Turn with me to Matthew 7:13-20. Today we are going to examine what I believe to be one of the most important admonishments, or warnings, in the entire Bible. It has to do with the war that wages between deception and truth. So let us get right to work and read and then equip ourselves for the battle.
- Matthew 7:13-20 – “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
The Narrow Way
In verse 13 Jesus commands us to enter by the narrow way. What is the narrow way? The answer to this should be obvious to us. The narrow way is Jesus Christ. Jesus explicitly tells us this in John 14:6.
- John 14:6 - “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
- Acts 4:12 - “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
However there is another way that Jesus is the narrow way, and it is the means by which you walk through the door. In order to be saved by Jesus you must lay down your life. You must surrender completely to Jesus. You must love him with all your heat, soul, mind and strength. He must be your greatest treasure. Him must your all in all. This is why Jesus not only proclaims that the way is narrow, but that it is hard. For the hardest thing for a us to do is to let go and trust in Christ to be our savior and our Lord.
On Wednesday nights we are going through a study named Radical by David Platt. In that study we are being forced to examine some of the hardest passages in the Bible. These are text that we we tend to ignore because they make us feel uncomfortable. Listen to some of these text.
- Luke 9:23-24 - “And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. “
- Luke 14:26-27 - “"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
This is why Jesus says in verse 14, few find it. Very few people will have a faith in Christ that rises to that magnitude. Very few people will have the chains broken that enslave them to the sin this world. Therefore, very few people will walk on the narrow way, but instead will take the easy way out, the wide gate.
The Wide Way
Many people instead of renouncing all that that they have to follow Jesus will instead try to sit the fence. Instead of being all in with Jesus, they will only be half in, or 75% in, in 99% in, but not all the way. Renouncing all that they have is just too uncomfortable, it is too extreme. They want to hang on to the world, whether it be their stuff, ambition, money, relationships, dreams, reputation, tradition, you name it. Those things are just to hard to sacrifice. Therefore what they do is trust Jesus some, but also trust in themselves or something else.
This is what Jesus calls the wide way. It is the easy way. The comfortable way. The worldly way. The popular way. And this way is full of people. In fact it is everyone else that is not on the narrow way. You see, there are only two groups of people, those on the narrow way and those on the wide way. The question that I pose to you today, is what path are you walking on? And it is the most important question that you will be asked.
Because those who are on the wide way, the easy way, the popular way, they are on the road to Hell. These people are selling their soul to the devil to gain the world. As I said last week, they are playing Russian roulette with their eternity. For Jesus plainly says that those who are on the wide way is condemned to destruction. So what does this have to do with false prophets?
The Wide Gate of False Prophets
It has everything to do with false prophets, for false prophets stand at the intersection of the narrow and wide way and point you to Hell. For false prophets do not speak for God, they speak for Satan. They are Satan's mouthpiece and sow seeds of lies into your life, hoping to draw you away from the narrow way of Jesus Christ.
Now I want you to understand something. The false prophets that Jesus is speaking of are not false prophets like those in the old testament who claimed to predict the future and worshiped the false God Baal. The false prophets that Jesus is speaking of are those whom we would more readily call false teachers.
And I think you would agree with me that the world is replete with false prophets claiming to have some special life changing knowledge. Some of them are easily recognizable like Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or David Koresh, but most of them are subtle. Jesus, in fact, tells us that they will be subtle. He tells us that these false prophets are wolves in sheep clothing. Meaning that they look and smell like a sheep, but inwardly they are the opposite of a sheep, they are sheep killers. This is a common strategy of Satan.
- 2 Corinthians 11:14 - “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.“
And this moment in American History, it seems to me that we are at an all time high when it comes to false prophets, and they are not just in the 2:00 a.m time slots on AM radio, but they are in Churches all over the Country. It seems they have infiltrated the institution of the Church. Listen to this text.
- 2 Timothy 4:3-4 - “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
- Acts 20:28-31 - “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert,“
How Do We Determine Who is a False Prophet
- Matthew 7:15-20 – “You will recognize them by their fruits.”
When you are born again, we become a new creation. Everything changes. The old has gone and the new has come. This change takes place in your heart and it manifests itself outwardly. Instead of being self-focused, we are Fhrist focused. Instead of pursuing our glory, we pursue God's Glory. Instead of loving ourselves, we love God and we love others. All of these things can be called Christian fruit. It is the evidence that Christ lives within us.
If we see things that look and sound like Christ, then that is evidence that the Spirit of Christ compels them. If we see things that are worldly , self-centered, sinful, then this should give us pause and we should beware of those people. In evaluating false prophets we should look for two things: words and actions.
First words. When someone is attempting to persuade you of something, you must ask yourself is this what the Bible says. Listen to what Paul warns the Church in Galatia in regards to the Gospel.
- Galatians 1:6-11 - “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.“
Now in order to to answer that question, we must know what is in the Bible. We need to study that authentic in order to recognize the counterfeit. If you don't know what the words of Jesus are, then you are in the dark when it comes to watching out for false teaching. You are susceptible of being taken down by a wolf.
The second way we judge a false prophet is by their works. Do they walk the walk? As I stated earlier, if someone is a true follower of Jesus, it means that Jesus lives in them and compels them to live like Him. If they have been forgiven, they should forgive. If they have been given grace, they should give grace. If they have been loved, they should love. If Jesus is their greatest treasure, then our lives should reflect this. Jesus mission is their mission. Jesus' purposes s their purposes. If those things are absent, then this should be red flags to us in determining if we should listen to them or not.
And as I said to begin my message, this may be the most important admonition that we could here. For we are a weak people. We tend to follow whatever new fad is. We read whatever new book comes out. We get promote every “Christian” movie that is released. We cannot afford to do this, we must be discerning as to what bread we eat, the living bread of Jesus or the rotten bread of this world.