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Matthew 7:15

Mark of a False Teacher

In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus warns his disciples against the false teachers who will surely come; they will seem harmless or even attractive, but inwardly they will be like wolves—savage, wild, and destructive.

The mark of the false prophet or teacher is self-serving unfaithfulness to God and his truth. It may be that he says what he shouldn’t; but it is far more likely that he will err by failing to say what he should. He will gloss over all the tough questions and issues as did the false prophets in the Old Testament who went around saying, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace (Jer. 6:14). They wouldn’t speak the tough word calling for repentance nor suggest that Israel was out of sorts spiritually. Instead they brought groundless comfort, lulling people into a false sense of security so that their hearers were totally unprepared for the judgment which eventually came on them.

There are teachers in the church today who never speak of repentance, self-denial, the call to be relatively poor for the Lord’s sake, or any other demanding aspect of discipleship. Naturally they are popular and approved, but for all that, they are false prophets. We will know such people by their fruits. Look at the people to whom they have ministered. Do these folks really know and love the Lord? Are they prepared to take risks, even hazard their lives, for Jesus? Or are they comfortable, inactive, and complacent? If so, they are self-deceived, and those who have irresponsibly encouraged their self-deception will have to answer for it.

Anyone who is in a position of spiritual leadership who fails to teach the more demanding, less comfortable, “narrow gate” and “rough road” side of discipleship becomes a false prophet.

Your Father Loves You by James Packer, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986, page for September 19