Summary: Jesus calls us here to do more than just sit and listen. He calls us to examine those whoclaim to be speaking for God, to see if it is so.

Passage: Matthew 7:15-23

Intro: “The Story is told…(stressed out woman at traffic light who is arrested on suspicion of auto theft)

1. we live in a world where image is everything.

2. hide the flaws, mask the odor, lose the weight, color the grey hair, conceal the real me!

3. infects the Christian world, where the inner man is often concealed behind images, and the real self is shielded behind layers of underlings.

4. and here, in the “application section” of the sermon on the mount, Jesus brings it home with a stern warning.

5. because no matter when or where you are, there will be false teachers.

6. they are dangerous because they will deceive us into exchanging the eternal truth for a bowl of physical, temporary, image-oriented soup.

7. Jesus shows us what to look for, and even what to look for to see if we have been infected. Apply the Sermon on the Mount to people.

I. Examining the False Exterior

1. we don’t like the idea of false prophets

2. because our flesh likes what they say, we want to believe them.

3. but Jesus says, “watch out”=”to pay attention, to be on guard”

4. in this world of war between God’s truth and Satan’s lies, there will always be liars that pass themselves off as truth- tellers

PP Ezekiel 22:27-28

5. Jesus says here that they will look like harmless sheep, but will in fact be wolves.

PP wolf in sheep’s clothing (from Google images)

6. they will say the right things, look like God-followers, maintain an exterior that seems OK

7. don’t be fooled!! They are raging, ravenous wolves.

PP Snarling wolf (from Google images)

8. back in the early 70’s there was a short- lived car fad.

PP Bradley GT

9. but, of course, it wasn’t really what it seemed to be.

PP Bradley GT ad.

10. Jesus is giving us a general warning not to be fooled by the exterior, but instead to look deeper.

PP Matthew 23:27

11. if the focus is on the exterior, the image, then open your eyes and look hard.

12. we have to get beyond the image and examine what is underneath

II. Examining The Fruit to Identify the Tree

1. Jesus launches into a repetitious

agricultural illustration, very Jewish

2. positive and negative, repetition if for emphasis

3. “by their fruit” you will know them

4. bad fruit or good fruit, easy to assume it is a good tree that has gone bad somehow and produces bad fruit.

5. but that is not the idea here

6. v16, grapes from thornbushes, figs from thistles=the tree produces after its nature.

7. tree can look fine on the outside, but the fruit reveals its true character.

PP Machineel tree, very inviting (google images)

PP Machineel tree with warning signs.

8. this fruit will kill you, and even standing under it when it’s raining will cause blistering on your skin!

PP Sandbox tree, “Monkey-no-climb”

PP the fruit can cause serious illness

9. so we examine the teachers fruit, what comes out of his mouth.

10. and we have a standard of measurement, the word of God.

11. if someone says, “Thus saith the Lord”, then we can see if it is consistent with what the Lord has already said.

Il) end times here? Jesus said no one knows, but lots of people are saying, “I know when!”

12. what is the good fruit we look for in those who presume to teach us?

PP consistent with Scripture, from Scripture, hearers that are growing in Christ-likeness, Glorification of God and not the proclaimer, eternal values, not temporal, exemplary life and attitudes, repentant heart.

13. and what is the bad fruit? The opposite of this list.

PP “not drawn from Scripture, messed up listeners, glorification of the worm, promotion of temporal values, inconsistent life, pride.”

14. v18 says it very clearly..

15. it is impossible for a bad tree to produce good fruit, and vice versa.

16. the fruit a teacher produces is an infallible revealer of his character, good or bad.

17. in v20, Jesus repeats how he started this discussion. 5 Greek words exactly the same

18. these two phrases form a grammatical fence, everything between them is related to this same thing…you will recognize a teacher as false or from God by the fruit of their lives.

19. get past the show and examine the fruit.

20. easy to say about others, but how about me? What is my fruit?

III. Examining My Own Fruit

1. the scene shifts to a judgment scenario in v21

-a sidelight: Jesus says here very clearly that He will be doing the judging!

2. it is time for fruit inspection by the Lord, and the false teachers walk up.

3. and what do they trot out? Their own works!

4. and notice the works all emphasize power. Foretelling, exorcism, miracles.

5. and they were all done “in your name”

6. so they had attached God’s name, assuming that to mean it was God’s work.

7. but Jesus has already given the standard by which works will be judged in v21

8. it involves “doing the will of my Father who is in heaven.” And what is that will?

PP John 6:28-29

9. in the end, it is not power, but relationship that produces good fruit.

10. we can come to the Lord and say, but I taught Sunday School and fed the homeless and swept the walk and preached sermons…

11. but if that is our basis for acceptance, then Jesus has some harsh words for us.

Il) evildoers, tense=”ones who are characterized by continual evildoing.”

13. it may look good, but the source is evil

13. a person can do all those things from self, not from a restored relationship with God.

14. when God does the work, then God gets the glory.

15. and the believer will stand at the end and remain in God’s presence because Jesus knows him.

16. they will have believed in Christ and been changed deeply, displaying a growing resemblance to the character of Christ

17. and that inward change will be manifested in things like teaching SS and feeding the homeless and preaching sermons and loving our neighbors and serving our families and supporting worlds missions…

18. but those things will not make up my spiritual resume, but they will serve as evidence that I know Jesus and He knows me.

Conc. Let’s not waste our time following the false teachers all around us.

1. rather, listen to those who speak from Scripture, as painful as it may be.

2. embrace the truth and the truth tellers and the truth livers.

3. get past the exterior and examine the fruit in their lives and those who follow them.

4. don’t be fooled by demonstrations of power…they can be faked!

5. seek in others and in yourself the clear fruit of God’s life-changing presence in your life.

6. pray for it, cooperate with the process, set your eyes on the godly priorities.

7. and God will give great joy