Scripture Reading: Matthew 17:15–23
Key Verse: Matthew 17:22
Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.”
Physical safety is on our minds today, especially after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, which changed our world forever. We are rightly concerned about homeland security, yet when it comes to protection, many people neglect the even more precious arena of soul and spirit. The fact is that there are spiritual terrorists on the loose. Jesus called them “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and issued some stern warnings to alert us.
These wolves are false teachers and false prophets who appear to be genuine spiritual guides but are instead full of schemes to advance their own agenda. They look good and they sound good, but they are consumed with lust and greed. None of this is apparent at first. Instead, they preach a fine gospel in a most compelling manner. Gradually, however, they begin to blend inaccuracy with fact. At this point, people seem to forget that truth mixed with error is no longer truth; instead, it has become error.
You can recognize these folks in a number of ways. Jesus said they would bear fruit that would eventually reveal their true character. At first you might detect that they are subtly questioning the Bible’s authority and its relevance for the twenty–first century. Then you will notice little is said about living a holy life or being careful to obey the whole counsel of God. Later they will begin to equate obedience to God with living the way they want you to live. False teachers desire a following more than they care for your welfare. Here we must be very discerning, so remember: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16).
Dear Lord, protect me from false teachers and false prophets. Let me recognize them by their fruits. Keep me safe spiritually.