The Berean Expositor
Volume 52 - Page 109 of 207
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"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheeps' clothing, but inwardly
they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them" (7: 15, N.I.V.).
Primarily this referred to the religious leaders, the Scribes and Pharisees. Outwardly
they had a lamb-like appearance posing as angels of light, but this merely hid their
rapacious character, greedy for gain and power. There have always been false teachers.
Satan sees to that. The O.T. contains many of them. They were active too in the lifetime
of Christ and, as He forecast, they will be prominent at the end of this age (Matt.xxiv.11).
One is always amazed at the credulity of people, for these false leaders never lack a
following. It does not matter how stupid or preposterous their claims are, some will
gladly accept them and deception surely follows.
The illustration of good and bad trees is found again in James 3: 11, 12 and there are
parallels in ancient writers:
"Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, 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" (7: 16-20, N.I.V.).
This illustration was used by Christ on other occasions (12: 33). A bad tree will
finally display this quality by bearing bad fruit, and in the same way the falsity of corrupt
teachers will be manifest.
The Lord not only warned His hearers of listening to false teachers, but also of
deceiving themselves:
"Not every who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he
who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. 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 perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away
from Me, you evil doers!" (7: 21-23, N.I.V.).
Those words of the Lord are very searching. It was possible to be very orthodox and
yet miss entry into the kingdom. There is a sharp contrast here between saying and doing
the will of God. The external words sounded correct, but the internal obedience to the
Lord and His Truth was lacking. The Greek negative ou in the question expects an
affirmative answer and the Lord does not deny this. But He say "I was never acquainted
with you"; "I do not recognize you". The threefold repetition of "in My Name", which
in the Greek is placed first in all three cases for emphasis, shows that apparent orthodoxy
was of no avail. It is startling to realize that prophecy and the working of miracles was
not enough to prove genuineness. But then we know that Satan can perform certain
miracles and it only shows how he can travesty the Truth. The Lord cannot be deceived,
In both reports of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew and Luke), the parable of the
wise and foolish builders forms an impressive conclusion. Each contain the important
words "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice"