Guarding Ourselves and Our Kids against False Prophets
Did you hear the news? It was "prophesized" that the world was supposed to end this past Saturday. It was covered, rather mockingly, on most networks Friday and Saturday. The Doomsday watch was fodder for the late night shows last week, and it was mocked in many online communities and virtually all the social networks. I can't deny it; I made fun of the absurdity, too. On Saturday night my status on Facebook read that I had evidently not been raptured! But really, this so-called prophecy was anything but funny. One of the biggest events of all time, the return of Jesus, was turned into a Comedy Central spoof.
False prophets; Jesus himself warns us about them! But how do we fight against such lies? How do we know truth when it's disguised in a Biblical cloak?
Staying alert and being aware of what's going on in the world are the first steps in combating false prophets. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?" Matthew 7:15-16
So, what does Jesus mean when he says, "You will recognize them by their fruits"? I can only think that He means a person's entire character--who they really are. Do they show righteousness, humility and faithfulness in the way they live? Is what they teach based entirely (and wholly) on God's Word or is what they say a hodgepodge of Scripture and their own man-centered concoction of truth?
J.C Ryle wrote on this subject, "What is the best safe-guard against false teaching? Beyond all doubt the regular study of the word of God, with prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Bible was given to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm. 119:105.) The man who reads it aright will never be allowed greatly to err. It is neglect of the Bible which makes so many a prey to the first false teacher whom they hear. They would have us believe that 'they are not learned, and do not pretend to have decided opinions.' The plain truth is that they are lazy and idle about reading the Bible, and do not like the trouble of thinking for themselves. Nothing supplies false prophets with followers so much as spiritual sloth under a cloak of humility."
While we parents might seem reluctant to share with our younger children the ugly truth that there are people in this world who choose to twist and turn God's Word around for personal gain, I can think of nothing more important than giving them the foundation which will help them discern truth from lies--and that comes from teaching them God's Word.
Ephesians 6:10-18 teaches us about the Armor of God. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. As stated above, in Psalms the Word of God is as light, giving wisdom and understanding. In Isaiah the Word of God is like water, rain which gives life to a parched earth. Jeremiah refers to God's Word as fire, that burned his soul until he could hold it no longer. Jesus refers to the Word as seed planted in the human heart, which grows, bearing fruit of faith.
I want to teach my kids that when they build their lives on God's Word, then they live a life of genuine freedom, happiness, joy and purpose. Deception will always out there, but the truth of the Word will be a firm foundation on which they can stand.