TODAY’S SCRIPTURE Matthew 7:15; 1 John 4:1-6
A televangelist sits before a live studio audience and tells viewers God wants believers to prosper financially — as long as they send large monthly gifts to fund his ministry. Another prosperity preacher tells his audience how he wishes he had a “Holy Ghost machine gun” to blow the head off of one of his critics. His wife is little better, telling listeners that they need a “Holy Ghost enema.” A disgraced televangelist claims being caught with a prostitute is no one else’s business but his own. The founder of a religious television network goes on the air, telling viewers that he is a god. He grimly cautions others not to criticize him, or else God will give them cancer.
In the Mosaic Law, the Lord includes a means by which His people could determine whether a prophet is true or false (Deuteronomy 13:1-3; 18:21-22). Moses instructs the people to reject any prophets who lure them to worship false gods or who make predictions that go unfulfilled. Miraculous deeds often accompany genuine prophecy to demonstrate its legitimacy (the same holds true for the preaching of the Apostles). In some cases, historical events confirm a prophet’s pronouncement centuries later.
False prophets did not disappear at the end of the Old Testament period. The apostle John warns his readers that many false prophets exist in the first century (1 John 4:1). Their spiritual descendants still exist in ours. They woo their followers with marvelous predictions and promises of prosperity that never seem to come true.
God has always wanted His people to believe only the truth, regardless whether the speaker is an Old Testament prophet or a 21st century televangelist. The knowledgeable and discerning Christian will be able to detect the differences between God’s Word and the message of prophetic charlatans and spiritual snake oil salesmen.
Today, I will…commit myself to the daily reading of God’s Word, so that I will be able to tell the difference between truth and falsehood.