We are indeed living in the last days. The Scriptures tell us that there will be many "false prophets" in the last days. Sometimes I call them the modern day Pharisee. If we are not careful in our way, we maybe easily entangled into their traps and may even compromise our faith in the Lord. Unfortunately many today run after "great speakers"/pastors. Some go for conferences and always attempt to get the well known speaker in the conference to pray for them. Sometimes we become Pastor Chaser rather than God Chaser. I am not saying that being prayed for by great men/women of God is wrong but we need to check our intention. Sometimes we look at men rather than God.
Jesus warned His followers, "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15). The warning was important because Jesus later said to them: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matt. 10:16). The apostle Paul, with a deeply troubled spirit and in tears, penned a similar warning: "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29). Throughout church history these warnings concerning professing Christians who deceive even the elect have seldom been taken seriously.
Jesus teaches us that the way we identify them is by observing their fruits (Matt 7:16-20) and not by their appearance. This is not a call of being judgmental but a call of exercising wisdom. One of the ways is to observe the way they behave - whether demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit. We are told to look at their lives and see if these fruits are predominant in them and examine if they are living the crucified life. Of course, we must allow for imperfections that have not been overcome yet; but we should readily see the fruit of the Spirit in more abundance than the imperfections. One way we can check this is to notice the words that a man speaks
Secondly observe whether they are exalting God or themselves in their preaching because true ministers will always reflect on Jesus. Examining the conversation of these ministers can quickly reveal who they serve. Do they speak of God's kingdom, His righteousness, and His love; or does their conversation center on the things of this world and life? Are they peacemakers, sowing mercy and love? Do they walk in faith, or are they continually looking to other men for their needs to be supplied? Are they always pressuring people for money, or do they simply receive those gifts of money as unto the Lord? Do they have the joy of the Lord, or do they minister out of duty? Are they truly joyous with that joy spilling over to others, or do they continually complain and gripe over all the things that are not pleasing to them? Is goodness evident in their lives instead of evil? Do they put people in bondage by always threatening them with the wrath of God, or is freedom of choice extended with the warning of the penalties of sin? Jesus came to set us free, not to bring us under the bondage of men.
Thirdly, check their lifestyle. Their lifestyle speaks a lot of their heart condition. Their lifestyles are far from being temperate, reflecting the most expensive and extravagant clothes, diamonds, homes, cars, etc. This is not referring to well-dressed men and women, nice homes, and quality things but the extremes which reveal anything but the nature of Christ. Of course, neither is the other extreme of poverty the nature of Christ. Men of God should live temperate, moderate lives, overcoming poverty and avoiding extreme wealth. Jesus always went about giving to the poor. He never stored up His wealth even though He apparently handled a lot of money, thus the need for a treasurer, Judas (John 13:29). He gave away the things He could have used on Himself, yet He never lacked as He went about ministering. He should be our example today. The affection and lust for the things of this world do not portray the Spirit of Christ. Some are out there just to make use of you and your resources a.k.a. they are only interested in your money - to put it point blank.
One word of caution - examining lives by this standard we must be careful not to go to extremes ourselves and expect total perfection of all ministers. There are many godly men and women who are called of God, who have overcome in many areas, although they still have some weak areas. I am sure they are believing God to perfect this area of weakness. We need to be patient and loving towards them.
One of our major faults as Christians is that we tend to quote men on certain subjects instead of referring to the Book God gave us. Sometimes we tend to evaluate men according to the size of their ministries, their popularity with men, or their endowment of certain gifts, etc. The best way to guard ourselves against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth - the word of God. To spot a counterfeit, study the real thing. Any believer who "correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) and who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine. For example, a believer who has read the activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:16-17 will immediately question any doctrine that denies the Trinity. Therefore, it is crucial for us to study the Bible and judge all teaching by what the Scripture says and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the word of God because He is the Spirit of Truth.
To share the gospel is a great responsibility, because the way we present it and live it will encourage people either to accept or reject it. Whether we speak from a pulpit, teach in a classroom, or share with friends, we are entrusted with accurately communicating and living out God's Word. In the same time, we also need to beware of the false teachers in the midst of us.