False Prophets

1 Kings 13:12-24

Many modern, self-professed prophets and teachers are showing up and telling the church that God told them something quite different from what His word clearly says. Claiming the title “pastor” and having attended a Bible school or seminary, they present themselves as authorities on behalf of God. As Satan in the Garden, they begin with, “Yea, hath God said…”[1]. When the unlearned believer responds, “Yes He did,” these teachers reply, “It is not so.”[2]

According to these liars, Christ did not die to pay the penalty for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures[3] but set the ultimate example of “non-violent resistance of the evil empire”. Or he demonstrated empathetically that there had been enough killing; that God never wanted sacrifices for sin, and had spent all previous history “trying” to show men how much He loved them. By dying on the cross, Jesus demonstrated God’s love and the finality of sacrifice. But in no way was His death an atonement for men’s sins.[4]

Being born again is not the supernatural change in the heart of man when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in and lead and empower a new saint.[5] Rather, when a man, witnessing this ultimate expression of non-violent resistance of evil, or God’s ultimate statement of love and against sacrifice, he is so moved by Jesus’ example that he chooses to follow the path of non-violence, non-reactionism, and to show God’s love to the world by non-judgementalism, acceptance, and good works.

God’s kingdom, which Christ described as being “among” or “within” men, and not of this world,[6] becomes to these teachers that environment and community in which individuals and groups extend themselves and sacrifice to meet the material and felt needs of others. The lost are those who are hungry and poor, ill and afraid, and the “Christ-followers” are the benevolent social workers who meet those needs in a spirit of compassion and non-judgmental acceptance. Sin has become the failure to work towards meeting those needs, and the judgment or expression of behaviours as sin, those who commit them as sinners, and those who reject the God Who has revealed Himself in the Bible a condemned. Hell is the present condition of earth because of men’s “sins”, and heaven is what we will achieve here when all the world has accepted this ‘gospel’ and all men have chosen to ‘live like Jesus’ in the world.

God spoke to the young prophet from Judah, issuing a message of condemnation to Jeroboam for his idolatry. God had spoken to Jeroboam, promising him blessing and continuance on the throne of Israel only if Jeroboam remained faithful to God. Jeroboam rejected God, built golden calves and lead Israel back into pagan worship. God’s judgment was swift; Jeroboam would lose the throne. The prophet of Judah was told to deliver his message and return to his own place, refusing any offer of hospitability from the citizens of Judah. God’s word to him was direct and clear.

But along came an older prophet, claiming a different message that contradicted God’s original and direct word to the younger prophet, and he turned aside from following God in accordance to the word of the older prophet. But that older man had lied; he had received no divine message. He just used his position of influence to mislead a man of God, and have him change his actions to suit the other man’s desire.

Consider the first prophet’s error. God had spoken to him directly and clearly with a specific message and set of instructions. Why would he fail to question that God would send a contradictory message through some other vehicle rather than speak again directly to him if He chose to change His instructions? Why would he not question a purported ‘prophetic word’ that contradicted what God spoke originally? Why would he fail to consult God Himself to confirm a change in message?[7]

The answer is simple: the appearance of authority of the one with the conflicting message was sufficient to influence the young prophet. It cost him his life.

The Christian must remember that a wolf in sheep’s clothing looks like a sheep. [8]Even a sheep, as dull as it is, will not follow a wolf if it sees one.[9] Satan’s workers masquerade as ministers of light.[10] You cannot rely on worldly qualifications to determine whether a teacher is of God;[11] you must test the spirits by the unchanging Word of God.[12]

The old prophet lied to the man of God from Judah. He spoke his own words and assigned them to God. He was a false prophet leading a man to destruction. The apostle Peter warned that there would be many false prophets who would lead many astray.[13]

Like the old prophet, these new teachers are liars, imposing their ideas and words over God’s clear and direct teaching. They preach ‘another gospel’ which is no gospel,[14] and decry the study of the Scriptures, which is the only means of testing their words.[15] They seek to lead men of God away from their Lord, and deceive those outside into believing they can be safe without repenting of sin, knowing Christ, and receiving His atonement for their sins.[16] They desire a following for themselves, and malign all those who come against them. They put themselves above accountability, refusing to answer those who refute their errors,[17]and play word games to persuade the unlearned or unwise that the Scriptures which their teachings contradict don’t really mean what they say.

  • The Bible speaks of these teachers, “wells without water”,[18] “deceived and being deceived”, “whose condemnation is sure”. They are evil men who deny the Lord Jesus Christ and count His blood a common thing,[19] whose pernicious ways are leading millions to destruction.[20]

    The lesson from 1 Kings 13 is very simple: When we have a clear and direct word from God, we are to live it as He has given it, fully and accurately. If someone comes along claiming to have a message from God that opposes what we know God already spoke, we are to reject the message and rebuke the messenger in case he may repent. If he continues to spread his lies, we must warn all those who may hear him, admonishing them to cling to the sure Word of the LORD God.

    [1] Genesis 3:1

    [2]Gen 3:4-5

    [3] Rom 3:25; Rev 1:5

    [4] Rom 5:10-12

    [5]John 3:5-6; 7:39

    [6] Luke 17:21; John 18:36

    [7] 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1

    [8] Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29

    [9]John 10:1, 5, 12

    [10]2 Corinthians 11:4, 13-15

    [11]1 Corinthians 1:21; 3:19

    [12]1 John 4:1

    [13]2 Peter 2:1-2; cf: Matthew 24:11

    [14]Galatians 1:6-7; cf 2 Cor 11:4

    [15]2 Timothy 3:13-17; 2 Peter 1:3-9

    [16]John 3:18; Rom 8:6-9

    [17]1 Timothy 5:19-21

    [18]2 Peter 2:1, 17; 2 Tim 3:13;

    [19]Hebrews 10:29

    [20] 2 Peter 2:1-3