Matthew 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."
Jesus warns us to be on high alert for false prophets who come in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. This is a very clear word picture. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. The people who follow Him are His sheep, believers. Wolves come into the flock disguised as sheep (as followers of Jesus), to deceive the sheep so they can feed on them (that is, satisfy their appetites for power and greed). A prophet is a person who declares God's word to people so the people trust in Lord alone and live in obedience to the Lord. A false prophet declares his own words to people to selfishly get his own needs met. The false prophets' words lead people to trust in them and disobey the Lord's commands.
We recognize false prophets, false teachers by their fruit, that is, by how they live their lives. False teachers, prophets, or apostles are greedy for money (preach for a profit), preach a different Jesus (or even deny Jesus), bring destructive heresies, speak false words, and are slaves of corruption. Read the following scriptures in your Bible that teach concerning false teachers, prophets, and apostles: 2 Corinthians 11:4,7,13; Galatians 1:6-7; 2 Peter 2:1-3, 18-19.
We all need to be on the alert for false teachers, prophets and apostles by looking for the type of fruit they bear, but the Apostle Paul gives a special assignment to the elders of each local church. Read Acts 20:26-30 below:
"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained
with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them."
The Apostle Paul testified what He did to protect the flock, the believers, from false prophets. He taught them the whole counsel of God. He reminded the elders of their job to care for the local church just as he did, by teaching the believers the whole counsel of God. He warned the elders to be on the alert for fierce wolves (false teachers) who will come in (and even arise from the local congregation) to destroy the flock by speaking twisted things to draw away disciples after them. He reminded the elders of their need to stay in the truth.
Are you in a local church that has elders who live and teach according to the Word of God? Are you learning the truth so you can guard your family from destructive error brought by false prophets?
Look at the fruit of the people teaching you the Word of God and search the scriptures to see if what they say is true. You will recognize false teachers by their ungodly fruit and twisted teaching of the word of God. You will recognize false teachers if they teach Jesus is not the Creator God, did not die on the cross for our sins, didn't rise physically from the dead on the third day and is not Lord of all.