How can we distinguish sound teachers from false prophets? It would seem obvious but Jesus says that false prophets come like wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15-20). Their attacks are subtle. They confuse and deceive by using common phrases and words that we would associate with a godly man or woman. For these individuals, Jesus tells us that we can truly know them by the fruit of their lives. The fruit of a person’s life (actions, words, etc.) will always be consistent with the affections of his heart. Whoever or whatever has claimed control over a person’s heart (and ultimately that person’s life) will be seen in the words and actions of that person. In the end, as Jesus puts it, our words will either acquit or condemn us.
Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV)
33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”