“False prophets” – How destructive and damaging they are! They encourage false hopes, give a sense of artificial security, demean what is right and true, deceive the innocent, and attack and persecute those who are righteous… And there may be more that could be said about their false message! They claim to speak for God, but they are actually the mouthpiece of the Devil!
The temptation in identifying “false prophets” is to focus only on what they say – their message! The Bible addresses the characteristics and content of their message, to be sure. But in the “Sermon on the Mount” Jesus emphasized another, equally important (perhaps even more important) litmus test for identifying “false prophets” … their lifestyle… their behavior… their “fruit”!
Here it is in His own words… “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. YOU WILL RECOGNIZE THEM BY THEIR FRUITS. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. THUS YOU WILL RECOGNIZE THEM BY THEIR FRUITS. (From Matthew 7:15–20 ESV)
Brings to mind something the writer of Hebrews had to say about those with a healthy, true message from God – True prophets! “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God! CONSIDER THE OUTCOME OF THEIR WAY OF LIFE, AND IMITATE THEIR FAITH. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! (Hebrews 13:7–8 ESV)
In the plethora of messages that abound in our world today, it seems to me we would do well to heed the words and warning of Jesus! Don’t just examine the message of a self-proclaimed “prophet” – scrutinize and observe their life! Oh, and one more thing, you never go wrong following Jesus! He’s reliable on both counts – message and lifestyle! Follow Him… He’s “the same yesterday, today and forever!”