Not So Random Thoughts 46

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

False prophets may speak about God, but they are always about a God who helps man rather than one who is truly sovereign. False prophets will encourage men to do things in order to get help from God or to get God to help them, but they are hopelessly man-centered. False prophets make wide gates though some make narrow gates, but they will not make them as narrow as Christ makes them and they will not make them depend on grace alone. The fruit of the false prophet reveals a bad tree because the bad tree can bear religious fruit but not a true fruit which reflects God’s own God-centeredness. A man sent from God will preach and teach the message of the true God who is always God-centered.

Many false prophets (not all) are well disguised by their sheep’s clothing and they appear to be sheep. The better the disguise the more they look like sheep. The more orthodox they are, the more they appear to be sheep. The more moral they are, the more they look like sheep. The more religious they are the more they look like sheep. The more tied in with some aspect of historical Christianity the more they look like sheep. The more learned they are in the things of the church the more they look like sheep. The point is that it may take some hard looking and real discernment to determine who the false prophets among us are. They are said to be in sheep’s clothing because they appear to be sheep and say that they are sheep. They may even think that they are sheep. A person in darkness may not know that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A false prophet can be deceived about himself just like others can be deceived as well. But again, we are not to be gullible in these matters but instead we are to seek the Lord for wisdom and discernment.

While a false prophet cannot bear good fruit, it (the fruit) will have all the appearances of good fruit to those without spiritual discernment. In the words of Hebrews 5:14, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” People must be trained by grace to be able to discern good and evil. The thoughtless and those who have not been trained by grace to discern good and evil are easy prey for the wolf in sheep’s clothing. A false humility will be seen as true humility. A false spirituality will be seen as true spirituality. The outward husk of orthodoxy will be seen as true and biblical teaching. We must remember that the devil and his minions can quote Scripture and present the truth in a way which deceives. The devil can appear as an angel of light and those without discernment will think that he is an angel of light.

People must learn that the false prophet is not easy to discern and that it takes the Spirit of God to show these things. As it takes the work of the Spirit of God to show anything spiritual, and that includes our own hearts, so it takes the Spirit of God to grant us discernment to see what is behind the sheep’s clothing of the wolves. Some wolves are quite obvious, but some are wrapped tightly in sheep’s clothing and it is not easy to see who they really are. The fruits that distinguish a false prophet from a true one are spiritual fruits and not just external fruits. We must be trained by God in order to discern these things.

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