Be careful who you listen to. Just because a prophecy comes true doesn’t validate that prophet as one from God. Heed the warnings of the Bible.

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1)

There was a recent prophet/apostle by the name of David E. Taylor who prophesied who would win the 2014 Superbowl. He made a big video about it and posted it to his social media outlets. The other team won and he got it wrong. He later apologized, but according to the bible, he’s a false prophet.

Now, I’m not going into how ridiculous it is for a “prophet of God” to be prophesying about something as carnal and worldly as the outcome of a game, because this message is to those who continue to follow and support such men.

They say things like, “We all make mistakes, just forgive him” or, “what about his other prophecies that came true?” rather than listening to God’s word on the matter. My questions to them are: Did you forget what the bible says about prophets? Do we need to review?

I think we do.

How to determine a real prophet from a false one

God’s instruction for discerning false prophets is clear. If a prophet says something will happen and it doesn’t, he’s a false prophet:

20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him (Deu 18:20-22 NKJV).

What about vague prophecies?

These are prophets who say things like, “Something tragic is going to happen in America this summer“, and that’s it. They won’t tell you what, where and when? They may follow up with, “God won’t allow me to share the details.” That’s a vague prophecy. Now, we all can assume that something tragic is going to happen in America this summer because we live in a fallen society. And so, after that thing happens, that prophet will conclude, “See, I told you so.” Well, God has instructions for such prophecies:

26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged (1 Cor 14:26, 31 NKJV)

In Corinthians chapter 14, Paul talks to the saints about spiritual gifts, specifically the gift of tongues and prophecy. He says that all things should be done for the edification and encouragement of the church. Edification is: the instruction or improvement of a person morally or intellectually. Encouragement is: to give support, confidence, or hope to someone.

So vague prophecies don’t edify or encourage us, and at most, all they do is cause us to wonder. Using that prophecy about America again, how does some tragic event in the summer season edify or encourage us? It doesn’t. That prophet should’ve added, “it will happen this time, this exact place, and/or these people will be involved.”

A true prophecy would help people escape the tragedy. A true prophet would seek to prevent the tragedy (if it was the will of God), but no, they just speak vague things, they date it on their websites and wait for something to happen. And then they point people back to their website noting the time they wrote the prophecy as if they’re valid prophets. No! that’s not the way prophecy works. These prophets are to be avoided because their prophecies don’t edify or encourage us.

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture (1 Corinthians 13:9 NLT)

While scripture does mention that prophecies may not always be complete (because God in his wisdom chooses not to share everything) it still isn’t an excuse to accept a prophecy that doesn’t edify and/or encourage us. The scripture is clear: Let all things be done for edification, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.

What about prophecies that come true?

This post was sparked by a prophet who was wrong about a football game, but he had a few other prophecies that came to pass, specifically a drug bust he said would happen and it did. So I guess we must accept him as a true prophet because, after all, his word came to pass. But that’s not all the bible has to say about prophets.

First of all, Satan always has a counterfeit for what God has. God has prophecy, Satan has divination. Divination is the practice of seeking knowledge of the future, or the unknown, by supernatural means. Also known as: fortune telling, divining and soothsaying. So if a person seeks after future knowledge other than the Holy Spirit, it’s called the practice of divination and it’s forbidden by God (Lev 19:26 NKJV).

With that in mind, let’s see an example of divination:

16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. (Acts 16:16-18).

So here’s a girl who had a demon spirit that gave her knowledge of the future – and it worked. We know it was working because it made her masters rich (verse 16). Nobody continues to pay for prophecies that don’t come true. So, are we to conclude that the devil knows the future like God does? No. I believe the devil and his demons are old enough and smart enough to predict events based off their vast knowledge of humanity, and the fact that they orchestrate events in the life of men. Demons know what’s going to happen in the future because they’re behind it. They get it right sometimes, and sometimes, they get it wrong. So for a prophesy to come to past doesn’t always validate a person as a true prophet of God.

And the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart (Jer 14:14 NKJV)

False prophets use divination whether they know it or not. They aren’t hearing from God, but either their flesh or demons.

wolf among sheep
Can you spot the wolf in this herd of sheep? Image credit

The fruit of a prophet

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matt 7:15-20).

Finally, Jesus gives us more information about prophets, he says to judge them by their fruit. What is fruit? lifestyle, character and teachings. If these men aren’t exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, if they preach things not in the bible, if their lifestyles don’t align with the character of Christ, Jesus says, “BEWARE.” I don’t care if all their prophecies come true, examine their fruit.

So there you have it, the bible gives us three criteria for judging the prophet we listen to. Here they are:

  1. Their prophecies come true, ALL of them.
  2. Their prophecies edify and encourage the church.
  3. Their lifestyle, character and teachings align with Jesus Christ.

Saints, if we follow these 3 principles, we’ll be able to discern false prophets. Today, men and women are able to do grand signs and wonders that attempt to validate their lies and if you don’t discern with the word and the Spirit, you will be deceived (2 Thess 2:9 NIV). Lastly God will destroy the prophet and those who follow them:

9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. 10 And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him… (Ezek 14:9-10).

So if a prophet tells a lie it’s because God allowed it. He’s exposing that prophet to be false – and we should take note. It wasn’t that the prophet was in the flesh, or he made a mistake – he’s simply not of God. In the case of the Superbowl prophet, he admitted that God allowed him to mess up. So if the prophet David E. Taylor doesn’t repent from his divination, he will be destroyed. And those who continue to listen to him and such prophets like him will share in the same destruction.

Christians, we have to be careful who we listen to because if they’re false, we too are in danger of receiving the same judgment of that false prophet. My hope is that false prophets repent and that the saints of God discern between the real and the fake.

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1)

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  1. That can be a difficult one to awesnr. I have come to believe that the overall message of the Bible is to love. To love in a deeply caring and compassionate way as opposed to a possessing, controlling, or manipulative way.Someone helping another, for example, out of sheer compassion and concern for another’s physical, mental, even Spiritual suffering, is probably doing God’s will. Any other motive has to be questoned: Is this what I want, or what God wants? Can I be sure? If this works, who benefits? Am I being loving and compassionate, or arrogant and judging? Whose comfort and happiness is being served here, his/hers or mine? Am I following God’s law of compassion, forgiveness, non-judgement, and selfless love? We may never be sure we’re right, but perhaps acting, or speaking, out of no-strings-attached love is better than not acting or speaking at all.The true prophet is loving, kind, generous, forgiving, compassionate but above all REALISITIC and HONEST. That’s what makes it hard! And why prophets are often unpopular.

    1. Hi Christian, if you’re referring to the section on “vague prophecies” in correlation to that verse of scripture, it is true that even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture. But incomplete prophecies are not the same as a prophecy that doesn’t edify or encourage the body (these latter kinds of prophecies you have to guard against). Even if a prophecy is incomplete, if it edifies and encourages then it is OK. Thanks for that scripture. It does help clarify what I’m saying. I will add it.

  2. I am stickler about English so i wanted to point out that throughout this article you use the phrase “came to past”, when it should be “pass” 🙂