Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. -Jeremiah 29:8-9 (NIV)
Since the days of old, there have been false teachers and prophets who purport to work to God’s glory, but are here for very different reasons.
In the book of Jeremiah, the false prophet Hananiah told a weary Israel that their suffering in exile would end in just two years. But Jeremiah, who truly spoke for the Lord, called out Hananiah, and told Israel the truth: that it would be seventy years of exile in Babylon, but His people were to prosper where they were, because God had great plans for them.
When you think about modern churches and bible teachers, listen very closely and always use God’s Word as the ultimate litmus test. Some may turn out to be teachers of prosperity theology, who assert that financial blessings are God’s will for you, if you’re positive and donate to their organizations.
Some red flags they may raise:
- You can have anything you want (name it and claim it), just declare it in Jesus’ name
- God only wants you to be happy; He doesn’t want or allow you to suffer
- Material prosperity and smooth sailing are God’s blessings…buy this video or donate to them and you’ll see how
- They talk about self-improvement to make you the best you that you can be, but leave out that God makes that possible, and it is to His glory
In God’s Word, we are instructed to believe in what we pray for (Mark 11:24), but in the context of the body of His Word, prayer and walking with God will change our wills so that for which we pray will align with what God wants for us.
We bend and surrender to God’s will, not vice-versa. That’s where you can see the you-centered talk of those false teachers, like God is a cosmic Santa Claus or vending machine.
God’s blessings are in our prosperous times and even in our hard times…not just when we’re “doing okay” or “doing well” in our estimation. God does allow for His children to persevere through trials to His glory, which we can see over and over with the Israelites…with Joseph and his ups and downs (Genesis 37 onward). The fact is, God is with His children through all of our circumstances and seasons, and He refines and strengthens us through such trials.
Jesus made it clear that believers would have trouble in this world (John 16:33), but to take heart that He has overcome it. We are specifically instructed to not worry and chase after material things, because God knows and will supply all we need (Matthew 6:25-34).
We are here, first and foremost, to glorify our Lord (Isaiah 26:8), and to make Him known to the world (Matthew 28:16-20). We glorify Him in the good and the bad times. It’s all about Jesus.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. -2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
You can always use the lens of truth in God’s Word to expose the charlatans. Beware those who cannot stand this test!