Reading the Word
Matthew 7:15–20 (ESV)
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
Parallel Text: Luke 6:43-45
Understanding and Applying the Word
These verses serve as a warning to Jesus’ followers. There will be false teachers who may appear to belong Christ, but they really do not. They are not sheep. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
How do we spot a false teacher? Jesus says that we will know them by their fruit. What we truly believe will be reflected in how we live. So the life of one who belongs to Jesus will reflect that truth while the life of a false teacher will not be Christ-like. Just as one type of tree produces a certain type of fruit, so it is with people. You will know them by their fruit.
Christian history is filled with false teachers. In every generation teachers and movements have come along that are contrary to true biblical teaching. We still see this even today. False teachers and preachers teach all sorts of unbiblical notions to justify and gain power, influence, wealth, sex, and control over others. Just look at the fruit. Do the teachers live lives that reflect and glorify Jesus or are they living for themselves and looking for opportunities to indulge in sin?
Beware of false prophets who come dressed in sheep’s clothing.
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