(Matthew 7:15) 15 “Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to YOU in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves.
Until reading this today, I had failed to notice that the ravenous wolves are false prophets. Now “prophet” in those days meant more than ‘foreteller of future events’. The Samaritan woman perceived Jesus to be a prophet even though he had not foretold the future, but only things of the present and past that he couldn’t have otherwise known had it not been revealed to him by God. So prophet refers to one who reveals things from God, or who speaks inspired utterances. A false prophet, therefore, would be one to pretends to speak things revealed by God to him. (John 4:19)
Now the way to recognize these ravenous wolves is by their fruits not their behavior. Obviously, these men can hide their true nature very well; but they cannot hide the fruits they produce.
(Matthew 7:16-20) . . .By their fruits YOU will recognize them. Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they? 17 Likewise every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; 18 a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. 19 Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Really, then, by their fruits YOU will recognize those [men].
There is no way of knowing if a fruit tree is good or bad until the harvest time. Even as the fruit is growing, one doesn’t know whether it will be good or not. Only when the fruit is ripe will anyone—any average Joe or Jane—be able to tell if it is good or bad.
The false prophets hide their true nature. We have no idea they are “ravenous wolves”. However, after enough time goes by—possibly years or decades—the harvest arrives and the fruit is ripe for the picking.
I am constantly amazed by the depth of wisdom Jesus was able to pack into just a few well-chosen words. He has done just that with these six short verses recorded by Matthew.
We all know men who purport to be prophets, revealers of God’s will. These men give the appearance of godly devotion. Are they true prophets or false prophets? Are they sheep or ravenous wolves? Will they lead us to Christ or devour us?
No one should answer that question for you. Why would you take someone’s word for it, when all you have to do is taste the fruit to know. The fruit does not lie.