January 9 – False Prophets

 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act… Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matthew 7:15-16, 20)

Read: Genesis 20:1-22:24, Matthew 7:15-29, Psalm 9:1-12, Proverbs 2:16-22 

Listen:

 

Relate: What makes a false prophet a false prophet? If you had asked me that question before reading today’s scripture, I am almost certain how I would have answered. A false prophet is someone who believes or teaches something contrary to the gospel. A false prophet is someone who does not believe Jesus was truly God, or fully man, or he did not rise from the dead, or that there is more needed than the cross for our salvation. Others might go so far as to say a false prophet is someone who teaches something contrary to the apostle’s creed. From another frame of reference, one could say a false prophet is someone who claims to speak a word from God that God did not speak. Someone less informed and thinking only of the modern understanding of a prophet might say a false prophet is someone who predicts a future event that does not come true.

All of these definitions have the same theme. A false prophet is someone who says the wrong thing. They teach false doctrine. They tell lies. They believe and spread something unbiblical. What do they believe? What are they saying? This is the standard by which we judge a false prophet. I can think of numerous “watchdogs” who have taken it upon themselves to be the accuser of the brethren. Er… I mean, to “guard the church” against false prophets. Some are small individuals motivated by jealousy of other’s success. Others have popular websites intended to Freil us wretched sheep from false doctrine that will send us straight to hell. Again, these watchdogs like to point fingers at those who supposedly speak or teach bad doctrine and shout, “Look! A false prophet!”

Jesus definition of a false prophet is somewhat different than ours. Jesus says that you will recognize a false prophet by how they act. He then says it again a few seconds later in case people didn’t get it the first time. In many ways, Jesus was a Pharisee. Many of the same things they believed, he taught. Many of his parables, the golden rule, his summary of the greatest commandment (love God love others), and much more have multiple parallels with various other rabbis from around the same time. Jesus’ biggest beef with the Pharisees was not with what they believed, it was with how they lived.

React: I can have perfect doctrine and teach flawless sermons, but if I am not living right, I am a false prophet. A man can be an excellent expositor, knowing and teaching the Bible with depth and clarity that informs and inspires many… but if they are not living it out, they are a false prophet. On the flip side, there could be some who are quite a bit off in much of what they believe, they could be horrible and studying and interpreting scripture, they could have pet doctrines or ideas for which there is no solid biblical support. Yet if they live with integrity and humility then they are true.

Please don’t get me wrong. We do need to study and understand Truth. We need to learn to rightly discern the scriptures and we need to hold people to the Word just as the Bereans double checked everything they heard from Paul. But our modern mindset has placed far too much emphasis on orthodoxy (right thinking) and we have forgotten that God is far more concerned with orthopraxy (right living). In my reading just last night, I was reminded that a common rabbinical phrase for religious teaching was “miqra”. The word is not about right understanding but rather a call to action. It is not enough to simply believe the right thing… we need to live it out.

Respond:

Dear God,
Do not let me be a false prophet. My habits and temperament, along with my culture and upbringing, all tend to place the greatest emphasis on right knowledge. Help me to step past all that to focus in on right action. Let me not just read and study Your scripture to know and understand but even more to then put it into action. Let me believe rightly, and then live it out properly. If it is by their fruit that they will be known, let any who see my life say, “he is a true follower of Jesus”.
Amen 

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17 thoughts on “January 9 – False Prophets

  1. Thanks for showing us the importance of living an upright life. We should never falter in our quest fir holiness. The world will most definitely know us by our fruit!

    Be blessed

  2. ” I can think of numerous “watchdogs” who have taken it upon themselves to be the accuser of the brethren. Er… I mean, to “guard the church” against false prophets.” I like how you put that. That’s been my exact thought too. As someone who does want to encourage Christians to come out of complacency and live out the gospel (and as someone who tends to disagree with a lot that goes on in churches), I constantly find myself up against becoming associated with those who are just trying to establish their own kingdom by tearing down the kingdom of God–all under the pretense of fighting Christian corruption. Sure, I think a lot of things are out of order, but most often these “watchdogs” are far worse than any church because they cause people to lose faith, become fearful, and fall into legalism and more. I appreciate this article immensely because it reminds me that I want to set a clear distinction so my reader-base knows I am not with them (though at times, I’m sure it appears that I am).

  3. It’s difficult to distinguish between true/false prophets if you never read God’s word for yourself. And it’s only going to get harder. Praise God for his faithfulness and for opening our eyes to the truth. Keep on reading! and sharing.

  4. Absolutely agree with you! If we can’t love others unconditionally, what would be the point in reciting scriptures trying to entice others to believe us? The better sermon is the one lived without saying a word.

  5. A thousand amens to that, my friend. Jesus said it over and over and over and somehow we still refuse to get it: the mark of our faithfulness is love – and enemy love at that – not purity or right belief or saying a prayer or confessing Jesus as Lord. Love. It is that simple. Well said. Shalom

  6. Your prayer is to be my prayer as I begin to teach our single moms this semester. That my words and actions fall in line with one another. Love them to the Truth. Thank you for your teaching in your blogs. Blessings and prayers that you continue on the true course.

  7. I think it all starts in your heart. I do believe some people are false prophets, and do not even know it. For jesus says all things we say flow from our hearts. I think that religion itself produces false prophets, but when we take that doctrine and redefine our hearts and lives with it, we create a relationship with our creator, turning us into true disciples of the word.

  8. I would actually like to contend with you on connecting Messiah with the Pharisees. To insist that Messiah was pharisaical is actually quite in opposition to his message. Messiah’s message was that the Father’s loving instructions were never meant to be built up with hedges and additional rules to make some look better than others, or simply to make life more difficult. His message was, and always has been, and always will be is to love Our Almighty Father unconditionally with everything that we are, be willfully obedient to Him and rejoice in the blessings and healing that comes from it, and love each other for if we love Him, we should also love that which was made in His image. Remember, Messiah said that “my doctrine is not mine but from the One whom sent me.” He was teaching what was sent from above! The Pharisees taught what was right in the eyes of men, a doctrine twisted by paganism, traditions and the seed of earthly power! I am sorry but that is two different things.
    As far as the standard to which we judge false prophets, it has been already written if you believe that the statement in Matthew 5:17-18 to be true: (17) “Think not that I am come to destroy the Torah, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill (make full of meaning). (18) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no ways pass from the Torah till all be fulfilled.” The true testament to understanding a false prophet is in Deuteronomy Chapter 13. I will leave to look it up yourself. Please seek the truth with all of you mind, heart and soul and be blessed as you walk in the paths of righteousness.

    • What I actually said was, “In many ways, Jesus was a Pharisee. Many of the same things they believed, he taught. Many of his parables, the golden rule, his summary of the greatest commandment (love God love others), and much more have multiple parallels with various other rabbis from around the same time. Jesus’ biggest beef with the Pharisees was not with what they believed, it was with how they lived.”

      Based on your response, I assume you don’t really understand theologically what the Pharisees believed. At the time of Christ, there were two major rabbinical schools of thought: those of Hillel and Shammai. While Shammai was in predominance at the time. Jesus very closely follows the school of Hillel. I already listed above many of the ways in which he does and I would strongly encourage you to look it up for yourself. It will really help you better understand the context in which so much of his interactions with the religious leaders takes place.

      As far as the standard I used to judge a false prophet, that is not my own. It comes straight from the words of Jesus. In case you missed it at the top of the post, I will give it to you here again: “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act… Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” (Matthew 7:15-20)

      • I appreciate your comment and the veracity in which you write. I actually do know a lot about what you speak and know Hillel and Shammai quite well, for most intensive purposes I do not presume that others do and do not include that in my rationalization when responding. I also realize their impact and influence on the system of Judaism at that time and what is represented in the Talmud, Mishnah, and Gemorrah as well as the calendar and the traditions of the elders.
        I also agree with your state concerning the inspecting of ones fruit and being aware of those posing as sheep.
        I am apologize if I have offended you with my words and you may most certainly delete the comment if you wish.

  9. ( Matthew 7:15 KJV ) “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”!!

    Love Always and Shalom ( Peace ), YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

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