Robert Wurtz II
And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ ” Thus says the Lord GOD: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! (Ezekiel 13:1–3 NKJV)
The most dangerous person in any full gospel setting, is a person who at one and the same time believes they have “the gift of prophecy”, but does not truly fear the Lord. What makes them dangerous is that they do not hesitate to speak for God. It’s as casual a matter as if they were speaking of any subject. Nevertheless, ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ ” Thus says the Lord GOD: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!
Since the dawning of the Charismatic movement, we have watched a wholesale shift towards the use of so-called “prophetic utterance gifts.” In fact, whole ministries have sprung up headed by people who do not hesitate to say, “Thus says the Lord.” Sadly, many of these people could not pass a lie-detector test, much less have a standard of truth worthy of speaking for God. Typically, these words are vague statements of encouragement that often promise the person the moon. They generally appeal to the flesh or some other self-pleasing and self-serving thing. I wish I could count the number of prophesies I have heard where people were told in effect that God is going to make them famous. When the prophesies turn out to be false, usually the person who gave it is nowhere to be found. This is profoundly different than when Paul received a word in the book of Acts. What did a prophecy sound like in Paul’s ears? Ask yourself how many so-called “words” that you have heard actually prepared a person for calamity? This is the word Paul received everywhere he went:
“The Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me” (Acts 20:23 NKJV)
I recall as a young Christian a certain man came to a meeting loaded with “Thus saith the Lord’s.” After giving a round of words to various people in the meeting, he came upon a woman who had been praying earnestly and daily for her husband who was a hard worker trying to make a living for the family. The so-called prophet gave her a word that she needed to pray for her husband. This caused so much confusion that the young man had to be confronted. His response? “I’m sorry, I’m new at this.”
Not all people will admit that they have misued prophecy, intentionally or otherwise. In fact, one of the greatest consequences of false prophecy, or a false “word,” is that the individuals almost inevitably feel compelled to stand by the word they gave — even against all odds. This is why the saints, and more specifically the Elders, were to judge (discern) whether or not a prophecy was of the Spirit of God. This is part of the “check and balance” system that God designed specifically to protect the sheep. When “personal words of prophecy” are given, this is all but impossible, and that is why abuses take place. Any prophecy or prophet that seeks to operate independent of the discernment of the Saints, and is unwilling to submit to the Elder leadership of the church, is in error and should be rejected.
I am not saying that if a person gives a false word they are going to Hell or ought to be stoned; nevertheless, God-fearing Christians will often say that in the Old Testament, if a “word” or “prophecy” went forward that was false, a funeral was held. In fact, The penalty for false prophecy, was capital punishment according to Deuteronomy 18:20. This is God’s estimate of the behavior. How ought men and women tremble before ever pronouncing the words, “Thus says the Lord”?
But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, “How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:20–22 NKJV)
The Didache had some simple tests to identify a false prophet (if he stays more than two days or asks for money, 11.5–6). It is “from his behavior, then, [that] the false prophet and the true prophet shall be known” (Didache 11.8, quoted in NIBC) In other words, prophecy was not to be prostituted into a money making scheme. It is marvelous how society would put a politician or judge in jail for receiving bribes, but false prophets solicit their wares all over the world unthwarted. Money corrupts judgement. (1 Samuel 8:3) In fact, if a so-called prophet gives a “personal prophecy” to someone who pays their salary or contributes significantly and knowingly in their offerings, it is a conflict of interest. That is common sense.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught about the marks of a false prophet and the consequences of being one (Matthew 7:15-23 ). He also cautioned His followers to beware of false prophets who would arise during times of tribulation and in the end times (Matthew 24:11, Matthew 24:11, 24:24; Mark 13:22 ). He said to be careful when the world loves a prophet’s words, because a prophet who is false is apt to be popular (Luke 6:26 ). (Holman) Imagine a person trying to operate in the gifts, but they are as unloving and unchristlike as can be. Not all false prophecies are from the false prophets own heart; some are CLAIRVOYANT. How will we know who is true or false? Check for the fruit of the Spirit. It’s hard to cover up a bad spirit for long periods of time. Jesus said it plainly:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:15–18 NKJV)
I wish to complete this entry by focusing on our Lord’s description of false prophets as ravenous wolves. A ravenous wolf in nature, is one that devours great quantities of food. We have this passage in Genesis 49:27, “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.” The tribe was said to have a warlike spirit. You will recall that Saul of Tarsus (Paul) was from the tribe of Benjamin. He described his life prior to salvation this way, “For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and laid waste to it.” (Galatians 1:13 NKJV) Paul, before he was born again, was a ravenous wolf hunting down and persecuting the saints. He was a destroyer of Christians who tried with all his might to compel them to renounce Christ. This is what a Ravenous Wolf does; it naturally destroys the faith of the sheep.
The ravenous wolf (false prophet) comes in sheep’s clothing. It pretends to be harmless and Christian outwardly. It befriends the other sheep. It can put on a show with the best of them. It behaves in such a way that it can blend in with the sheep; however, it is all “put on.” The Christian behaviors are a pretense. A sheep is not what they really are. Their love is feigned. In fact, they are devoid of the fruit of the Spirit and then pretend to be anointed of God. In private they have a devouring spirit. Wolves don’t love the sheep; they love to eat the sheep and the sheeps resources.
The word ravenous also carries the meaning rapacious. This word means aggressively greedy or grasping: like a rapacious landlord. Webster dictionary has it in the sentence, “Poor Tom has fallen for a rapacious gold digger.” A.T. Robertson defines the word as being “greedy for power, gain, and self. It is a tragedy that such men and women reappear through the ages and always find victims. Wolves are more dangerous than dogs.” Again, false prophets are ravenous and will destroy the sheep (saints).
In this evil generation professing Christians in full Gospel circles are know to tell others things the Lord has revealed to them or some specific direction for them. False words of this type take place with a chronic regularity. What are the consequences? It destroys peoples’ faith in Christ. I have known of so-called Christians to give “words” to people that were maliciously wrong, and it stumbled the person. If you have worked in pastoral ministry in Full Gospel circles you have likely come across this devilish treachery.
Not all words that are given to folks are “positive.” Some so-called prophetic words are given to people out of sheer envy and meanness. These false prophets hear something about a person and then have the gall to say “the Lord revealed it to me.” People are told that they are doing things they are not doing –stumbling their faith and destroying their belief in Spiritual gifts. “Women on women” false prophecy abuse is a terrible problem in some Charismatic and Pentecostal circles.
Jealousy and prophecy are a devilish mix. Words are given to control and hurt people. It is witchcraft. The false prophets are generally so deceived, that you cannot tell them that they are wrong. They are so deceived that they believe themselves above correction. They will stiffen up as if the person hearing is the liar. Nevertheless, if you are given a false word from somebody, mark that person. They are quite probably a wolf in sheep clothing. At the very least they are destructive to the kingdom of God. If they miss your prophecy, how many more have they missed? How many people have they stumbled? These are very serious issues. This is why Jesus warned us. It is more than mere putting words in God’s mouth; it is userping HIS authority in a person’s life. What could be more diabolical than to assume the authority of God when saying something to a person when God has not spoken?
Moreover, many, if not most people are afraid to confront a false prophet because of the devilish out-of-context “touch not the Lord’s anointed” teachings that prevail in this evil generation. Show me a person who emphasizes that teaching and I’ll show you a false prophet.
Moreover, never excuse a false prophecy as just a mistake. The Holy Spirit does not inspire people to do things contrary to the scriptures. The old-timers used to say, “the Spirit and the Word agree.” When Moses said, “Thus saith the Lord” over a million people took a step forward. Professed Christians would not be quick to prophesy “thus saith the Lord” if they knew the enormity of it. God is going to judge every word that has been spoken in His name. If you or I ever say, “Thus saith the Lord” it had better and I mean better be the Lord. God will not suffer fools gladly. He is going to hold the false prophets accountable.
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! (Ezekiel 13:3)