How To Recognize A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
"My brethren, let not many of you become teachers,
knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment,
for we all stumble in many things."
There are a lot of Bible teachers who are teaching false doctrine. In times past I would write off anyone I heard saying something I discerned to be false. But one day the Lord spoke this word to my heart, "for we ALL stumble in many things."
ALL??? In many things???
My response to this was twofold. First of all, I eased up in my judgment of some men of God, realizing that no man on earth has all the truth and that all are going to err in some point or another. There are men of God whom I dearly love to listen to, but I realize that one cannot place absolute trust in them because they are ALL going to stumble "in many things."
That means that everything one hears must be carefully weighed in the light of Scripture, and that we have a responsibility before God to know the Word so that when a wrong word is spoken, we will recognize it and not be led astray. Nevertheless, we are not to turn our backs on a man of God who is of a right heart before God and serving him with right intent, yet who may be off on one topic or another.
Second, is the necessity to discern between men of right heart who may err on one issue or another, versus men who are teaching out-and-out heresy. Again, it takes knowledge of the Word of God to make that distinction. One tip-off is to take a look at the lifestyle of the man. If he lives in a multi-million dollar home, if he's traveling around in his own private jet, right away his heart is revealed. He's preaching not "the" Gospel, but "a" gospel - for the sake of riches and fame. From such, turn away.
“Beware of false prophets,
who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
YOU WILL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUITS."
You will know them by their mansions, by their private planes. You will know them by their asking you to send them money, a “seed” to be returned to you in prosperity. You will know them by their twisting the Word of God to support their agenda. To know them, you have to know the Word of God thoroughly. They are clever, and most of the time they have a winning personality. Do be fooled.
But the main issue we need to be concerned about is how a teacher treats the subject of Jesus Christ himself. The one all-important and non-negotiable doctrine of the Christian faith is that we are all sinners and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, very God himself, came into our world taking on human flesh to bear the judgment on man's sins, that he hung on a cross and was sacrificed for us, died, and three days later rose from the grave victorious. Anyone who does not teach this, or who errs in any way concerning Jesus, is teaching a false Gospel. There's no room for negotiation on the basic and central doctrine of Christianity, Jesus Christ himself.
"But even if we, or an angel from heaven,
preach any other gospel to you
than what we have preached to you,
let him be ACCURSED."
Anyone using Scripture to gain fame and fortune, Paul says, “let him be accursed.” Strong words. And for emphasis he repeats it a second time in that passage.
It's not whether they name the name of Jesus. Many false teachers will use the name of Jesus to to make themselves believable, to support their false doctrine. Note where the emphasis is. The Gospel is about only one topic: Jesus Christ. If the speaker's message is all about YOU, this is one of the cardinal signs that he is a false teacher. It's not about making YOU better, more successful, how to have more “SELF esteem.” It's all about HIM.
Brothers and sisters, pray for discernment. And above all, know the Word of God. If you're not feeding daily in the Word of God, you're a sitting duck ready to fall into deception. Be aware of wolves in sheep's clothing. What does that mean? It means that men who are preaching false doctrine, men whose hearts are NOT right with God, the wolves among us, will APPEAR to be one of us. Though they are wolves, they will not LOOK like wolves, they will look like sheep. The degree to which you will be able to know the difference is the degree to which you are immersed in the Word of God. Neglect that, and you will be easy prey. Satan knows what he's doing.