By Patrick Hawthorne
Some may ask, “Why must I read my Bible? Can’t I just listen to someone preach the Bible to me? After all, they are more learned than me.” To that, let me ask you this one question. “How do you know they are speaking the truth?” Consider the words of Jesus.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV)
Notice the words of Jesus. He said, “You will know them.” By what means? By their fruit, by the way they conduct themselves. Jesus said that we, as individuals, can be the fruit inspectors.
Understand this, in order to be a inspector of fruit we need a standard by which to make that determination. Without that standard, it would be easy to be manipulated, to be seduced by words or actions that appear on the outside to be sweeter than honey but on the inside death and decay. This is especially true for those who are hungry for a sense of belonging or who are searching for meaning in this crazy life.
Let me give you a real life example. If you are a born again child of God, the Spirit of God – the Holy Spirit – resides in you. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 among many others.) Now, think about cult leader David Koresh (Branch Davidian – Waco Texas). From what I understand through reading about this man, Koresh never claimed to be Jesus incarnate. And, as a part of his teachings, he stated that the Holy Spirit dwelt in him. Sounds somewhat Biblical doesn’t it?
Now, for the deception. Koresh made the claim that the Holy Spirit resided in him in a special way that directly linked him to the Old Testament prophets. Furthermore, Koresh claimed to be the final prophet of God based on teachings from the Book of Revelation. By combining a portion of the truth with a lie…a little manipulation of God’s Word here and a little manipulation there…he was able to sway the hearts of many.
In the days to come, there will be many who will try to turn the hearts of man away from God through deception. These are not my words, but those of Jesus.
23 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time. Matthew 24:23-25 NLT)
Be prepared. Test the words of man to see that they line up with the Word of God. Read, study, absorb God’s Word for yourselves. Be blessed.