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.
Understanding and Applying the Word
Jesus warns of false prophets. These are people who claim to be speaking for God, but who are frauds and deceive unsuspecting people with their words. Too often the subtlety of their false teaching goes unnoticed or unchecked as they attend the church and build relationships and gain a following. However, their motives are to pull people away and in their direction. Jesus warns us that they dress in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
So, how are we to identify these false prophets if we are going to avoid them? Jesus tells us that we will know them by their fruit. We will know them by the lives that they live. False prophets follow their own path and not the narrow way that Jesus has been preaching. Their fruit is self-centered and does not point to Christ. False prophets seek to bring attention to themselves rather than bringing glory to God. And false prophets are often focused on how their words can profit them, whether financially or socially. We must always be on guard against wolves in our midst.
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