There are a lot of advantages to the easy access we have these days to all sorts of preaching, ministries and teaching material on the internet. The verb ‘to google’ is in everyday vocabulary and if we want to know something about the bible we just type our question into Google (or search engine of choice) and hit the enter key.
That’s where the trouble starts!
The internet is littered with people who will have all sorts of opinions on every subject under the sun. As you can imagine, many of these would come under the category of ‘false prophet’. We have to be very careful.
I don’t believe that we are just talking about ‘prophecy’ specifically, but anyone who would try to change or manipulate the word of God.
False prophets, of course, are not a modern invention that didn’t appear before the World Wide Web. They have been around from the beginning and will always appear when truth is being proclaimed and people are serious about spreading God’s word. The bible has many warnings (Old & New Testaments) about people who would seek to deceive God’s people.
For the rest of this blog I just want to help you understand what a false prophet is and how to avoid them. Next week we will look at the ‘fruit’ they produce.
· False prophets will often say what you want to hear
For the time is coming when people will not endure soundteaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
They will play upon people’s fears or pander to their greed. They are certainly not interested in the narrow way we talked about last week. Their teaching is directed squarely at the broad, comfortable way.
· False prophets are not always easy to spot. This passage describes them as a “Wolf in Sheep’s clothing” They look like cuddly Sheep! The infamous false prophets and cult leaders such as; Jim Jones, David Koresh etc are easy to spot. It is the subtle ones that can be the most dangerous. We will discuss the ‘fruit’ they produce next week, which helps make them easier to detect.
· They can often wrap their lies in a veneer of truth. I heard it described as ‘lying meat wrapped up in a skin of truth. The hardest ones to spot are the ones with a fair amount of truth mixed in. It can all sound very spiritual.
· This all suggests that the more we understand the truth, the more we search the scriptures like the Bereans did (Acts 17:11), the more we examine the word of God, the better equipped we will be to uncover the counterfeit.
· Sometimes good people get things wrong and false prophets now and again get things right. All the more reason to judge in a humble and gracious way as we looked at a few weeks ago http://adrianpursglove.com/judged-by-your-own-standards/
· Jesus said “beware” or “be on your guard”. We should expect false prophets to move among us, because the devil hates the truth and if that is what is being preached he will send his agents to try and distort it so that it becomes ineffective.
· If someone is on the internet, it is very difficult to see what they are really like. We can’t see how they behave to their wife, when the cameras are off them, or how they deal with other people. God gave the local church as the expression of His body on earth. Our Church leaders should be the main ones providing us with spiritual nourishment. We can see much closer into their lives and examine the fruit.
Next week I will talk some more about the sort of fruit that false prophets will exhibit.