The child of God must constantly be both self-controlled and alert because of the devil's schemes (1 Pet. 5:8). This is especially true in our day. I say this with 2 Tim. 3:13 in mind. This verse reads: "... evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." Great deception is characteristic of our day! There are many false prophets today! Therefore, being alert is a must for the child of God.
A Disastrous Personal Prophecy!
Here is a SHOCKING and IMPORTANT OBSERVATION About False Prophecy!
To better understand the importance of not being deceived, I would like to draw your attention to 1 Ki. 13:1-32. Remember, what happened in Old Testament times was written down to teach us in New Testament times (Rom. 15:4). In this Old Testament chapter, we learn of a man of God that had some exceptional traits, yet he got deceived and, though sincere, suffered greatly as a consequence! We can learn much from his downfall.
1 Kings 13:1-32, For Us Today
Are YOU Acquainted With Harold Camping's False ProphecyFirst, let's look at the kind of committed servant he was. Verse 1 reveals that he was obedient. (He willingly traveled from Judah to Bethel on the Lord's mission. How different from Jonah!) Verse 2 shows his boldness and fearlessness to speak forth God's word, though he was alone and without anyone to back him up in the presence of gross sin and potential harm. He was also quick to forgive, as shown by his desire to see the king's hand restored. Furthermore, he had faith and knew how to pray and get answers, for God healed the wicked king's hand because of his prayer.
Verses 8 through 10 show that he was sincere, fully committed and not a lover of money. In spite of this impressive description, he was not fully alert, though sincere, and it cost him his life! He did spot the potential danger of disobedience through following the advice of the king and he quickly refused. However, a more subtle and dangerous form of this same kind of temptation to disobey came through one who professed to be a messenger of God Almighty and was lying. It was because of him that the man of God unwittingly lowered his guard and died because he was deceived.
Jesus said that false prophets are ferocious wolves in sheep's clothing (Matt. 7:15). Remember, the Lord likened His servants to sheep. The natural enemy of a sheep is a wolf. But Jesus didn't just say a false prophet was a wolf, He said a ferocious wolf. On top of all this, this deadly enemy of sheep won't appear dangerous because they will look innocent and harmless like Christians, for they are dressed in sheep's clothing! Things are not always as they first appear. We must be careful. It's part of our battle.
Where did the unnamed prophet from Judah go wrong, and how can we benefit from his mistake? These are two questions we should ask ourselves. It seems that he was deceived because he was too ready to believe a report that was allegedly from God. He especially should have been suspicious when that report conflicted with God's will for him. (God would never contradict Himself.) God's Word warns, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world," 1 Jn. 4:1.
That is what he should have done. (This is what we better do!) But how do we "test the spirits to see whether they are from God"? This is where 2 Tim. 3:16 comes in. (That verse is so important!) There we see that God's Word is final authority for knowing God's will. If a message does really come through an angel of God, which was the alleged case in 1 Kings 13, that message would have to agree with God's Word. We have a New Testament example of this with the Apostle Paul.
In Acts 23:11, we see first that Jesus Himself told Paul that he must testify in Rome. In Acts 27:24, in the midst of a terrible storm that seemed like it would claim the lives of all on the ship, an angel from God assured Paul that he must stand trial before Caesar. I believe that Paul knew this angel was bringing God's message because it agreed with Jesus' earlier message. God knew there would be a tremendous storm at sea in Paul's future when He gave the message that is recorded in Acts 23:11! God also knew when He gave the unnamed prophet his orders, as recorded in 1 Ki. 13:9, if He would or would not send an angel afterwards, as the lying prophet declared. Unfortunately, the true prophet from Judah believed when he should have tested! The danger of believing falsehood is clearly shown in this passage.
I wondered for a long time why the old prophet from Bethel deliberately lied to the true prophet regarding the angel's message. The answer, I feel, is found in Matt. 27:18 cf. 27:1. There we see that envy is capable of murder. Since the old prophet lied, he must have been backslidden and therefore probably envious of what God did through the prophet from Judah in his own hometown. Could the old, lying prophet have sought to deliberately do harm to the committed prophet by lying to him, knowing that God would judge him if he disobeyed his orders as stated in 1 Ki. 13:9? We can only speculate this as being a definite possibility.
God does heal the unsaved. Jeroboam was certainly in this category as was Malchus, who also got healed (Lk. 22:50,51 cf. Jn. 18:10).
Remember These Points About False
Prophets and Personal Prophecy
In spite of the fact that Jeroboam was miraculously healed, he still didn't repent! In fact, neither threats, signs, judgment nor mercy moved Jeroboam's heart to repentance! Amazing!
God revealed His beautiful future plans for Jeroboam through prophecy, which were negated because of his sin. See 1 Ki. 11:37,38. Oh, how sin robs us of the best that God has for us!
Jeroboam never relied on the golden calves he sacrificed to (1 Ki. 12:32) when he needed a miracle in the form of a healing. Furthermore, this apostate identified the LORD as the God of the true prophet from Judah, but not his own God. See verse 6.
God used a liar to speak forth a true prophecy (1 Ki. 13:20-22)! In Jn. 11:49-52, God used an unsaved man to do this! This is certainly conclusive proof that we must never evaluate a person's spiritual condition by his gift or message alone! Furthermore, a young, immature babe in Christ can have spiritual gifts! See 1 Cor. 1:7 cf. 3:1-4. God won't take back these gifts, Rom. 11:29. That's why we must not test on this basis. Jesus said that fruit was the criterion by which we must evaluate an individual. By fruit the Scriptures mean his behavior and doctrine. See 1 Jn. 2:3,4 and Eph. 5:9. (This truth is very important in our day!)
A true prophet knows only what God will reveal to him. If this wasn't so, the prophet from Judah would never have been deceived!
No servant of God is protected from the consequences of his disobedience by (a) the sanctity of his profession, (b) the dignity of his office, (c) his former nearness to God or any good service he has done in the past!
There was a point in time after the act of disobedience and before the prophecy, when the prophet from Judah was deceived, yet unjudged. He was unaware of his dangerous condition for he was resting in a false security because he was deceived. Many people are like him at this point, resting in a false security thinking all is well when God's judgment is so close. However, unlike the unnamed prophet these same people can repent before it's too late, if their deception is revealed. This is one of the reasons why we must continue to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
The unnamed prophet's only apparent flaw was that he believed a lying report. In other words, he was too quick to believe, without first testing. This single flaw was serious enough to cost him his physical life.
The lying prophet and wicked Jeroboam lived on, while the sincerely deceived man of God died!
The source of ruin for the unnamed prophet wasn't a wolf (Jeroboam), but instead a wolf in sheep's clothing (the religious, old, lying prophet)! A religious person, appearing as our friend and citing a false prophecy, can be our most dangerous enemy.
God used a wild lion to execute His judgment. (In the Book of Jonah, God used the great fish, a small cutworm and even the wind.)
With alleged angelic reports being somewhat common in this age of deception, we better carefully test from the Bible before we act on any kind of message. To have a firm handle on the truth is something we must have, regardless how sincere we may be. Our potential safety increases proportionately with the amount of Scriptural truth that we possess. [Please see our article, Angels, Demons and Satan]
[A final comment: A pastor once confessed to me that in his past, he would make up prophecies in the presence of others. He told me he repented of that, and that it would have sent him to Hell if he hadn't. According to Rev. 22:15, he was right. His desire to change took courage and is refreshing. There might be millions of others like him in our day who need to repent and stop pretending to have a gift that they really don't! Be sure to read Jer. 23:30-40.]
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