Author: Stephen Stillman
The Lord Jesus told us to beware of false prophets. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves”, (Matt: 7:15). Jesus knew how they could harm believers and He knew how they could negatively affect the Church of God that was soon to be born. Jesus would not warn His believers of something that did not exist. False prophets were common in Old Testament times. They prophesied only what the king and the people wanted to hear, claiming it was God’s message. False prophets are just as common today. Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits”, (Matt: 7:16). Jesus warned to beware of those whose words sound religious, but who are motivated by money, fame, or power.
Following Jesus’ command concerning false prophets require critical observations. We must not be indifferent to their existence. Believers often become indifferent to many things, but this is a command of Jesus that we need to constantly be aware of and maintain a watchful attitude. In maintaining a critical attitude we need to follow our Lord’s instruction, “Judge not, that you be not judged”, (Matt: 7:1). Do not judge superficially. The fact that a person labels himself as a prophet or spokesman for God does not necessarily mean that he truly speaks God’s Truth. We also need to beware of judging others if we ourselves are at a greater fault. We can only have critical observations if we are first critical with our self and remove our own faults. We need to remove the plank from our own eye before we can have a clear vision to be a corrective agent of God. Believers also need to be redemptive in spotting false prophets. We need to seek to redeem them and to rescue them, as they are going astray.
It is our responsibility as believers to recognize false prophets. We must be responsible for ourselves. We cannot think it is someone Else’s responsibility. In the day of judgment we are all accountable for our own decisions in life. To be able to recognize false prophets, we must know what constitutes some prophets as false.
Any “prophet” meaning religious teacher, who teaches that salvation is possible through any other way than personal belief in Jesus Christ is a false prophet. Jesus specifically says that man must himself enter through a strait and narrow gate. This means that there is only individual salvation. Each person enters on his or her own volition. No one else can do it for you. Salvation is granted to those who personally express faith in Jesus.
Any “prophet” who teaches that man is intrinsically good in himself and can find salvation in the good things he does is a false prophet. There are many good people in the world today. They accomplish great things for their fellow man. They are morally sound. But if people feel they are spiritually secure because of their works, their affluence, their prosperity, or their morality, they have fallen prey to false prophets.
Any “prophet” who in their teaching minimize Jesus Christ and glorify themselves is a false prophet. A true prophet will only sound the glory of Christ and what He has done for us, while remaining humble in the things he has personally done. A true prophet, or religious teacher, knows that the things he has done and can do comes from a God given strength and not his own. We should be very careful in taking credit for the things we do in the work of the Lord.
What harm can false prophets do?
In Old Testament times nations were corrupted by false prophets. Their false prophesies created large followings of people. Their audiences became enthusiastic because they made the people believe all was well. False prophets can do the same today. They can make people believe everything is well and good, and give people a false sense of security. We must remember that as long as Satan is still at work in this world, we cannot afford to lose our sense of security and lower our guard. We have to remember Jesus warning that Satan’s prophets come in sheep’s clothing; unnoticeable and crafty. I don’t think anyone can argue that our nation is losing it’s sense of religion and morality that the nation was built upon. It is largely due to people falling prey to false teaching that creates enthusiasm and a false sense of security. These false prophets take control of our feelings and change our minds a little bit at a time, thus remaining unnoticeable. This thought brings us back to Jesus’ command, “Beware!”
True prophets and false prophets are as different as chaff and wheat. Chaff is useless for food and cannot compare to nourishing grain. The teaching of false prophets is useless, except for destroying the soul. The teaching of true prophets is the only teaching that can nourish the soul.
To share the gospel is a great responsibility, because the way we present it and live it will encourage people either to accept or reject it. Whether we speak from a pulpit, teach in a classroom, or share with friends, we are entrusted with accurately communicating and living out God’s Word. As we share God’s Word with friends and neighbors, they will look for it’s effectiveness in our lives. Unless God’s Word has changed us, why should they let it change them? If you preach it, make sure you live it!
About the Author
Stephen Stillman, owner of www.amazingchristianproducts.com a website that offers great Christian articles and a variety of Christian products.