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Recognizing False Prophets

If someone started talking to you about what the Bible says, would you know if they were telling the truth? Teachers who lead people away from the true gospel message of the Bible are called false prophets. The Bible issues several warnings about false prophets, and in Jeremiah 23 we see what the Lord thinks of these teachers:

"But now I see that the prophets of Jerusalem are even worse! They commit adultery and love dishonesty. They encourage those who are doing evil so that no one turns away from their sins. These prophets are as wicked as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah once were” (Jeremiah 23:14, NLT).

Saying someone is “as wicked as those who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah” is a serious condemnation. Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin was so grievous that the Lord rained burning sulfur over both cities, destroying the people, the towns and the land around them (Genesis 19).

It is our job to recognize false teaching, and Jeremiah shows us several characteristics common to false prophets:

  • They may appear to speak God's message, but do not live according to God's Word.
  • They make you feel good about God's love, but rarely talk about sin, judgment and the real reason Jesus died on the cross.
  • They subtly encourage listeners to disregard parts of the Bible that disagree with our culture's accepted lifestyles.
  • They tend to be self-serving and arrogant, concerned more with pleasing people than obeying God's Word.

Jeremiah’s descriptions are helpful, but the best way for us to recognize wrong teaching is to spend time studying God’s Word. When we spend time learning the Bible, we know God’s truth when we hear it.

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