by Mike Ratliff
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 ESV)
With the ever increasing move away from Orthodox Christianity into various forms of Experiential religion that we are witnesses of here and now, it seems that the bottom is falling out of Christianity, at least in the USA. It’s bad enough that we have all of these “wolves in sheep’s clothing” drawing the unaware into false religions while pretending to be Christian, but there are seemingly endless numbers of our “Christian” leaders falling all over themselves embracing these heretics. It was not that long ago that someone like Robert Schuller was known for the heretic he is. When John MacArthur spoke about Mr. Schuller’s heresies none of our “Christian” leaders objected. Now, we see some of them shaking hands and buddying up with Mr. Schuller as if they have been best friends forever. No one seems to mind either. It’s not that we have heretics among us, we always have them, but there are now many of our leaders either falling in bed with these people or revealing their fleshly side in some of the grossest sins imaginable. What is going on?
I do not believe that God has removed the restrainer…yet. However, it seems that there is a clarification going on. There are tests being presented to all professing believers in our time that reveals their genuineness. Those who fail these tests find themselves either in bondage to horrible sin or lining up theologically with complete heretics or completely falling away. Those who pass these tests find themselves cast off and away by the “mainstream” because they took a stand and refused to give in to the temptation as they fell on God’s mercy and grace in order to make those hard choices to not be popular or to fill up their heart’s desire from fleshly pursuits. Instead, they agreed with God and submitted to His will. It is always costly to do this, but Jesus’ disciples have counted the cost and know that possessing the treasure of eternal life in Christ is worth more than anything that can be had in this world.
Those being used by Satan to attack the church, church leaders and the flock are the ravenous wolves Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:15. Let’s look at the context of this passage.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:15-23 ESV)
Those who do not fall for the deceptions of these false prophets do so by using their godly discernment to look closely at these people rather than just listening to them. How do they really live? What happens to those who follow them? Does what they say and do match up with how Jesus’ disciples are supposed to speak and act? They look at their fruit. When they see the bad fruit they not only don’t follow them, but they also warn others. Also, never forget, these ravenous wolves will be seen by most people as “right on” Christian leaders who call Jesus Lord. They even appear to do “good works” that make them very popular. I submit that Christian leaders such as Rick Warren fit this description very well. He is now a political activist who is so popular with the media and most people that he seems to have taken on a messianic aura. However, we must obey our Lord and look at the fruit. What fruit do we look at?
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27 ESV)
The test is very simple. We must compare what they do and say with what an obedient servant of the Lord is supposed to do and say. If they are found saying and doing what Jesus would say and do then they pass the test. However, if they say the right things, but they do things contrary to Jesus’ teachings then they fail. If they preach heresy they fail. If they are caught in gross sin they fail. If they are unrepentant about what they do and say when confronted with the truth, they fail. Those who fail have built their “house” on the sand. Those who take the costly route and in obedience to Christ have built their house on the rock and even if they are persecuted, ostracized, or ridiculed by the majority, it does not matter because God is being glorified in their suffering and the second death has no power over them. As for those who fail, Jesus will tell them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
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