“Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.”
Matthew 7:15-20, CSB
Churches today are busy, understaffed, and overworked. Volunteers are welcomed with open arms. Those who are consistent, those who say and do what is expected, gain more and more influence in the flock.
According to Christ’s own words in Matthew 7:15, we have wolves in our midst, maybe even sitting next to us at the 11am service. Let’s face the truth. Predators of Christians hunt AT CHURCH. The enemy is camouflaged in a Christian suit.
In Matthew 7:15 word prosechō is used, which translates to be wary of, or to be cautious of. Are we greeting church visitors with caution? Are we wary of our volunteers and leaders? Perhaps this feels uncomfortable, and in opposition to the greatest commandment. After all, how do we love everyone and be cautious at the same time? Yet we are given many examples of shepherds and shepherdesses in the Bible. Every day they cared for the lambs, tended the sheep, and killed predators. It can be done.
We have to see with spiritual eyesight, and past the Christian camouflage. Matthew 7:16-20 tells us how to recognize wolves. Through their fruit. It’s not about what they DO at church, it’s about who they ARE. Yes, they attend consistently. Yes, they post scripture on social media. Yes, they claim Christianity. Be on your guard. Watch for fruit, because a bad tree cannot create good fruit.
“’Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. It collapsed with a great crash.’ When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, because he was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes.” Matthew 7:24-29
Jesus calls us to act on these words. Our local church, our house, is going to get hit by winds, rivers, and rain. It will be under attack. If we’ve chosen the right foundation, our house will withstand the storm.
I don’t know about you, but I am just as astonished by this as the crowds must have been back then. The enemy wants to destroy Christians, and the local church is his hunting ground. There are people in our midst who claim Christ, but are not His. There are wolves in sheep’s clothing. There are bad trees in our orchard. There are houses built on sand.
I’m equally astonished by the love that Christ demonstrates through this passage. A love for His children, for His flock. Love that protects, confronts, and acts.