Identify

Matthew 7:15-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Webster defines a prophet as “one who utters divinely inspired revelations.” In essence, someone who speaks the Truth of God. Jesus warned the disciples to beware of false prophets. The same warning still applies. Sadly, the church often wrongly assumes that a false prophet will be obnoxious and overtly obvious to the sheep. The enemy isn’t that dumb. False prophets are disguised. They are difficult to SEE & KNOW because they seem harmless. wolf.jpgThey act like sheep. They attend worship services. They join small groups. They serve. They tithe. They pray in public. They quote (or misquote) the bible. Left unchecked, they become leaders. They begin shepherding other sheep. The sheep may not SEE & KNOW, but the Lord KNOWS. He SEES the heart. He cautions other sheep in the fold to beware(“be on guard, be wary.”) Why? Because, He knows that we, like sheep, have all gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). We’ve rebelled and wandered away from the Great Shepherd. And, as stubborn, sometimes stupid sheep, we can easily be led astray by fruitless fools who act like sheep.

James 1:19-22 New Living Translation (NLT)

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger[a] does not produce the righteousness[b] God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

Do not despair. God has a solution to this problem; the Holy Spirit! He leads us into all Truth. He is our guard. He alerts us to the wolf. He gives us eyes to SEE & hearts to KNOW the false prophets. They are identified by their fruitlessness. They are NOT quick to listen, slow to speak, or slow to get angry. They are not producing righteousness. They are fooling themselves.

Lord,

You are righteous. You are slow to anger. You are quick to forgive. Open the eyes of our hearts, God. Helps us to see the anger that disguises itself in our souls. Help us confess it for what it really is; pride. Help us to repent; to be deeply grieved for going astray. Set us free from the desire for power and position. Give us a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Help us to beware of wolves. Help us to identify bad fruit. Help us to lovingly call your sheep to repentance. Deliver & heal your church from the viciousness of the enemy who threatens to steal, kill and destroy us. We declare that the gates of hell will NOT prevail against us!  

Amen.