Continuing our broad overview of the gospel of Matthew, we come to chapter 7:15-20 which says,
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."
In order to understand what makes a false prophet a false prophet we need to look at Acts 2:42.
" And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."
This is a description of the pattern of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is further developed at Ephesians 2:19-20 "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone."
A false prophet does not follow the teachings of the Apostles, in which, Christ is the cornerstone. These verse are telling us that God establishes His Household, (His Church) on the commands, and promises of the Old Testament (prophets) and the New Testament (apostles). To not follow them is to be a false prophet.
A wolf is not a friend of a sheep. Its purpose is to harm, destroy the sheep. The Christian that is under the influence/false teaching of a false prophet needs rescue. One of the reason that so many are held by false prophets is that they refuse to read the Word of God for themselves. They listen only to the wolf, in fact, they will protect the wolf against attack, whenever criticism is brought against the false prophet. I truly believe that God will bring His own out from under the evil influence of false prophets. He did that to me and to others as well. When we become Christians we are naive, especially when we have no or little foundation in the true teaching of God and most of us start there. We tend to go to a church where others like ourselves attend. (cultural, ethnic similarity). We do not think that there could be false teaching, we are naive, so we go to church and usually continue in the same type of church. It is only by the grace of God, that we are awakened to the fact that there are indeed false prophets, and when we discover that they are not teaching the truth (as explained in the scriptures above) we look for a faithful church where the Word of God is held in esteem. And it is run my men whose purpose is to protect the true faith, to protect and promote sound, biblical, theology.
We need to examine our place of worship. We need to be under sound teaching. We are living in the age of fulfillment, in that we have the whole Word of God, we live on the other side of the cross. Christ Jesus has been sacrificed for us, and He has been exalted to the right Hand of the Father and He is waiting until all His enemies become His footstool. (Psalm 110:1, Luke 20:43, Acts 2:35, Hebrews 1:13, and Hebrews 10:13) Than He will return. And then the false prophet and all the enemies of Christ will be thrown into the fire. False prophet do not follow the teachings of the prophets and the apostles, because they are seeking glory for themselves. They refuse to submit to Christ, but Christ will have every knee bow.
If you are in the Household of God, you cant remain under a false prophet. You must evaluate the teaching you are receiving by the Word of God. When Christ was delivering His Olivet Discourse, in response to the question: "tell us, what will be the sign of your coming at the end of the age? Jesus answers them that many will come and say they are Christ, and will lead many astray, and that many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. (Matthew 24:3-14)
God give warning about false prophets. We know that Satan is crafty and their are False prophets that may be well disguised but based on what Christ said "they can not produce good fruit" is our key to determining if they are indeed false prpophets are not. What Christ states here is always a test of whether ministry is based on the Spirit of God or Satanic, good fruit only comes from the Spirit of God, Satan cannot produce good fruit. (Matthew 7:15-20) Satan can only produce bad fruit.
The true faith is serious. That's why Satan has attacked the church from the very beginning, all of the New Testament letters are written primarily to confront false prophets and their teachings that were in the church.
We are to stand firm in the truth knowing that by God power and His power alone we have been given the ability to understand that He is the true God. (Isaiah 43:10) We warn others and we stand firm in the truth. That's why reading the Word of God is vital.
I recommend that you read 2 Peter especially chapter 2 for more on the subject of false teachers/prophets.