The Sure-Fire Ways to Recognize False Prophets and Teachers

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Leviticus 10:1–2

He took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house, and he took everything, even taking all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. 27 So King Rehoboam made shields of bronze in their place, and committed them to the care of the commanders of the guard who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. 28 Then it happened as often as the king entered the house of the LORD, that the guards would carry them and would bring them back into the guards’ room.1 Kings 14:26–28

How dark the gold has become, How the pure gold has changed! The sacred stones are poured out At the corner of every street. 2 The precious sons of Zion, Weighed against fine gold, How they are regarded as earthen jars, The work of a potter’s hands!…Lamentations 4:1–2

Matthew 24:10"At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11"Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12"Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. Matthew 7:15

1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,…

1 Kings 13:18 The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (But he was lying to him.)

Jeremiah 23:26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?

Sure-Fire Ways to Recognize False Prophets and Teachers

We’re living in ending of the last days end times, many false prophets are on the increase, they have substituted brass for gold. They operates with satanic spirits of strange fire which is not of the Holy Spirit fire from God, they disguised and appear as angels of light but they are of the devil. A false teacher isn’t going to tell you he’s teaching heresy. In fact, he’ll usually look and sound so sincere and passionate that you wouldn’t know he’s actually twisting God’s Word. The size of the crowds around him won’t tell you much either, since many people have been and continue to be led astray by teaching that pleases their ears.

The prophet Jeremiah kept telling the people of Judah over and over what God planned for Jerusalem, urging them to turn from their wicked ways. But the people preferred to listen to false prophets who told them what they wanted to hear. We have to make sure we’re not doing the same.

So, how exactly can you tell if someone is “wolf in sheep’s clothing”? You become a “fruit inspector,” just as Jesus said (Matthew 7:15–16).

Sure-Fire Ways to Recognize False Prophets and Teachers. There are 7 telltale signs that can take the wool from our eyes:

1. Different Source
True teachers will reach for the Bible first, second, and always. They may use other sources of information to help explain what Scripture reveals, but the foundation of their message is always built upon “Thus says the Lord….” If you start hearing more from other sources than God’s Word, you may need to hit the door.

2. Different Message
The entire message of a true teacher will always revolve around the gospel of Jesus Christ. False teachers may mention Jesus here and there, but they will ultimately deny His deity and power (2 Peter 2:1). Of course, they won’t do so openly at first, and you’ll need to listen carefully to see if Jesus is at the core.

3. Different Position
True teachers will point to our sin and our need for salvation — and their lives will back that up. False teachers will promise freedom, but they themselves will be “slaves to depravity” (2 Peter 2:19). If a teacher’s lifestyle points to lust, greed, envy, or other enslaving passions, they are certainly not fit to teach.

4. Different Character
Those who are truly following Jesus will run after the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). They will never be perfect, but they will be working with all the strength God gives to become more and more like Christ. False teachers, on the other hand, live a life that screams “arrogance.” And that leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18).

5. Different Appeal
What does the teacher point to as the reason for their teaching? Are they pointing to Scripture as the reason for their urgency in sharing the gospel? Are they wanting you to believe what God says about how we are to escape the wrath to come (Romans 5:9)? If so, good. False teachers will make their appeal based on earthly passions, leading people back into sin (2 Peter 2:18). They’ll urge you to focus on the things of this world.

6. Different Fruit
Always check the results in the lives of those who are listening to a teacher. Those listening to true teachers will grow in their knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18). Those sitting under a false teacher will be like a “spring without water” (2 Peter 2:17). In other words, they may talk a good talk, but they don’t produce anything of eternal value.

7. Different End
Here’s the part that should make us all stand up and take notice of why this matters. It’s a really big deal. False teachers lead people to a “swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). Jesus will tell them that He never knew them (Matthew 7:21–23). Those who listen to true teachers of the gospel will receive abundant life now and forever (Romans 5:17).

A true believer’s changed life comes from a heart of love to Christ. Hypocrites can clean up their outward behavior to be seen by men, to ease their troubled consciences, or to keep themselves from the consequences of their sins. But true believers love Christ and keep His commandments for His sake, to serve Him, to know Him, and to bring glory to His name (Psalm 119:6).” Now, it’s your turn. What marks do you look for in a false teacher? What can the church do to better keep false prophets and pastors out of the pulpits?