, Satan. It is crucial for believers to be able to discern the difference so they can tell the truth from a lie.
The third element for us to learn today is that the false prophet will often try to couch their falseness in divine revelation. This is a trick that many false teachers use today as well. The sermons or prophecies start with, "the Lord told me." In the Jeremiah 23 verse we see the false prophet exclaiming "I have dreamed!" This is the preferred method of fooling people because no one can question the authenticity. Only the dreamer has access to the dream. We can speculate that they did not actually have a dream but we have no proof. As God explains to us in the key verses however, it is all from the deceit living in their hearts. By these dreams they actually lead people away from God. Do not think for a moment that this is not a big deal. I have watched well versed people completely turn over to deception because they could discern between spirits. The danger is very real. Untold numbers of people will stand on the last day still under full deception and learn that they never even knew God, let alone served Him.
The final lesson from the key verses is the most important and that is to never forget that the Word of God is the key. It is the key to discernment. It is the key to testing prophecy. It is the key to distinguishing between spirits. Look at what the Lord says through Jeremiah here - if all you have is a dream go ahead and tell it but if you have my Word - speak it faithfully! This is even more true today now that we have the final counsel of God in the Bible. The final revealed will of the Lord. I love when someone says the Lord gave them a word for me. My answer is always, did He forget something in His Word? What passes for "prophesy" today is really nothing more than clairvoyance and psychic parlor tricks. We have all heard the hucksters pronounce over an entire stadium some silly prophesy or another. I remember one said that it was going to be their year of supernatural increase and my first thought was; all of them? No one was going to be in a valley experience? No one was going to be tested? How utterly ridiculous. Any prophecy that is not directly related to the Word of God is nothing more than the work of man's flesh. Do not let someone trafficking in the demonic lay their hands upon you beloved. Go back and read the real prophesies contained in Scripture. Who were they all about? God! Who are the false prophesies all about today? You. That is a good starting point for our discernment. A true prophet speaks for God, from His Word and it is only for His glory. A false prophet claims irrefutable divine revelation that cannot be proven, speaks contrary to the Word of God and it is always for our glory. We must be wise and discern the difference to avoid being made merchandise of.
Because that is ultimately what we see going on today. Prophecy has become big business. It is a vehicle to make money by using God to fool the gullible. The examples are many. People selling "impartations" through "ministry gifts" or "love offerings." I wrote once about how Paula White was asking for "donations" of $229 based on 1Chronicles 22:9. You just cannot make some of this goofy stuff up. Yet Christians continue to fall for it, time after time. Today's absurd example comes to us from the ministry of a false prophet know as Wayne Sutton, who will provide you with a personal prophetic word via email for only $37.
That's right, for only $37 you can get your own personal false prophecy in your inbox! Wayne is a daring huckster though because he claims your personal prophecy may include but not be limited to words of knowledge, words of wisdom, personal guidance and instruction, and possibly even prophetic words, exercises or assignments! Let's see if Wayne Sutton passes the tests from the lessons learned in Jeremiah. Number one, is he speaking lies? Most certainly! The notion that he can receive a prophetic word for anyone who randomly sends him $37 is biblically absurd. Who is in charge in that scenario? God or Wayne Sutton? How is he able to claim random usage of the gifts of the Spirit such as words of knowledge and wisdom in advance when the Bible teaches us it is the Spirit who distributes those gifts as He wills? Prophetic assignments? What does that even mean?
What about number two? Absolutely we see that Wayne Sutton has no shame in using the Lord for filthy gain. Not content with the $37 dollar option, Sutton offers a direct one on one phone prophecy session as well for only $127! That's right. If you are willing to play the harlot, Wayne Sutton is willing to play Balaam. The third lesson is also seen in that Wayne claims his messages will be "anointed" clearly inferring direct revelation from God Himself. Just the way he brags about being able to control the gifts of the Spirit alone should give us pause to realize the depth of the deception we are dealing with. Lastly, the Word of God can easily cut through this nonsense if we are willing to listen to God instead of our flesh. The Bible expressly warns us about the Wayne Suttons of the world and not just in our key verses. Just look at our foundational test for discernment. Are these revelations going to be for God's glory or yours? The answer is found right in the sales pitch:
"Are you ready for an anointed prophetic word of counsel for your life? Do you need prophetic guidance for your situation today? We now offer personal prophetic ministry, a personal anointed prophetic counseling session, specifically for you, by e-mail."