Beware False Prophets & Disciples; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions.

Jesus’ expression changed, becoming serious as he said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize 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 cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

I repeated “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” to myself. Recognize them from their contrary lives, that say one thing and do another? I also have to wonder, am I producing good fruit or bad?

Then Jesus chilled me as his voice rose, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Around me, the crowd began to murmur. What did he mean?

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Jesus would reject people!? Why?

Hmm, ‘I never knew you,‘ that was it. You had to have a relationship with Jesus, not just do as he said. Why bother to do what he said at all then?

Jesus answered my unspoken question. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

Quietly to myself, I said, “He has to actually be my Lord, relationally and obedience-wise. I have to follow him over what I want.” A lot of Jewish teachers told a similar story, except they put the foundation on God’s Law the Torah; where Jesus is…placing his teaching on the same level?

The crowd noticed it too. I heard them as Jesus walked towards us. “He teaches with authority, not like other teachers,” was said a lot.

Most teachers cited other teachers who supported their line of thinking. Jesus didn’t. He said, “Truly I tell you…” on multiple occasions. He even closed his sermon by ranking his message with God’s law.

This is definitely different.

Matthew 7:15-29

How To Defend Yourself From False Teachers

There are many people and groups that operate under Christianity’s banner. You can find them on TV, imagesin the bookstore, online, in churches and non-profits. Some of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Jesus taught about them in Matthew 7:15-20, and how to identify them by what they produce. You have to guard against them.

Why?

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

2 Peter 2:1-3 NIV

They’ll introduce twisted doctrine, out-of-context scripture, and even go as far as diminish the very center of Christianity, Jesus. Even to the point of denying He’s God, but a created being. Your salvation hinges on Jesus being God, for two reasons, it would be considered idolatry, and a man can’t save you.

They’ll peddle the Word of God for money, leading their followers astray, tarnishing the name of Jesus. Politicians, used car salesmen, and televangelists are usually the least trusted people according to polls. It’s sad, because it smears the good ones with the same brush.

With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood!

2 Peter 2:14 NIV

images-1It’s the vipers among them, seducing the weak, fleecing the sheep, all experts in greed.

For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

2 Peter 2:18-19 NIV

They appeal to greedy, lustful desires with bragging and flattery. ‘Want a new home? Just speak words of faith over it.’

I have news for you, only God can create some thing from no thing.

“Want                     , plant a seed of faith by sending me            dollars.”
“Send me                        , and I’ll pray over something for you.”

Here’s Jesus’ answer to that.

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Matthew 6:19-21; 24 NIV

They snare people who think that they are teachers of God’s word. People looking for answers get deceived and left scarred ‘by the church’. Because of that, they are suspicious when someone actually speaks Gospel truth to them.

How Can I Guard Against Them?
  • Check Your Biases. We tend to only listen to information that confirms our preconceptions. Political posts on Facebook are a great example of it. If everything a teacher or preacher says to you appeals to you, never convicts you, then something is wrong. Especially when everything they say appeals to your worldly desires.
  • Know Christian Doctrine. You cannot spot false teaching unless you know what the truth is. Christianity’s core principles are found in the creeds like the one in 1st Corinthians 15:1-8, The Apostles Creed, The Nicene Creed, The Chalcedonian Creed, and The Athanasian Creed. They progressively developed in answer to different heresies in church history.
  • Check For Yourself. “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11
    Ask questions of your pastor, teacher, or me. Check us. For me you can go over to What I Believe to see. Don’t blindly accept it, think through it. That’s how rabbis taught in Jesus’ day, they pressed students with questions to get debate going.
  • The Money Issue. A full-time pastor has to eat and live, poverty doesn’t equal piety. When a preacher distorts truth to get more money, then it’s an issue. We’re to be good stewards of what we are provided, not in it for money. That’s why I do everything out of my own pocket.
    Before giving money to any cause, evaluate it carefully. Will it be used in service to others, meet their needs, or to further promote the person or cause taking it? Is the preacher or teacher clearly serving God, or their own self-interests.

b7163780d2bdaafdc1db646f30450addYou have to think things through, our faith goes deep, and requires much from us in body, mind, spirit, and soul. The way of Jesus is a thoughtful faith. I encourage you to do these things, guard yourself and others from false teaching, and wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Even the devil can appear as an angel of light.