The Gospel of Matthew: True and False Prophets. Part 3.

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 thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:15–16 (ESV)

“False teachers [are] not made outside Christianity. They are always bred in the church, half in and half out; but eventually they reject the truth and try to seduce others in their attempt to fulfill their self-gratification.” – John MacArthur

“This is the way it always is with false teaching. False teachers cannot force their opinions on anybody. They can only persuade people to adopt their ways of looking at things. And false teaching, of course, often has an attractive veneer. People like new ideas; and false teaching, by definition, trades in new ideas. People also like teaching that might make them feel less guilty about their own sins and failings. And certainly the false teachers of [biblical times and our day hold] out this advantage.” – Douglas Moo

“It would have been well for the church of Christ, if the warnings of the Gospel had been as much studied as its promises.” J.C. Ryle  

This week, we are focusing on the importance of holding to biblical truth and being aware of false teachers. It would be pleasant to think that false teachers are outside the local church. Unfortunately that is not the case. False teachers exist within the church; always have and always will until the Lord’s return. Therefore, those who hold to biblical truth must be on guard.

Today’s text begins with these cautionary words from Jesus; “Beware of false prophets.” Jesus then invoked a familiar biblical illustration. “…who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves”

The phrase who come (ἔρχομαι; erchomai) is a present, middle indicative verb. This means that false personally come to believes in Christ. They pretend to be good. They pretend to be harmless but they are dangerous and destructive. False teacher do not wait for Christ’s disciple to come to them.

Sheep’s clothing (πρόβατον ἔνδυμα; probation endyma) is another way of saying that false teachers act as if they are biblical in their beliefs. However, they are not.

What are they? By nature they are ravenous wolves (ἅρπαξ λύκος; harpax lykos). Wolves are not domestic pets. They are predators. They are destructive and vicious. They take no prisoners. Instead, they destroy.

“The message of false prophets may be attractive and even seem orthodox. The only way to know for sure is to allow time to see ‘their fruits (vv.16-20),” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

We will examine the fruits of false teachers next time. Have a blessed day and be on your guard. False teachers are everywhere.

Soli deo Gloria!  

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