In my time as a grocery store cashier, I can remember using a counterfeit detector marker to ensure the dollar bills we received were authentic, not fake. While I never came across any counterfeit money, I did have a co-worker who did. The managers were alerted and the problem was addressed. In no small part, this was due to the fact the counterfeit detector marker warned us about the genuineness of the money. And Jesus does the same with us concerning false teachers. After proclaiming the truth many choose the way to destruction while few are move the path of salvation (7:13-14), Jesus warns His disciples, and us, about false prophets. These false prophets are deceiving, but not to those who are discerning. Their deception is stated in the phrase “in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (7:15). They appear to be a part of the community of God as sheep but are truly in opposition to the truth of God (see 1 John 2:18-27). They deceive people with a counterfeit gospel, resulting in eternal implications. Knowing what is at stake, Jesus adamantly warns about these deceivers. By His warning, consequently, His followers can escape from being the deceived and live as the discerning. Jesus does this by talking in terms of recognizing fruit. You can tell from the fruit whether the tree, the source, is good or bad, healthy or sick. If the fruit does not find its growth in the Word of God and a transformed life by the gospel, then the source is not a healthy one. If the fruit is not a “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” walk (Romans 6:11), then the source is bad. “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit” (7:18). Ignoring sin and disregarding the person and work of Jesus Christ reveals the sham teaching. For the false teacher who preaches a false gospel, their destiny is made known: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (7:19). Their end is destruction. Beware of them! For the non-Christian, realize you have been deceived. In some way, you have bought into a false hope. Repent of your sin and place your faith in Jesus Christ. For those who have repented and believed, who are followers of Christ, be discerning! Recognize teachers by their fruit and be able to discern, with the Word of God as your foundation, what truth is and what is not, what the gospel is and what it is not. Beware of deception.
- How does knowing deception takes place among those who appear in the community of God affect the way in which you understand this truth?
- How can you be discerning so that you may not be deceived by even those who may proclaim to be teaching Christian truth?