Test the Fruit!
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, 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. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-20)
Jesus is warning his followers to watch out, to be on our guard, against those who would lead us astray. While the “false prophets” may appear harmless, they are anything but! We would do well to remember what Scripture tells us regarding Satan and his minions. The devil disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, we should not be surprised that his servants do as well:
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
(2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
We are to test all words against Scripture, before believing. When words are proven false, avoid and have nothing to do with following those who speak them! God blesses those who diligently search the Scriptures for truth. Even the Bereans checked the teaching of the Apostle Paul!
-D. L. Moody
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)
We are to be cautious! This is certainly not anything new. From the serpent in the garden until this present day people have been bombarded by those who desire to take them on the path of destruction. God has continuously warned His people against this:
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?” (Jeremiah 23:16-18)
Jesus tells us we can know these false prophets by the actions of their lives. A tree produces fruit according to its own kind. If we want to know if one’s teaching is from God, an easy test is to examine the life! The works of a person’s life will testify for or against them. If the direction of their teaching leads us to godliness, humility, patience, love, joy, and a host of other Christian graces, it surely points us to truth. However, if their doctrine is one of dissention and pride, and takes people away from governing themselves or their families, we had better flee or at the very least dig deeper ourselves.
Each person is ultimately responsible to God for what they believe.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Take It to Heart
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18)