“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” – 2 Peter 2:1
Jesus tells us that one of the â€œsignsâ€ His coming is near is an increase in false prophets. That is surely true in our day. It was interesting, in 2005 Lifeway published an article on the explosive growth of cults in the United States, and they said this, â€œThe growth of cults and new religions is exploding across our nation with an estimate today of up to 3,000 cults active in the United States involving nearly 20 million people in America.â€
We hear about the â€œHealth and Wealth Gospelâ€ or â€œProsperity Theologyâ€ and the thousands of preachers saying you give to God in order to get. It really should be called â€œThe Gospel of Greed.â€ Or, if you really pray hard enough, God will heal your disease. Give money to this or that ministry and youâ€™ll get rich. Itâ€™s this false idea that God wonâ€™t let you suffer and wants you to be rich. That is heresy. That is a false teaching that has permeated the church. Itâ€™s taking a certain passage of scripture and building your whole life around it, while ignoring all other kind of passages that give us the full picture of Godâ€™s truth. Other false prophets say that there are no absolute truths; that Christ is just a man; that the Bible is not true and always trustworthy. We shouldnâ€™t be surprised about this. Jesus and Godâ€™s Word tells us to expect it.
So, how can you keep from being deceived by a false prophet or leader? The key is in knowing Jesus and His Word. Then ask these questions:
1. Would Jesus say that?
2. Would Jesus do that?
3. Is what this person is saying consistent with Jesus and His Word?
And if youâ€™re a Christian, you have an added bonus: the Holy Spirit that dwells in you teaches you how to understand the Word and gives you a check in your spirit when something doesnâ€™t ring true.