From: Su Min
The word of God bears its teaching for you today in the words of Jesus as recorded in the gospel according to St Matthew, Ch 7 vs 15-20. Read and hear our Lord and Master speak.
Jesus has warned about the wide gate and the broad road that many take, leading themselves to destruction.
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matt 7:15)"
This warning is as true to us today at the turn of the millennium as it was in the days of Jesus. The false prophets that are not quite so close to us come in the guise of New age religion, leaders of cults and TV evangelists who preach health and wealth, but do not practice what they preach. Nearer to home we do have isolated instances of bad shepherds and clergy who have a demented theology. It is not for us to judge them, but we have been warned to watch out from them, stay away from them, and not to let their deviationist teaching lead us away from the truth. How do we recognise them?
"By their fruit you will recognise 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 can not bear bad fruit, and a bad tree can not bear good fruit. Matt 8: 16-18) Thus by their fruit you will recognise them (Matt 7:20).
John the Baptist had already warned "The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt 3:10). Jesus completes the anouncement, "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt 7:19)".
Judgement is imminent and judgement is final. When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (Matt 25:31-32).
What are the bad fruit by which we will recognise the false prophets? a personality cult, a false humility or a brash arrogance: lack of transparency in financial accounts, lack of teaching from the scriptures, a drive that seeks personal glory not God's glory... Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and selfish and every evil practice (James 3:16).all kinds. The fruit of the sinful nature are listed in Gal 5:19-21. sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord (hmmm seems to be some of that around!), jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like...
False shepherds are close cousins to false prophets. Beware of false shepherds..
- 2 Peter 2 is a whole chapter that expands more on false prophets.
- Jude 3-16 lists more of their characteristics.
- 1 John 4:1-2 teaches us that we can identify true prophets as those that bear the holy spirit: acknowledging that Jesus Christ has comes in the flesh from God.
"shepherds who lack understanding, they all turn to their own way, each seeking his own gain (Isaiah 56:11)
The word of God is true yesterday, today and forever. Jesus warns us to watch out for false prophets. Jesus teaches us to recognise them by their fruit. We can only measure them by God's holy standards if we know what God's standards are. We cannot know God's standards if we do not study his word and converse with our Heavenly Father daily. And we should not begin to measure others before we measure ourselves. We should first take out the beam from our own eye...
- Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture, declares the Lord (Jer 23:1).
- My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have lead them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains (Jer 50:6).
- Ezekiel 34 is a whole chapter that teaches about false shepherds.
Let us pray.
Thank you for your lesson today.
Thank you for the teaching about false prophets and false shepherds.
Protect us from falling into their clutches, Mighty God.
Even as we learn about good fruit and bad fruit, help us Father to bear good fruit.. Trim and prune us when necessary Father, and feed us with your Word.
Even as we learn about your high and exacting standards, holy God, teach us to be holy and righteous, not in our own strength, but by submitting to your perfect will.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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