The apostle Paul warned in the Bible that there will come a time when the world would suffer from the doctrine of false prophets. While this is disheartening, Pastor Shane Idleman said there are ways for people to distinguish God's real prophets from the fake ones.
In an article for The Christian Post, Idleman said the best way to separate false teachers from others is to determine if what they are teaching agrees with the Scriptures.
"For example, if a cult or religion says that there are many gods, Isaiah 45:22 tells us otherwise: 'For I am God, and there is no other,'" said Idleman. "If they claim that a 'messenger of light' appeared to one of their prophets as the voice of God, we should point them to 2 Corinthians 11:14 where 'Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.'"
Idleman said the most important thing for Christians to do is be rooted in God's Word, so they have to know what the Bible says, believe it, and live it; otherwise, "he or she will be like a child tossed back and forth and carried away by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men."
"It's vitally important that we study the Bible. Recall Paul's words that a time will come when people will not be receptive to God's Word. They will look for teachers who will tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear," he said.
According to Idleman, cults take advantage of the fact that many people are not well educated in fundamental biblical truths. The problem is that the human mind, apart from God's Spirit, will never comprehend or understand spiritual truth.
"This is why many reject the Bible or change its message — their natural mind does not receive the things of God; truth is foolishness to them. What does this mean to you and to me? Everything. Man-made religions are lifeless; there's no spiritual life in them," he said.
But those who find their centre in God find life and meaning, and are forever changed for the better. "We cannot successfully change actions or attitudes unless God changes our heart. We must embrace His absolute truth and avoid counterfeits," said Idleman.