Jesus warns of false prophets who will “come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15). Externally they will have the appearance of being persons of God, but internally they are enemies of God. Jesus goes on to say, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” That is, we can recognize them by their actions and teachings.
Jesus later warns that in the latter days “many will fall away” [from the faith], and “many false prophets will arise and lead many astray” (Matt. 24:10-11). Similarly, the apostle Paul warns, “evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). Paul, Peter, Jude, and John each warn of false teachers.
Again, the people of God are not left defenseless. Jesus tells his disciples, just prior to His crucifixion, that they would receive the “Spirit of truth” and He “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:17, 26). And He “will guide you into all the truth….He will glorify me” (16:13-14). Note, Jesus declares Himself as the truth, and God’s word is truth (see John 14:6; 17:17).
What’s the big deal? Jesus says,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” ~ Matthew 7:21-23
It is vital that we understand mere outward appearances and professions of being a “Christian” can be dangerously misleading. Jesus says false prophets/teachers are ravenous wolves disguised as sheep of His pasture. Do not miss the serious implications of Jesus’ warning. He is emphasizing the real nature of false prophets—vicious, strategic, and deadly!
We are living in dangerous times in which many assume a person must be a Christian if they say they are or if something is labeled as “Christian.” Many feel they are “judging” if they question if someone is a Christian; however, there is a vast difference between judging and discerning. In fact, John (one of Jesus’ closest disciples) writes,
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
How are we to “test” others? What “fruits” do we watch or listen for to detect false teachers? Well this list is not exhaustive, most false teachings stem from one or more of the following:
- Empty religion (works and activities void of God’s grace and inner workings)
- Rejecting the authority and trustworthiness of the Scriptures
- The condoning of behaviors God condemns (antinomianism)
- Adding works to grace (legalism)
- “Prostituting” the Gospel
- Denying the Person and/or atoning work of Jesus Christ
- Messages void of the necessity of the Cross
- Salvation by any means other than Christ alone 
In our Western church culture people tend to focus on Jesus’ message of love and grace, but may we not dismiss His and the apostles’ warnings of the ever immenent danger of false prophets and their literally damnable teachings.
 Geno Pyse, BEWARE of False Prophets: Taking Seriously the Warnings of Jesus, the Prophets, & the Apostles (Rochester: GP&P, 2020), 71.
Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles each warn of false prophets and false teachers. In fact, Jesus and the apostles warn that these will go “from bad to worse” prior to Jesus’ return. Furthermore, the apostle Paul says there will be a great falling away (apostasy) from the faith. This book discusses some of the common teachings and/or practices of false teachers, and seeks to help persons to become better equipped to discern between truth and error. Study questions for group or personal study included. (184 pages)