Monday, January 15, 2018

Beware of False Prophets, Wrong Counsel, Emulations




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 thorn bushes or figs from thistles?  Matthew 7:15-16





It is just as important to know who to follow as it is to know who not to follow.

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jude 1:4

False Prophets

The Bible records the accounts of many prophets of God. It reveals that God sets leaders in the church known as prophets, and explains the spiritual gift of the Holy Spirit known as prophecy:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, Ephesians 4:11

. . . to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  I Corinthians 12:10

To "prophesy" is to speak under the special inspiration of God. It is a special ability to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to His people through a divinely-anointed utterance. The words spoken by a prophet under divine inspiration are called prophecies. To prophesy means to declare openly words from God that exhort, edify, and comfort:

But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification and exhortation, and comfort. (I Corinthians 14:3)

Prophecy never replaces the written Word of God

The Bible says prophecy will cease, but the Word of God abides forever.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  
(I Corinthians 13:8)


But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
 (I Peter 1:25)

In the Old Testament people went to prophets for guidance because the gift of the Holy Spirit infilling was not yet given. It is no longer necessary to go to a prophet to receive spiritual guidance. This is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Each believer should learn to be led by God's Spirit.

The New Testament gives no record of believers seeking guidance from prophets after the gift of the Holy Spirit was given, but God still uses this gift to confirm the future. You can study such an example in Acts 21:1-14. Agabus gave Apostle Paul a personal prophecy, in that it was given specifically to Apostle Paul.

Apostle Paul already knew what awaited him in Jerusalem. The prophecy only confirmed what would happen there. It was not a prophecy of guidance telling Apostle Paul whether or not to go to Jerusalem.

The Bible warns of false prophets in the world: 

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  Matthew 24:11

For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.  Mark 13:22 

Because of this, God has provided ways to identify true prophecies. The Bible states:

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith. (Romans 12:6)

The phrase "in proportion to faith" means in right relation and to the degree of your faith. The way to recognize true prophecies is by whether or not they are in harmony with the Bible. The Bible states:

Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the other judge.  (I Corinthians 14:29)

We are told to judge prophecies. The standard for judgment is the Word of God.

God has provided many ways to recognize false prophets. False prophets are known because what they speak does not come to pass:

But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

The Bible gives many scriptures which explain other ways to recognize false prophets:

*    False prophets do not confess the deity of Jesus Christ:                   I John 4:1-3
*    False prophets teach false doctrine:                                                           II Peter 2:1-3
*    False prophets lead people away from obedience to God's Word:       Deuteronomy 13:1-5
*    False prophets deceive people with miraculous signs:                           Matthew 24:11-24
*    False prophets make false claims:                                                               Matthew 24:23-24
*    Their fruit reveals their error:                                                                      Matthew 7:16

One of the best ways to distinguish false prophets from true prophets is to observe their lives. The Bible says that by their "fruits" you will know them. False prophets do not have evidence of spiritual fruit in their lives 

Because there are false prophets in the world, you must exercise caution in accepting prophecies. Prophecy often has been misused to direct and control believers. When personal prophecy is given it should be examined in relation to the Scriptures and it should agree with the written Word of God. In regards to guidance, prophecy should be confirming, not directing or controlling.

Because of misuse of this spiritual gift some believers reject it totally. They will not accept the miraculous gift of prophetic utterance. But you should not reject the ministry of the Holy Spirit because you witness a few carnal examples in a human vessel.

WRONG COUNSEL

No man can determine God's will for someone else except in matters specifically revealed in the Bible. For example, we know it is God's will that all men come to repentance, for this is taught in Scripture.

Spiritual counseling by Godly leaders has a definite place in the guidance of a believer, but no counselor has the right to control another person or determine God's will for him in matters not dealt with in the Scriptures.

When Apostle Paul was determined to go to Jerusalem, his friends at Caesarea tried to prevent him from doing so. They warned of the serious trouble which might befall him there. When Apostle Paul rejected their counsel and went on to Jerusalem, they accepted his decision stating:

The will of the Lord be done. (Acts 21:14)

They realized that even though it was their personal desire that he should not go, Apostle Paul had to determine God's will for himself.

It is important that you come to know God’s voice for yourself. You cannot trust others to guide your life because there are evil spirits in the world whose intent is to deceive. We are warned:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God. (I John 4:1)

When you receive counsel from another person, that guidance should be tested against other methods of determining God's will.   

EMULATIONS

Emulation is listed as one of the works of the flesh:

Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Galatians 5:20
The works of the flesh are various sinful conducts which are not pleasing to God.

Emulation is the desire to copy others in order to equal or excel them. It stems from a spirit of rivalry and is a form of jealousy. Some believers emulate the successful ministries of others instead of seeking God's plan for their own lives. No two believers are carbon copies though all have the same of doing God's will in their individual life. The Holy Spirit calls people into specific ministries:

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. (Acts 13:2)

The Bible states that believers have differing spiritual gifts:

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.   (I Corinthians 12:4,11)

Although we are told to "covet earnestly the best gifts" 

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.  (I Corinthians 12:31

and to "desire spiritual gifts" 

Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. (I Corinthians 14:1

it does not mean we are to imitate others who have significant ministries.  When Peter was concerned about John’s ministry, Jesus said:

What is that to thee? Follow thou me. (John 21:22)

God gave Noah the plan for an ark. He gave Moses the plan for the tabernacle. He gave Solomon the plan for a great temple of worship. Nehemiah was given the plan to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  God has not told you to build an ark, construct the temple, or build walls around the city of Jerusalem. But God has a special plan for you! If you fall into the sin of emulations and imitate others, you will miss His plan.

When you pattern your life after the lives of others, you become engulfed by human tradition--and human tradition conceals divine revelation.

(Biblical Studies)

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