by Mike Ratliff
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15 (NASB)
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’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. It seems there is a pastor or church leader exposed nearly every week for some sort of sexual sin or for being a narccissictic abuser of women or perhaps one who is the enabler of those who do those things by covering things up for them. 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 the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:15-23 (NASB)
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 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” Matthew 7:24-27 (NASB)
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 who practice lawlessness.’”
Soli Deo Gloria!
In April of this year I posted another article with the same name as this one, I suggest you read it as well.