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False Prophecy or Human Error?
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Is it possible that a prophet is not always absolutely positive that it is the Lord speaking
the Word they are hearing?

There are times when the Lord speaks so gently that it is hard to discern His voice from what is
coming from our own spirit.  It is a great relief that the great prophets of old were as human as
the prophets of the present day.  The following verse in Jeremiah perfectly exemplifies how
difficult it sometimes is to know if a thing is from the Lord.

Jeremiah 32:8

So Hanameel mine uncle's son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of
the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that [is] in Anathoth, which [is] in the
country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance [is] thine, and the redemption [is] thine; buy [it]
for thyself.
Then, I knew that this [was] the word of the LORD.

Supernatural doesn't mean Kosher

A false prophet is someone who claims to be a prophet of God but is not. One sign of a false
prophet according to scripture is when someone who prophecies a thing which does not come
true. But that is not the only type of false prophet. The bible states there are others who may
make correct prophecies but do so without the authority or inspiration of Almighty God.  These
are also false prophets and are not to be listened to.

The bible tells us not to believe a prophet, even if that prophet shows supernatural ability, if that
prophet leads you away from the Lord your God.  Until the prophetic gift that the Lord gave me
manifested, I didn't understand how this was possible.   How would a person have a supernatural
gift if they were a false prophet?

The bible says that the gifts and the call are without repentance.  This means, once given, God
won't take the gifts back.  Therefore, if God gives me a genuine prophetic gift, so that I can know
things before they happen, to discern the hearts of men, and to have revelation knowledge, the
gift won't go away even if I turn from a life of obedience to God.  This means that someone who
is a false prophet, was likely a genuine prophet at one time in their lives.  Jim Jones, who
became an infamous cult leader, many say was once a very gifted, genuine, prophet of God.  

I believe that those who have the gift of foretelling the future and personal prophecy are kept on a
very short leash by God.  The ability to get into pride because of the nature of the prophetic gift of
foretelling the future and personal prophecy is a very serious temptation.  Many people will
believe and trust a person with this gift because they are impressed by the gift and falsely
assume someone trusted with this must be walking in integrity.  Because of this, I believe we
need to be well informed against the wiles of false prophets.  Jesus said at the end times false
prophets would be rampant upon the earth, which behooves us to be educated.

You ask, "So why can't I tell people that Brother So-and-so is a false prophet, if I think he is?"

One great reason:  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth only that which will
minister grace unto the hearers.

The best way to protect those under your authority against false prophets is to teach them to
know what a genuine prophet is.  A bank teller will tell you she can spot a counterfeit bill instantly
because she is well acquainted with what a real bill should look like.  

We need to teach people to know the real thing so that they can spot a fake.  This is how we
should minister protection to those under our authority, not by criticism through a critical spirit but
by instruction well in advance of the instruction being necessary.  The absolutely best method of
protecting those under your authority against false prophets is to insure they know the genuine
article when they see one and to know the signs of a false prophet.  And the key here is:
under your authority
.  Spreading discord among the brethren, those whom are not under your
authority, about preachers that you don't approve of or don't like personally is not a ministry, it is
a sin.

Long before I had any manifestation of any gifts in my life I would often be offended by the body
of Christ criticizing each other.    The bible says touch not mine anointed.  Please understand
that I believe God's anointed to be every believer whom is pursuing God's purpose in our lives
and definitely those He has ordained in ministry.   In the case of Saul, who God had already
disposed of in the Spirit, the biblical example was not to touch even the anointed who had totally
lost it.

Furthermore, the bible says let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth only that
which is good to the use of edifying that it may minister grace unto the hearer.  If you are
speaking negatively against anyone at all, you are out of line and I pray that you repent.

An Honest Mistake?

A frustrating problem with the general population, untutored in the prophetic, is that they brand
genuine prophets false prophets because they are uneducated about the biblical truth of false

Many believe that a prophet who makes a mistake is instantly a false prophet.  This belief is
unscriptural and false.  

This belief is based on the scripture that says:

But the prophet that speaks presumptuously in My name
which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks
in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.

You may say in your heart, How will we know the word which
the Lord has not spoken?

When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does
not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has
not spoke.  The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall
not be afraid of him.  Duet 18:22

Holding true to our beliefs, there should always be at least two witnesses to the truth of a
doctrine.  I believe the following three scriptures support the difference between a genuine
prophet and a false prophet:

Agabus, in Acts 21, made a mistake in his prophecy to Paul when he told him that he would be
bound in the future by Jews.  Paul was bound in the future but it was by Romans.  Why wasn't
Agabus branded a false prophet?  Because although he had a portion of the Word wrong, it was
still obvious that he had the basics correct and was not making up the thing.

Another difference between a genuine prophet who makes a mistake and a false prophet, is
their motive.  To speak on behalf of the Lord presumptuously is to boldly and daringly speak of a
prophet's own accord while speaking falsely in the Lord's name.  A false prophet purposely
makes a false prophesy.  

A genuine prophet may prophesy something that does not come true and still be considered a
genuine prophet.  A biblical example of this is Jonah to Ninevah.  He told the people of that city
that Ninevah was going to be destroyed but God did not destroy the city.  According to the bible,
Jonah could have been stoned for this, and if it were up to some judgmental Christians today, he
would have been stoned for it.

Jonah wasn't stoned even though the bible says "if the thing that prophet prophesies doesn't
come to pass you shall not fear that prophet."  Why wasn't Jonah stoned?   In the event a
prophecy of impending doom is preached, God reserves the right to change His mind if the
hearers repent of their disobedience or if the hearers who were prophesied a good word but
didn't receive it because they turned to disobedience.  

A key verse for this is Jeremiah 18:7-10

If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,
and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I
had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and
planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I
had intended to do for it.

The true test of a false prophet versus a true prophet who speaks a word that does not come to
pass?   So that we make no mistake, this is Jesus' instruction to identify false prophets:

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

You will know them by their fruits.  Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles,
are they?  

So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  

So then, you will know them by their fruits.  (Matthew 7:15-20)

Jesus said you will know them by their fruit, he said nothing about them making a mistake.  As a
person who often receives a message from the Lord I can tell you that occasionally my lack of
ability to communicate well does not brand me a false prophet.  There have been times that I've
delivered the right message but my description could have been better or other times I had to
use my own words to communicate the message that I had received from God but they were less
than stellar because God gave me the inspiration but the words did not come verbatim.

A genuine prophet that makes a mistake will consistently bear the fruit of the spirit in their lives.  
A false prophet will consistently bear actions that align with the world and with selfish motives.  
You will know whether to chalk a person up to one or the other by who they are in their every day

Copyright 2008 Mia Sherwood Ministries