How can we identify the false prophets?

Author: BibleAsk Team

False Prophets

A true prophet is one who speaks for God (Deuteronomy 18:20). By contrast, a false prophet is one who pretends to be speaking for God when in reality he speaks only the perverted thoughts of his own evil heart (Isaiah 30:10; Jeremiah 14:13–15; 23:16, 30–32, 38).

Jesus Christ warned, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15 also 24:23–27). Similarly, the apostles also warned the believers of false prophets and evil shepherds (Acts 20:28–31; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 2:18, 19). The Scriptures teach that the devil himself appears as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and his demons as servants of righteousness (verse 15).

The false prophets and evil shepherds will profess that it is possible for men to enter in God’s fold by the broad gate and the broad way (Ezekiel 13; 2 Peter 3:3). They are the “thieves,” whose only purpose is to steal, to kill, and to destroy (John 10:7–10). They have no transformation of heart, but only of an appearance of it. They deceive the sheep and give them a false sense of security to destroy them.

These “wolves” are not only wicked at heart, but fight the truth and those who stick to it. It is their goal to injure the sheep in order to benefit themselves. They are greedy for gain and for power. They “follow their own ungodly desires” (Jude 1:17–18), and “they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed” (2 Peter 3:14).

The Test of a Prophet

The good news is that the “sheep” are not completely unprotected—they can detect the “wolves” by their words and actions. Jesus said, “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20 also 12:33). The attractive teachings these false prophets preach are no evidence of their true nature and character. Their smooth words and high positions are no good test of what they really are, nor can their supernatural works be depended on for in reality they themselves are “slaves of corruption,” sin and inequity (2 Peter 2:19).

The false prophet’s life will bear evil fruits of lawlessness. Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:22-23).

Christians must judge all the teachings they hear against what Scripture says, “Rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The Word will identify the wrong doctrines that these false prophets teach. The Lord says, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 20:8).

The phrase in Matthew 7:20 “you will know them” is God’s promise that the “sheep” who know their Shepherd’s voice (John 10:4) will not be deceived by the good words of the “wolves.” Those who truly love the Lord and are fully yielded to His will should not worry about being deceived if they obey the voice of God convicting them every day through His Word. Only those who know the truth and love it will be guarded against the lies of Satan (Hosea 4:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10).

In summary, if a church leader does not live a godly life and doesn’t preach the truth according to the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:17,18; 1 Timothy 6:3-5), denies Jesus as Lord (1 John 4:1–3), and preaches a different gospel (Galatians 1:9), he is false prophet in sheep’s clothing.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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