'Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognise them.  Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit' - Matt. 7:15-20.  NIV

Before Jesus Christ left disciples, He forewarned them to be wary of false prophets.  He knew that people will come who will address themselves as prophets who had come to preach Christ but who in actual fact will prey upon the ignorance of the people to enrich themselves.  He told them in Matthew 7:15 'Be on your guard against false prophets; they come to you looking like sheep on the outside but on the inside they are really like wild wolves.  And also in Mark 13:22-23 we read 'For false messiahs and false prophets will appear.

They will perform miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God's chosen, if possible.'

One may ask that is it possible for true Christians to be deceived?  Yes, it is possible for Christians to be deceived.  Paul told the Corinthians 'I am afraid that your minds will be corrupted and that you will abandon your full and pure devotion to Christ in the same way Eve was deceived by the snake's clever lies.

For you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely from the Spirit and the gospel you received from us' - 2 Corinthians 11:3-4.

Paul's letter was to the Christians in Corinth and not to unbelievers.  Jesus Christ has warned us to be vigilant in order not to fall prey to them because so convincing will be the arguments and proofs from deceivers in the end times that it will be difficult not to fall away from Christ.  If we are prepared, Jesus says, we can remain faithful.  But if we are not prepared, we will turn away.

To be able to tell the true prophets from the false ones, we need to find out:

I.    If their predictions come true or do they revise them to fit what has already happened?

II.    Do they teach a small section of the Bible and neglect the rest?

III.    Does the teaching contradict what the Bible says about God?

IV.    Do their teachings and practices glorify themselves or Christ?

V.    Do the teachings promote hostility toward other Christians?

Those who take pride in seeing their predictions come true (that is, what is seen) rather than what is in the heart are the false teachers who are concerned only about getting ahead in this world.  The motivating factor for them is money and popularity rather than the furtherance of the gospel. If they are more concerned about themselves than about Christ, avoid them and their message.

Can all prophets whose predictions come true be said to be true prophets?  In Deuteronomy 13:1-3 Moses told the Israelites'A prophets or an interpreter of dreams may promise a miracle or a wonder, in order to lead you to worship and serve gods that you have not worshipped before.  Even if what he promises comes true, do not pay any attention to him.  The Lord your God is using him to test you, to see if you love the Lord with all your heart.'  We must always make sure that what they preach and predict is consistent with God's word, like the Bereans who went back to check from the Bible to see if what Paul taught them was true.  'As soon as night came, the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea.

When they arrived, they went to the synagogue.  The people there were more open-minded than the people of Thessalonica.  They listened to the message with great eagerness, and everyday they studied the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was really true'- Acts 17:10-11.  When people claim to be speaking God's Word, check to see if they are telling the truth and if their focus is on God.

Some of these prophets use the right words but still lead people in the wrong direction.  We should not get too excited about their predictions.  We should remember that attractive leaders are not always led by God.  The number of false prophets is increasing everyday.  The wise person will discern the true prophets from the false ones by carefully testing ideas against the truth of God's Word.  The most important of all is to 'Follow the Lord and honour Him, obey Him and keep his commands; worship Him and be faithful to Him' - Deuteronomy 13:1-3.

The Bible says a lot about False Prophets and Teachers of False Doctrine.  Here are a few quotations:

I.    They Love Power and Fame
The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees are the authorised interpreters of Moses' Law.  So you must obey and follow everything they tell you to do; do not, however, imitate their actions, because they don't practice what they preach.  They tie onto people's backs loads that are heavy and hard to carry, yet they aren't willing even to lift a finger to help them carry those loads.  They do everything so that people will see them.  Look at the straps with scripture verses on them which they wear on their foreheads and arms, and notice how large they are.   Notice also how long the tassels on their cloaks!  They love the best places at feasts and the reserved seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the market -places and to be called 'Teacher.'  And must not be called 'Teacher' because you are all brothers of one another and have only one Teacher.  And you must not call anyone here on earth 'Father', because you have only the Father in heaven.  Nor should you be called 'leader', because your one and only leader is the Messiah.  The greatest one among you must be your servant.  Whoever makes himself great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be made great.

How terrible for you teachers of the Law and Pharisees!  You hypocrites!  You lock the door to the Kingdom of heaven in people's faces, and you yourselves don't go in, nor do you allow in those who are trying to enter!  How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees!  You hypocrites!  You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert; and when you succeed, you make him twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are - Matthew 23:2-15; 23-28.

Some people have turned away from these and have lost their way in foolish discussions.  They want to be teachers of God's Law, but they do not understand their own words or the matters about which they speak with so much confidence - 1 Timothy 1:6-7. TO BE CONTINUED!

9thSeptember 2011
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