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Text Box: Judging Rightly—Beware of Falsehood!


Text Box: (Matthew 7:15-20 NIV)  Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, 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.
(John 7:24 GWT)  Stop judging by outward appearance! Instead, judge correctly.
(Proverbs 3:5-7 NIV)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.
(Proverbs 26:12 NIV)  Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
(Proverbs 26:5 NIV)  Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.
(2 Timothy 2:25-26 NIV)  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Text Box: Ever since we have been made aware of the presence of God and His truth we have also been made aware of the presence of evil and falsehood.  All throughout the Bible we are reminded that there are always two ways: the way of truth and the way of falsehood.  
The Lord’s work continues until the end of time, as does Satan’s. – W.N. Jackson, The Sermon of the Mount.
Until Satan is cast into the lake of fire at the end (Revelation 20:10), his work and his errors will be a permanent part of this world and the lives of men.
Sectarianism, secular thinking, ecumenism and modernism are all part of the repertoire the devil tries to sell you.  The warning Jesus gives us to watch out for false prophets comes after His instruction to agonize through the narrow way.  These worldly doctrines are easy to accept because they seem to justify our desires and passions, giving us reasons why we don’t really need to agonize.  False doctrine tends to provide an infrastructure that imitates godliness, but has no power to promote self-control:
(Colossians 2:20-23 NIV)  Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"?  These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.  Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Indeed, what false prophets and teachers say may sound correct, for they come to you in sheep’s clothing. It appears to be true and good (sheep’s clothing), but deep inside it is evil (ravenous wolves).  Perhaps even 90% of what they say may be truth!  Satan’s most effective lies are half-truths (Genesis 3:4, 5; Matthew 4:3-11).
Pride marks the false teacher’s attitude and evil motives their appetite.  Sober judgment and spiritual discernment is required to judge their fruit correctly, not necessarily their appearance (John 7:24).  Remember that the way is narrow and requires dying to self.  Don’t allow the devil to trick you into thinking you can stand on your own ground or that you can justify following and believing your passions and desires of the heart (Proverbs 3:5-7).  Expose the folly of this false thinking with gentleness and humility, so that God may grant those who promote it repentance (Proverbs 26:5; 2 Timothy 2:25, 26).

In His Footsteps © 1998                                                   



Text Box: Judging Rightly—Beware of Falsehood!






Read Matthew 7:1-6.  As we discussed before, Study #30, Self-Examination, page 59, the Lord put us in the judging business.  What must happen in order for us to judge correctly?  How ill you be judged (verse 2)?  Does this mean you shouldn’t judge then (John 7:24)?  Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-3:3.  What kind of wisdom must we be proclaiming amongst everyone?  What kind of attitude must we possess when preaching the message of the cross (verse 3)?  Do you think proud and boastful messages accent the message of the cross?  Did Paul try to persuade using philosophical or psychological arguments?  What did he want men’s faith to rest on (verse 5)?  Who is it that can understand the message of the Spirit, worldly Christians or mature Christians?  If you tend to follow or trust your own opinion or wisdom, will you accept the spiritual message?  What is evidence that a Christian is still worldly (3:3)?  Read Romans 12:1, 2.  What must we do to live a life pleasing to God?  Must we transform our minds to be able to correctly judge (test and approve) what is God’s will for us?  If you are worldly, can you determine what is God’s will for you?  Read Romans 14:1-4.  Are you to make judgements based on disputable matters?  What kind of attitude should you have concerning disputable matters (verse 3)?  Should you condemn anyone or look down on anyone because they do not agree with you?  A judgement must be made in order to determine what the revealed things of God are from the Scriptures and what is speculation or a disputable matter (matters of opinion). 



Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-12.  What kind of fruit must you produce in order to have a credible ministry (verse 2)?  What must be set forth plainly?  If someone cannot understand the truth set forth plainly in the Scriptures what is wrong, the person or the message (verse 3, 4)?  What is the message you preach, yourself or Jesus?  Should you expect trouble when you preach Jesus to everyone?  Should you let this trouble stop you?  What must you give yourself over to so that Jesus’ life is evident in your body (verse 10-12)?  Read Proverbs 12:16.  A spiritual man must be able to judge without taking things personally, without being offended and taking his ministry more seriously than he takes himself.  Read Ephesians 4:1-3.  What is the fruit of a life lived worthy of the calling we receive in Christ?  Read Philippians 2:14-16; 2 Peter 3:14.  If you are still given to complaining and arguing, are you not still worldly?  Why should we live blameless lives?  What are we holding out, our own opinions or Jesus’ words?   If our focus is really Heaven, on what will be spending every effort?  Read Jude 7-23.  What are some evil fruit that mark the ways of those in darkness (given to falsehood)?  Rejecting authority and slandering celestial beings is a sign of what?  What also marks the false teacher (verse 16, 18, 19)?  What attitude must you have toward them (verses 22-23)?



Read 2 Peter 2:1; 1 Timothy 4:1, 2.  What kind of teachers snake their way into the church? Can we stop that from happening?  Is there a way to recognize them (2 Peter 2:3, 10, 12-14, 18-20)?  What ways do these people follow?  How are their consciences?  Read Revelation 2:2.  What was a commendation Jesus had for the Ephesian church?  Is it possible then, for false teachers to be proven false?  What must we do? Examine them (1 John 4:1)!   How does someone’s spirit acknowledge Jesus?  According to their fruit! Read Matthew 7:15-20.  Can you tell from their appearance?  What are the fruit?  We discussed some of these fruit already this week.  There are many kinds of evil fruit the false prophet bears, shown in how they talk and how they live (1 Timothy 4:16).  Review some of them again in Monday’s and Tuesday’s Scriptures.



Let’s read again about the false teacher’s methods: Matthew 7:15-20.  What is their main strategy against being detected?  They themselves could be deceived, being cloaked by pride because of their holy appearance and general acceptance.  But they themselves are like their master: 2 Corinthians 11:13, 14.  What kind of principles do they use to justify their actions or teachings (Colossians 2:8)?  The ways of man and the world may seem right and wise (knowledgeable), but are they stable (Ephesians 4:14)?  They make merchandise of the saints—they are good talkers and they will cause you to question yourself if you try to question them (2 Peter 2:3).  They want to do things their own way because they despise all rule and authority and they want to fulfill their own lust (2 Peter 2:9).  They want to promote liberty from godliness, thus promoting licentiousness, and will make you seem a fool for agonizing through the narrow way (Colossians 2:20-23; Galatians 4:9).  Do not submit to these men nor to their ways for even a moment (Galatians 2:5).



If the fruit is not sound can the tree be sound (Matthew 7:15-20)?  The sound branch is rooted in Christ (John 15).  Does the fruitful branch in Jesus show fear of God in its humility, or is it boastful and arrogant?  Does the fruitful branch sing its own praise or does it let itself be tested by the praises of righteous men?  Examine the result of your interactions with the brethren.  Do your relationships produce good fruit—promoting repentance of former self and good deeds or does it promote licentiousness, arguments and attitudes?  Be self-controlled and alert (1 Peter 5:8)!  Give yourself to the rebuke and correction of your training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)!


Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world..1 John 4:1


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