With all the fake news we have to weed through on social media these days, it’s hard to imagine that we also have to weed through false Christian teachers. This is tough because some of these folks have strong voices. They’re very charismatic. And they have huge followings. I’m not going to tell you who to listen to and not to listen to. My purpose in this article is to show you the warnings in the Bible about false prophets or teachers. Most importantly, how to tell the difference between what’s true or false.
At the bottom of this post I’ve embedded 3 videos. Please take the time to watch them — and ask God and the Holy Spirit to open your mind, heart and eyes to discern the truth.
When you search for the phrase: “false prophets” on Bible Gateway, you get 25 Old Testament references and 11 New Testament passages. Now, I’m not going to quote all of them. But here are my personal favorites and then I’ll summarize at the end.
Jesus warns us in Matthew about False Prophets…
15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”Matthew 7:15-20 NLT
11 “And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.”Matthew 24:11 NLT
23 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.
26 “So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it! 27 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes.”Matthew 24:23-27
But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed….
12 These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. They scoff at things they do not understand, and like animals, they will be destroyed. 13 Their destruction is their reward for the harm they have done. They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight. They are a disgrace and a stain among you. They delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals. 14 They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed. They live under God’s curse.2 Peter 2:1-3, 12-14 NLT (Bold emphasis mine) Read the Whole Chapter here
Paul Warns us in 1 Timothy
Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. 2 These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.1 Timothy 4:1-2 NLT
Jude, One of Jesus’ Brothers, also Warns of False Teachers…
3 Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. 4 I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ….
17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.Jude 1:3-4, 17-19 NLT Read the whole chapter here
John tells us How to Discern False Prophets
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.
4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.1 John 4:1-6 NLT
Back in February, I did a podcast on discerning truth as one of the 22 Benefits of Jesus True Salvation…
Jesus and the Holy Spirit Speak Truth
They are incapable of lying! However, YOU have to be able to discern — tell the difference — between the voice of God and the lying, deceiving, voice of Satan.
Having the Holy Spirit inside of you — in your heart — definitely is an asset! You may not hear an audible voice, but you’ll get a feeling that what you’re listening to or watching is wrong. You’ll get the urge to turn it off or walk away. Do it! Then Read the Bible! Search for the proof! It’s there!
That’s where the free bible apps or sites like Biblegateway come in handy. You can search for a word or a phrase and it will bring up related scripture verses. The Bible App also has studies and devotionals on many topics including the false teachers.
I wish that I had the Bible apps when I was in high school. I truly feel that the Catholic Church deprived me of the true Word of God. My parents didn’t know better. They relied on the teachings of the Catholic Church, too. I was never encouraged to read the Bible until I join the church in Miami in 1988. I stopped going to the Catholic Church regularly when I went away to college in 1973. That’s 15 years as an adult when I was lost — I was kind of a Prodigal. Once I started reading the Bible and going to Bible studies, I started to realize how deprived I was of the truth!
Here’s a Podcast I did in January on the Lies the Catholic Church tells about Salvation…
If you want to be able to discern the truth, you MUST have the Holy Spirit in your heart! How do you get him? By inviting Jesus to be your Lord and Savior!
Pray this prayer humbly and wholeheartedly…
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins. Please forgive me. Right now, I repent and turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and my life to you. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. I will follow you for the rest of my life. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Next Steps in Your New Walk with Jesus…
- Start reading the Bible daily. If you don’t have one, I recommend the YouVersion, Bible.app and Through the Word app — both are free and have a lot of great daily devotionals and Bible studies.
- Pray every day. Talk to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you daily.
- Find and join a Bible-believing church — preferably a non-denominational one and be baptized!
Watch these videos and pray that God will reveal the truth to you…
This is the video of Pope Francis lying to the little boy that Mike Winger referred to in the last video. I cried, not because of the emotional scene, but of the anger on how someone as revered as the Pope can lie to a child.
Seek the Truth.
Soli Deo Gloria — to God Alone be the Glory!