Q. How does one sort out false teachers/prophets from the correct ones? Ever since I became a Christian, I’ve noticed how clever false teachers are with scripture and how imaginative they can be. They seem to talk about personal revelations that God gives them, and the scariest thing is that they talk so passionately about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit. How can we know one from the other?
A. Unfortunately, the passion with which a prophet or teacher delivers his message is not a good indicator of whether he’s being true to God’s word. Neither is the appearance of spiritual gifts or even miracles. Jesus said He would deny ever knowing some of these people, even if they claimed to have driven out demons and performed many miracles in His name (Matt. 7:15-23). And Paul said the servants of Satan masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
There are only two ways believers can spot false teachers. One is by knowing the Bible well enough to recognize false teaching when we hear it. And the other is by checking what we’ve heard against God’s word to verify that it’s true.
Paul complimented the Bereans because they received his message with great eagerness but searched the Scriptures every day to see if what he said was true (Acts 17:11). That advice still applies today.
The Treasury Dept teaches bank tellers that the more they know about what a genuine bill looks like, the easier it becomes to spot a counterfeit bill. The same principle holds true with Scripture. The more you know about what the Bible says, the easier it becomes to spot a false teacher. So do your own homework. “Test everything. Hold on the the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thes. 5:21-22).