Beware of False Prophets – Matthew 7:15-23
We cannot do anything that is good without God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. According to our flesh, which is sinful and unclean, we are dead, we are enemies of God. We do not fear, love and trust in God above all things. We are to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent, because Jesus is present, He is God with us. Turn away from sin, and all evil and cling to the Lord your God.
By the Holy Spirit, given to us as a gift at our baptism and who strengthens us when we hear the Word of God preached and taught, who brings us to repent of our sins and receive the forgiveness of those sins, the deeds of the body are put to death and we are alive. As baptized children of God, as those who are led by the Spirit of God, we are sons of God, and as sons of God, we cry out, “Abba! Father!” We cry out, “Our Father, who art in heaven.”
As we pray, it is our prayer that we would enabled by God to live according to God’s holy will and desire, that we would hold the Word of God sacred and gladly hear it and learn it. It is our constant prayer, that the will of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost would be our will, that God’s desire would be our desire, that we would always think and do such things as are right as the Commands of God declare, that we would live holy and righteous lives, loving God above all things and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, as we have been loved by God. We pray that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature would not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice.
The devil, the world and our sinful flesh attack us, and we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory. Daily, we pray that God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, all those things which lead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice, all those things that lead us away from God. And as we pray, so it is done. When our last hour comes, God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost will give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven. The victory is ours, just as God has promised. He is faithful, He will gladly do it. The forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come is ours.
Jesus said: “Beware of false prophets. Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” The time is coming, no, it is right now, when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears. They will look for and listen to teachers to suit their own passions and desires and lusts, they will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths, false belief, despair and other great shame and vice.
Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Those false prophets who want to get you to forget about sin, they must be marked and avoided. Those false prophets who tell you there is no need for repentance or fail to admonish you to turn away from sin, they must be marked and avoided. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, looking for whom they may devour and destroy and kill.
Jesus said, “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. The thieves and robbers come only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Fellow sheep, we must listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. We must listen to truth, for Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We must hear the Law of God preached and taught in all of its truth, that we would fear God’s wrath and judgment and flee to the Lord our God, that He would create in us a clean heart and a right spirit, that He would gather us into His presence and make us dwell in safety.
Beware of those false prophets who appear to be good vines, producing a good fruit, and in reality are nothing but weeds and thistles. You will recognize these false prophets 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.
Jesus said, “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. He will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” The bad fruit that the false prophets produce is unbelief. They do not preach the righteousness and holiness of God. They do not teach a daily dying to sin, through repentance, and a daily renewal to new life, through the forgiveness of sins. False prophets preach the need to be right God, by being a good person, by doing the best you can, that by ourselves, without the work of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, we can find favor with God. These are they who practice lawlessness. We dare not put the Lord our God to the test.
Jesus said, “I am the True Vine. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
Fellow branches, we must abide in the True Vine. We must daily remember our baptism, for in it we are grafted into the vine, forgiveness, life and salvation run through our veins. We must live by faith in God and His Holy Word. We must memorize the Ten Commandments, for they are already written on our minds and hearts, and we must obey them. We must preach Christ crucified, and Him risen, ascended and coming again, that we would realize that we have been purchased and won from sin, death and hell by these precious works of God. Jesus alone is the Good Tree which bears good fruit. His body, which died on the tree of the cross, and His blood, which poured forth, are to be eaten and drunk in the His Supper, that we would have forgiveness and life in us, that we would produce good fruit. Apart from these things there is no life in us.
Beware of false prophets who do not emphasize the Word of God being preached and taught in all of its truth and purity. Beware of false prophets who do not emphasize baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Beware of false prophets who do not emphasize the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. Here is how we abide in God and God abides in us. Here God is with us unto the end of the age. Apart from these things we are dead, we go astray, there is no life in us. Amen.