SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20)
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
Since we are rapidly approaching the end of our study on the Sermon on the Mount, let us recall what we have discussed so far. Jesus preached this sermon, primarily to His disciples, as a sort of shorthand guide for living as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. He began with the Beatitudes, which defined the characteristics of a Christian. He then proceeded to establish His followers purpose on earth: to be the salt and light of the world. Finally, Christ closed out chapter five by explaining how the commandments and laws of the Old Testament function within His kingdom.
Jesus began chapter six by diving into acts of religious piety, such as giving to the poor, prayer, and fasting. Likely to His disciples’ surprise, Christ taught that those acts could easily be done from a bad heart, causing them not to be godly, but sinful. He then encouraged His disciples to seek after the heavenly reward from the Father, which is an eternal treasure that can never be lost or destroyed. And once our treasure is fixed in eternity, we can truly live without anxiety.
Now in chapter seven, Jesus has been covering highly important topics, like how not to be a hypocrite, how to come before the Father, and that the gate to heaven is narrow and hard. His warning today is against false teachers. Like wolves in sheep’s clothing, they will seek to invade the church community, but Jesus states that we will be able to recognize them. Just as a wolf will never truly imitate a sheep and bad trees will never bear good fruit, so will we be able to notice false teachers by their lifestyle.
Read verses 15-20 and discuss the following.
- This warning about recognizing false teachers comes directly after the explanation of the narrow and broad gates. How are both passages connected to one another?
- False teachers often come as wolves in sheep’s clothing. How might false teachers disguise themselves today?
- What are some common and/or popular false teachings of today?
- At the begin of chapter seven, Jesus warned against judging others. How do these two passages relate to one another?
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Obey. Take time to review important confessions of faith (such as the Baptist Faith and Message, the London Confession of Faith of 1689, or the Nicene Creed), making certain that you understand the good fruit of sound doctrine.
- Pray. This week pray for friends or family you know that are currently being deceived by false teaching.