Near the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:
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.
We’ll look today at the Attractive quality of these false teachers.
15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing
They will pretend to be sheep, or followers of Jesus, but really they are wolves. They will pretend to have your best interests at heart, but really have their own. They will present a new improved version of Jesus, God, or a new approach to life, all packaged in a slick presentation. It may be too good to be true.
Think of a Time Share Presentation. Perhaps you went to one for free stuff, thinking you knew better. But after the slick presentation, you may have left seriously considering it! Professionals can make their message attractive, even if it’s not good for you.
Jesus is saying don’t be surprised when you are attracted to false prophets. They are very good at this…acting like sheep…discerning them to be wolves takes time, care and prayer.
They will also be Inconsistent
16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
Seek consistency. Grapes come from grapevines, not thorny bushes. The produce is consistent with its source. But this isnot the case with false teachers! They’ll be inconsistent in two ways:
1st they will be inconsistent with their own words
I visited a woman once, who was reading a popular spiritual teacher who claims to be Christian but also claims God helps her predict the future 85% of the time. Unfortunately, a 3-year study of predictions about 115 missing persons and murder cases found she was wrong in every single case.
She claims her teachings benefit her followers, so she writes books, but they are inconsistent with the results. I learned all this from a woman in an unsanitary trailer home with little to her name. All this time, the teacher was making millions on book deals…telling people they can have it all. My friend didn’t notice that the fruit and the tree were very, very different…her experience of this supposed true teaching was very different from the teacher’s own experience.
The 2nd Inconsistency is that false prophets teach what is inconsistent with God’s word through history. This is the easiest to verify: you have a written record of God’s word for thousands of years in the Bible. If someone truly represents Jesus, the truth of God, then their words should match what God has always said. I read this week about someone who says that Jesus wanted them to live in a certain kind of mansion with a certain kind of car, but in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says not to store up treasures on earth…we have a problem!
If God is truly speaking to you or anyone – he will be consistent. If it is inconsistent with God through history, you have a problem.
Tomorrow, we’ll examine the other two fruit of a negative spiritual influence.
Question: Can something be true, yet not delivered by an attractive teacher? What would a good teacher’s results look like?
Be sure to discuss this with someone else in your life – someone from the train, bus, work or the neighbourhood – wherever. Watch the challenge videos each day while you’re apart, then discuss the question when you see each other.
Cast: Redeem the Commute
Watch the Video: : https://player.vimeo.com/video/68812541