Last time I blogged about 3 Nephi 14:13-14. This time it's 3 Nephi 14:15, the ravening wolves hiding in disguise among the Lord's sheep.
3 Nephi 14:15
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
This is Christ teaching and commanding the Nephites after His resurrection.
This, coincidentally (or maybe not), is the opposite of my first post, which talks about recognizing the Lord's servants. It is also comes two chapters after Christ says that those who heed His servants are blessed.
So we are told to be wary of rejecting those who are called of Him, and to be wary of accepting the ones who are not.
This is getting confusing...
If the false ones look like sheep...
And the true ones can have a speech impediment (like Moses)...
Or go around naked and barefoot for three years (like Isaiah, Isaiah 20:3)...
Or is a man outside the church's line of authority who's off baptizing people (like John the Baptist)...
Or is a carpenter's son who is also outside the church's line of authority (do I really need to clarify this one?)...
Then how will we recognize which ones are which?
Remember, that burden is entirely on us as individuals. It's only my fault if I get it wrong, and the same goes for you. We have no one else to blame if we put our trust in the wrong source.
Luckily, He gave us some guidelines to help us navigate
3 Nephi 14:16-24
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Look at what fruits any person in question is producing.
Are their words bringing you to humility, and causing you to repent? And are their words bringing you closer to Christ? And are they inviting you to receive Him? And are their words the same as His? The same as scripture? And are they letting Christ's light shine?
Are they bringing you closer to them instead? And/or are they trying to control you? And/or isolate you? And/or do their words contradict His? And/or are they setting themselves up as a light? And/or are they flattering your sense of pride? And/or are they limiting your access to Him by convincing you that they are His intermediary, and you have to talk to Him through them?
I'm sure there are many others I haven't thought of.
Also we should note the last couple verses. There are those who perform things like the Lord's servants do: prophesying, casting out devils, among other things, but if it's not done according to the will of the Father, it is not of Him.
It must be done according to His will.
Otherwise they are either following their own will, or Satan's, and neither will allow them into heaven.
Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
For behold, my brethren it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is form the dark night.
For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for everything which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
The power to know which is which is within each of us. If we're getting it wrong, it's because we're not listening to the Spirit of Christ. We're listening to heart-sell, and/or to a convincing wolf in sheep's clothing who is ravening for power, money, admiration, sex, drugs... any of these things, maybe all of the above. None of these desires may be immediately obvious to us, but hopefully we will see the signs of this bad fruit. Hopefully, we will remember to counsel with the Lord.
It's important that we strengthen our ability to detect good from evil.
Wherefore, I beseech of you brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.
I wrote about accumulating the light of Christ here. We must have that to know good from evil. We have to be aware, and be willing to trust the Spirit.
There is no shortage of people who want something from you in this world, who will try to deceive you. The scriptures warn us about anti-Christs, false Christs, and false prophets. They will be convincing. They may look harmless. They may look and talk like the real thing.
Satan can appear as an angel of light, and he claimed to be the Only Begotten to Moses (Moses 1:19). He is a false Christ. He wants to redirect our worship to him. (But this is getting into another subject)
No one can take the burden of discerning these correctly for us.
So, take heed that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
Easy Peasy, right?
If something doesn't feel quite right to you, pray about it, study it out in your mind and in the scriptures. The answer will become apparent, if you are willing to hear it, whatever it may be.
And trust in the Lord alone as Nephi did:
2 Nephi 4:34
O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever, I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yeah, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
If we do these things, we can avoid deception.