Sometimes we read right over words. It isn’t until we start looking at each word we realize what we just read. It’s one of the reason’s diagramming should still be taught in school, teaching our younger generations to pick a part a sentence instead of skimming over it. The first three words in this next piece of scripture shouldn’t be tossed aside lightly.
Watch out for … Matthew 7
Strong defines the word προσέχω prosechō pros-ekh’-o as:
(figuratively) to hold the mind (G3563 implied) towards, that is, pay attention to, be cautious about, apply oneself to, adhere to: – (give) attend (-ance, -ance at, -ance to, unto), beware, be given to, give (take) heed (to, unto) have regard.
Pay attention … beware of … watch for – these are all proactive, not passive. Maybe we’ve become way to passive and accepting of things we shouldn’t be. So what are we watching out for?
… false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Eh, well, we don’t have prophets today so … WHAT? Maybe we need to know what a prophet is. Once again, let’s turn to Strong.
ψευδοπροφήτης pseudoprophētēs psyoo-dop-rof-ay’-tace
From G5571 and G4396; a spurious prophet, that is, pretended foreteller or religious impostor: – false prophet.
G4396 – a foreteller (“prophet”); by analogy an inspired speaker; by extension a poet: – prophet.
Albert Barnes writes:
The word prophet originally means one who foretells future events. As prophets, however, were commonly regarded as public instructors on the subject of religion, the word came to denote all who were religious teachers.
Today, we might call these people Pastor, Minister, Reverend, etc. So yes, we do have them today.
What does a false one look like? How will we know one when we see one?
16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 7 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
We could surmise a false prophet would be someone who would preach or teach something contrary to what Jesus taught. This is why it is important to know what Jesus taught.
We also have to watch for the well meaning teachings as well – grapes aren’t a bad fruit – but if you see a grape on a thornbush – watch out.
We will just keep learning what Jesus taught, and if someone is teaching something other than that, we need to beware. If Jesus says, “you will recognize them,” then we will. But we first have to have our eyes open, be on the watch for, pay attention to, otherwise the wolf might just slip right by us dressed up in his fancy sheep outfit!
It might also be a good time to examine the fruit on your tree. Are you masquerading as a fig tree, but under neath you’re actually a thistle bush? Ouch!