—Ezekiel 13:22-23 (NASB)
I have to admit that there have been many times when I have been given to read or a video to watch of someone claiming to be prophesying in the name of the Lord, that I have laughed out loud. It wasn’t the laughter of arrogance, just that many times the things these people say are so outrageous and unbelievably over the top it commands laughter from anyone with a minimally discerning mind. But far more often it is apparent to me that they have accomplished their goal as revealed in God’s directed response to them: “You disheartened the righteous with falsehood when I did not cause him grief“. I would say this is a fair characterization. I recently saw an website that compiled over 300 documented instances of so-called leaders speaking false prophecy and related false doctrine. “Disheartening” doesn’t begin to cover it.
But there is a second goal of false prophets, and perhaps we should get off our disheartened bottoms long enough to address this even more disturbing effect: “You…have encouraged the wicked not to turn from his wicked way and preserve his life“. The myriad of nut-job, public false prophets are portraying Christ and Christianity in such a poor light that the unsaved see it all as lacking credibility. The false personalities are so prominent that the unsaved can’t distinguish the genuine from the counterfeit. And the truly tragic result is that just like me at times, the unsaved are laughing too! Who can watch Benny Hinn for more than 5 minutes without hootin’ and hollerin’ out loud?
In the end God will hold them accountable for their actions, but I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t true believers’ responsibility to take a stronger stand against these people. You would think we would do so if for no other reason than to combat the disheartened way they make us feel personally, but then there is the even greater effect of their hardening a missionary field that is already pretty rocky to begin with. †††