In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned His listeners about a problem that had been going on way before the time of His earthly ministry and still exists today. I am referring to the prevalence of false prophets and teachers. He spoke in more detail about them but this is what Jesus said about them in part: Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. (Mt. 7:15-16) The sheep’s clothing reference can be literal or comparative. The prophets of old were known for their simple way of dress, often being clothed in sheep or goat skins. But Jesus may have also meant that outwardly they look just like all the other members of his flock. In other words, they may actually look like God’s children but may be quite the opposite.
I am bothered and feel somewhat uneasy when I hear one of our church members, or even other Christians, for that matter, who follow and sing the praises of certain TV evangelists or teachers who quite easily fit Jesus’ and the Bible’s description of a false prophet. Those who follow them are in danger of being harmed spiritually, emotionally, and even financially. When Jesus said we can know them by their fruit, he gave the comparison to a tree. Trees are known by the fruit they give. If the fruit is good, the tree is good and vice-versa. People too are known by their fruit, that is, what comes out of them, namely their words or their actions.
In accordance to the biblical definition, here are just a few characteristics of a false prophet or teacher. (1) They often come up with a new revelation and meaning of scripture. (2) They claim that Jesus or God speaks to them directly on a regular basis. (3) They will often tell you that if you financially support their ministry, you will receive so much more in return. (4) They will sell you such things as anointed holy water, handkerchiefs, water from a well in Jerusalem, even meal packages, and claim that once you buy and use them, you will be healed of any disease or condition. Titus 1:7 calls this seeking dishonest gain. The power of God is not on things but on God himself.
I wish I could tell you more, but time and space don’t allow it. Nevertheless, the best way to protect yourself from false prophets and teachers is by knowing the truth. (Jesus) In fact, He said in John 8:32: And you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free. Make it your goal to know Him more every day because to know Him, is to love Him.
Memory Verse for the week: (1 Peter 2:9) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.