When I look at the current political news of Donald Trump I am reminded of what a false prophet will do. Mr. Trump has been described by Republican loyalists as an interloper (a person who becomes involved in a place or situation where they are not wanted or are considered not to belong). They consider Mr. Trump as an outsider who is not a genuine Republican, but rather an opportunist (perhaps a Democrat in disguise) who has overtaken their party and beliefs. The Republican party is free to do with Mr. Trump as they please. They can accept him and adopt his convictions, or they can cast him out and keep their convictions. However, Christians have more at stake than a political party. It is their soul which is at stake and they must protect it. A false prophet will do what Mr. Trump has done. They will enter in among you, seize on the congregation’s weaknesses, and either slowly or rapidly overtake you with their advantages. Oft time they are wealthy, powerful, persuasive, and very articulate. They come prepared to devour, and devour they will if left to their own devices.
Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they, are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or rigs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:15-23).
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he warned men of the danger of false prophets. It is not enough for our Lord and Savior to spread his own wholesome teaching. No! He must also warn against the dangerous influence of bad teachers”. So must we today, even more so!
Why do false teachers pose a threat to man’s soul? Jesus warned that false teachers (even good, honest, and sincere unintentional false teachers) lead men into the pits of hell.
False teachers apparently were good, honest, and sincere. They called Jesus “Lord” (Matt. 7:21), prophesied, cast out devils, and did many wonderful works in Jesus’ name (Matt. 7:22). The text indicates that these false teachers expected to enter heaven. However, their iniquities caused Jesus to reject them.
False prophets wear the clothing of Christians, and blend in with their beliefs and doctrines with just small deviations. One may be tempted to think that a false teacher is going to walk in the doors of a church building and announce, “I am a false teacher. I am here to lead men to hell. I want to announce my intentions beforehand so that I will be honorable.” That is not the manner in which false teachers operate.
False teachers appear in sheep’s clothing. Hence, they will transform themselves into apostles of light (2 Cor. 11: 1315). They will look like good, righteous men. In our day, false teachers appear so sweet spirited (until one challenges what they teach); they are too spiritually-minded to engage in debates and discussions so that their teachings may be examined openly. They preach only positive lessons (unless they are knifing in the back those “keepers of the orthodoxy” and “guardians” of the party). They are as cunning as a snake, and just as venomous.
Jesus stated that the test of whether or not a man is a false teacher is his fruit. Here are some fruit which need to be judged:
He will claim to receive revelation from God. Prophets are men who receive divine revelations from God; false prophets claim to receive revelations which they never received from God. They will say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?” How many times have you heard tel-evangelists claim to have received revelations from God? When men begin claiming to receive messages from God, especially in an age when revelation has ceased (1 Cor. 13:8-10 ff; Jude 3; 2 Pet. 1:34), you can detect that he is a false prophet.
He will preach a “wide gate. ” Jesus had just stated, “Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13,14).
Jesus said that the entrance into the kingdom is a “strait gate.” When men preach manners of entering the kingdom which Jesus did not reveal, they are false teachers. The conditions for entrance in the kingdom of heaven are revealed by Jesus (hear, believe, confess, repent and be baptized); when men start teaching that men are saved who have never complied with these conditions, they are false teachers.
He will preach a broad way. The false teacher will teach a “broad way.” The “broad way” implies that a man can live any manner he so chooses and still be approved of God. When men start releasing men from obligation to any of God’s law, they are false teachers. False teachers which preach a broad way include men who release men from responsibility to respect human life (abortion), allow social drinking, allow divorce and remarriage for any reason or to the same gender, excuse fornication, endorse homosexuality and perversions, and any other law which God has laid upon men.
He may lead an immoral life. He may be full of covetousness, preaching what he preaches as a means of obtaining financial gain (2 Pet. 2). Some have perceived godliness as a means of gain (1 Tim. 6:5-6), having become teachers who tickle the ears of those who pay them. Some have become involved with “silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts” (1 Tim. 3:6). This fruit exposes them as false teachers.
He will leave a path of destruction in the churches with which he labors. Paul wrote of the Judaizers in Galatia who “trouble you” (1:7). False teachers will have that impact. They will raise questions which undermine faith, leading disciples away from the truth. When they are opposed by those who stand fast for the gospel, schism, dissension, and division will result. Hence, false teachers will leave a trail of churches torn apart by their false teaching. This is a “fruit” which men can judge.
Warning! Some who teach you the truth of the Lord have been labeled falsely as false teachers. God’s prophets were called trouble makers and were killed for prophesying the truth of God (1 Kin 18:17,18 f; Act 7:52). Therefore, we have to examine ourselves and compare what teachers teach to God’s Word (2 Cor 13:5 f; Acts 17:11). If they are wrong, we need to contend with them (Jude 3). If they are right, we must be willing to change, and apply our lives to God’s Word (Acts 17:30).
Conclusion: A person should never be intimidated from testing whether or not what a person is teaching is from God. The Lord himself charged, “Beware of false prophets.” Consequently, John warned us “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1). God-fearing men will search the Scriptures daily to see if the things taught are so (Acts 17:11), regardless of how respected the man is who is teaching them.
Elders are responsible for the soul of the congregation. “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch…” (Acts 20:28-31).
Yet, in the end of all things we are responsible for our own soul, for it us who will have to suffer eternal damnation if we are deceived. Therefore, I am going to exercise my God-given right to test every teacher to see if what he teaches is from heaven or from men (Mat. 21:25). Frankly, I do not care whether he likes being so examined or not. There is too much at stake for me to irresponsibly accept what he is teaching without testing whether or not it is from God. Remember the warning of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “Beware of false prophets!”