Why People Love False Prophets
A Biblical Pattern Explained
A major theme in the Bible that is too often ignored are the patterns that exist. The pattern is simple really and varies only ever so slightly, but the general theme is all too obvious to be ignored. Let’s take a look.
Man and God are close companions.
Man is warned not to sin.
Man is tempted to sin.
Man is warned to repent by sent prophets.
Man fails to repent after false prophet soothes them with lies of peace.
Man is punished for his sin.
Man is exiled.
Man is told of a plan of redemption by prophet (now they listen).
Man is redeemed by a sacrifice made on his behalf.
Man is forgiven because of the sacrifice.
Man and God are once again close companions.
Cycle begins again.
During this pattern, God shows His faithfulness to man by sending a messenger to warn man to repent of his sin. I often hear comments from Christians with a jovial snigger at how ridiculous it is that God’s people did not heed the warnings from the prophets. It’s so obvious when it’s written in ink, right? It’s very easy to see why God was upset at the idolatry, sexual immorality and general moral decline in the people. It’s easy to see how far they had fallen. We laugh and say we would never fall for that!
Did you know that God says the opposite? Did you know that God warns that we the church will do exactly the same thing as the people of old, even though His warnings are written in ink?
Jesus lamented over the heart-breaking reality that God’s people refused to take heed to His warnings.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!"
Jesus is saying here that if only you would have listened to God’s anointed, that He could have gathered His people together already, but man was not willing. However we also know that God used this to show mercy to the Gentiles so that salvation could reach the ends of the earth.
One such example is found here, in Jeremiah 6:13-19
‘For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the Lord. Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’ Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what will happen to them. Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it.'
Any person in their right mind would repent after hearing such a warning, wouldn’t they? Let's read Isaiah and see how people often respond to a prophet's warnings.
‘For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
“Do not preach”—thus they preach— “one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.”
The prophets were seen as to be speaking negative words over a ‘holy people’, though they were only holy in their own eyes and refused to hear the warning from the prophets that God’s wrath was abiding on them. They were a stiff-necked, rebellious people – anything but holy.
One truth that remains from the Old Testament through to the New is that those who occupy God’s house are eager to mock God’s true prophets and vigorously defend their false prophets who prophesy only good things, which their ears are eager to hear.
Will they arise within the church? Yes. Jesus warned the church that false prophets would arise within the church.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Why are they dressed in sheep’s clothing? They will look like a Christian and they will be impossible to detect with the natural senses (eyes), but only with spiritual eyes – discernment.
Will they preach about Jesus? Yes!
1 Corinthians 11:4
‘For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.’
They preach a different Jesus and a different gospel. This gospel will be cleverly preached in a way to make it appear to be the truth, but they tell subtle lies using the name of Jesus, luring people into walking down the wide road that leads to destruction because they believe they are walking with Jesus. Jesus is not found on the wide road, but is only found on the narrow road.
Paul warns the church that they receive a false gospel and a different Jesus way too easily. In fact, they came into the church almost as soon as it began.
2 Peter 2:1
‘But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.’
When we deny the truth, but rather entertain destructive heresies, we deny the Master, Jesus, because He is the truth (John 14:6).
The Bible warns of how easy it was for God’s people to establish their own way rather following God’s way. But did they know that they had strayed so far from the truth?
And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!"
False prophets are deceived themselves (Jeremiah 23:26) which is why they are so convincing. The Bible warns that the church will no longer want to hear the truth but would prefer to hear lies.
2 Timothy 4:3
‘For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.’
What passions are these? Well, everything that your heart could desire. Everything that you could possibly ever want and even hold above God. This might be career, money, houses, cars, family, friendships, hobbies/interests, vanity and basically everything that one could seek after.
False prophets preach about the very things they love themselves and set out to convince you that these things are harmless and even godly. These things are far from harmless if they become idols. The sad thing is, most people deceive themselves into believing that they do not idolise these things, yet their fruit testifies against them.
‘For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.'
2 Peter 2:3
‘And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.’
The Bible even warns of a false grace that would slip into the church.
‘For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.’
What is sensuality? Those who live by the senses. Our senses are sight, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling. Basically, whatever our eyes see and lust after, whatever makes our flesh feel good, these people will be deceived into thinking that living by their own desires will even be a godly act. Today, people also desire to be admired for their achievements and success, in effect, even seeking to become an idol themselves. We see this is rampant throughout the church with a focus on wanting to become the next big preacher, evangelist or lead singer just to name a few.
We are in an age where professing Christians are even living in sexual immorality and they believe that God will wink at this. They care little about the Bible as being the final authority on all matters of life and they live by the traditions of men. One thing to note about the traditions of men is that men keep on changing these traditions. The slippery slope of moral decline has no end. We are in an age where people are happy to listen to a preacher approve of sin that the Bible directly condemns, and because this generation has become so biblically illiterate and so deaf to wanting to hear the truth, they neither read their Bible or heed the prophet’s warnings. They are so adamant that their favourite preacher is right, that when their preacher is challenged, they tell God’s prophet to prophesy not, just as the pattern predicts. The question is, will you fall victim to this pattern, or will you travel down the narrow path? (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
Here’s one of many sober warnings about the false prophets mentioned in the New Testament.
2 Peter 2:1-22 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
God’s pattern has not altered. Right now, God has raised up His prophets to warn the people within the church to repent of their wicked ways and take up their cross and follow Jesus.
Do you heed to the authority of the Word, or do you despise even God’s authority?
When Jesus gave the revelation (last book in the Bible) to John, He called 5 out of 7 of those churches to repentance for various reasons. That’s a whopping 71% of the churches that were called to repentance, with severe warnings of disastrous consequences if they didn’t.
This is a lesson for us all not to become proud and arrogant. If the church had fallen this badly after only a few decades, then how far do you think the church could have fallen after 2000 years?
Not everyone that calls Jesus Lord will enter the Kingdom.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
Are we doing the will of the Father, or are we doing the will of ourselves and others?
How can we be sure that we are in the faith?
2 Corinthians 13:5
‘Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!’
Repentance means truly living for Christ. Being sold out to the Jesus of the Bible and doing what He said.
‘Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’
If we profess to love Jesus, this message says that we will keep His Word.
Today, we have a different Jesus and a different gospel being glorified within our churches. It’s the gospel of self-gratification and is far from godly. God describes the latter Christian church in a very unflattering way.
2 Timothy 3:2-5
‘For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.’
If you have backslidden from Jesus and feel that the Holy Spirit has been speaking to you through this message, listen to Him who loves you and commit to Jesus with all that you have.
Are you going to fall victim of the same cycles of God’s people of old? This is the last cycle. There is no redemption after Jesus or apart from Jesus. He is the only way!
Here’s something the false prophet will not tell you—this Scripture is found in the New Testament and addresses those who have received the knowledge of truth but remain in sin.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
— By Judah Ayling