Jesus said deception would be rampant in the final days of this age. That deception will culminate in the “Beast” (the Antichrist) and the “False Prophet.”
What are some of the warning signs of a false prophet, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing?”
In my recent travels overseas, I passed a “Snake Temple” where live, poisonous vipers live unmolested in a pagan temple. I thought to myself, “I’ve seen a few of those in our churches, too!"
Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Mt. 7: 16).
What are the fruits of false prophets, and how will we recognize them?
1. It’s not what they say, it’s what they DON’T say.
- Their teaching will be totally out of balance. It will be good words, pleasant words, soothing words. They will NEVER, however, speak about what Jesus referred to as the “narrow way.”
- The narrow way is the path of self-examination, truth, and discipleship. It overcomes hardship, rejection, and tribulations. It keeps in mind God’s holiness, justice, and eternal judgment on the “easy way” of sin.
2. Their doctrine is deceptive.
- It never gets practical. It CONFUSES more than it builds faith.
- It rationalizes immorality. It promotes IMMORALITY instead of purity.
- It promotes spiritual “secrets” that no others know about except a “few, enlightened disciples.” Therefore, it causes DIVISION instead of unity.
3. Their character is corrupt.
- They focus on proselytizing (stealing sheep). They especially want to pull them away from their God-called spiritual shepherds.
- They always demand financial compensation. They take financial advantage of unstable souls.
- Their lifestyle is not consistent with their teachings. Behind the scenes, they live a double-standard.
4. Their disciples are deceived.
- Their disciples are enthusiastic but not spiritual. They have zeal but lack basic Bible foundation.
- Their disciples focus only on power and not on the God of power. Jesus, though He moved in powerful miracles on earth, used each of them to bring glory and personal relationship to God.
How do we prevent ourselves from being deceived by a false prophet or false spirit? “Self-examination”:
1. Examine WHAT you are being taught to do. Does it line up with Scripture?
2. Examine the MOTIVES behind what you do. Does it bring glory to God…or you?
3. Examine the FOCUS of your spiritual walk. Does this teaching lead you into a deeper relationship with Christ Himself?
I was recently in a city in Asia where thousands had gathered to worship their gods and watch as pagan priests did “fire-walking.” A local pastor told me of one such priest who annually amazes the crowd by getting down in a covered pot of boiling water. This year, when the lid was removed, the multitudes were aghast as he was found dead inside.
Satan always pays off in a deadly way. Don’t “drink the Kool-Aid.”
Stay close to Christ, His Word, His people, His leaders, and His Spirit.
And FAR AWAY from the “snakes in the Temple.”