by Mike Ratliff
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the LORD,’ although I have not spoken?” (Ezekiel 13:1-7 ESV)
A false prophet is one who claims to teach the truth from God and His Word, but who actually teaches from the counsel of his or her own heart. God is forever unchanging. He is immutable. His ways never change. His standards never change. At the time of Ezekiel, the kingdom of Judah had become consumed with idolatry. The people mixed Temple worship of YHWH with the worst forms of idol worship. They had taken on the culture and religion of the nations around them. Their culture had become pluralized. They were no longer a separate and unique people from the rest of the nations. The mechanism in people that powers this is compromise. The standard for God’s people has always been to be eternally focused with God in control. Compromise always moves God’s people to make decisions that are temporally focused, but, on the other hand, obedience to God is always counter to the demands of culture and the temporal.
I worked for a time in sales for a personal computer business. I had a client who was in the oil business. He knew a lot about drilling oil wells, but he knew very little about computers. He needed them for his office, but he did not know the first thing about that technology. He came to see me one day wanting to purchase several of the newest PCs that had just been introduced by NEC. The product was so new that I had not even seen one yet. All I had to go on was the brochures that NEC had sent us. I used them to lay out the configuration for each PC based on how much memory he wanted in each one. The way the brochures were laid out, it appeared that a memory board had to be purchased separately for each computer then populated with RAM. I priced it to my client like that. He did not even blink. He signed the contract and I placed the order.
About a week later, I received a call from my manager congratulating me on that sale and for the way I had priced out those computers. It turned out that those memory boards were included in each one from the manufacturer. I had placed an order for those memory boards, which were very expensive, but they were not needed so I had unknowingly inflated the margins for that sale. However, I did not exult as my sales manger did. In fact, I knew immediately that I had to redo the contract and tell my client the truth. I had a great deal of pressure put on me by those over me to not say a word, and every one of them were professing Christians. I went home that day and told my wife about it. I prayed about it over that weekend and by Monday morning, I knew what I had to do. I called my client first and told him the good news. The price of each of those computers he ordered was going to be about $1,000 less than my quote. I then told my manager who made it clear that he thought I was an idiot. Those over him thought so too. However, I had a clear conscience and rejoiced in the Lord even though my commission for that sale was quite a bit less than it would have been if I had said nothing.
These types of pressures are put on us all the time to compromise. The false prophet is often the facilitator of this sort of thing. They will teach their followers things about Christianity that elevate man and demote God. They will preach and teach that salvation is a decision that can be made prior to regeneration. They will counsel their converts that they really are Christians even though there is no change in their character or in their tolerance for sin in their lives. They will point them back to that moment when they walked an aisle and said a prayer. They will point to their religiosity, especially their giving, as proof. However, the Bible clearly teaches us that salvation is by Grace through faith and it is a gift from God so that no one may boast. Regeneration precedes faith. It must or each of us in Christ CAN boast (Ephesians 2:1-10).
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord GOD. Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out. (Ezekiel 13:8-11 ESV)
And I will set my face against that man; I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the LORD. And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the LORD, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. (Ezekiel 14:8-9 ESV)
The false prophets utter falsehood and God is against them. However, notice in 14:9 that the Lord has deceived them. One of the forms of God’s judgment is allowing people to believe falsehood. He actually leads them to believe that what is false is true. However, the Bible also consistently affirms the human decision to sin and human responsibility for that decision. For example, the idolatry that preceded the deception was their own decision. The punishment by God for their infidelity was just. God never speaks falsehood. In this case, what God did because of the idolatry was to not open those hearts to His truth. He did not shine His light of truth there. Idolatry always leads to spiritual blindness and God is the one who leads the idolaters to believe what they are saying is true when it is utterly false.
In the 21st Century Church, we have a tragic parallel with what was going on in Judah prior to Jerusalem being taken by Babylon. False prophets are lying to those who follow them. The lies are numerous and varied, but they all have one thing in common. They put their followers focus on either the false prophet or themselves. They demote God into a helpless bystander who does nothing to save anyone because Man’s will is Sovereign. This lie is a common thread throughout all false religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Therefore, when we see a form of Christianity that teaches the very same thing we should know immediately that we are dealing with something that is disingenuous.
The proponents of this false form of Christianity are false prophets who prove this by ignoring and deliberately misinterpreting Sacred Scripture. They fool their followers with this by telling them what they want to hear. They tell them that they are Christians because they decided to be while non-Christians decide not to be. However, the Bible clearly says that God calls those who come to Christ.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:35-44 ESV)
It is beyond my understanding how anyone can read this passage and not see clearly that Christians are given to the Son by God the Father who also draws them to Him. However, Jesus answers that question in v36 where He states, “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” Those who reject what our Lord clearly says are in unbelief. They will remain in that unbelief until and unless the Father breaks it by His Grace. The false prophets in our time are filling up the cup of God’s wrath. The form of Christianity they espouse is idolatrous. Those blinded by this are placing their trust in their own actions or what church they belong to or what ‘preacher’ they follow. The false prophets are the facilitators of this.
My brethren, let us pray that God will open the hearts and eyes of those blinded by this idolatry. Pray for our pastors and teachers that they will diligently preach and teach the truth and not what they think people want to hear. Time is short and the cup of God’s wrath is filling up fast. Let us dedicate ourselves to telling the truth, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to all who will hear.
Soli Deo Gloria!