Years ago, there was a Christian comedian with a very dramatic testimony of being delivered from Satanism. He was funny, told incredible stories, and I was a fan. Unfortunately, one day the truth came out how he’d fabricated most of his story, and quickly fell from the spotlight. Yeah…you’ve probably known similar stories of less than truthful showmen. So how do we know? How do we know who’s for real?
Well, obviously the Lord is the only one who knows hearts, but the Bible gives great instruction concerning authenticity. Let’s consider:
15“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Therefore by their fruits you will know them. – Matthew 7:15-20 ( NKJV )
I. Be Careful
- There ARE false prophets out there. Not only was it true then, but now too. Don’t be eager to lay your Bible aside for someone’s books or podcasts. Our devotion should be to Christ, not a fellow servant.
- God’s view is clear. I Samuel 16:7 says He looks at the heart and not outward appearance. The inward part is the motivation, and should reflect a changed life by the power of Christ’s redemptive work (the fruit of their life will tell).
II. Be Observant
- There’s no neutrality. Verses 17-18 say there will be fruit, either good or bad. What’s more, a tree can ultimately only bear after its kind. How much do you know about the people spiritually influencing you right now? Have you really watched their life, and listened close to their teachings?
- What standard do we use? Galatians 5:22-25 is a great place to start, and Colossians chapter 3 helps us too, by describing an authentic follower of Christ “putting off” the old & “putting on” the new. Combined together, the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians) and the new life in Christ (Colossians) paints the picture of a self-less person, interested in God’s value system, not the world’s.
- Individuals AND ministries should both reflect the same values described in those passages. Ministries have personalities, and they should be selfless, just as the man of God should be.
III. Be Patient
- Time will tell. Relax and let God be the one who validates people. Don’t let outward charisma (or lack of it) cloud your judgment. Pray for discernment and clear direction when choosing a leader or influencer in your spiritual journey. The Bible is our true measure, and a real person of God bases his/her teachings on it.
- At the same time, we can’t worry about the ones spreading falsehoods. Yes we are to contend for the truth, but in the end God will take care of those peddling false teachings. Being cut down and thrown into the fire is powerful, but we aren’t the axe swingers. Look to Christ for how to respond through the Holy Spirit when dealing with such.
Personalities can be powerful, but never let them over-shadow the fruit!
Series – “The Questions of Jesus” – Lesson III