12/18 1 John 4:1

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

God gifted most people with a desire to be led. We tend to follow individuals with whom we mostly agree and for whom we have a great deal of respect. Most people would rather follow than lead. This can be a blessing when we follow godly people who closely follow Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1). However, it can be detrimental when an attractive personality, out of prideful desire to be important, presents himself or herself as a leader. We need discernment to know the difference.

Discernment comes from knowing God's Word. Godly leaders will never contradict God's Word. They may interpret a passage differently from others, but their interpretation should not contradict the context or other Scripture. Godly leaders will invite others to be their equals to hold them accountable. Prideful false teachers elevate themselves above everyone else. They won't listen to a counter opinion. They see themselves as the final authorities. False teachers rarely if ever admit they could be wrong. Godly leaders readily acknowledge their faults and limitations.

Another warning sign of false prophets is their tendency to either be judgmental or to encourage pride in others. When these false teachers receive the response they desire, they tend to praise the person giving it. When they don't get the response they are seeking, they will harshly judge the person in front of others to get him or her to conform. This is not the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).

Remember: Beware of false prophets. The Word of God and the fruits of the Spirit will help you discern who is or is not of God.