Friday, October 21, 2022

Handout - Matthew Chapter 7:15-20 - False Prophets, Tree and Fruit

by Stan Feldsine (

Matt 7:15-20 - False Prophets - A Tree and It's Fruit

False prophets are also referred to as "false teachers", "false apostles", and "false Christ's".

Watching Out For Their Presence - We are told to "watch out" for them, paying close attention and watching carefully for them. They could be hiding among us at any time.

They Hide Behind Virtue - False teachers are like wolves in sheep's clothing in the sense that they are gentle when they are hidden and they put up a good show, but inside they are destructive wolves waiting to pounce and tear when challenged or crossed.

Identifying False Teachers - False teachers presume to speak authoritatively for God, and like Pharisees are sitting on an imagined throne arrogantly and self-righteously claiming they are right and everyone else is wrong. False teachers are compared to bad fruit that represents what the person produces in doctrine and deeds. Good teachers will produce good conduct and false teachers will produce unrighteous conduct. The only protection against false doctrine is a solid orthodox understanding of scripture.

The Heart of a False Teacher - A wolfish (tearing / divisive) attitude is a vivid indicator of a false teacher. They give the appearance of doing right, but in their hearts they are neglecting the more important things, like humility, fairness, mercy and faithfulness (Mat 23:23). In keeping with the theme of the Sermon on the Mount the focus is on the heart. False teachers have an evil character, superior attitude, and a high opinion of themselves believing they have authority over others and arbiters of truth, seeing others as spiritually deficient.

The Destructive Nature of False Teachers - Both false teaching itself as well as the divisive attitude that false teachers put forth are destructive. It is common and acceptable for those learning about God's word to meet to discuss and debate in a humble and thoughtful manner. This was a common practice in the early church (Act 2:46-47), Act 18:27-28), Act 17:11). Discussing subjects such as Eschatology from various points of view is not false teaching when pursued in the interest of learning with humility. A gentle character by the participants is a key indicator that separates false teaching from healthy discussion and debate. A person takes on the destructive character of a false teacher when they elevate themselves and their doctrines to the level of infallibility and demand that others get in line with their teaching.

The Deceitful Nature of False Teachers – The spiritually young can develop into false teachers and cause division in the Body. They are in danger of adopting spiritually superior and condescending attitudes of pride even with a limited knowledge of God's Word. False teachers frequently divisively attack and demean anyone who dares to disagree with them, attempting to force people to choose sides. Discernment should be used because false prophets claim to speak for God, but God has not instructed them to speak. They speak their own intent and create havoc.

They can be identified by their proclamations of "God said" or "Thus saith the Lord", and recklessly boast about themselves and their knowledge. Of these, God says He did not send them. They will spout opinions as if it were God's word.

The End of False Teachers - God will see that false teachers receive their due. The church has lost the sense of sending out laborers, under authority. Everyone is a teacher, when very few should be, the "free speech" mentality of the world has taken over many in the Body who presume to speak from the Lord (Jas 3:1, Mat 23:13-15, Mat 23:23).


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