Matthew 7:15-20 – Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
1. Many false prophets (and teachers) dwell among our congregations. Most people would probably be surprised because they think they could recognize these individuals easily. The goal of a false prophet is to be among the people without being identified in order to spread their message.
2. False prophets look no different than any other sheep in the congregation. They look like people in the church; dress like people in the church; know when to say ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Amen;’ and speak with some of the truth. 90% of a deceiver’s message can be the very truth of God’s Word, but it’s the other 10% you have to worry about (Genesis 3:1-15; Psalm 91:11-12; Matthew 4:5-7). A deceiver will not come out and say ‘I’m here to deceive you with my message…’
3. What is in a false prophet will eventually come out. Their messages will not always be filled with deception, but you must analyze the messages you read or hear to identify truth from deception. In order to know what is false, you must know the truth – have a good understanding of the scriptures. You must also depend on God through the Holy Spirit for discernment, warning you of the dangerous acts and messages of false prophets.
4. How to recognize false prophets and teachers. Jesus says that by their fruit you will recognize them. We cannot inspect someone’s fruit by outward appearances. Like Samuel, the last judge of Israel, we too can believe God’s approval is upon someone by their outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:1-13).
1 Samuel 16:7 – But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
The outpouring of the heart will display the true character of a man (or woman):
Matthew 15:17-19 – Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (read v.1-20 for context)
Matthew 12:34-35 – O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. (read v.22-37 for context)
Matthew 24:4 – And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. (read v.3-35 for context)
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Timothy 2:15 – Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The wolves are among us. Let we take up the charge to identify these false prophets in order to end their perversion among the saints.
Some questions to ponder:
- Are the scriptures quoted correctly without using added or subtracted words?
- Are the scriptures used in the correct context?
- Do they add information to their message (that does not fit) just to make their point?
- Do you recognize any underlying true motives?
- What methods do they use to convey their message?
- Are you looking at the non-verbal clues (what isn’t being said)?
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