Matthew 7:15-16 says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are vicious/ferocious wolves. You will know them by what they do.” This is Jesus talking, in the Sermon on the Mount. He goes on to say that good trees bear good fruit, bad trees bear bad fruit, and people are the same way. Beware means “be warned”. Watch Out!
Who are the false prophets? In Jesus day prophets were usually teachers, and they usually taught about the Bible and about God. On a good day, we hope our teachers tell us the truth. But what about ‘false’ teachers? What kind of teachers are they? They are the ones who talk out of both sides of their mouth. They are the ones who say one thing but do another, something completely opposite to what they say. Sometimes they say, “If you send me money, God will answer your prayers.”
But what about the admonition from our Lord, “Judge not that you be not judged?” Aren’t we judging people by saying they’re false prophets? Well, we are not supposed to judge, as in condemn them, but we are supposed to discern the truth about people. As it says in Hebrews 4:12, “The Word of God . . . is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart.” If we have the Word hidden in our hearts, then we can discern the truth about the false teachers and stay away from them, which is what Paul and Jesus say we should do.
The best way, the only way, to be protected from false teachers and their false teachings is to surrender your whole heart to Jesus and He will send His Holy Spirit to live in your heart, and the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth. Then you will be able to see and hear and understand what is really going on in the world, in a spiritual sense, and you’ll be able to ‘Watch Out’ for the false prophets.