The False Prophets

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, ” Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day,” Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?” Then I will declare to them solemnly,” I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.”  Matt. 7: 15-23   

Ever seen a false prophet? Are there any around today? A prophet is a disciple who claims to speak in the name of God. So, we have pastors, deacons, evangelist, theologians and Sunday school teachers all claiming to speak in the name of God. How can I tell who’s speaking God’s truth? Jesus says we can tell by the quality of their deeds (fruits).

The “wolves in sheep’s clothing” is interesting because Jesus refers to credentials. Prophets in the old testament, wore a sheep’s garb (wool mantel) as a symbol of authority (2 Ki.1:8, Zech.13:4) so it was hard even back then to tell, by their credentials, who was a “true” or who was a “false” prophet just by looking.

Let’s look at three categories of fruit:

1) Doctrine: What do they teach? Where does “it” come from? Where was “it” established? Who established “it”? (Remember the who, what, where, when and why.)

2) Effect of their doctrine: What effect has it had on the people they’ve served? Growth or stagnation? Love for God and others? Rejection of God’s authority? Division or unity? Sensual life or spiritual life? Deception or honesty?

3) Their own moral character: Are they marked by pride, greed or immorality? Are they dominated by worldly things? Do they prey upon the weak and the guilt-ridden?

Remember, the best way to fight “false” teaching, is to know “true” teaching! Why do you believe what you believe?

2 Peter 3:17-18: Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory now and to the day of eternity. Amen  


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