From Craig Swanson…
Jesus warned us to, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). The New Testament is filled with warnings about false teachers. They were a big problem then and they are a big problem now. If false teachers could be easily identified, very few people would follow them. But they come to us in sheep’s clothing. They look and sound like sheep, but inwardly they are wolves, used by the enemy to deceive people to believe lies. Paul warned, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” (Romans 16:17–18).
So if false teachers look like sheep, how can we discern that they are wolves? Paul says in 2 Cor. 11:4 that they will preach another Jesus and a different gospel. Our nation and airways are filled with prosperity and word faith teachers. Their gospel is one of positive confession. “Words are like seeds, they have creative power.” “You can change your world by simply changing your words.” “Start calling in divine health. Start calling in abundance.” “There’s power in what you visualize.” This is just New Age teaching with a few Bible verses twisted around to make it look “Christian”. They are playing to man’s greed and covetousness and tickling their ears with what they want to hear. It is another gospel.
Compare their teaching to the teachings of the New Testament. “And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 2:3) “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have;” (Heb. 13:5) “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” (1 Tim 6:10,11) The tone of the New Testament is completely different because theirs is a different gospel. It is a gospel that appeals to the flesh.
They also preach a different Jesus. Their Jesus must respond to their prayer and faith and words of confession. He is their divine source of everything good. The Jesus of the Bible is sovereign Lord. The apostles refer to themselves and other believers as bond-servants (slaves) of Christ. We are to serve and obey Him. They seek to bring God low and lift man up. The Bible exalts God and humbles man.
Beware of false teachers. If the heart of their message is not Jesus is Lord and we are His servants, you need to flee from them. Their teachings my tickle your ears but they will be detrimental to your soul.