Jesus warned us about false teachers when he said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7.15).
Petting zoos often feature cuddly and cute sheep. I have never seen wolves, even baby wolves, featured in this fun children’s experience.
Clever and dishonest persons often try to appear innocent and beneficial. If they are a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” they can do great harm to unsuspecting persons.
A false teacher of a prophet is the most dangerous of all of the “wolves in sheep clothing,” because they turn people away from a genuine relationship with the One True God to something false.
Deuteronomy 13 is a warning for God’s people against false teachers.
Response to False Prophets
As the Hebrew nation mingled with the Canaanite culture, God knew they would be tempted to follow the gods of the land. He gave the people this direction.
— Deuteronomy 13.1-3 – If prophets or those who divine by dreams appear among you and promise you omens or portents,
And the omens or the portents declared by them take place, and they say, “Let us follow other gods” (whom you have not known) “and let us serve them,”
You must not heed the words of those prophets or those who divine by dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you indeed love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.
False prophets are at times able to produce events that provoke awe. Suppose someone produces unique signs, but they speak of another god instead of the One True God.
God’s message is to completely resist the prophet’s message, even though it is accompanied by what looks like a miracle.
What does God require of people? Moses has repeated his message quite frequently.
— Deuteronomy 13.4 – The Lord your God you shall follow, him alone you shall fear, his commandments you shall keep, his voice you shall obey, him you shall serve, and to him you shall hold fast.
What about the false prophet, who uses magic or signs to draw worship to another god? God has a very strict message about how to respond.
— Deuteronomy 13.5 – But those prophets or those who divine by dreams shall be put to death for having spoken treason against the Lord your God—who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery—to turn you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
A Horrific Use of Deuteronomy 13
This passage in Deuteronomy 13 is a billboard-sized warning to people about false teachers. They seem to have multiplied with the innovations in social media.
“Buyer beware!” applies to much of the information propagated on the Internet. Please hear this message. Not every YouTube, radio, or TV preacher has your best interests in mind.
Many years ago, the Billy Graham organization established a standard where ministries were to give a transparent and honest accounting of their finances.
If you wonder about the minister you listen to, take the time to “follow the money” of their ministry. It will be somewhat of a gauge of the legitimacy of what they are doing.
That being said, this passage was used against Jesus by the religious authorities. They believed that Jesus was using magic (his miracles) to promote a false god (that he was the Son of God).
The Romans crucified Jesus because they believed he was a rebel. The religious establishment believed their actions were justified, because of this prescription in Deuteronomy.
Charles Spurgeon in his book, “Lectures to My Students,” counseled them that “many a good Sunday sermon was ruined by the preacher at lunch.”
I ate lunch with a well-known young preacher when I was in Louisiana. As they say in the South, “He could preach to the stars.”
At lunch, the preacher sat with the musicians that accompanied him on his crusades. Their interaction with my pastor and the other church staff was quite limited. They appeared only interested in themselves.
Lunch with the evangelistic team ruined the sermon. I was not surprised a few years later to learn that this preacher was no longer in the ministry.
The most popular preacher from my seminary days was a guest preacher at the small mission church I served.
We were invited to a delicious Mexican dinner, served by “Hot Tamale Johnny.” Johnny Valenzuela sold tamales and his grandchildren came to our church.
The stud walls in his house were covered in cardboard and we ate at a simple table in his kitchen.
My preacher friend made Johnny feel like a million dollars. On the way home my friend, Steve, remarked with tears in his eyes about how blessed he was to eat with Johnny.
It goes without saying, that Steve’s sermons took on greater meaning because of the dinner with Hot Tamale Johnny.
I’d like you to consider the pastor of your local church to be your primary authority about God. Your pastor may not be as entertaining as those who have large media ministries, but he has something that is missing with the “big guys.”
You can get to know your local pastor, while all you have of the others is their media presence. If you have to trust the message of someone, please trust the pastor you can get acquainted with on a personal basis.
Investigate the Whole Counsel of God
One of my friends used to say, “I believe the Bible from the Table of Contents to the Maps at the end.”
If you will take one chapter every day and apply John of the Cross’ method to it, you will be amazed at how much of the Bible will become a part of your life.
John’s method is:
(1) Read the Bible
(2) Meditate or think about what you have read.
(3) Pray about what you have read. Ask God to help you understand it and apply it to your life.
(4) Contemplate on the Bible and allow it to take you (with prayer) into God’s presence.
If you patiently approach the Bible in this fashion, you will protect yourself against the “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
More than protection, you will enhance your life with God.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I have a YouTube video on this passage. It can be seen on the Bob Spradling channel. Rudy is an excellent Bible student and lover of God. You will profit from his insights.
Please email your prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.