Growing up in Pentecostal-type church, spirit filled, speaking in tongues, operating in the gift of prophecy and other spiritual gifts, I had a question that really went unanswered for years. No one was able to give a genuine answer to my query about “What is the difference between a psychic and a prophet?” What separates us from the ungodly who operate in signs and wonders and one who is a true prophet of Yah. That’s a fair question, isn’t it? The reply was always, “You have to discern through the Holy Spirit on what you’re picking up in the spirit and what you’re ‘feeling’ in the atmosphere.” I was not satisfied by that answer, because it leaves it to chance based on what we “feel” instead of a clear answer, such as what the Word of Yah says. Most of the time, the church looks on the outside and base their “discernment” on: How big is their ministry? What bible college did he go to? What church did he come from? What’s he or she wearing? Most believers are expecting a false prophet to be wearing an eye patch or all black, or have a gnarly scar on their face, or some other type of outward giveaway.
The only way to discern properly is to judge them on what they teach. It’s not based on what gifts they can operate in or how they “feel” around that person or in that church. I used to get high and listen to psychedelic records and get the same type of feeling; you can go to secular concerts and get the same type of euphoric feeling you would feel at some churches that claim to be spirit filled. It can’t be holy, because being holy is being set apart, so there should be a clear distinction between the church (the true church) and the world. Returning to the topic of true and false prophets. Now if it would be easy to identify a true prophet if it was based on if that person dressed nice, was polite, courteous, and had a form of righteousness. Methodius explains that Satan deceives believers through these outward appearances. Methodius, a 3rd century apostle/bishop said this about the imitators: “By his power, the enemy always imitates the forms of virtue and righteousness. He does not do this for the purpose of truly promoting the exercise of these things, but for the deception and hypocrisy… ‘He has transformed into an angel of light’ ensnaring many persons by the appearance of holiness” [Ten Virgins Pt. 4, ANF Vol. 6]. Satan has a form of holiness imitating virtues of Christ, but it’s to deceive those who are not discerning through the Word. Why would Satan use that to deceive? Because it catches those who are only focusing on the outward appearance. Again, this comes down to discerning through the Word, not on what we see and feel. Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 11 that the false prophets and apostles transform themselves into ministers of righteousness. These false prophets fast, pray, baptize, impart a “spirit of prophecy” and even know the word. That’s not good enough according to the Word.
These false prophets don’t bring correction; they only will give “words” that will edify and never release the Fear of the Lord, like it doesn’t exist, as if God is only love. Irenaeus says this about those type of men: “He will also judge false prophets, who have not received the gift of prophecy from God. They are not possessed of the of the fear of God either.” [Against Heresies Bk 4, ANF Vol 1]. The true prophets release not just the love of Yah but the Fear of Yah as well. Think about all the big-name speakers and all those famous preachers who call themselves prophets and ask yourself, “When was the last time I ever heard any of them preach on the Fear of the Lord?” This a serious matter. I’ve always heard in the church, growing up in it and being part of a church that did “prophetic training,” that we’re supposed to only give good words that edify. Yet no one ever speaks about the Fear of the Lord. The biggest heretic of the church was by a man named Marcion, and that teaching about “only good words that edify” came from him. This is the same guy whom Polycarp called a “son of Satan.” Tertullian describes this belief by exposing what Marcion (a heretic that was excommunicated by the church) taught: “Marcion… has removed from his God all the severity and energy of the judicial character… A better God has been discovered, who never takes offense! He is never angry, never inflicts punishment, has prepared no fire in Gehenna/hell! There will be no gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness! For He is purely and simply good. He indeed forbids all delinquency, but only in word… For He does not want your fear. And so, satisfied are the Marcionites with such pretenses, that they have no fear of their God at all.” [Against Marcion Bk 1, ANF Vol 3] Yahweh is balanced; He’s not all love or all fear. He is both equally. That message is not preached. As we see from what the heretic Marcion taught, it was really only about edifying, not releasing a fear of Yah. Just to be clear I’m not saying that it’s all about the fear of the Lord; I’m saying there’s a balance.
Just because someone can prophesy doesn’t mean that they’re holy either. In the Constitution of the Apostles, it states:
“that neither is every one that prophesies holy, nor everyone that casts out devil’s religious: for even Balaam the son of Beor the prophet did prophesy, (Num_23:1-30, Num_24:1-25) though he was himself ungodly; as also did Caiaphas, the falsely-named high priest. Nay, the devil foretells many things, and the demons, about Him; and yet for all that, there is not a spark of piety in them: for they are oppressed with ignorance, by reason of their voluntary wickedness. It is manifest, therefore, that the ungodly, although they prophesy, do not by their prophesying cover their own impiety; nor will those who cast out demons be sanctified by the demons being made subject to them” [Constitution of the Apostles; Book.8 Part 1; ANF Vol.7]
These false prophets prophesy into what our soul desires, not holiness but the wants of the flesh.
This next quote from Hermas gives another blow to how prophesy is taught today in the church. Hermas the Pastor was in one of the first canons ever produced. He had a visitation from an angel and instructed him how to identify false prophets:
“It is the doubters, not the faithful, that he ruins. These doubters then go to him as to a soothsayer, and inquire of him what will happen to them; and he, the false prophet, not having the power of a Divine Spirit in him, answers them according to their inquiries, and according to their wicked desires, and fills their souls with expectations, according to their own wishes. For being himself empty, he gives empty answers to empty inquirers; for every answer is made to the emptiness of man. Some true words he does occasionally utter; for the devil fills him with his own spirit, in the hope that he may be able to overcome some of the righteous. As many, then, as are strong in the faith of the Lord, and are clothed with truth, have no connection with such spirits, but keep away from them; but as many as are of doubtful minds and frequently repent, betake themselves to soothsaying, even as the heathen, and bring greater sin upon themselves by their idolatry. For he who inquires of a false prophet in regard to any action is an idolater, and devoid of the truth, and foolish. For no spirit given by God requires to be asked;” [The Shepherd Bk 2 Pt. 2, ANF Vol 2]
Today people hop from church to church, prophetic conference to prophetic conference to get a “word” as Hermas describes, as one seeking a soothsayer/psychic. This goes back to the question I first proposed at the beginning, “What’s the difference between a psychic who works in signs and wonders and a prophet?”
The church is being set up to be deceived by the antichrist. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 says, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,” and that’s how everyone is saying this move is going to happen. In Deuteronomy 13, Yahweh warns and prophesies that He will allow false prophets to come into the church with signs and wonders to test the hearts of the people to see if they will obey His word or be caught up with the signs and wonders. Again, it goes back to the Word themselves prophets and apostles, how can you tell? What does a true apostle and prophet teach? Mathetes (a disciple of Paul) wrote this description: “Furnishing understanding, revealing mysteries, announcing times, rejoicing over the faithful.” [Epistle to Diognetus, ANF Vol. 1] Origen gives another description: “And again, that the prophet may show the depth of the doctrines which relate to God, and which is unattainable by those who do not possess the ‘Spirit which searcheth all things, even the deep things of God,” [Against Celsus Bk 6, ANF Vol 4] Clement of Alexandria gives a profound statement about where these prophets are releasing from: “Wherefore instruction, which reveals hidden things, is called illumination, as it is the teacher only who uncovers the lid of the ark” [Stromata BK.5, ANF Vol. 2] We see a common theme with these different church fathers from the 1st century to the 3rd century. The teaching from a prophet and apostle is to be revealing the mysteries of the kingdom. It lines up with what the Holy Apostle Paul said in his epistle to the church in Ephesus: “how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” [Ephesians 3:3-5].
I pray that this has opened your eyes and ears to perceive how the Messiah wants us to be prepared for the false prophets but also receive His true prophets. The nation of Israel killed the prophet that would prepare them for the coming of Messiah and the Messiah Himself because they couldn’t accept what they taught. They taught the secrets of the Kingdom. They were true prophets. The rabbis themselves couldn’t understand what Yahushua taught, and they had the whole Old Testament memorized. So, knowing scripture isn’t enough. They still missed Messiah and His messenger to prepare the way. Stay on guard saints from the wiles of the enemy. Our hearts will be tested. Our faith will be tested. Hold to the truth of the Word with all your heart with right understanding. Shalom my brethren! To Yahuah be glory, amen!
1) Methodius – Ten Virgins Pt. 4, Vol. 6
2) Irenaeus – Against Heresies Bk. 4, Vol. 1
3) Tertullian – Against Marcion Bk. 1, Vol. 3
4) Constitution of the Apostle – Bk. 8 Pt. 1, Vol.7
5) Hermas – The Shepherd Bk. 2 Pt. 2, Vol. 2
6) Mathetes – Epistle to Diognetus, Vol. 1
7) Origen – Against Celsus Bk. 6, Vol. 4
8) Clement – Stromata Bk. 5, Vol. 2