“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.” Matthew 7:15 (NLT)

Jesus warned us that we need to be aware that false prophets would sneak in among the flock disguised as sheep. Various translations call these wolves ravenous (ESV), ferocious (NIV), vicious (NLT), savage (ISL), and voracious (NET). Those are quite intense words. By Jesus’ own wording, we definitely want to avoid these wolves at all cost!

So, what makes a false prophet false? Most people think that a false prophet is evaluated by the success of their prophet word. In other words, if they get it wrong they are false. That is definitely not true!

Samuel, who never had a word fall to the ground, got it wrong when he was selecting one of Jesse’s boys to anoint as king. From all appearances, it would look like Elijah got it wrong when we prophesied that Jezebel would be killed by the wall of Jezreel and be eaten by dogs (1 Kings 21:23-24). This did not happen until after he was whisked away in a fiery chariot. Or when Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah who obviously was not coming for many centuries, but no one knew that. Isaiah said things like a virgin would conceive… (Isaiah 7:14). Those looking on would wonder “did he miss it?” And even Jesus prophesied that not one stone would be left unturned in the Temple (Matthew 24:2). This was completely outrageous, but occurred long after His death and resurrection in AD70.

What sets a false prophet apart from a true prophet is their intent and their character. Jesus said you can know a tree by its fruit, and likewise you can know a true or false prophet by their fruit (Matthew 7:16), that is, the character of their life.

Today as the prophetic movement is growing, we need to be more discerning than ever. We need to train those who are learning and remove those who desire to mislead and hurt. Sometimes they are false prophets because they are wounded themselves and are prophesying out of their brokenness. And remember you probably won’t pick it up in their prophesying. They will use all the right words, including flowery stuff, even intimidating people with the strength of their words. But are people getting hurt? Is the person under accountability? Are they teachable? Are there character flaws, addictions, relational issues in their life? Do they stay within the boundaries set by the leadership, or are they above it? Do they give words to individuals in private, off to the side? Are they inappropriate in any way toward the opposite sex?

Ask God to give you a new level of discernment, an ability to sense these wolves disguised in sheep clothes. Remember this is Jesus’ warning, and we must seriously take heed to it, at all cost! Even more so, pray for your pastor and the leadership at your church to have an increased level of discernment, and then courage to address/confront it. Ask God to expose every false prophet, ferocious wolf, in your church and across our city!