The Gospel of Matthew: The Fruit of False Teachers.  

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)

“Tolerance toward people is a good and biblical virtue, but tolerance toward false teaching is sin. The teaching of a false prophet cannot withstand scrutiny under the divine light of Scripture.” – John MacArthur

“The mark of the false prophet or teacher is self-serving unfaithfulness to God and His truth. It may be that he says what he shouldn’t; but it is far more likely that he will err by failing to say what he should. He will gloss over all the tough questions and issues as did the false prophets in the Old Testament who went around saying, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace (Jer. 6:14).” J.I. Packer  

“The apostles of Satan are not saloon-keepers and white-slave traffickers, but are for the most part ordained ministers.” – A.W. Pink

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”

Jesus then instructed His disciples how they could recognize false teachers. “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”

To recognize (ἐπιγινώσκω; epiginosko) is a future middle indicative verb. This means that to understand and know false teachers is an activity all believers in Christ must personally engage. It is not just a discipline for the present, but also for the future. The church must always be on guard against error and heresy.

Fruits (καρπός; karpos) are the activities and results of false teachers. It is what they personally accomplish or produce. They personally own their heresy and they delight in it.

Jesus then posed a rhetorical question. “Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” The answer is no. Neither can any good come from false teachers. They are like thorns and thistles that inflict pain and discomfort. They are not like grapes and figs that are nourishing.

“Recognizing prophetic impostors is not always easy, but Jesus says the fruit of their teaching helps us evaluate our instructors (vv. 15–16a). Some buckthorn bushes in Palestine produce black berries that look like grapes from a distance, and certain thistles have flowers that appear to be figs. However, a close inspection of both these fruits reveals them for what they really are — things unfit for consumption. Likewise, we must examine the fruits our teachers’ produce in order to determine the nature of the source from which they come (vv. 16b–18),” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

By their fruits we can know the true nature of false teachers. Be on your guard today by taking each thought captive to the obedience of Christ through Scripture (2 Cor. 10:4-6).

Soli deo Gloria!  

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