beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. you will recognize them by their fruits. are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? so, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. [matthew 7:15-17]
j c ryle writes: beware means literally to hold to, toward or before. originally it was followed by the word “the mind” but at times “the mind” was omitted but still the idea of “the mind” was implied. to apply one’s self to. to attach one’s self to. to bring to, bring near, bringing near a place, simply to touch at, put in. to hold or turn one’s mind toward a person or thing. to attend to be attentive. to pay close attention to something. to give assent to. to be in a state of alert, be concerned about, care for, take care. ryle also writes, ignorance of the scriptures is the root of all error.
to ignore the need of awareness surrounding false doctrine leads to error in the church body and in personal matters.
it is easy to point the false teacher finger at those who lead congregations of great proportions. however, false teaching subtly creeps into many facets of our lives. we ignore the song lyric that does not honor God. we consume more media than bible verses. we try to work our way into heaven. the list goes on. this is what it boils down to: who is influencing my view of God? is it God?
you therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. [2 peter 3:17]
beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. by this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. this is the spirit of the anti-Christ, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. [1 john 4:1-3]
~ angela younger