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Discerning False Prophets

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These false prophets can be detected by their fruits. Judging by external forms is risky; judging (if you prefer, discerning) on the basis of fruits is absolutely necessary and part of our responsibility. ‘The proof of the root is in the fruit.’ Good trees produce good fruit, and rotten trees, bad fruit. A dependable assessment of those who would be guides is that of their fruits. But, what are these fruits? One must be very careful here, for false prophets are not without religious activities. A false prophet is often accompanied by deceptive signs and by seeming wonders. Some of these are suggested in Matthew: “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in Your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?”’  

We should expect false prophets to engage in acts of kindness and charity. We should expect them to perform deeds which suggest miraculous power. And we should expect that these deeds be performed under the pretext of being done by God’s power and to His glory. As Corinthians said, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.”

We should expect false prophets to be accompanied by religious works, often unusual and spectacular, done ostensibly in the name of God. Satan willingly gives the glory to God in such cases, so long as ultimately he is able to deceive people and cause them to give their allegiance and obedience him.

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