A Systematic Expository Study of the Word of God
KNOWING FALSE PROPHETS THROUGH THEIR FRUITS (FOLLOWERS)
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“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but
inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
Most sheep can easily be deceived into accepting any hireling wearing
sheep’s clothing. Most believers, even experienced Samuels, may be impressed
by the outward qualities and characteristics of false prophets and false
teachers if they look no farther than external manifestations.
“Inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Our process of
admitting workers, leaders and preachers into the ministry must go beyond
the evaluation of “sheep’s clothing” which human skill
can make and wear. What the prospective workers and preachers are “inwardly”
is more important than all impressive outward qualities. But what if we have
difficulty discerning a prophet’s inward desire, ambition and motivation?
How else can we identify false prophets? “Ye shall know them by
their fruits.” Men do not limit themselves to the
leaves, barks or flowers of trees to evaluate and identify them. The flowers
of a tree may be beautiful and fragrant, the foliage may be thick and green,
the appearance may be great and gorgeous, but the fruit is what determines
its identity and usefulness. The outward appearance, public image, physical
environment, external worship and visible resources of a prophet-preacher
may be impressive and attractive but we must ask: what is the quality of the
fruits being produced? If the man in sheep’s clothing has the nature of a
wolf and produces corrupt fruit, his apparent meekness, gentleness,
devotion, zeal, affability, and good humour are all meant to deceive and
destroy the sheep. When Satan transforms himself to an angel of light (2
Corinthians 11:14); the tormentors may put on the faces of men and wear
crowns like gold (Revelation 9:5-8); the beast may have “two
horns like a lamb” and “do great wonders”
(Revelation 13:11-13), the people of God must not be deceived. We must
examine the fruits of the prophets, then shall we know whether they are of
God or not.
CORRUPT FRUITS OF FAULTY PREACHING
Matthew 7:16-18; 2 Corinthians 2:17; Galatians 1:6-10; Isaiah 5:20-23; Acts
20:26-31; 1 John 2:18-19,26; Ephesians 4:14; 1 Timothy 6:20-21; 2 Timothy
2:17,18; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
Whatever fruit any preacher produces, it is through preaching. Fruits of
life and labour, fruits of character and converts, fruits of belief and
behaviour, fruits of doctrine and disciples, fruits in families and
followers are produced by the seed we sow, by the messages we preach. The
greatest power for deception and destruction which the false prophet has is
his faulty preaching. He corrupts the Word of God, not only by misquoting it
but by misinterpreting it. He makes his hearers believe a lie, not by
denying the strait gate and the narrow way but by never speaking on them. He
may not deny the necessity of repentance, the absolute condition of saving
faith, the importance of holiness, self-denial, separation from the world
with all its lusts and pride, but he never mentions them. He may preach very
comforting and reassuring messages on the love of God but he is forever
silent on the holiness of God, the justice of God, the righteousness of God,
the wrath of God. The false prophet may not openly deny God’s revelation on
the final judgment and the eternal destiny of the lost but he never warns
his hearers of the wrath to come. Paul had opportunity to preach to “the
most excellent governor Felix”. “And as he reasoned
of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled”
(Acts 23:26; 24:24-26). This, the false prophets will not do.
The false prophet may not deny the Lordship of Christ but he does not
exphasize our submission to Him as Lord (Luke 6:46). False prophets who deny
the clear teaching of God’s Word, who oppose Christ’s way to eternal life,
who openly disbelieve the existence of eternal punishment for sinners are
dangerous. But the false prophets who cleverly and studiously keep quiet on
these salient truths while emphasizing half-truths are doubly dangerous.
They make us to think “peace and safety” when
“sudden destruction” is very near (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
That is always the effect of the messages of false prophets.
“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11).
Faulty preaching makes the “people to
trust in a lie” (Jeremiah 28:15; 29:31), and produces corrupt
fruits. “Beware of false prophets. Ye shall know them by their fruits.”
CARNAL FOLLOWERS OF FALSE PROPHETS
Matthew 7:16-18; 23:15; Hosea 4:6-9; 1 Timothy 4:1,2; 2 Timothy 3:1-8; 2
Thessalonians 2:9-12; 2 Peter 2:1,2,14,19-22; Hebrews 12:15-17; Matthew
The followers of false prophets are the fruits of their ministry. The effect
of the message of false prophets will be seen in the lives of their
followers. We cannot judge a preacher by the life of a few of his
congregation; there was an Achan in Joshua’s team and a Judas among Christ’s
disciples. But when the general effect of a preacher’s message on his
followers is corruption, carnality, deception, immorality, covetousness,
unrighteousness and hypocrisy, it is a sure sign that we must watch and
beware of false prophets. False prophets “make”
their followers “vain” (Jeremiah 23:16)
“cause (the) people to err by their lies”
(Jeremiah 23:32), “strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none
doth return from his wickedness” (Jeremiah 23:14;
Ezekiel 13:22) “deceive the hearts of the simple”
(Romans 16:18) “beguile you with enticing words”
(Colossians 2:4). False prophets make sinners and backsliders hardened in
their sins. “For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and
when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves”
(Matthew 23:15). Corrupt trees produce evil fruits (Matthew 5:16-18).
False prophets raise carnal followers. To be carnal is to be “sold
under sin”, to be given to sinful propensities, to be under the
influence of fleshly and worldly desires (Romans 7:14). “The
carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God,
neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). Such followers of false
prophets become so resistant to saving truth; they hate the law of God while
they profess to love God and desire blessings from Him. Under the
“strong delusion” of false prophets, religious people “believe
a lie”, “believe not the truth” and have “pleasure in
unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
COURAGEOUS FIRMNESS AGAINST FALSE PROPHETS
Matthew 7:16-18; Deuteronomy 13:1-8; Proverbs 23:23; 24:21-22; Romans
16:17-18; 1 Timothy 4:15,16; 2 Timothy 3:12-17; 4:1-5; 2 John 7-11; Jude
3,4; Revelation 2:2,6; 3:10-13.
It takes courage to stand up for the truth in the midst of false prophets.
It takes courage to defend the truth when those who propagate error are many
and mighty. It requires courage in these last days when multitudes are on
the broad way and you know that the few unpopular believers on the narrow
way are right and approved of God. It takes courage to cast in your lot with
the few and lose the favour, help and approval of relatives and family
members who are on the broad way. There is physical courage and there is
moral courage. Physical courage is bravery, that virtue that enables a
person to put fear under control in the face of danger, pain or misfortune.
David had this kind of courage to confront and conquer Goliath. Moral
courage is greater than physical courage. David did not have the moral
courage to stand for truth and righteousness when Absalom sinned against God
by killing Amnon. The lack of moral courage causes more problems than the
absence of physical courage. Absalom caused David more pain, sorrow and
heartache than Goliath and all the giants among the Philistines. Solomon was
a greater thorn in the flesh to Israel than all the Philistines put
together. The courage to stand up against error and unrighteousness, the
courage to resist and withstand false prophets even when they are our
kinsmen according to the flesh, the courage to defend and protect the truth
with conviction and unrelenting commitment, that is what we need at this
hour. Beware of false prophets. Be aware and be warned of false prophets. Be
watchful and be a warrior against false prophets. Warn God’s people and
watch over them. Beware and watch over your own soul, too.
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