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Commentary: Given this is an election year, and the terrorism in our culture,
Jesus teaching is timely.
Excerpted From Rock-Solid Living In A Quicksand World
TRUE & FALSE PROPHETS OR LEADERS
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’”
As we continue our Journey back through the Sermon on the Mount, we see some trees out in the yard near the house. Jesus tells us, “Watch out!” I do not know about you, but this sounds rather ominous to me. We are simply taking a stroll with Jesus to determine how to have a solid foundation for living, and He begins with words like these. He really does sound serious here, and why shouldn’t He? Our ability both to live now, and to be prepared to meet our maker, seems to be hanging in the balance. We usually use such warnings to keep a person from an accident of some kind; for example, we save these two words to avoid auto accidents or anything that could be deadly.
Watch out for what? Jesus is specific. He warns us to watch out for false prophets. He says they are “ferocious wolves” because they are covert operators. In other words, on the outside they look good, but on the inside, they are dangerous. Why would a false prophet be dangerous? Jeremiah 23:16 describes them as liars. Matthew 7:22 calls them miracle workers. Matthew 13:2 says they are so good at what they do that they could deceive even the sincerest of Christ followers. In 2 Peter 2:1–3, the apostle Peter is really specific about what makes these people so dangerous. He describes them as living among the people, as if they were just one of the crowd. He talks about how they secretly introduced destructive heresies. They were so productive that Peter talks about them bringing “the way of truth into disrepute.” He goes on to say that they could really spin a yarn. Peter is fairly explicit when he says that these false prophets did what they did for greed—and that the people who followed them were condemned—or in Peter’s words, “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” No wonder Jesus tells us to “watch out”! This kind of makes you wonder about today’s leaders.
Popularity Does Not Prove Authenticity
According to Luke 6:26, false prophets/leaders are popular: Now this is something on which to hone. Just because a leader has a large crowd of followers does not necessarily mean that leader is worth following. In fact, our text tells us that these ferocious ones are in sheep’s clothing. It’s clear they look like the real thing, and they look good. It seems like their spiritual makeup looks good enough for prime time. The Nielsen ratings for their performances might just be off the chart. After all, as Luke clearly says, “everybody loves those people.” And mob rule can be contagious, especially in a spiritual or political setting.
However, keep in mind what Jesus said very clearly. “Watch out!” They are ferocious! Follow them and you’re sure to lose your footing and sink in the muck and mire.” Apparently this was already happening during the disciple’s’ time as they ministered. I say this because even John said some very poignant things about false prophets to the Christ followers of His day. 1 John 4:1–6 described them in a startling way. He wrote that these false prophets were people who followed the “spirit of antichrist” rather than the spirit of God. He described them as being of “the world,” juxtaposed to belonging to the kingdom of God. This raises some questions that need some very specific answers. What does John mean? What is he talking about when he writes of “the world” and “The Kingdom of God?” I think it’s very important that we know the difference between these two spheres if we want to experience rock-solid living. Yes, it is important indeed if we want to maintain our footing. But how are these concepts different from each other? The main question we need to answer is “How can I tell a false leader from the real thing?” I will do my best to answer this shortly.
Now while it is true that these false prophets are very convincing counterfeits, they still can’t get their bill of goods past God. Jesus spells it out by saying that not everyone who calls Him “‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” He explained that those who enter His kingdom will be people who do God’s will. It is clear from this passage that these false leaders left out a very important part of God’s will. They never knew Jesus. They never surrendered to Him as the Lord of their lives. In fact, Jesus said, “…I never knew you…” (John 7:23). So these false prophets are standing before God and bragging about all of the miracles they had accomplished and all they had done. They said that they even spoke in Jesus’s name. They even went so far as to cast out demons.
Here is the big mistake these folks make: They never made Jesus the Lord of their lives; therefore, at judgment, He called them workers of iniquity or evildoers. These are not good words to hear when you’re facing God for the final time. They thought they would be saved by their works, but they were wrong. No wonder Jesus called them ferocious. They were leading people to judgment unprepared, and they themselves were not prepared. These leaders were surprised at judgment because they were trying to do their own thing apart from God’s will. Following such a leader certainly does not provide a good foundation for life. Following one such as this may cause life to be full of surprises, even the ultimate one when a person faces God.
To Be Continued: Be sure to get your own copy of Rock-Solid Living In A Quicksand World, in paperback or kindle at http://www.amazon.com. You will be glad you did. Have a blessed day.