People love labels. They are easy to attach, especially when we don’t fully understand what we are talking about and don’t take the time to investigate our disagreement with integrity. One such label is “False Prophet.” This label is typically tossed about when people have a difference of opinion, not because it meets the criteria of the biblical definition of a false prophet.
In Matthew 7 Jesus warned of false prophets right after telling people about the narrow gate (Jesus) that leads to life and the broad gate that leads to destruction. In Matthew 24, Jesus again warned His followers about false prophets and cautioned them not to be deceived when people come claiming to be the Messiah. The common thread in the Lord’s warning about false prophets was that someone other than Jesus Christ is claiming to be the Messiah. It wasn’t about a difference of opinion on lesser issues or a preferred ministry style. It was about Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.
Peter also warned of false prophets, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves” (II Peter 2:1).
John addressed the issue “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God” (I John 4: 1-3).
We need to be careful tossing out premature labels, especially when we have an unresolved difference of opinion, or someone’s style of ministry is not appealing to us. It would be wise to first find out if that person believes that Jesus is Lord and that He is the narrow gate of salvation. All other issues are up for discussion and processing. They are not a reason to pull out our religious label-maker and affix a label upon another person who sees the same issues as we do but from a different perspective.