Watch Out For Wolves! (7:15-20) INTRODUCTION 1. Many people like to think that you can trust religious leaders... a. Ministers normally rank high in polls concerning people you can trust b. People will often accept whatever a preacher, priest, or rabbi says as the truth 2. Yet Jesus told His disciples to beware of false prophets - Mt 7:15-20 a. They may appear like sheep, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves b. We need to be able to identify them, knowing what to look for 3. Are you concerned about false prophets today? You should be! a. The great diversity of teaching suggests that many are being misled b. We need to be reminded of the danger, and know how to spot any "wolves" that might come our way! [With the words of our Savior in Mt 7:15-20 fresh on our mind, I wish to use this opportunity to remind us to "Watch Out For Wolves!" Let me first re-emphasize the point that...] I. THERE WILL BE FALSE PROPHETS A. AS PAUL WARNED ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS... 1. To the Ephesian elders - Ac 20:28-31 a. Telling them to take heed b. For even from among themselves would men arise, misleading people 2. To the church at Corinth - 2Co 11:13-15 a. Referring to false teachers present even then b. Appearing as ministers of righteousness, even as Satan appears as an angel of light 3. To the young preacher Timothy - 1Ti 4:1-3; 2Ti 3:1-9 a. Warning of the apostasy that would come b. Describing the character and tactics of those who would mislead others B. AS DID OTHER NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS... 1. Peter, in telling of the rise of false teachers - 2Pe 2:1-3 2. John, in calling for people to "test the spirits" - 1Jn 4:1 3. Jude, in writing of some who had already come - Jude 3-4 [With so many warnings, this is not a subject to take lightly! But how can we spot such "wolves" when they appear so disarming (like sheep)? Thanks to Jesus and the Word of God...] II. WE CAN IDENTIFY FALSE PROPHETS A. BY EXAMINING THE FRUIT OF THEIR LIFE... 1. We can know them by their "fruit" - Mt 7:16-20 a. What is truly in their heart will eventually come out b. For from the heart proceeds any sin that may be there - cf. Mk 7:21-23 2. Thus false teachers and false prophets are often betrayed... a. By their greediness (e.g., as manifested by their lavish lifestyles) b. By their immorality (e.g., as manifested by adulterous relationships) c. By their lust for power (e.g., as manifested by religious empires) -- Given time, the true character of many false prophets will be exposed by the fruit of their life! B. BY EXAMINING THE FRUIT OF THEIR TEACHING... 1. Taking notice of their methods a. Working secretly - cf. 2Pe 2:1 1) Their ministries (especially finances) will be shrouded in secrecy 2) Rather than being open to one and all - cf. 2Co 8:20-21 b. Appealing to covetousness - cf. 2Pe 2:3 1) They draw people with an appeal to what people often covet (such as health and wealth) 2) Rather than preparing people for what Christians can expect - cf. Ac 14:23; 2Ti 3:12 c. Using deceptive words - cf. 2Ti 3:13; 2Pe 2:3 1) Twisting the scriptures to support their message (just as Satan did in trying to tempt Jesus) 2) Rather handling the word of God rightly - 2Ti 2:14-16 2. Taking notice of their doctrine a. How they twist and pervert the scriptures - cf. Ga 1:8-9 1) Their gospel may start out right, but becomes twisted along the way 2) Their teaching often expressed in the terms of man, not Scripture b. How they teach that which is clearly contrary to the scriptures - cf. Deut 13:1-4 1) Even if they appear able to perform signs and wonders! 2) The final test is how their teaching compares to the word of God and that of His apostles - cf. 1Jn 4:1,6 CONCLUSION 1. It is not necessary to judge the hearts of those who claim to speak for God... a. We need only to be "fruit-inspectors" b. The fruit of their life and teaching will become apparent soon enough -- This is how we can "Watch Out For Wolves!" 2. Of course, this presumes that our knowledge of God's word is sufficient... a. To know what to look for in the life of a false prophet b. To know what to listen for in the teaching of a false prophet -- Otherwise we will be no different than Israel, of whom God said: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." - Hos 4:6 Are you equipped to identify a wolf in sheep's clothing if you saw one?
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016