The Bible warns of false prophets many times, especially in these “last days” or “end times.” False prophets masquerade as genuine prophets. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Genuine prophets are known by their fruit, not necessarily by their gifts. “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16).
“A false prophet is not someone who gives a bad or inaccurate word—it is someone who prophesies from a wrong spirit or an evil heart.”
A false prophet is not someone who gives a bad or inaccurate word—it is someone who prophesies from a wrong spirit or an evil heart. A false prophet is able to prophesy accurately from a demonic spirit. Apostle Paul encountered such a person Acts 16:16-18, the story about the possessed slave girl who was a fortune teller by the spirit of divination. Some false prophets operate in the spirit of divination, which may appear as if they are functioning in the spirit and gift of prophecy. The fortune-teller gave accurate information but from the wrong source.
Demons can operate accurately in the gift of word of knowledge because they can see and hear. Demons cannot prophesy the future; if they could, the devil would never have put into the hearts of the people to crucify Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:8).
There are times when a person becomes a false prophet over time. He or she started out right, but allowed compromise, sin, dabbling in witchcraft, occult or other religions, greed, and love of money into their lives and has fallen away from God. Yet, they can still operate in the prophetic gift: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).
Characteristics of False Prophets and Prophecy
The characteristics of false prophets and prophecy are that they:
- Operate in pride, arrogance, and with a haughty spirit
- Operate from a spirit of divination
- Knowingly deceive people
- Knowingly use signs and wonders to deceive people (Mark 13:22)
- Use flattery, seduction, and manipulation (Jezebel spirit)
- Have a wounded heart
- Lose accountability to the Scripture and place themselves above the Word of God
- Have a heart that is closed to new revelation and are unwilling to allow people to test their prophecy
- Seek to promote themselves and their own personal agendas
- Prophesy for personal gain, either wealth or influence. They prophesy what people want to hear for personal gain
- Draw people to themselves instead of Jesus Christ
- Are known by their fruit—they do not walk in the Fruit of the Spirit, which is love (see Matthew 7:15-20)