Are you desperate to know what the future holds? Well, it seems that many of us are, and some of us are even going to extreme lengths to try and find out. Earlier this week, Pope Francis warned Christians against listening to fortune tellers. During a homily he delivered at Domus Sanctae Marthae, he said to those who go to seers or tarot card readers: "You do not follow Jesus! You follow another who gives you another path, a different (path)."
While it's natural to want to know what's around the corner, taking this to the extreme suggests a lack of trust in God. If we attempt to peek into the future when life gets tough, can we really proclaim that we wholly rely on God to protect us? And, if we seek the advice of false prophets, we're more likely to be focused on pursuing the false promises that they offer.
Jesus said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," (John 14:6). What God's got planned for us can't be learnt from a fortune teller. If we're genuine about knowing what he wants us to do we should go to him.
The Bible speaks of "many false prophets" and they're abilities to entice believers. They're not always easy to spot and that's why it's useful to remind ourselves of biblical teaching on what characteristics they usually possess.
What the Bible says about the deceitful nature of false prophets
Matthew 7:15 - Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Matthew 24:24 - For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Romans 16:18 - For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
2 Peter 2:1 - 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.
What the Bible says about identifying false prophets
Deuteronomy 18:20 - But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.
Jeremiah 23:16 - This is what the Lord Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord."
2 Corinthians 11:12-13 - And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
1 John 4:1-2 - 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.