A few weeks ago I asked somebody in a comment to tell me what are the signs of a false teacher. I think the reply was that they twist scripture. That is true (2 Peter 3:16-17), but there are MANY other signs for us to keep in mind especially today with so many teachers/prophets/preachers around and people heaping them up as prophesied by Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3 .
It’s one thing to tell people to avoid false teachers but how will they know who is false if they haven’t studied the word to know? What are the signs to look for? I just want to share a list using scripture of signs to help us all to identify false teachers. I think it is so important that we have the knowledge coupled with discernment to be able to identify the wolves in sheep clothing in the church today (and there are MANY of them).
I won’t pretend to be an expert on this topic but whatever God has allowed me to know so far I want to share with you all. Apostle Paul warned us about this, so did Jude, so did John, so did Peter, many of the Prophets in the Old Testament and of course Jesus gave us all warning when He said, “See to it that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” Matthew 24:4-5 How many of us are being careful that none deceives us?
(1) PROPHESYING, SIGNS AND WONDERS, MIRACLES
This area is one where many are most deceived because we think well if they say something and it comes to pass then they must be truly prophets sent by God. Scripture tells us in Deuteronomy 18:22 “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” So there we know if they say something and it doesn’t happen they are most certainly not of God and you need not hear anything they have to say.
Now, what if it comes true? Is this a sign that he is truly a prophet sent from God? Well, based on this Deuteronomy scripture we can easily say yes, but if we look in Matthew 24:24 we see Jesus telling us that, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Jesus also says in another place, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Matthew 7:21-23
Now here we have people who have cast out demons, told prophesy in the name of the Lord, they even have the ability to perform miracles and extraordinary signs right in our faces yet Jesus warns us to avoid these people and He calls them evil doers. So how are we able to know who’s real? To me these scriptures shows something VERY important. Do not judge merely by appearances. Do not allow your feelings from your heart to determine if somebody is of God or not, many deceive themselves when they lean on their own understanding, and are wise in their own eyes (Proverbs 3:7, Proverbs 3:5-6).
Jesus even tells us in John 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” How do we judge righteous judgement? Judge by the fruit and not by the works, not by signs, not by persuasive words and wisdom of man, but judge the fruit of the man. Jesus said, “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.” Matthew 7:15-20. Examine the fruit, do not believe somebody is truly a prophet of God because your friend told you they were, because you saw them make a cripple walk, or healed a disease right in front of your eyes. Do not believe simply because you have heard many testimonies from people who you believe are reliable sources who have told you people have been healed of whatever. If the person was healed, glory to God but that does not mean that person who healed them is somebody for you to now place you trust in and think they can never deceive you.
We know demons don’t cast out demons because a house divided cannot stand (Mark 3:25), but we also know that many who have the ability to cast out demons will not enter heaven, so we must be wise and trust in God. Do not trust these people, trust the word of God. If you are uncertain pray to God to show you the fruit of that person. Be a lover of the truth and pray for discernment it is so VERY important because this is the only way you can escape being deceived by False prophets in these days, especially escape the anti-christ and his false prophet. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-11).
(2) REQUESTING MONEY
Another sign which perhaps should be more obvious but sadly still many are deceived by it is that no true prophet of God will ever ask you for money to “give you a word from God”. If we look from Genesis to Revelation, not a single Prophet of God ever asked for money to deliver a message from God. This is the plainest sign that that person is not from God and also are covetous and idolatrous. Prophets in the Bible actually declined money, for example Elisha in the book of 2 Kings 5. Read the story there and see what happened to the one who runs after money and material things and take careful note of the conduct of the Prophet Elisha who declined material things in payment for doing the will of God.
If anybody claiming to be of God asks you for money for prophesy, for you to receive understanding of God’s word, for healing, or for anything pertaining to God besides helping the poor or (with proof) using it for helping those in urgent needs, and help the saints, if they ask you for money have nothing to do with them. If they through deceit place upon you the burden of a certain percentage of money you must give, run away from them they are not of God, for He never placed such a burden on us to bear. Remember that His yoke is easy and His burden is light and it does not involve robbing the poor (Matthew 11:28-30). If you are asked for money know right away that that person is running in the way of Balaam the only prophet in the Bible who went after money. Jude warned us of this in his letter, Jude 1:11 and Peter also warns us in 2 Peter 2:12-22. To further learn about how false prophets work read Jeremiah 23:9-40. Very stern warnings in there listed in detail. God does not take this lightly and we should not either.
(3) TEACHING ERROR, FALSE DOCTRINE, DOCTRINES OF DEMONS.
This one is quite simple to detect ONLY if a person has the Spirit of truth, the word of Christ dwelling within them richly in all wisdom so they are able to discern and fact check internally (through the inner man, 1 John 4:4) comparing to the word of God when sitting in church listening to sermons or on the radio, or reading books, or blogs, or whatever. Paul summed it up this way, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8-9. You will only know it’s a false doctrine if you know the true doctrine first. Therefore, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
Also, do not take luxurious lifestyles with huge estate homes and expensive cars and wardrobe or even large numbers at huge churches to mean they are of God. Many use this lie to make people (whose heart is set on riches but more specifically those who are poor) think that if they listen to them they can also have such a lifestyle. Do not forget the way satan tried to tempt the Lord with such remarks, “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “All this I will give You, he said, “if You will fall down and worship me.” “Away from me, Satan!” Jesus declared. “For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Matthew 4:8-10. The deception today is not that they are saying bow down to them but instead they say, “Sow a seed”, “God doesn’t want us to be poor”, “this is your season for increase” etc etc etc. Do not fall for any of this. “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love him?” James 2:5 Poverty is not a sign that God is not blessing you or that you will not receive God’s favor and love.
(4) THEY ARE HYPOCRITES AND IN SOME CASES ENTANGLED IN SEXUAL IMMORALITY
“Their eyes are full of adultery; their desire for sin is never satisfied; they seduce the unstable. They are accursed children with hearts trained in greed. ” 2 Peter 2:14.
“Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6 “How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:11-12
(5) THEY ARE IN DISGUISE
Please if you remember anything from my post remember this, false prophets come from among us (meaning they claim to be believers Christians, they go to church, they know the songs, they even know scripture but they are the ones Paul warned the elders about in Acts 20:29-38 and Jude warned about in Jude 1:8-19, and Peter warned about it 2 Peter 2 and John warns about in 1 John 4:1-6) These are people you know, you call some of them brother and sister, you have eaten with them, sang with them, spoken with them, may have even been helped by them and prayed for by them and with them but be careful that no one deceives you. Again, Jesus says be careful that NO ONE deceives you. That means test everybody, like Apostle John said “test every spirit to see if they are form God” 1 John 4:1. Nobody is exempt from this vetting process, not me, not even you, not your pastor or elders in church, none of the leaders in your church are exempt, not your mother, not your father, not even an angel from heaven.
There is a reason scripture uses the example wolves in sheep clothing, or that satan can make himself and his ministers as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), they are in disguise, (keep that in the front of your mind). They appear harmless even friendly, even can seem to be on fire for God, many stand on pulpits and preach, many will prophesy and claim to have helped people and share testimonies of people being blessed by their word or prophesy, but you still be careful that no one deceives you. Do not take these things to mean they one of us (the Body of Christ) because the word of God shows us that they are not, do not be deceived by their works, you will know them by their fruits. I want all of us to escape this deception that has taken many in the church captive. God bless and keep each of you.