Additionally, it is significant that the Savior depicts these false prophets as wearing the "clothing" of the sheep. Clothing is often closely associated in the scriptures with temple rituals. The word from which "clothing" was translated is ἔνδυμα (enduma). The root of enduma is ἐνδύω (enduō - from which our word endow comes) which means " to invest with clothing (literally or figuratively): - array, clothe (with), endue, have (put) on" (Strong's Greek Concordance). Exodus 28 describes the sacred vestments of the temple priests which were an integral part of the rituals of the temple just as the temple clothing is today in LDS temples. Clothing also serves the purpose of identifying the wearer as belonging to a particular group (for more on this I recommend Daniel Belnap's article in Studies in the Bible and Antiquity entitled "Clothed with Salvation: The Garden, the Veil, Tabitha, and Christ").
Therefore, the false prophets in the Savior's analogy are clothed in the ritual clothing that identify them as members of the community.
The story of Korihor in Alma 30 provides additional insights to the characteristics and tactics of false prophets. There are a few I wish to point out:
- He was the recipient of a false spiritual manifestation (Alma 30:53).
- He specifically targeted the leaders of the church with criticism in his efforts to destroy the faith of the Nephites (Alma 30:31).
- He appealed to the Nephite's sense of pride (Alma 30:17-18).
"I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives." (HC 3:385)
On another occasion he is reported to have said:
"I will give you a key that will never rust, - if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray." (William G. Nelson, in “Joseph Smith, the Prophet,” Young Woman’s Journal, Dec. 1906, p. 543).
Based on the teachings of Joseph Smith those who come forward to claim that the leaders of the Church are in error unwittingly identify themselves as false teachers regardless of whatever else they may say. It seems especially ironic to me that false prophets often recognize Joseph Smith's prophetic calling while rejecting his successors. How can they claim to follow him while at the same time rejecting his teachings?
Safety is to be found by following the Lord's anointed and not speaking evil of them. If we do so the Savior has given us a promise that we will not be overcome. This promise is found in Joseph Smith Matthew 1:9-11:
"And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many; And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold; But he that remaineth steadfast and is not overcome, the same shall be saved." (emphasis added)
Don't be deceived by those who claim to have more light and knowledge than the leading authorities of the Church. Their message may be very, very compelling. They exploit those who are seeking further light and knowledge by offering what appears to be deeper understandings. However enlightening and truthful this information seems it is invariably mingled with false doctrines and ideas and those who espouse those doctrines often set themselves up as a light while denigrating the Lord's anointed. Run as far away as you can from those who criticize the Church's leaders. They do not have your best interests in mind but are puffed up in their own self importance. True teachers will always remain within the channels the Lord has established in his Church and will foster a sense of loyalty. Use the keys the Prophet has provided and do not fall into the traps others set to ensnare.