In today's study from Matthew 7:15-23, Jesus warns his disciples about False Prophets and how to know them.
vv.15-23 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (16) Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (17) Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. (18) A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. (19) Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (20) Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (21) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
In this passage, Jesus taught his Jewish disciples about false prophets. His admonition was: "Beware." That means to be on guard, to be alert. Why? False prophets are everywhere. The Bible says much about them.
Deut 13:1-3 — they use signs and worship false gods
Deut 18:10-11 — they use various means of divination
1 Ki 13:18 — they lie (Jer 23:25)
Jer 23:14 — they commit adultery (Jer 29:23)
2 Pet 2:1 — they bring in damnable heresies
2 Pet 2:2 — they get up a big following
They had to watch out because false prophets can be hard to spot and by the time they get in close, they can destroy sheep.
- They are camouflaged, v.15 — they dress in sheep’s clothing
They come in like one of the flock.
Act 20:30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Rom 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
- They are deadly (v.15) — they are ravening wolves
The word “raven” means to prey on, hunt for, eat greedily. It is the pastors job to protect his flock from these wolves (cf. Acts 20:28-29).
- They are influential (v.22) — they prophesy, cast out devils and do wonderful works.
What makes these camouflaged wolves so dangerous is that some of them can do miraculous looking things that make them appear to have supernatural power. Thus, they convince people to follow them and turn away from the truth. For example, Jannes and Jambres, by magic, convinced Pharaoh to follow them and reject Moses (2 Tim 3:8; Ex 7:19-23). Simon used sorcery (divination by the assistance of evil spirits) in Samaria to get the attention of the people and earned the reputation as "the great power of God," (Acts 8:9-11). The beast will cause the world to worship him by his power (Rev 13:3-5).
- They are damned (v.23) — "depart from me, ye that work iniquity"
The false prophets Jesus warned them about were never saved because Jesus said, "I never knew you."
Known By Their Fruits (vv.16-20)
The way to know these guys is by their fruits. You don’t judge a tree by its leaves, or bark, or flowers, but by the fruit it bears. The flowers may be beautiful and fragrant, the foliage thick and green; but these are merely ornamental.