PROPHETS OR FORTUNE TELLERS: IT’S ABOUT TIME WE LEARN THE DIFFERENCE

There is a growing false prophetic movement in this country that must be addressed and confronted. Unsound doctrine and counterfeit prophecy are diluting the manifestation of God’s presence and power and polluting the landscape of Christianity today.

“Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the LORD” (Ez. 13:2 – NLT).

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying. If they had stood before me and listened to me they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds” (Jer. 23:21-22 – NLT).

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1).

While I do believe in the valid ministry of the prophet and have been a personal beneficiary of such ministry, I have also been increasingly alarmed at what passes for true prophetic ministry today.

Here is a typical word of what passes for prophecy today.

“I have called you to a high calling, says the Lord, and I will lift you up to a place of great glory, and money will no longer be a problem for you for I will move on people’s hearts who will contribute to your own wealth. You will no longer minister in small circles, but soon television will open up new arenas to you, and your ministry will be greatly sought after. In that day you will know the favor of your Daddy God and He will increase you more and more.”

Have you heard of a similar word in today’s marketplace of Christianity? A word like that is clearly carnal, man-exalting, and flesh pleasing. It feeds pride, covetousness, and the inordinate affection for recognition and influence that are in people’s hearts. It is the basest form of idolatry.

Examples of such prophecies are numerous in this day, and sadly, the norm. Usually they will address one of three areas in a person’s life: Ministry, money, or marriage. They will speak to a person’s discontentment and need for recognition and promotion or their strong desire to be blessed and happy through possessing the riches and comforts of this life.

Now compare that prophecy to this one.

“I am going to prepare you for the coming days by a hard path that will cause many to cry out continually unto Me. For when the going is easy men do not seek Me, but rejoice in a temporary blessing. And when that blessing is removed they so often turn this way and that way but do not come to Me. I am showing you these things in order that you may seek Me continually and with great diligence. As you seek Me I will open up truths to you that you have not seen before, and these very truths will be such that will enable you to stand in these last days. As you are persecuted, reviled and rejected by your brethren then you will turn unto Me with all your heart and seek Me for that spiritual life that you need.”

This one speaks of the trials that are part of our Christian walk and grants hope of the sustaining spiritual life of the Lord as we seek Him.

The former example speaks of ease, comfort, and the presumed blessing of great ministry and financial prosperity. Due to the abundance of counterfeit prophecies in this day you hardly hear the latter kind any more.

I wouldn’t pay a nickel for that first word. There is nothing in it.

It is not that the Lord is opposed to His people being blessed and happy, but such prophecies are dangerous when they feed impure motives already resident in the heart. The true prophetic should direct people’s hearts toward God and not our own selfish and soulish desires.

Do you know how many desperate single women have been prophesied to about a future coming husband who never came? Many of them grew bitter with time and their wounds led them into severe depression. Evil spirits attached to such words of divination hang around them for years.

I know of young men who went into the ministry because of a prophecy and it wasted years of their lives and nearly ruined them. Others abruptly changed the course of their previous plans to pursue a prophetic word that pointed them in a different direction. These types of prophecies are like fortune telling that cause great damage to the body of Christ and pollute the land.

Here are three basic differences between the real and the counterfeit prophecies that will help you discern:

1. The counterfeit is man centered and brings excessive attention to the recognition and greatness of man. The real reveals the true heart of God and directs our hearts toward Him.

2. The counterfeit feeds the idolatry in our hearts, which is covetousness (Col. 3:5), and feeds our carnal desires for selfish gain and a satisfaction that’s unattached to God’s will and heart for us. Real prophecy will offer hope and encouragement during hardship but often with an exhortation toward humility and praise, or a warning to guard against the selfish motives and the lack of character in our hearts.

3. The counterfeit will drift from the pure written Word with a mixture of flesh/soul, with some spirit added in. But the real will contain within it a solid Scriptural foundation that acts as a sword dividing the flesh/soul from the spirit, or our own desires from God’s will.

The root of most prophetic abuses is the covetousness in the hearts of both the giver and recipient of such. False prophets can easily get over into a performance mode that even familiar spirits will accommodate. Familiar spirits know things about people and possess knowledge of their past and present. Some prophecies can also be accurate because those prophets may have a genuine gift but are operating with wrong motives.

Be very careful.

People’s love for power will cause them to pursue it more than purity, thus defiling their own hearts. False prophets are like fortune tellers that lead people into deeper idolatry.

We must understand that if there is idolatry already in someone’s heart it will only be strengthened by the dainty prophecies that appeal to their flesh and to their pride. That was the problem in Israel when the majority of the prophets were speaking peace and prosperity and victory, but the Lord saw the idolatry and wanted His people to turn from it.

Any prophecy that feeds our carnal and fleshly motives needs to be questioned. Deception will work in us when we receive and embrace words that are not from God.

A true prophet carries an anointing to turn the hearts of the people from sin, self, and idolatry toward the Lord. And frankly, that is what the Church needs most in this hour.

Therein lies a great key that will help you tremendously in your discernment. What is happening to your heart when the prophecy is being given? Is it strongly being drawn to the Lord or does it merely make you feel special, superior, and even elite? Does it draw you to the Lord or to the person giving you the prophecy? Does it feed your humility or your pride?

The bottom line is that much of what passes as prophetic ministry today, although done in the Lord’s Name, is not done by His Spirit or according to His heart.

In this 21st century quagmire of idolatrous worship and ministry may we truly be among the remnant that will be taught of the Lord.

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18 thoughts on “PROPHETS OR FORTUNE TELLERS: IT’S ABOUT TIME WE LEARN THE DIFFERENCE

    • This blog was more about false prophets who only prophesy comfort, ease, peace, and prosperity out of the idolatry in their hearts. A few have confronted these things, but most don’t know or they are afraid.

  1. The first test of a true prophet is whether he or she is truly born of the LORD’s Spirit into the Family of the LORD, and manifests His Character of Love – 1Corinthians 13, and as a leader in the LORD (the ministry of the Prophet is a foundational ministry), is a servant to those he or she leads.

    An important aspect of the ministry of the Prophet, recognized in Judaism, is that a word of evil that does not come to pass, does not make a person a false prophet – the example of Jonah. On the other hand, if the word is a blessing and does not come to pass, the person is a false prophet. I take this teaching seriously because, as a called of the LORD (confirmed at least twice – 2Corinth 13:1), I obsess over being sure that the LORD has fully confirmed the Word I release. I have little regard for guarding my reputation and am willing to go back and correct something that is not from Father. Because I have maintained this attitude I have, as far as I can remember, never had to change a Word I released.

    I have been welcomed in congregations that discern the Presence of the LORD in my life and my Worship, but have been shut up and rejected as a Prophet. I believe this is because of teaching – first – the prophets hardly ever prophesied – the churches often put the gift of prophecy with prophets. Prophets called people back to the right path of the LORD, and operated in the Gifts of the LORD in doing.

    If you are still uncertain if a person is a true prophet or not, don’t let it bother you, go to the LORD under Matthew 23:8-10 and He will teach you as He has commanded and promised He will. The LORD looks at your heart. If your heart is sincere in wanting to obey the LORD at all costs, in Truth you never “miss it.”

  2. Very good post. It is time for true preachers and prophets to rise up and speak the truth. I have lately experienced much opposition from some who are either stuck in old ways, or who already know everything & don’t want to listen, and from those who are actively seeking a prophetic word such as that first example. The sad thing is that most of the opposition I am experiencing is coming from pastors and leaders. This is very troubling to me and shows a great problem in the body of Christ.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly.A real prophecy also brings with it a solution — instructions on what to do with the words spoken ; it will never be a cliffhanger.
    EVERY prophecy lifts the word and promises of God and points the recipient of the prophecy to God.
    I believe it is Deuteronomy 17 that tells us how to tell a real prophet from a false prophet… And what to do about it…

    Thank you for addressing this.

  4. Seems it would be best to know well anyone bringing prophecy, to have confidence in what’s said? Do you have any suggestion of how one would “test the spirits” which, I’d think, would be important having to do with prophecy, or dreams, visions, etc.? Fairly recently (I’d been seeking prayer ministry) I connected by phone with someone (recommended) who rather than specifically praying, prophesied (not knowing anything about me, which she preferred). The prophecy was mostly very encouraging–in a pinpointed way as to my present circumstances; and I was told that I’d have several opportunities (which I did), but one would be the open door where the Lord was–which has not happened yet, nor has the road become more clear as she also said. I hesitate to literally wait for the fulfillment of this, but I wonder how to judge it. thank you.

    • Besides the 3 points already given, anything futuristic you just have to put on the shelf. Don’t do anything. Just let the Lord bring it to pass, if in fact, it is a true prophecy. Follow Him. Hear His voice. Obey His Word. He lives in you and if He wants you to know something He can get it over to you. We are not to be led by prophets and prophecies as much as hearing the Lord for ourselves.

      Blessings and peace.

  5. I received a prophetic word recently that I would get a new job and be very prosperous. I have been waiting for a new job for a number of years, and low and behold, not long after receiving the prophetic word, I did receive a new job with a higher package. However, I did not have any peace in my heart about the job. Furthermore, my current employer offered to match my salary. As a result I was very confused and unsure whether to stay or not. I then sought out another word whether to take the job or not and received a word by email from someone else saying that the new job will be very stressful and I should not take it and the job that God has in store for me will come within 6 months. Now I was even more confused due to the “conflicting” words. Eventually, after much prayer I decided not to take the job.

    Now I have regrets, that maybe I did not make the right decision and have missed my blessings God had in store for me.

    My question is, that if God has ordained something to come to pass, will it surely come to pass no matter what we do?

    • That is not necessarily true. We can forfeit certain things by our unbelief and/or disobedience. However, in your case, I would encourage you to follow your own heart and not personal prophecies. In the Old Testament Israel was led by prophets, but in the New Testament every true believer is led by the Holy Spirit who lives in his spirit. If I were you I’d forget about those prophecies and just listen to the Lord. You didn’t have peace about accepting this new job. There was a reason. God is leading you. Keep your peace. You made the right choice.

  6. Today I was listening to our local christian radio station. The discussion was about this article. When I read this article I somewhat agree, when man is exalted in it and there is no direction going towards God. There is a problem as prophecy should always involve the Lord and leading the believer or unbeliever towards the Lord.

    However I feel that many eyes that will read this article are going to throw away prophecies spoken over their lives thinking it was fortune telling.

    Quote: “The root of most prophetic abuses is the covetousness in the hearts of both the giver and recipient of such. False prophets can easily get over into a performance mode that even familiar spirits will accommodate. Familiar spirits know things about people and possess knowledge of their past and present. Some prophecies can also be accurate because those prophets may have a genuine gift but are operating with wrong motives.”

    I personally feel that throwing something like this out there creates a great speculation where prophecies that contain personal info about the receivers past, present and future is now fortune telling or the prophet as a manipulator.

    If we look at the Gospel of John where we read the story of the Samaritan woman. We have a clear example of Jesus giving a woman information of her past. That lead her to question Jesus to being a prophet and Jesus used this information to His advantage to lead a village to the Father and Himself. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus tells Peter how satan wants to sift him but Jesus confirms with Peter that he will be fine and satan will not have his way.

    Theses are just two examples of Jesus speaking to someone concerning their past and their future. Does this make him a fortune teller? Now does this make a believer that is filled with the same Spirit as Jesus who is able to tell someone about their past issues, present or future a fortune teller or a manipulator?

    I have prayed for many people and have seen in their hearts, issues of the past, present or the future. When I see these things, my heart is to pray God’s will into the receivers situation.

    e.g. On a mens camp, where we gathered together and went through certain teachings together and prayed together. On the last day of the camp we broke bread together and prayed together. In the group I saw two men that I felt led to pray for, for the one I prayed that God would protect him and his family and his children as I discerned the man worried much about his family. The other man I discerned he was facing tax issues in his business. I did not know what tax issues but may prayer for him was that God would lead him to do the right things and that God would help him with his process with these issues. After the prayer I approached the man about the tax issues and I asked him specifically what is it about. He told me that his business is growing and they are in the process of registering for VAT. Then I said, to him well keep praying and ask God for help and let him know as He cares about every little detail about you in your life.

    I have witnessed how a married couple that was struggling financially receive a prophetic word that changed their financial situation from a prophet. They received a word that a family member in the family down the family line was involved in eastern worship and that it brought a curse upon the family line. The curse was broken over their lives in the name of Jesus and the instruction was to be faithful with their finances and tithe faithfully and within a year they would see fruit. It happened and God continued to be faithful, that five years later. This very couple hired my stepfather to do work for them in their home. They testified of Gods provision to my unbelieving step father.

    This same person prophesied how a piece of land would be purchased for a new Church plant at a very low price, so low that it is unheard of. It came to pass and the land was bought at a very low price and today the building where we gather together is there.

    Now each of my testimonies reveal past, present and future situations. I do agree that there is abuse out there in prophecy and how the prophetic is conveyed. Yet we should be careful to go to the extreme causing people to think that prophecy does not involve their day to day dealings in their personal life.

    Words should be tested, especially words about receiving wives or husbands or any other thing in life. If a woman is still waiting for her husband and has turned bitter. It would make more sense that this woman should in fact have inquired of the Lord. Just as Paul inquired about his persecution three times and the Lord answered Him, and was told “My grace is sufficient”. If men have received prophetic words about ministry and then made decisions changing the course of their life. Have they inquired of the Lord? Did they ask for confirmation? Before David went into battle, did he not ask God if he was going to win the battle before he went into it? Was God not faithful to answer. Did Nathan the prophet not give David past information regarding his sin? The Holy Bible is full of prophetic examples.

    After today, hearing about your article on radio and reading it online and listening to the discussions. It has left a lot of questions and I somewhat agree with you but also disagree.

    • Jean Pierre – In this article I was mainly dealing with the counterfeit for our own land is full of false prophets. I know the value of true prophets and prophetic revelation for I, too am a product of such, having received my ministerial foundation and training from the late Kenneth E. Hagin, a man of great spiritual stature and a general in the prophet’s ministry. I’ve also received many revelatory prophecies that have blessed my life. But one of my goals with this article was to get people to a place where they were not looking for a personal prophecy out of covetousness and selfish ambition. I simply cannot cover everything in one blog. Perhaps I will cover the positive side in a future blog.

      Thanks for your comments. God bless you and continue to lead you into all truth.

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