There is a multitude among the prophetic circles that are decreeing, declaring, and prophesying that the last move of God is going to be filled with signs and wonders. With emphasis solely on these, this is considered the ‘new move’, indicating that signs and wonders are new. However, when one observes the divine scriptures closely, one will notice the last move of God sees two moves happening at the same time and both are operating in signs and wonders. This expose reveals how these false prophets operate and by what means they deceive people. If we are not armed with the truth to discern between the darkness and the light, we could easily be deceived ourselves.
The incredibly wise King Solomon stated, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). What occurred in the past, what waged war against the church at that time, will be at a more grandeur scale at the end. Messiah forewarned “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matthew 24:11). This prophecy concerning the end time is disturbing to say the least, yet it is necessary. The Early Church recognized the necessity of such occurrence and the apostle Paul acknowledged, “For there must also be factions (heresies) among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19). Paul accepted the hard truth of this means to distinguish those who are approved in the church. In fact, it made the church stronger.
“The fact that there are such men confessing themselves to be Christians, and admitting the crucified Jesus to be both Lord and Christ, yet not teaching His doctrines, but those of the spirits of error, causes us who are disciples of the true and pure doctrine of Jesus Christ, to be more faithful and steadfast in the hope announced by Him. For what things He predicted would take place in His name, these we do see being actually accomplished in our sight. For he said, ‘Many shall come in My name, clothed outwardly in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Mat 7:15) And, ‘There shall be schisms and heresies.’ (1Co 11:19) And, ‘Beware of false prophets, who shall come to you clothed outwardly in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’ (Mat 7:15) (1)
Justin Martyr warns of those who are confessing Jesus is Lord, yet are not preaching the same doctrine, which is done through the spirit of error, not through the Holy Spirit. This tells us that teaching a false doctrine is a distinct indication that someone does not have the Holy Spirit. The true disciples within the church are motivated to pursue the truth and to remain in the faith. It is only those who are weak in the faith, who have not a love for the truth, that will fall into the deception (2 Thessalonians 2:10). One of the ways that many will be deceived, will be through the message of love these false prophets proclaim; they will seduce people by portraying that they are loving and virtuous.
“And with all these he will work signs and terrible wonders, false wonders and not true, in order to deceive his impious equals. For if it were possible, he would seduce even the elect (Mat 24:24) from the love of Christ. But in his first steps he will be gentle, loveable, quiet, pious, pacific, hating injustice, detesting gifts, not allowing idolatry; loving, says he, the Scriptures, reverencing priests, honoring his elders, repudiating fornication, detesting adultery, giving no heed to slanders, not admitting oaths, kind to strangers, kind to the poor, compassionate. And then he will work wonders, cleansing lepers, raising paralytics, expelling demons, proclaiming things remote just as things present, raising the dead, helping widows, defending orphans, loving all, reconciling in love men who contend, and saying to such, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath;” (Eph 4:26) and he will not acquire gold, nor love silver, nor seek riches. (2)
The lawless one will give the impression that he is humble, gentle, loving, kind, working wonders and so on. This is the precursor to the building of the temple in Jerusalem (a sign of the end times), in which the people will make him (the false prophet) king due to his “having a form of godliness” (2 Timothy 3:5) by performing lying signs and wonders, with the appeal of the illusion of love and compassion. So how are we to tell the difference between a true prophet and a false prophet? As Justin Martyr said, they will not be teaching true doctrine. The Antichrist, as well as other false prophets, will be showing love and compassion, confessing that Jesus is Lord, healing paralytics, and even raising the dead, however, they will not be preaching the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ.
There were false prophets and false apostles trying to infiltrate the church during the earliest days of the church. The Early Church Fathers (before the council of Nicaea) provide insight to how the false prophets and apostles were operating. In the Shepard Hermas, the false prophets tell of some things that are true, through a familiar spirit, then they falsely prophesy according to the fleshly desires of their heart.
He pointed out to me some men sitting on a seat, and one man sitting on a chair. And he says to me, “Do you see the persons sitting on the seat?” “I do, sir,” said I. “These,” says he, “are the faithful, and he who sits on the chair is a false prophet, ruining the minds of the servants of God. 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. (3)
False prophet’s prey on those who are barren of the truth. These false prophets are sought after, like you would a soothsayer/clairvoyant asking the future and in return you will receive a word according to the fleshly expectations of your heart’s desire. Additionally, The Constitution of the Apostles forewarns of these false prophets. They perform, what look to be exorcisms, but are a childish game of demon swapping.
We add, in the next place, that neither is every one that prophesies holy, nor every one that casts out devils religious: for even Balaam the son of Beor the prophet did prophesy, (Num 23:1-30 and Num 24:1-25) though he was himself ungodly; as also did Caiaphas, the falsely-named high priest.8 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: for they only mock one another, as they do who play childish tricks for mirth, and destroy those who give heed to them. For neither is a wicked king any longer a king, but a tyrant; nor is a bishop oppressed with ignorance or an evil disposition a bishop, but falsely so called, being not one sent out by God, but by men, as Ananiah and Samœah in Jerusalem, and Zedekiah and Achiah the false prophets in Babylon. (Jer 28:1-17 and Jer 29:1-32) And indeed Balaam the prophet, when he had corrupted Israel by Baal-peor, suffered punishment; (Num 25:1-18 and Num 31:1-54) and Caiaphas at last was his own murderer; and the sons of Sceva, endeavoring to cast out demons, were wounded by them, and fled away in an unseemly manner; (Act 19:14) and the kings of Israel and of Judah, when they became impious, suffered all sorts of punishments. (4)
Balaak the king of Moab was a sorcerer who was hired to curse Israel and yet was not able to (Numbers 22). He had to bless Israel because God’s hand was upon the nation and no one can curse what God has blessed. However later, he had instructed Baal-peor how to defeat Israel by means of their seductive women (Numbers 31:16). There are those in the Word who indeed did prophesy, nevertheless were ungodly themselves.
These examples show how the false prophets will come to deceive. They will give a false sense of love and charity, having an appearance of virtue; prophesy some things that are true; perform what appear to be exorcisms and heal the sick. Nonetheless, due to the reality that they will not be preaching the truth, departing from the apostolic traditions and even being so bold as to continue to confess Jesus as their Lord, will deceive many. We must, with all our heart, mind and soul abide with an unwavering faith and stand against the wiles of the devil in these end times. Not to protect we only, but everyone who will be willing to hear the truth. To God be the glory, Amen.
1. Justin Martyr- Dialogue with Trypho Ch. XXXV, Vol. 1
2. Hipolytus-Appendix Ch. XXIII, Vol. 5
3. Hermas-The Shepard Bk. 2 Pt. 2 Vol. 2
4. Constitution of the Apostles-Bk. 8 Pt. 1 Ch. II Vol. 7