How do you spot a false teacher? What should you be on the lookout for?
Hi, welcome to today’s little lesson. Thank you so much for joining me on this, another special Lake Erie edition. Jesus told us to beware of false prophets, and so everyone who is claiming to be a teacher or a preacher of the Word of God should be scrutinized, and they should be evaluated by the criteria that Jesus gave us.
As a teacher, I would never consider myself to be someone who shouldn’t be scrutinized, because I’m within a group of lots of people who are teaching the Word of God — pastors, teachers, so-called evangelists, and some are even calling themselves prophets and apostles — and so we need to be very, very cautious.
So, as we’ve been working our way through the Sermon on the Mount, we’re coming now to the final verses of it, and I try to emphasize throughout this sermon that it’s very clear that Jesus was doing a lot of correction in this sermon. You remember right at the beginning, He said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees,” that is, your spiritual leaders that you’ve been listening to all your lives. That’s who He was talking to in the Sermon on the Mount, people who’d been under the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees all their lives. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds them, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” That is, “Your spiritual leaders are all going to hell.”
And if you study the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees and then study the Sermon on the Mount, it becomes very clear that there’s a lot of specific correction going on here that’s targeting the false teaching of the scribes and Pharisees.
And so, if there was anyone who fit’s Jesus’ description of a false prophet, the scribes and Pharisees fit the description. So, as Jesus has now done all this correction, and He’s warned His listeners to enter by the narrow way, He starts off in verse number 15 of chapter 7 saying, “Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
So, that is, they give a façade, there’s an appearance there, but on the inside is … There’s something wrong. They’re not one of the sheep, they’re out to exploit the sheep, to take advantage of the sheep, to gain something from the sheep. They look at the flock just like wolves look at flocks of sheep: “There’s dinner.”
Okay? And, you know, goodness, it seems like there are a lot of these folks today, because their ministries are a business, and they’re getting wealthy off of their ministries. It’s mostly those prosperity guys. They’re the biggest criminals in this area, and it’s amazing that so many people are misled by them. Well, let’s talk about that a little bit more. “You will know them,” Jesus said, “by their fruits.”
Now, in this sermon, Jesus said, you know, “Don’t lay up your treasures on this earth, but lay them up in heaven, because where your treasures, there your heart will be also,” and we’ve got these guys on TV, and on the radio, and in their books and everything, telling us to lay up treasure on this earth, and they’re the biggest example of it, flying around in their private jets, and living in their mansions, and with their Rolex watches and their lavish lifestyles and so forth.
Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits,” so it’s easy to spot a false prophet who’s living a life of luxury and making his money off of the proceeds of his quote-unquote “ministry.” “You’ll know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And so there’s the warning of the end of these false teachers and false prophets who don’t bear good fruit because they’re not a good … They’re not the real McCoy, they’re not the real deal. They’re just thorn bushes and thistles, and that’s why that’s what they’re actually producing. There’s the end: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And there’s one more of so many affirmations that Jesus gives in this Sermon on the Mount that makes it very clear that part of the package of salvation is transformation. You know, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of those who repent and believe in Jesus, and He doesn’t just come to hitchhike; He comes to transform us and to make us holy. And He does that progressively, it doesn’t all happen instantaneously, but “He that began a good work in you promises to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
As you consider whether or not someone is a false teacher, you have to look at that person’s fruits. Now, it’s so hard to look at people’s fruits in this day of media ministry, when people like me are making videos. You don’t have any idea how I live, what my lifestyle looks like, what I am like when I’m not on the camera, and so forth.
You know, you’re not watching my daily life, you don’t know how I treat my wife, you don’t know how I treat my kids, you don’t know how I treat other people, and so forth, and so it is extremely difficult, and so you should be extra, extra, extra cautious. Of course, if you judge everything that’s being taught from the Word of God, then that itself, too, is a great litmus test, and you don’t want to listen to anybody that’s not backing up what they say with Scripture.
One tiny advantage that I guess that I have as a teacher is that I do more than just video teachings, and I’m so honored and blessed to lead a ministry called Heaven’s Family. You can look us up on the Internet, look at our website, and so forth, and see the kind of fruit that is being produced by the ministry of Heaven’s Family.
Now, I’m not the only person, there’s over 30 people who are on our staff, but there’s so many good, fine, fruitful people that are part of the ministry of Heaven’s Family, and I’m so honored and blessed to be a part of that whole family, of that staff of people that are serving the least of these around the world.
And I’m blessed in that regard, and I’m not saying that every teacher should be directing a ministry like Heaven’s Family, I’m not saying that at all. No, if you’re called to be strictly a teacher, then that’s probably what you’re going to do.
But you still ought to be involved in doing something to care for the least of these, right? Not to be leading a ministry that’s caring for the least of these, but personally, if you’re a God-called teacher, God-called preacher, God-called evangelist, God-called whatever, if you’re not caring for the least of these on some personal level, well then, we’ll know you by your fruits. You’re not the real deal, you’re in the wolf category, not in the sheep category. Okay?
So, that’s something you could always ask, if you can meet a teacher of the Word of God personally. But again, through the media ministry, again, it’s just so difficult, so beware. Beware.
Okay? You’ll know them by their fruits. Thank you, Jesus, for giving us that bit of guidance, and there’s more guidance to come that’s actually almost shocking, what we’ll talk about in our next little lesson. Hope to see you then. Bye-bye.