Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Previously, I talked about the narrow gate and the path that leads to destruction from Matthew 7:13-14. Interestingly, this verse, which encourages Christians to enter through the narrow gate, comes directly before Jesus' words on false prophets. I don't believe it is a coincidence that these verses lined up this way. Jesus was trying to make a point. False prophets are on the path that can lead to destruction. So the question we need to ask is, who are the false prophets we need to be aware of today, and why is their message so dangerous?
Before I get to names, let's clarify who Jesus is talking about here. The word in Greek for false prophet is pseudoprophētēs. It comes from two words - pseudēs, which means "liar," and prophētēs, which means "prophet" or "one who proclaims a divine message from God."
How Do We Recognize a False Prophet?
Jesus says we will know them by their "fruits." He compares them to fruit-bearing trees. Good trees will bear good fruit, and bad trees will bear bad fruit. So does this mean we ought to look only at a false prophet's good deeds? No, we also need to look closely at what they are saying or proclaiming. But before we get into that, we need to know the difference between a false prophet and a false teacher because many Christians confuse the two.
True prophets are people who predict events not written in the Bible that ALWAYS come true. They have received a divine revelation from God. These revelations will NEVER contradict God's written Word. For example, if someone prophecies that all homosexuals will be destroyed, that would be a false prediction. Because it contradicts God's Word, which says God is not willing that anyone should perish but that all should receive eternal life (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4; John 3:16).
False prophets are people whose predictions NEVER come true and often contradict God's Word.
An excellent example of a false prophet is Benny Hinn and anyone in the Word of Faith camp. They all begin their "prophecies" with "The Lord revealed to me..." or "The Lord showed me..." or "The Lord told me..." Hinn himself has a glaring record of false prophecies so long that it's a wonder anyone listens to him at all. Visit the Christian Research Institute (CRI) for some examples of his false prophecies. FYI - he predicted the destruction of all homosexuals would happen somewhere between 1994 and 1995. Proving once again that he is a false prophet.
True prophets will always have their prophecies come true.
True teachers of God's Word do not predict anything. They teach directly from the Bible, ALWAYS keeping it in context. They do not contradict Scripture. They teach what the Holy Spirit guides them to teach, EVEN if it is something unpleasant.
False teachers, on the other hand, deny Christ. They do not teach the Gospel of salvation. They are puffed up with pride and often teach Scripture out of context, to suit their purposes and agendas. They will say things to make people feel good. In other words, they will teach what people want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4). False teachers teach false doctrines that contradict God's Word. They will cause division within the church body. They will also have an unhealthy craving for controversy (1 Timothy 6:3-5).
An excellent example of a false teacher is Joel Osteen. He puts a low priority on the message of salvation, even going so far as to deny Christ. Osteen has said that "digging deep into the Scriptures and preaching about sin is not my main calling." He is the Pastor to over forty thousand people. If he is not willing to preach from the Scriptures and exhort on God's Word, then he is leading these people down the path to destruction.
His books don't focus on what one must do to be saved. But instead, they focus on what one must do to live a better life, be a better person, or reach their full potential. Joel Osteen is a motivational speaker. He is not a preacher nor a Bible teacher, but since he claims the title of Pastor and all Pastors must teach from the Bible and He does not, then he is a false teacher.
Who Are False Prophets/Teachers Today?