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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”—Matthew 24:11 (NKJV)
Meet thaumoctopus mimicus (or the mimic octopus for short). Discovered off the coast of Indonesia, this little fellow employs an interesting strategy of mimicking other sea creatures. Several animals have this ability, but what sets this octopus apart is that it can imitate a number of species. It does this to eat and escape being eaten. If that isn’t enough, it’s also extremely intelligent, discerning what to become in any given situation. Quite extraordinary, wouldn’t you agree?
And would you also agree that people have this extraordinary ability? We all, from time to time, can step out of our own nature and become or mimic what we choose. There are moments when we put on a happy face or become a public speaker or fade into the wallpaper to escape being noticed. Some people even do this for a living!
But there are those few who mimic with malicious intent. Jesus refers to these people as “false prophets.” He tells us they come to us in “sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15 NKJV). And He tells us to beware of them!
So, what are false prophets? A false prophet misleads people from truth and pollutes God’s Word. In the Old Testament, a prophet was the vessel through which God spoke. Therefore, a false prophet was one who did not accurately represent God. Jesus compares false prophets to trees: A healthy tree produces healthy, good fruit. A bad tree produces bad fruit (Matthew 7:17). For example, a pastor who is grounded in the Word of God, who speaks the counsel of God, and fears the Lord will typically produce a similar congregation.
The apostle Paul wrestled with the Corinthian church about this idea. He even compared these false apostles to Satan who “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14 NASB). Evidently, wolves disguised as sheep had entered the church. They preyed upon naive Christians for their own gain. This still happens, which is why it is crucial to know God and His Word—so as to not be deceived.
Like the octopus, false prophets make it difficult to perceive the danger they represent. They can even deceive us by putting us at ease. But if we are discerning, if we read the Bible and “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1 NIV), then to them be the shame and to us be the gain.
DIG: Knowing the definition of false prophet, what would you say is the cause and motivation of these people? (Hint: Take a look at Romans 16:17–18.)
DISCOVER: Explore more in God’s Word about how to recognize those who practice to deceive. What is the outcome of their deception?
DISPLAY: If you know someone who intentionally misrepresents God, ask God to intervene, restore any damage, and bring about a desire for truth. If you are guilty of this yourself, repent right now because the Bible is clear about what awaits those who deceive Jesus’ flock.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.