Day 35 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotions
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” – Matthew 7:15-20
Counterfeit Christians. Like counterfeit bills, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the real from the fake. Jesus warns that not everyone who claims to belong to God and to speak for Him actually does so.
Why is this important to know? There are many who will compete for your attention as well as your money. Be careful not to be fooled by all the externals: charisma, charm, that exotic accent, beautiful buildings, slick marketing, large audiences, etc. None of these matter and are not sure indications of genuineness. The discerning follower of Jesus must know what God teaches in order to distinguish the real from the fake. Bank tellers are trained to detect counterfeit bills by studying the real thing.
The difference between the fake the genuine is usually subtle, rarely glaring. Chuck Swindoll tells the story about an unforgettable evening when a friend of his ate dog food. It was probably not what you think. He was not starving, nor was he being initiated into a fraternity. Rather, it happened at an elegant doctor’s home near Miami. The dog food was served on delicate little crackers with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon chips, and an olive, topped with a sliver of pimento. It was Hors d’oeuvres a la Alpo!
The deed was not perpetrated by an enemy, but by a good friend. With friends like that, who needs enemies! The hostess had just graduated from a gourmet cooking course and decided she would put her skills to the ultimate test… and did she ever. After doctoring up (no pun intended) those miserable morsels of Alpo, she placed them on a silver tray. With a sly grin she watched them disappear. Swindoll’s friend could not get enough. He was wolfing them down and kept coming back for more. Evidently the woman’s friends were a pretty laid-back group because everyone had a good laugh when she told them what they had been eating.
This story is a classic illustration of what goes on in another realm, namely, the realm of spiritual deception. Phony preachers and teachers continue to market their wares on shiny platters decorated in such a way that people do not know what they are really getting. Their dishes are topped with pious religious clichés and buzzwords and are being eagerly consumed by the tragically grateful. The duped even pay for these deceptions by the millions of dollars. This should never happen, and certainly the Lord does not want it to happen, but the flock of God is still being fleeced. That is why, as Jesus proceeds with the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, He gives counsel and caution about wolves in sheep’s clothing, otherwise known as false prophets.
Our day has more than its share of Christ merchants. Through books, radio, television, recordings, in churches, conferences, seminars, crusades, and by various other means they package and sell the gospel in much the same way that Madison Avenue sells cars and soap. They are insincere peddlers of the Word of God who corrupt it for their own ends (2 Cor. 2:17).
Be careful who you follow. Ultimately, Jesus is the only one worthy of following.
Have a Great Day!