Jesus told the crowds, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits."This passage raises the question: who are we listening to?
Jesus tells us there are many false prophets in the world. They come to us in sheep's clothing; that is to say, these false prophets come to us claiming to be Jesus' sheep, but they aren't. They are really wolves.
How do we recognize false prophets? Jesus says, "By their fruit you will know them." Is the prophet's life and teaching producing the fruit of the Spirit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? (Galatians 5:22-23) If so, then Jesus says you can trust them.
Jesus also says that every tree that does not bear good fruit is going to be cut down and thrown into the fire. In other words, every prophet who is not bearing good fruit is really just another person on the broad road to destruction.
I heard a story some years ago about how one man thought he could get a great parking space at a New York Yankees baseball game. He pulled his car into the VIP parking lot and told the attendant that he was a friend of George Steinbrenner, owner of the Yankees. Unfortunately for that imposter, the parking lot attendant that day was none other than George Steinbrenner. He was personally investigating some traffic problems at the stadium.
The surprised imposter looked at Steinbrenner and said, "I guess I've got the wrong lot." That guy didn't park in the VIP lot that day or ever again.
The owner knows his friends and the owner determines who gets in the VIP lot. God also knows who his friends are and who the imposters are. And he tells us how we can identify the true prophet. He or she is the one who produces good fruit in his or her life and teaching.