How To Identify a False Prophet / False Teacher
Matthew 7:15-18 NKJV
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
We live in a time where money and not lost souls, is the motivation for why people become pastors; We are living in a time where a person who calls himself a “pastor” announces that he supports homosexuality & gay marriage; We live in a time where the gospel is no longer about the grace and love of God through the life, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ – instead there are now heretic teachings such as the “prosperity gospel” whose focus is to enrich the preachers of the prosperity gospel movement.
The Bible warns us that false prophets and teachers are “deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13).
However, one of the methods on how to identify a false prophet / false teacher is by studying the doctrine that they preach & believe and comparing it with what is written in the Bible.
For example false teachers may teach that you must keep the law and earn or work for your salvation. Yet there are many verses in the Bible that teach us that salvation is a free gift and that we are saved by grace and NOT by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
It is therefore up to every Christian to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who after hearing the preaching would “search the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so”.
Therefore the Bereans did not just listen to the preaching, but they verified through the Scriptures if what they had been told through the Scriptures is true or not.
Therefore knowing & studying the word of God for yourself is the best way to guard yourself against false teachers & prophets (2 Timothy 2:15).
2 Timothy 2:15-16 NKJV
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
IDENTIFYING A FALSE PROPHET / TEACHER THROUGH HIS DOCTRINE
The first way that you can detect false prophets or teachers is by how they interpret, practice and teach the word of God. Remember that even the devil used scripture and he misinterpreted the scriptures in an attempt to tempt and manipulate Jesus (Matthew 4:5-7)
Therefore a false prophet will show the following traits in pertaining to doctrine
- A false prophet or teacher preaches a different gospel. He does not correctly interpret the word of God, but he will interpret the scriptures inappropriately in order to subtly deceive people to meet his personal deceptive agenda.
Examples of a different gospel is the “name-it-and-claim-it gospel” or the “prosperity gospel”. Another example is the teachings that salvation is attainable through personal works. (Galatians 1:6-9 NKJV – I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.)
- They preach only what people want to hear – even if it is the wrong thing. (2 Timothy 4:3-5 NKJV – For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.)
- Their teachings reject the work of Christ on the cross and instead give precedence to self-glorification, self-effort and self-achievement apart from Christ. Many false teachers have become more like motivational speakers. Rather than glorifying Christ & His finished work, false teachers teach humanism and glorify human ability & human achievement above Christ. (2 Peter 2:1 NKJV – But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction)
- False teachers / prophets seldom teach their listeners or followers to read the Bible for themselves so that the followers may personally learn from God through His word. False prophets / teachers subtly prefer that their own teachings become the sole authority over people instead of God’s word. (Matthew 16:11-12 NKJV – “How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? — but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.)
- False teachers / prophets at times teach the doctrines of demons & deceiving spirits instead of God’s word (1 Timothy 4:1 NKJV – Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons)
1 John 4:1 NKJV
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Be careful what you listen to. Be careful what you feed yourself with. It is very important as a Christian that you have a one-on-one relationship with God. It is also imperative that you learn to study the word of God alone and to spend quality time with God. You must rely on the Holy Spirit to teach you and guide you pertaining to the word of God.
God’s word is food to your spirit. It is good to listen to teachings of other people – however it is also important that you also study God’s word for yourself.
When you have a sound relationship with God and when you are constantly learning God’s word and studying and meditating His word, you will not easily be swayed by false prophets or teachings whenever they come in your direction.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV
The word of God also says “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work
TODAY. Study the word of God for yourself.