DEUTERONOMY 13:1-4: “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. (ESV)
OBSERVATION: Beware of False Prophets! This warning has never been more true than today. There are many who will quickly check their discernment at the door for the next exciting manifestation of power. Yet, are “power” and “results” the ultimate test of truth? If someone gathers a large following, writes a great number of books, or builds great monuments in the name of the Lord, does this validate their ministry? Does this identify them as a true prophet of God?
Throughout Moses’ writings to the Children of Israel he warns them not to follow the gods and practices of the nations they are called to conquer. When we read this we take false comfort in the fact that we do not worship carved images made of wood, stone, or metal. However, when one takes a closer look they will see the true idol of our American culture. What is that idol? It is “Success”. When someone is successful, rich, or climbs to the “top of the pack”, we venerate and worship them. We do this for movie stars, singers, sports figures, and yes – even preachers and religious leaders. If they are successful they must be right – right?
WRONG! These verses in Deuteronomy, and the teaching of Jesus remind us that “results” are never the test for authenticity. The Lord may allow someone to be successful or perform great signs and wonders, but this does not mean they are proclaiming the truth. What is the final test to know if someone is a true or false prophet? There is only one test. THAT TEST IS THE TRUTH ITSELF! If the leader or teacher does not follow the clear and undeniable Written Word of God – they are a false prophet. It does not matter what they do, it does not matter how many books they write, it does not matter how successful they may appear – if they do not follow the Word of God in its’ fullness and entirety – they are a false prophet!
These may seem to be harsh and judgmental words. They are not. They are true and hear-felt warnings. I see so many running after the wind today without any discernment, and without consulting the Scriptures. It grieves my heart, and it grieves the heart of God. We must understand that the Lord allows this to happen to test our hearts. “For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:3-4). The test is to see if we will live by His commandments, or if we will follow after the desires of our own heart.
The warnings of Jesus confirm this – “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold…For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.” (Matthew 24:11-12, 24-25 ESV)
Lord, in these days of deception, give us discernment and understanding through Your Word. May we not simply believe every spirit, but may we test the spirits by Your Word and cling to only that which abides by Your Truth. Forgive us for worshipping at the altar of success and for raising up gods for ourselves to follow. Open our eyes to see You, the only true God, and seeing, to follow. In Jesus Name!