We could all use help with our discernment, so let's look at a statement Jesus made:
In Matthew 10:16 Jesus said, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
How do we do this? I want to give you a few short discernment helps:
1. Religiosity, without God's real love in the heart, equates to sheep's clothing while being a wolf on the inside.
-1 John 3:10 says, "In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother."
2. One important thing we need to understand is that proper doctrines and religious conduct alone are not the litmus test as to whether someone is a wolf or a sheep. Love manifested in our lives is the real proof that we are true Christians.
3. If we do not have discernment in these last days, we will be deceived. There are many wolves in sheep's clothing in church today, and if we do not stay close to Jesus we will be deceived.
4. Beware of assuming someone has love just because they are nice, it may very well be sheep's clothing. When you judge righteously (which Jesus commanded us to do in John 7:24), remember that the love you are looking for is the authentic love of God. If you go by human understanding you will always go astray.
5. Whether we like it or not there are many wolves, and if you love Jesus/are born again, you are a sheep. Our only protection is to stay close to Jesus Christ, keep Him first in our lives, and accept the truth He reveals to us without arguing with Him. If He shows us that someone in our life is counterfeit, pray for them, possibly reprove them, but beware of fellowshipping with them.
6. There are many true pastors that truly love God, but there are also wolves in sheep's clothing. Beware that you do not drown out your discernment, and your conscience, because you do not want to be inconvenienced by having to change churches or stop listening to some false teacher. On the other hand love, support, and pray for your true pastor.
7. The world we live in today is a world in which we must be serious about having discernment. The Word of God tells us that we are to "be sober and vigilant because our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Take that seriously, and rest in the security of Jesus' arms.