Fruits of False Prophets

Matthew 7: 15-20
Gen 15:1-12,17-18 / Ps 105

Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-16)

They claim this world as God’s kingdom,
False prophets lead us from the truth;
Pray to the Lord for the wisdom
To recognize them by their fruit.

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. 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 fruits you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7: 15-20)

Reflection

Last Monday, the Gospel talked about judging (Mt.7:1-5). How appropriate that today’s Gospel reading confronts us with the question of how to judge whether a prophet is true or false. Jesus warns us about the danger of falling prey to charlatans whose devious schemes can bring disaster to our souls (not to mention our pockets). The tens of thousands of “Christian” denominations that have proliferated all over the world bear witness to the accuracy of our Lord’s prophecy. The principle of the separation of church and state has given rise to thousands of ‘profiteers’ who have seen that they can raise a bundle of tax-free money, with a little charisma and a good memory for verses in the Bible. Millions of nominal Christians who are disillusioned with their church, and many other faith-seekers are ripe pickings for these ‘prophet-profiteers’. Instead of repentance, they preach the Old Testament practice of tithing and love offerings for the salvation of souls.

Jesus, however, tells us that we can recognize these false prophets by their fruit (or lack of it). Of course our Lord tells us not to be judgmental, but cautions us to be more discerning in choosing the leaders that we can trust. The “fruit” that we can recognize are the good examples that they have shown – in shepherding and in stewardship. Are they leading others to Christ, or to themselves alone? How well are they managing the resources that have been entrusted to them? We will know that the fruit of such movements comes from the Prince of Lies if they teach that there is no need for repentance or strive for holiness because God loves you no matter what you do. According to its adherents, sin is just a human weakness that God in His goodness will simply tolerate. This clearly contradicts God’s Word that we find in Psalm 5:5-6: “You are not a God who delights in evil… you hate all who do iniquity.

We have been warned repeatedly about false prophets. Writers in both the Old and the New Testament have written about many false prophets on this earth. They will be around deceiving millions until the Second Coming of Christ. As members of the Communion of Saints, let us pray for the intercession of our prophets and saints in heaven that God our Father will protect us from the evil influence of these false prophets in our midst.

Jesus warned us about them, charlatans who use God’s gift of communication for their personal gain. St. Paul too had warned about false prophets and heretical teachings in his letter to Timothy: “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine; but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth, and will be diverted to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Let God’s Word in the Bible be our guide: “Even if an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one which you have received from us, let him be accursed.” (Gal.1:8) “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, whether by word, or by our epistle.” (2 Thess. 2:15)

Dear God, send us true prophets to counter the false; true leaders to show us the right ways in following Your will. May Your judgment fall swiftly on the anti-christs who are leading so many away from Your kingdom. And may Your Word and Spirit be our constant protection against all false prophets. Amen.

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