15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

Matt 7:15-20 (NIV)

In our verses for today Jesus warns believers to watch out – to be on our guard – against those who would lead us astray. While they may appear harmless they are anything but. We would do well to remember what Scripture tells us regarding Satan and his minions. The devil himself disguises as an angel of light therefore we should not be surprised that his servants do as well:

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. 2 Cor 11:13-15 (NIV)

We are test all before blindly believing and if proven false avoid and have nothing to do with following them. The Bible approves of - as well as God blesses - those who diligently search the Scriptures for Truth. Remember what God’s Word states regarding the Bereans who even checked the Apostle Paul:

11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 (NIV)

We are to be cautious regarding mindless beliefs as many have fallen prey to and suffered much harm from. This is certainly not a new problem. From the serpent in the garden with our original parents until this present day we are bombarded with those who desire to take us on the same path of destruction as they. God has continuously warned His people against this. We find in Scripture God’s “Heads-Up!” to His people in Jeremiah’s time which also included His antidote against falling prey to these “ferocious wolves” – we are to know His Word:

16 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ 18 But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?” Jer 23:16-18 (NIV)

Later in Matthew, in speaking of the end times, Jesus warns us against these imposters so that we will not be fooled and taken captive:

21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time. Matt 24:21-25 (NIV)

Jesus tells us today as well we can know these false prophets by the actions of their lives. A tree produces fruit according to its own kind. If we want to know if one’s teaching is from above an easy test is to examine the life – the works of their lives will testify for or against them.

"A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love." St. Basil

Furthermore, if the direction of their teaching leads us to godliness, humility, patience, love, joy and a host of other Christian graces it surely points us to TRUTH yet if their doctrine is one of dissention, pride, worldly, contentious and takes people away from governing themselves or their families we better flee or at the very least dig deeper ourselves. Each person is ultimately responsible to God for what they believe. James tells us what the wisdom from above looks like:

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:13-18 (NIV)

“Holiness is the visible side of salvation.” Charles Spurgeon

“A holy life will produce the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine.” D. L. Moody

What I Glean

  • I am to watch out for false prophets – those desirous to lead me on their path of destruction.
  • I am to study the Scripture to know Truth - 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16-17 (NIV)
  • A tree is known by its fruit.