Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Beware of False Prophets

'Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:' 1 Peter 5:8

‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’ #Mt 7:15 - Part 1

by A. W. Pink

If there be any verse in Holy Writ where it is deeply important to observe (and heed!) its connection it is surely the one at which we have now arrived. It may appear to the casual reader that our Lord here began an entirely new subject, having little or no relation to what immediately precedes. It is true our present verse introduces a distinct section of His Sermon, yet it also bears directly on what He had just said. Having described most solemnly and searchingly the way of life, like a faithful Guide Christ went on to warn us against one of the chief impediments to walking in that way, namely false guides; those who under the pretence of offering us Divine directions therein will fatally deceive us if we give heed thereto. In every age, but never more so than in our own, multitudes of gullible souls have been allured into the broad road which leads to destruction by men professing to be teachers of the Truth and ministers of Christ, yet who had not His Spirit and who were none of His: blind leaders of the blind, who with their dupes fall into the ditch.

‘Beware of false prophets.’ The force of this exhortation will be the better perceived if we take to heart what is found in the Old Testament thereon, bearing in mind that history has ever repeated itself since human nature is the same in all ages. ‘A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means’. {#Jer 5:30,31} ‘Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in My name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake I unto them; they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought and the deceit of their heart’ {#Jer 14:14} ‘I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies; they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto Me as Sodom...Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you, they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord’. {#Jer 23:14,16} ‘There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls, they have taken the treasure and precious things, they have made her many widows’. {#Eze 22:25} False prophets were one of the chief factors in the apostasy and destruction of Israel, and these passages are recorded for our admonition and warning.

It must not be supposed that such deceivers passed away with the ending of the Mosaic economy. The Lord Jesus and His apostles announced that there should be false teachers in this Christian dispensation. Christ declared that ‘many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many,’ yea, they would present such imposing credentials that ‘if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect’. {#Mt 24:11,24} Paul, announced, ‘I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch’. {#Ac 20:29-31} And again he said, ‘Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple’. {#Ro 16:17,18} Peter foretold, ‘But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways’. {#2Pe 2:1,2} John gave warning, ‘believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world’. {#1Jo 4:1}

Immediately after the parable of the Sower Christ declared, ‘His enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat’, {#Mt 13:25} the one so closely resembling the other that He commanded, ‘Let both grow together until, the harvest,’ when it will be seen there is no corn in the ears of the deceitful tares. By placing those parables in juxtaposition the Lord Jesus exposed the method and order of His adversary. ‘As Jannes and Jambres [the magicians of Pharaoh] withstood Moses’ {#2Ti 3:8} by their imitating his miracles, so when God sends forth His servants to preach the Gospel the Devil soon after prompts his emissaries to proclaim ‘another gospel’: when God speaks the Devil gives a mocking echo. Satan has found that he can work far more effectively by counterfeiting the Truth than by openly denying it, hence in every age ‘false prophets’ have abounded, and therefore we should be neither surprised nor stumbled by their number or success in our own day. We fully agree with Andrew Fuller when he said, ‘As this word ‘beware of false prophets’ was designed for Christians of every age, the term rendered ‘prophets’ must here, as it often is elsewhere, be used of ordinary teachers.’

‘Beware of false prophets’ signifies in this dispensation, Be on your guard against false teachers, heretical preachers. There are no longer any ‘prophets’ in the strict and technical sense of the term, though there are a few of God’s servants who in their gifts and special work approximate closely thereto. Those against whom we are here warned are men who have a false commission, never having been called of God to the service they engage in; they preach error, which is subversive of ‘the doctrine which is according to godliness’; {#1Ti 6:3} and the fruit they bear is a base imitation of the fruit of the Spirit. The chief identifying mark of the false prophets has ever been their saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is none. {#Jer 23:17 Mic 3:5 1Th 5:3} They heal the wounds of sinners slightly {#Jer 8:11} and daub ‘with untempered morter’. {#Eze 8:14 22:28} They prophesy ‘smooth things’, {#Isa 30:10} inventing easy ways to heaven, pandering to corrupt nature. There is nothing in their preaching which searches the conscience and renders the empty professor uneasy, nothing which humbles and causes their hearers to mourn before God; but rather that which puffs up, makes them pleased with themselves and to rest content in a false assurance.

Beware of false prophets, what a great warning to us. We need to have a supernatural discernment in these last days! Praise God for men like A.W. Pink who seen and understood these great truths of the New Testament. May we take heed to his warning to us! Part two of this message will be posted in a few days.

Bro. Pat

1 comment:

Jeff Woodhouse said...

Holy Scripture gives us a common characteristic of ALL false prophets - violating previous commands of God (whether spoken or written). Verse 9 of this text reads "it was charged me by the word of the Lord," with the instructions following to the man of God (which he faithfully repeated to the false prophet in verse 17).
Verse 18 needs no commentary - the text clearly reads: "He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him."
*We know that an "angel of the Lord" did NOT speak to him, for it violated previous commands of God. He lied unto him. May we search the Scriptures and hear the "still, small voice" to know when a "prophet" is, in fact, lying.
O, that God may indeed grant such discernment as never before to His people!