Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 7:15-20

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." -Matthew 7:15-20

Who is this command to? 

It has been a while since I included this question, mainly because we are still in the Sermon on the Mount, and that same multitude is before Jesus, with the disciples in the front row. It is good to be reminded of these things before we leave the Sermon on the Mount.

What does this command require?

Watch out for false prophets. You can discern who is a false teacher by their fruit.

What truths do we learn through this command?

False prophets will come. They will come and they will be hidden. Jesus uses the imagery of a wolf in sheep's clothing. False teachers will be hard to identify, even impossible at first. But over time, as the 'fruit' of their lives is revealed, you will know who they are. 

It is easy today to identify some false teachers. My mind goes back to Harold Camping. For me, it was very easy to identify him as a false prophet. First, he claimed to know something that Jesus said only the Father in heaven knows (when Christ will return). Second, he predicted a date and it didn't come true. But in spite of those two things, there are thousands who follow this guy. 

Other false teachers will be hard to identify. They will seem like good people. They will be attractive, smart, and crafty, able to deceive thousands--even millions of people. Knowing the truth of Scripture is the only way to defend against deception by false teachers. Yes, time will tell who is a false teacher, and who is not, but you can save yourself the hassle by knowing what Scripture says. 

What are the consequences for disobeying this command?

Deception, snared by false teachers, inability to discern truth from error.

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