Today many religious leaders are intentionally or unintentionally using hypnotism, NLP, and other mind control techniques on their followers. From extreme to mainstream Christianity to other religions, nowhere is safe. I heard about it being done to some of my friends in common church settings, and the persons who were subjected to these kind of stuff still firmly believed in their “spiritual experience”. I will talk about those in a sec.
Some of the most extreme, false prophecies would be examples of end time date setting. Some false prophets claim to be able to tell when exactly Jesus is coming back and what date the Rapture is supposed to take place. This practice has been going on for at least hundreds of years. The false prophets never ran out and year after year there are new dates being set, and by the time the dates arrive, the same prophets would postpone the dates yet again and give some explanations as to why, and then continue to deceive people with new end time prophecies.
But Jesus clearly said no one will know when the end time is and when he is coming back.
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Some false prophecies are not that specific. They are general enough that someone in the audience will feel like it is true to them personally. If the hearers want it to be true bad enough, they will rationalize it to the point that their mind will accept it as legitimate, spiritual experience.
Some personal examples that happened to my friends: a pastor of a church in a violent neighborhood said something like, “I feel like someone is here who has a family member in jail, a person who is about to get released. I want you to stand up and I am going to pray, because I can feel God working in their life and changes are about to happen.”
A girl from that church heard it, and with the persuasion of her sister, believed that it was addressed to her situation. She had a boyfriend who was in jail, and they were dating at the time. The guy wasn’t a Christian or family member, but the girl and her sister deliberately interpreted this prophecy as being addressed to her and her boyfriend. They wanted to believe that God approved this relationship so they rationalized it.
The pastor, in my opinion, was clearly manipulating the audience. The church was in the middle of a violent neighborhood, so surely someone must know someone whose family member was in jail. There were many small time criminals who went in and out of jail often in that area. Surely, a friend or family member of an inmate would like this prophecy to be true and interpret it accordingly. By the way, God is always working in our life and changes are always about to happen—they are as true as gravity—because the only constant in life is change, and God never stops working in our life.
No true prohecy in the Bible is so shallow and general. All the examples of true prophecies in the bible are specific and inflexible. They either come true or they don’t. It is easy to tell who and what a particular prophecy applies to.
I never heard a prophecy from modern religious leaders that was as specific and accurate as prophecies in the Bible.
A real prophecy from a real prophet should sound like this one:
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
Most prophecies uttered by so called prophets in our time are general predictions that are hard to refute, things that people want to hear, or things that will most likely be true to someone in the audience if the crowd is large enough.
A pastor of a big church spoke in a service and said that he sensed someone was at a high risk spiritually, and my friend felt that it was him. When he talked to me about it, I told him that this statement about someone at risk spiritually is always true, especially for a church of few thousand members. I doubt if more than half of the church is going to heaven anyway, so just “someone at risk spiritually” is simply an unstatement, given that most Christians might not even end up in heaven.
There are many downsides to false prophecies like this. For one, the control the false prophets have over their followers are constantly reinforced through these trickeries. These religious leaders have no real authorities, otherwise they don’t have to use these tricks to substitutes the real power of God. For two, those who base their important decisions on these prophecies subject their destinies to external influences, instead of what is truly best for them.
How to tell if a Prophecy is False
If a prophecy doesn’t come true, then it is a false prophecy, and the person who prophecies is a false prophet, pure and simple.
20 But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, [a]that prophet shall die.’ 21 [b]You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
It is a huge waste of financial resource, faith, and time for the believers to follow these leaders. If you find your leaders are having similar pattern, then I encourage you to investigate further before you waste too much time with them and their church. If you have enough reasons and evidence to believe that they are actually illegitimate who utilizes trickeries instead of following the biblical model of leadership, then you have to be the true voice in the churches, oppose them as much as you can, and leave the church to find a real one.