Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
–1 John 2:18, 26; 4:1
This will be the last devotional in this series. Instead of giving you a final test, I will end this series with a very serious warning. It is a warning that I have been putting forth for the last thirty-plus years. In fact, some of my friends have grown weary of it. What is this warning? In Matthew 7:15-16, Jesus says, “Watch out for false prophets (teachers/preachers/priests). They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” The whole New Testament is filled with warning after warning about false teachers and preachers infiltrating the church. Paul warned about this many times. In fact, the last time Paul met with the elders of Ephesus it was foremost on his mind. In Acts 20:29-31 Paul warns,
I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
Paul never stopped warning members of the church. Why? Because the most dangerous false teaching comes from those who “come in among you” … “from your own number.”
It’s perfect timing that this devotional follows the previous one that presented The Truth Test! Believers who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit should and must be able to discern truth from error. John tells us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God!” How do we do this? We are to be ‘fruit-tasters!’ In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus explains how to taste fruit in order to discern whether it is good or bad.
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
How do we taste fruit (teaching/preaching/writings)? We listen and read with ears and eyes of discernment! This is why Jesus often said, “He who has ears, let him hear!” To what was Jesus referring, since everyone listening to him had ears? He was referring to the spiritual ears of one’s heart. True believers are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit. As believers read God’s Word, they begin to take on the very mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). The Holy Spirit guides true believers into all truth (John 16:13). Believers are to compare what they hear or read to the Word of God. This is what it means to be a fruit-taster.
How are you doing? Are you able to discern truth from error? This is the truth test. We live in a time of great confusion. Sadly, much of what is coming to us from those who are supposed to be guardians of truth, is instead, error. It’s counterfeit and it’s dangerous.
I want to close with one final warning from Paul to his disciple Timothy. Paul knew that his work was done and his life was nearly over. Thus, he gives one final warning to Timothy.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 states, In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardships, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
The time to which Paul refers has come. We are living in it. We should heed Paul’s warning to Timothy. We must be tasters of fruit. We must be able to discern truth from error because our eternal destiny hangs in the balance.