In Matthew 7:15-16 (NASB), Jesus warned, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?”
What are the fruits that Jesus speaks of by which we may identify false prophets? Matthew 7 doesn’t tell us what the fruit is, but Luke does. In Luke 6:44-45 NASB, it says: “For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” The fruit of the false teachers is revealed by what he teaches.
False teachers dress themselves as “ministers of righteousness” (2Cor. 11:14-15). They claim to be followers of Jesus; they sing songs of praises to God; they profess to be Christians; with their mouths they say: “Jesus is Lord!” (See Matthew 7:21-23); they even claim to believe and follow the Bible. They can be sincere, well-liked, friendly, social and even fun to be with. However, the more you study the Word of God, the more the Lord’s Word will give you insight into how to recognize the “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
I. Read 1Timothy 4:1-2
1. This passage is dealing with the future state of Christianity. From verse 1, what will happen in later times?
- People will ________________ the faith.
- They will pay attention to ____________________________________________________.
2. What does the term “hypocrite” mean? ________________________________________________.
3. From verse 2, such “teachers” are hypocrites and __________.
4. These “teachers” have consciences that have been ________________________________________.
II. Read Luke 6:26
1. What’s an identifying mark of false teachers? __________________________.
2. Do they tend to be popular? ______.
3. Are they likely to have a large following? _______.
III. Read 2Timothy 4:3
1. Why do people tend to flock to such “teachers”? _________________________________________.
IV. Read Romans 16:17-18
1. According to verse 17, should one keep away from false teachers? ______.
2. According to verse 18, how do false teachers deceive people?
3. Therefore, false teachers love to spend time talking about things that are ___________ to the ears.
4. Although these “teachers” may “appear” to be serving Christ, according to verse 18, they are really serving their _______________________________
V. Read 2John 1:9-11 (Second John is near Revelation)
In Lesson One, “The Word of God,” we learned of the importance of the Word of God. The Holy Scriptures contain the “teaching” or “doctrine” of Christ. We learned in Lesson Five, “Discipleship,” that those who continue to abide by the teachings of Christ are true disciples (John 8:31).
1. Do false teachers stray from the teaching of Christ? _____.
2. Should we welcome such “teachers” into our homes? ____.
3. According to verse 11, if we welcome such teachers, then we are _____________________________.
4. Let’s take a look at an example of Christ’s teachings: Read Mark 16:15-16.
- According to Jesus in Mark 16:16, who will be saved? He who __________ and is _________.
- If a teacher teaches differently from what Jesus said in Mark 16:16, is he abiding in the teaching of Christ? _____.
VI. Read Matthew 24:24
1. Will there be false teachers that will be able to do great signs and wonders to deceive people? _____. (See Matthew 7:21-23)
VII. Read 2Peter 2:1-3
1. According to verse 3, what do false teachers do to others? _________________________.
VIII. Read Jude 1:4
1. According to this passage, false teachers turn the grace of God into ____________________________.
IX. Read Matthew 4:3-9
1. False teachers are influenced by Satan. Jesus refuted Satan by using the Scriptures. We must learn from the Master. What did Jesus use to refute Satan? ___________________________.
2. From verses 6 and 7, did Satan try to use Scripture against Scripture to establish a false teaching? ___.
False teaches, like Satan, do the same. They use passages to reject passages. For example: they will set John 3:16 against Mark 16:16. They will run to Romans 10:9 and run away from Acts 2:38. They will show you Ephesians 2:8, yet deny Acts 22:16. Psalm 119:160 (NASB) says, “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” Every word that comes out of God’s mouth is true.
False teachers are men-pleasers (Galatians 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:1-4). They preach more to please the ear thanto profit the soul: “Who say to the seers, ‘You must not see visions’; and to the prophets, ‘You must not prophesy to us what is right; Speak to us pleasant words. Prophesy illusions’” (Isaiah 30:10 NASB). “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31 NASB). False teachers are hell’s greatest enrichers. Such smooth talkers are sweet soul-poisoners.
What has the Lord taught you in this Bible lesson?