15. [Jesus said,] "Be careful -- watch for false prophets. They
come to you dressed like sheep, but they are really hungry wolves.
You will know these people how? Look at what they do. Grapes don’t grow
on thorn bushes, and figs don’t grow on thorny weeds.
17. In the same way, every good tree grows good fruit, but a bad tree grows bad fruit.
18. A good tree can't grow bad fruit, and a bad tree can't grow good fruit.
19. Every tree that does not grow good fruit becomes cut down and thrown into the fire.
20. In the same way, you will know false prophets by what they do."
How can you spot [notice] a false Christian?
Many times we can't.
Only God knows who is a real disciple
and who is only a good actor.
Also, Jesus warns us not to be quick to judge other people.
But, Jesus also warns us to be careful about Christian leaders.
We must evaluate them,
and refuse to follows those who are false,
and reject those who mix truth with error.
Jesus begins today's stories with this warning:
"Be careful -- watch for false prophets."
Then Jesus tells us about things that false leaders have
that we can notice.
Story #1: Parable about Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
"Be careful -- watch for false prophets.
They come to you dressed like sheep,
but they are really hungry wolves."
|The Wolf = Pastors, teachers, church leaders (or members) who have evil motives|
The Sheep's Clothing = religious talk, flattery
Jesus says that these people are "false prophets."
A prophet is someone who speaks for God.
But in the next verses after our story, Jesus said:
the last day many people will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, we spoke for you,
and in Your name we forced out demons and we did many miracles.’ Then I
will tell them clearly, ‘Go away from me, you who do evil. I never knew
you.' " (Matthew 7:21)
Why would a wolf get dressed up like a sheep?
We know that never happens,
but this is a picture that teaches an important lesson.
If a wolf covered himself in a sheep skin,
he would do that to fool sheep,
and they trust him.
If the wolf looks a sheep,
acts like a sheep,
sounds like a sheep,
they naturally think that he is a sheep.
What's the wolf's goal?
He wants to get something: Dinner!
A false prophet who looks like a Christian,
acts like a Christian,
talks like a Christian,
what's his goal? Dinner! ...and more!
The false preacher takes-advantage of the sheep
for his own benefit.
So, how can we know who is a true teacher and
who is a false teacher?
Jesus explains in the second story:
Story #2: Parable about Fruit Trees
"You will know these people,
[You will know these false prophets,
you will know these wolves dressed like sheep,]
how? Look at what they do.
Grapes don’t grow on thorn bushes,
and figs don’t grow on thorny weeds.
In the same way, every good tree grows good fruit,
but a bad tree grows bad fruit.
A good tree can't grow bad fruit,
and a bad tree can't grow good fruit."
|The Good Tree = person who is connected with Christ.|
The Good Fruit =
godly words (correct doctrine, compassionate counsel)
Christ-like actions (integrity, holiness, service)
good attitudes (fruit of the HS)
The Bad Tree =
corrupt church leader/member
false teacher, cult leader
The Bad Fruit =
-- teaching errors that reject the Bible's truth.
-- gossip, lying, back-stabbing
sinful actions (adultery, stealing, etc.)
sinful attitudes (pride, bigotry, laziness, jealousy, coveting, lust, hate, etc.)
Notice: The tree makes the fruit.
If you tie good fruit on a bad tree, on doesn't change the tree.
If you teach and preach Bible truth while you commit adultery,
your actions, not your words, show what is really in your heart.
You are a bad tree.
And if you live a good life with good attitudes
while you teach that your good life will save you,
you also are a bad tree,
because your words show that you reject Christ.
Many religions may have the fruit of good works,
but their false Christ offers false hope
that depend on those works,
not Christ's sacrifice!
Trees in the natural world cannot change.
But we can... or a better sentence is
Christ Jesus and His Holy Spirit can change us.
When we die with Christ, He lives in us.
and anything good that we do
that is Christ Himself doing it in us.
And that happens every day while we live connected with Him.
Remember, Jesus said:
"I am the VINE, and you are the branches.
If you stay connected with Me,
and I stay connected in you,
you will grow much fruit.
Without Me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5)