“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” – Matthew 7:15
That’s the first verse in today’s passage. It was relevant when Jesus said it, and it’s still relevant today.
It was also relevant among the Jews before Jesus’s time. Here’s a little of what Ezekiel, an Old Testament priest in Israel, had to say about the problem in Ezekiel 22:
27 Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. 28 Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says’—when the Lord has not spoken.
That kinda reminds of things I’ve heard come out of the mouths of slick televangelists who are on TV at 2am. (Don’t judge me. It was years ago. And it helped me get back to sleep when my hormones kept waking me up.)
Last week we talked about our need to “check the labels” to be sure we’re on the right path—the one that leads to life.
Today we want to be sure we’re listening to the right people and allowing the right people to speak into our lives.
There are different types of prophets and prophetic gifts and I’m not going to get into that today. (Or ever.) But one thing they all have in common is that they SPEAK—in some form or fashion.
So some questions for today are:
- Who are you allowing to speak into and over your life?
- Who are you listening to and following their advice?
- Whose words about your life, and life in general, do you believe?
As the first verse in today’s passage tells us, there are false prophets who pretend to be something they are not. They may look like they are good and kind and gentle and “for us” but, in reality, they are only looking out for themselves. They call wrong right and right wrong. And they twist God’s words.
But since they look like a sheep instead of a wolf, how can we tell the difference?
The next few verses tell us. We can know who a person really is by looking at the fruit that results from the life they live.
One interpretation of this could be to look for the fruit of the Spirit. Does their life produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—in themselves and in those they are leading?
Another interpretation could be to inspect whatever fruit is being produced in their life over time. Does that fruit line up with the Word of God? Is it something you want replicated in your life?
I’m sure you’ve heard this quote by Jim Rohn: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
This could have a lot to do with the fact that you listen more to what those five people say about you, and about life in general, than anyone else on the planet.
So check the fruit of the people you spend a lot of time with, listen to regularly, and allow to speak into your life. Make sure it’s a fruit you want reproduced in your life, too.
Because it will be.
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.”