You Shall Know Them by Their Fruits

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matthew 7:15–16, KJV)

how to detect false prophets showing a magnifying glass

In the complexities of today’s world, deception abounds, making the ability to identify false prophets and teachers more critical than ever. Jesus offers a simple yet profound method for recognizing them: by their fruits, you will know them.

These false prophets or teachers aren’t outsiders bearing unfamiliar doctrines or saviors unrelated to Christ. Rather, they blend in among believers, using the Bible, preaching about Jesus, leading congregations, and possessing significant followings. Outwardly, they appear Christian, but they are not sent by Christ and pursue goals contrary to His.

To grasp Jesus’ teaching on discerning false prophets, it’s essential to appreciate the figurative language used. He first describes these false prophets as coming in “sheep’s clothing”—a metaphor highlighting the disguise of innocence. Then, Jesus shifts from discussing “sheep” and “clothing” to “fruit”—the outcomes of one’s life. Understanding the distinction between “sheep’s clothing” and “fruits” is key.

Sheep’s clothing” symbolizes the outward behavior or character that mimics true believers or prophets. These individuals will talk, act, and behave like genuine followers of Christ, without necessarily preaching a different Jesus or using an altered Bible.

In contrast, the “fruits” of these false prophets expose their true nature. Fruit, representing character in Scripture, unmistakably indicates the kind of tree it comes from, just as an apple tree cannot produce oranges. Observing the character of these false prophets will reveal negative traits such as sin, greed, lust, and control, rather than the fruits of the Spirit like love, joy, and kindness.

Furthermore, Scripture often equates fruit with works, especially for those in ministry. False prophets lure with promises of miracles and breakthroughs. However, Jesus instructs us to scrutinize the outcomes of their ministries to gauge authenticity. Genuine deliverance, healing, and spiritual freedom cannot emanate from false prophets.

To apply the fruit test, evaluate whether individuals truly experience deliverance, healing, and freedom under such ministries. Are their followers living lives free from sin, emotional or behavioral shackles, demonic oppressions, etc.?

In essence, Jesus commands looking beyond the surface claims of prophecies and miracles propagated by false prophets. Examine the impact of their ministries on people’s lives. By their fruits, you shall indeed know them, underscoring the importance of applying the fruit test.

Meditate

What is the difference between sheep’s clothing and fruit as noted above?

Apply the Word

Exercise discernment. Satan is not just outside; He is inside, within the Church, amongst God’s people. Evaluate messages, teachings, ministries, and purported miracles. Remember, not all who preach, prophesy, or teach the Bible are sent by God.

Pray

Seek the Lord’s guidance for His people to discern false prophets, teachers, and pastors within the community of believers.

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