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Sermon on the Mount True and False Prophets

Matthew 7:15-20
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are
ferocious 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 fruit you will
recognize them. (15-20)
Jesus has encouraged the disciples to enter the narrow gate and take the narrow way that
leads to life, though the majority will take the wide gate and broad road that leads to
Those on the narrow road that leads to life will need to be able to discern authentic leaders,
and Jesus warns them of the inevitable and frequent appearances of false prophets
The appearance of the false prophet may be deceptive, but the true test is in the fruit
Just as the unmistakable criterion of the determination of a tree is by its fruit, so the
verifiable evidence of the prophets authenticity is the expression of that prophets ministry
Does the prophet manifest the beatitudes a recognition of spiritual poverty, brokenness, a
teachable spirit, a hunger for Gods righteousness, mercy, single-mindedness, purity, a
maker of peace, and willingness to suffer for Christs sake? (Matthew 5:3-10)
Does the prophet demonstrate the fruit of the spirit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? (Galatians 5:22-23)
The false prophet wears sheeps clothing by saying the right things (speaking of God, Jesus,
and even the cross), but the false prophets life is inconsistent with his words
Our Lord says, Ye shall know them by their fruit the teaching and the life can never be
separated (Martin Lloyd Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, page 500)
The false prophet also leaves out the hard truth of the narrow way, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer
called the cost of discipleship, and as Jesus taught in the parable of the tower (Lk 14:2832)
The falseness is detected by what it does not say rather than by way it does say . . . the false
prophet has no straight gate or narrow way in his gospel (Jones, Studies in Sermon, 500)
Jeremiah criticized false prophets by mocking their message: They dress the wound of my
people as though it were not serious, Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace (6:14)
Jesus teaches that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit
the good tree is the one in Christ (II Cor 5:17), the one who has taken up his cross and
followed Him (Mt 16:24), the one who has taken the narrow road he cannot bear bad fruit
Conversely, the false prophet is not born again (John 3:7), not in Christ Jesus (Romans
8:1), and not led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14) the false prophet cannot bear good
Jesus teaches that the fruit will change if the individual experiences a change: Make a tree
good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is
recognized by its fruit . . . a good man brings good things out of the good stored in him and
an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him (Matthew 12:33-35)

Not only are we warned of the importance of discerning a false prophet, but here we are
encouraged that good fruit can result from a divine change he who has ears, let him hear