• Jenna

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - Part 1

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 thorn bushes 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 fruit (Matthew 7:15-20).


Two Categories of People in the World


There are two categories of people in the world. There are those who believe the gospel, and there are those who don’t believe the gospel, which makes them against the gospel. Jesus said that there are those who are with Him, and there are those who are against Him. “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30). There is no gray area when it comes to believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we're not all in for Christ, we're all out. There is no such thing as balancing between light and darkness when we are true disciples of Christ. That's because we are children of light. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5). True Christians don't practice both sin and righteousness. We may stumble off the path at times, but as believers, our lives are balanced in the light and truth in Jesus.


Those who are with Jesus are fully committed to the pure gospel, as revealed in Scripture; nothing added to it and nothing subtracted from it. Those who are against the gospel come in various forms, including endless forms of religion that are all centered around some type of works or self-merit. Among the category of those who are against the gospel is the false prophet. The false prophet is one who comes dressed as a gospel believing sheep, but inwardly is a ravenous wolf. Jesus explicitly tells us of the fact that there are false prophets among us, and He warns us to beware of them.


There are those who speak the truth and live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, and there are those who tell lies, distort the Truth, and aim to bring destruction to the life of the church. There are those who live for the glory of God, and there are those who come to steal, kill, and destroy. This life is not a battle for territory but a battle for the Truth. Satan has been telling lies, distorting the Word of God, and manipulating people to doubt the goodness and righteousness of God ever since the garden. He may be crafty, but His tactics haven't changed. The best way to fight Satan is with knowing and living the Truth.


Beware


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 thorn bushes 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 fruit (Matthew 7:15-20).


We must first know that false prophets are not always easy to recognize. Especially when being passed off as fellow believers, these types of false prophets are sometimes very difficult to discern at first, or even for a while. Keep in mind that Jesus specifically uses the word, “Beware.” In other words, He is urging us to be on the lookout. Be on the alert. Look closely, since a false prophet can often time look like a faithful sheep and part of the flock. A false prophet can even be leading a flock. These people clothe themselves outwardly in the white, soft, fluffy fur of the sheep. But inwardly, they are wolves. They are liars and deceivers, and they come as a thief only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).


There are the false prophets who spread obvious heresies and openly preach twisted gospels with no shame. These are false teachers and pastors like Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copland, Joyce Meyer, Todd White, Bill Johnson, and Paula White, to name a few. And then there are false prophets who are more hidden, more slick, more sophisticated, and therefore all the more evil. These types of false prophets are even more dangerous and deceptive because they are more subtle, and they know how to fly under the radar. These are people who accurately verbalize, teach, explain, and regurgitate the Truths of Scripture in order to conceal their hostility, treachery, and hidden motives. These ones come boldly bearing the name of Christ, openly proclaiming the gospel with a false sense of zeal, reciting passages of Scripture, and professing to know and admire the great reformers like Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, John Piper, Paul Washer, and John MacArthur. They dress up as our fellow believers, are involved with a Bible believing church, intellectually know and teach correct theology, and sometimes they lead Bible studies or even take up full leadership positions in a church. In other words, they are like a snake in the garden.


Angel of Light


Jesus doesn't say to beware because false prophets are going to be quick and easy to spot. He doesn't say to beware because false prophets are going to be standing out in the open waving a big red flag for the whole church to see. He doesn't say to beware because we’ll just be able to look at one and say “Hey, look you guys, that’s a false prophet. Don’t trust that person!” No, it's quite the opposite actually. Jesus says to beware because false prophets are difficult to point out. Satan has been deceiving people for centuries and knows exactly what he’s doing. Scripture describes Satan being disguised as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan also knows Scripture very well, better than you or me, better than everyone except God. Satan knows the Truth, and he knows how to use Scripture as a weapon so that he may get unsuspecting Christians to let down their guards. We must keep our eyes and ears open for these Satanic-driven people who dress up like sheep but inwardly are ravenous wolves.


Wolf in Sheep's Clothing


Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:13-14).


These false prophets who pass themselves off as fellow believers hide very well behind their masks. These people know how to use narrow gate and narrow road lingo. They can get you to think they are following on the narrow road that leads to life, when really, they are walking on the broad road that leads to destruction. These people pretend to fit in with the small crowd by using “gracious” speech and language and mimicking Christ-like behavior in the presence of other Christians and even go out of their way to "help" people. Their helpfulness and outward care for others easily conceals their hidden and self-serving motives. It's as simple as this; they are wolves dressed in sheep's clothing. And some of these dressed up wolves are much more sophisticated and evil than many Christians may realize, including myself. If we as Christians think we can’t be deceived, the deception has already begun. We as Christians must be vigilant and watchful. It’s a command in Scripture. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Also, we must know that false prophets are not only out there and in our churches, but there are a lot of them out there. And some are much harder to spot than others.


The Truth Fights Lies and Wins Every Time


One main reason why it’s difficult for some Christians to accurately identify false prophets is because we don't all have solid biblical and theological knowledge as we should. Biblical and theological illiteracy makes it very difficult to discern between truth from error, especially right from and almost right. The only way to fight lies and win is with knowing and living the Truth; knowing what the Scriptures say with proper understanding. Ultimately, it’s understanding the truths of Scripture that set us free from sin, deception, and destructive heresies. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Without knowing and accurately interrupting what the Scriptures say, we are all easy targets for Satan and his demons in the spiritual realm we live in. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers in this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).


See, if we don’t regularly study the Bible or sit under sound biblical teaching, and if we don’t have a correct view of theology, it is nearly impossible to recognize false prophets when they pop up into our lives. Satan knows who is biblically and theologically weak. Satan knows who is too trusting and too open right out of the gates. Satan knows who foolishly gives the benefit of the doubt for too long and has trouble with trusting their gut. Satan knows our weaknesses, and he knows what kind of liar, deceiver, or scammer to send to what kind of child of God. I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans 16:17-18)


Yet, we know that God is the ultimate determiner if He is to allow that test for His child and ordain it to come to pass for His good purposes. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, (Genesis 50:20). Satan often sends false prophets to Christians who are new in their walk with the Lord or who don’t yet have a strong foundation of biblical doctrine. Also, the more a believer is proclaiming the gospel and being vocal about God's Word, the more of a target that believer becomes in the spiritual realm. As Christians, we must know and understand what Scripture says and hold fast to the Word of God because we are surrounded by lies in this world.


A Stranger They Will Not Follow


See, the false prophet that is the most dangerous one is not the one who is teaching doctrine completely opposed to biblical truth. That’s a whole different blog. No, the false prophet who’s the real dangerous one is the one who knows Scripture, knows reformed theology, intellectually understands the concepts of biblical principles, has passages of Scripture memorized, and can intellectually teach and explain biblical doctrine in an accurate way.


To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers (John 10:3-5).


Do believers still need to be on guard even though Scripture says that we won’t follow the voice of a stranger? Absolutely. Yes, true sheep will always follow the true shepherd by the power of the Holy Spirit, and they will not follow the voice of a stranger. However, false prophets are nevertheless very dangerous to believers, and we need to remember that Jesus warns us to beware. Let’s also not forget that He labels these people as ravenous wolves, which says quite a lot. In other words, these are people who come to do much harm. They come to steal our time and energy away from serving the Lord and others, to keep us from bringing glory to God, to kill our joy and peace we have as children of God, to get us to doubt our salvation and God's promises over our lives, and to try to ultimately destroy God’s calling on our lives. Basically, they come to confuse us, paralyze us, and make us miserable. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep (2 Peter 2:3).


They Come to Steal, Kill, and Destroy


Let's keep this in mind: A false prophet is not going to take a true believer in the small crowd on the narrow road that leads to life and ultimately put them back in the big crowd on the broad road that leads to destruction. No. That’s not the real danger we're talking about since a true Christian can never lose his or her salvation. The minute a person is justified by grace through faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit takes up residence, that person becomes a true believer. And a true believer can never return to the big crowd on the broad road ever again. Once we are justified by the blood of Christ through faith by grace, God will sanctify us by His Spirit, and He will eventually glorify us in heaven. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). True believers will never be led into damning teaching to the point of no return. The Holy Spirit will convict them sooner rather than later, and God will always bring a lost sheep back to His flock.


This is the real danger: A false prophet can "randomly" pop up into our lives and turn a believer's life upside down. A false prophet can railroad us clear off the joy-filled and peaceful path we are traveling on; the righteous path that brings God glory. Sometimes, for months or even years a false prophet can have a true follower of Jesus all confused, twisted up into knots, and debilitated until they are ultimately delivered from all the lies, chaos, and confusion. Just because we know we are true disciples of Jesus who’ve been born again, we can’t now think we're untouchable. Yes, God protects His children, and there's nothing to be afraid of when we have Jesus in our hearts. Our souls are secure in Christ. But nevertheless, as Christians, we all must be vigilant and discerning in this deceptive world that is run by Satan. We must take up the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) if we want to avoid the chaos and destruction these false prophets aim to bring.


False Prophets = Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Psychopaths


Especially as believers, we need to be very careful about who we let into our lives, who we follow and listen to theologically, who we meet on the world wide web, and who we decide to trust as a new friend or potential romantic partner. False prophets can’t destroy our eternal souls, but they can come to do much harm and damage to our lives here on earth and steal our eternal rewards from us. If we do get mixed up with one of these people, it takes time and effort to be delivered from their schemes and destruction. And takes even more time and effort to unravel all the lies and confusion and fully heal in order to move on. Basically, I'm talking about narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths if I am to categorize these people in the secular world. This is to give further emphasis and clarity, but as Christians, we call these types of people false prophets when they creep into our churches and pretend to love Jesus. People like this in the church try to hide behind their religious masks, but after awhile their masks slip. At first they seem like a really great person and friend, but people cannot hide their true selves for long. The truth of a false prophet is eventually exposed. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).


False prophets are one of the reasons God has appointed elders to the church. Elders are there to protect the doctrine and teaching of the church and to disprove any false teaching that might creep into the church and poison its members. Elders protect the body from false prophets who try to sneak into the church and prey on unsuspecting believers, especially women and children. There are a lot of self-professing Christians out there who look normal, who talk normal, who are very "friendly," who serve as gospel missionaries abroad, who lead Bible studies, who have Christian podcasts or write Christian blogs or books, and who are even household names in the Christian realm. Elders are needed in order to protect the church from these ravenous wolves clothed as children of God.


In Part 2 of this sequel, we will learn the two main things we ought to look for when identifying a false prophet. Stay tuned, Christians! I'll be publishing it soon.

 

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15


Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1


But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 Peter 2:1


And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. Matthew 24:11


Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. Jeremiah 23:16

30 views