One of the things that annoys me about some of my fellow Christians is their inconceivable inability to distinguish a False Prophet from a false idol.
The Bible warns us against both. But so many Christians don’t see the delineation that it scares me. So let’s clarify shall we? A false idol (or you could just say "idol" since presumably they're all false) would be someone or something that leads a Christian AWAY from their faith. Examples might include: Satanic worship, greed, pornography, hedonism; or if you are the type to see other religions as "the path to hell" this might also include anything non-Christian like say Buddhism, Judaism or Islam.
I’m not saying that I agree with that all those things are idolotrous nor will I debate what really goes in the Idol category but from a fundamentalist Christian standpoint I could see how these things could lead a Christian directly away from their professed faith. They either displace the values of Christ or refute the faith entirely (as in other religions). For this reason I don’t think false idols are really much of a threat to Christians. I mean they are obvious. They are so easy to spot it’s pathetic. They are the big red flashing “DANGER” signs for religious Christian fervor. We respond to them with a universal, "DUH!"
False Prophets on the other hand are far more insidious. They masquerade as Christians. They quote Bible verses. They start holy wars. They claim to be doing God’s work even though their actions seem to profit them more than they do the church. They turn a blind eye to injustice. And they do it all right under the noses of, and often with the overt approval of people who genuinely want to please Christ. The False Prophet doesn’t want you to renounce your faith, he wants to pervert it! He will make you a tool of the Enemy. Under his care your chilled Christian heart will learn to judge others mercilessly. You’ll mindlessly drive lost souls away from Christ or else pervert them as well.
The everyday Christian hears the False Prophet shout, “Honk if you love Jesus!!” and he/she HONKS like a crack addicted goose. The False Prophet sends an email claiming that CBS canceled Touched By An Angel because it was glorifying God and some atheist (who has oddly enough been dead for 10+ years) had protested it. In his/her righteous indignation the everyday Christian madly spams everyone in their address book with this lie without bothering to spend like 10 seconds to type in “http://www.snopes.com/” to see if it’s true or not; completely forgetting that the show hasn’t been on in like three years and the 9th commandment clearly states “thou shalt not bear false witness”.
The False Prophet claims that Jesus is his co-pilot as he orders the deaths of innocent people who stand in the way of his profiteering while ignoring the slaughter of other innocents who have nothing to offer him. The False Prophet places a magnifying glass over the lives of gays in love in order to distract the everyday Christian from the fact that he is robbing the poor and the elderly and decimating God's good earth.
The Bible doesn’t warn us about the dangers of false idols in the Last Days. It warns us about the dangers of False Prophets. False idols may be an opportunity for proselytizing and missionary work but they are no big threat to our salvation. Do not fear those who can destroy the body, fear those who can destroy the soul. Those who would use our faith against us are counting on us to be lazy. Certainly we are to be as innocent at doves, but we have to be as cunning as serpents. We are to take nothing for granted. Sometimes I think we as Christians are just so damn happy to hear somebody, anybody say “Thank You Jesus!” that we just “pishaw!” the bad behavior that is muddying up our shoes by association. It’s gotten so bad that the everyday Christian is actually apologizing for and rationalizing the sins of False Prophets. It’s a doomed path, if everyday Christians keep down that road, they’ll burn with them too.
Lucifer was an ANGEL of LIGHT. Let’s remember that. If he showed up at your door sporting horns, a pointy tail and a pitchfork you’d say, “Get thee off my porch Satan!” Right? That’s so hopeless he’s not gonna try that. The Devil is S-M-A-R-T and not only that he’s a snappy dresser. When he knocks on a Christian door he’s gonna be wearing his Sunday Best, carrying his Bible, there’ll be a cross around his neck. And after he offers to paint the blood of the lamb on your door he’s gonna ask you to sign a petition to fire that Lesbian schoolteacher who’s teaching your dyslexic son to read when no one else could and in exchange he’ll give you four tickets to a screening of Narnia. That doesn’t mean we can’t trust each other. But it does mean that we need to be on guard. For the Devil and his False Prophets are big toothy roving lions (and I ain't talking about Aslan, folks) looking for a tasty Christian morsel to maul.
But we’ll know true Christians by their love. The love of Christ that accepts and forgives others who can’t/won’t/don’t live up Gods standards. The love that would never send valiant men and women to sacrifice themselves in order to line the coffers of the wealthy. The love that asks WWJD instead of deciding to torture a prisoner of war. The love that sacrifices of itself. The love that tenderly cares for the poor. The love that rescues children. The love that delivers justice with mercy. That’s what you look for and if you don’t see that then check the size of their teeth.