"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit." Matthew 7:15-17
One of the things that bothers me most about being a pastor is hearing stories about people who are tricked or deceived by someone or some groups who claim to be "religious." Yes, there are people out there who will do anything and everything to hurt you. Watch out for false prophets! Jesus told His followers in Matthew 7:15, "They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." So what can we do to protect ourselves from such people, from deceivers and false prophets? You have to know the truth, and the Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way and the TRUTH and the life." Someone who is truly serving God and loving God will always do so in a way that points to Him. Jesus went on to say in Matthew 7:16, "By their fruit you will recognize them." He said in verses 18-20, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." If someone come to you and claims to be "religious," inspect them carefully. Are their words and actions pointing to Jesus Christ as the only WAY, the only TRUTH, and the only LIFE? Are they being selfish or SELFLESS? You can and will know them by their fruit.
Paul said that this would be a problem, not just in his day, but in our day, as well. In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul told Timothy, "Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction." He goes on to say in verses 3-4, "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." The problem today is that there are many people who don't really want to hear the truth. They only want to hear that God loves them. They don't want to hear that God is just and that God hates sin. They want to hear that it is alright to be this way or that way. They don't want to hear that they are sinners before a righteous and holy God. Therefore, false teachers and false prophets have come out of the woodwork to preach lies and false doctrines. And sometimes, those who are truly searching for the truth are misled and misguided. I will embrace the word the Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5, where he said, "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of the your ministry."
Here is the truth that you need to hear: God does love you! He SO loves you (John 3:16). He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you because you are a sinner. You must admit that you are a sinner, take ownership of it, and confess it before God. God is righteous and just. God cannot allow sin in His presence, and that is why Jesus had to die. God made a way for you to be forgiven and freed from the penalty and the bondage of sin. But the only way, the only truth, and the only life is JESUS CHRIST! There is no other way. There is no other truth. There is no other life. If you truly want God's love…if you truly want God's forgiveness…if you truly want God's presence in your life, you must go through Jesus. And when this happens…when you truly admit, confess, and believe, you will be saved (Romans 10:9-13). A relationship with Jesus Christ will change your life forever. You will become a new creation in Christ. That is the truth! Watch out for false prophets who would teach you or tell you anything otherwise!