Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 24:11
“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” – Matthew 24:11
Jesus, at the beginning of this chapter, said the following to His disciples regarding the Jewish Temple. “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” Matthew 24:2. He said this after He came out of the temple and the disciples came up to Him. This probably was a surprise to them, so they asked Jesus a question. “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:4b. “And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” Matthew 24:4-5. I actually experienced this one time back in the late 1970’s. I was walking in an avocado orchard in South Florida and this young lady came up to me and asked me if I wanted to meet Jesus. I saw him dressed as we would expect him to be, and he was leading a group of ladies as he did spoke to many he came across. I spoke with him for just a few minutes before they left the field. He tried to convince me that he was The Christ, but since he could not convince me he left, followed by the several ladies that were with him. There has been many claiming this. One well known person who claimed to be the last prophet, the son of God, the lamb was David Koresh back in 1983.
However, there are many who claim to be a prophet of the living God, not necessarily the Messiah yet teaching a false message. I remember when one of these false teachers were on television and declared that there were three God the Fathers, three God the Sons, and three Holy Spirits. He then yelled out, “there were nine of them.” When told by the host he had never heard that before, the false teacher said, and I am paraphrasing, “I do not come to tell you the same old stuff, but things you have not heard before”. What a sad statement. And because of this idea, many have been deceived and mislead.
Jesus speaks of this using a tree and its fruit as an example. “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will 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, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 7:15-19. Jesus tells the disciples that many will come looking like sheep but are actually only in a sheep costume and are actually wolves, seeking to destroy sheep. And He finishes with the next verse, “So then, you will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:20. Prior to verse 20 Jesus tells them, “You will 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.” Matthew 7:16-17. A false prophet gives false teachings while a true prophet gives true teachings.
Now, Paul gives us an answer as to how we can be sure we are not deceived. He speaks of the believers in Berea who were careful about the teachings given them. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11. Notice what they did. They checked out the teachings with the scriptures. This, along with prayer, should be our focus if we hear anything possibly could be false teaching. We should not accept a teaching just because it came from a well-known preacher and/or it is something we have never heard before. We need to check these things out so we are not led astray.
And one more thing. If a pastor preaches something and you check it out and find it questionable, bring it to their attention. They may not know it is wrong, so by doing this you are assisting him in his teaching. I remember this happened to me once where I heard a weird teaching and I asked him about it and he realized his error, which he ultimately cleared up with the congregation. Another time I found out I mis-understood him so it can go both ways. However, the important thing to remember is that we must check out what we and others are taught and ensure it is truth so we do not find ourselves deceived and going down a wrong path that does not lead to the truth.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.