SERMON ON THE MOUNT

 

Matthew 7:15-20

KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE, AM 8/17/03

#23 – SERMON ON THE MOUNT

 

According to R. Kent Hughes, Chuck Swindoll, the radio preacher on Insight for Living, tells a story about a friend of his who attended a get together in the elegant home of a physician in the area of Miami, Florida. Hors d’oeuvres were served and Swindoll’s friend thought they were delicious and kept coming back for more.  The doctor’s wife was serving meat “on delicate little crackers with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon chips, and an olive, topped with a sliver of pimento. She served these morsels on a beautiful silver tray.  The wife “had just graduated from a gourmet cooking course and decided she would put her skills to the ultimate test…”.  She wanted to see if she could dress up something that people would not normally eat and have them eat it.  Imagine the surprise of her friends when they discovered that the meat served on little crackers with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon chips, and an olive, topped with a sliver of pimento was…………….dog food!

R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount - The Message of the Kingdom (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2001) p. 247

 

What is the point of this story?  Make something look good enough and taste good enough, and people can be fooled.  This is especially true in Christianity, where throughout all denominations this morning there are people standing in pulpits who look religious, who sound religious, but they are phonies. They are deceivers. They are leading people astray.

They work for Satan and not for God.

 

Satan is a deceiver. He makes himself and his servants look beautiful, wonderful and even religious and God fearing. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15

 

As we wind down our study of the Sermon on the Mount we discover that Jesus is giving us a very definite warning against pretenders in the pulpit who are the agents of Satan and not of God.  In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus tells us to beware of false prophets, of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

 

THE DANGER OF FALSE PROPHETS

 

Matthew 7:15 - Beware of false prophets…

 

Because we love our children we will warn them more than once. God loves us. And because He does, he warns us in His Word more than once about false teachers.

 

Here are some examples: 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 2 John 1:7, Jude 1:3-4

 

Jesus says, Beware of false prophets…  

 

What comes into your mind when you hear the word “prophet”?

Probably you think of someone who predicts the future like a Jeremiah or an Isaiah.

In the Bible a prophet was not only a foreteller, but a forth-teller.  Sometimes he predicted the future, and others times he simply spoke, representing someone else.  God’s prophets were God’s representatives who spoke for God.

 

Today God has appointed evangelists, pastors and teachers to speak for Him. Ephesians 4:11-12

 

Jesus commanded the apostles to go and preach the Gospel and this is the responsibility of all of us today, especially preachers and teachers. Mark 16:15

 

God has ordained that through the preaching of the cross of Christ, people will come to Him.   

1 Corinthians 1:21

   

God has further ordained that Christians will mature as they adhere to the accurate preaching of God’s Word. Paul told one of his associates, Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2: Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

 

Throughout Christianity this morning there are literally thousands of people who claim to speak for God.  Many of these people do.  Many do not. Just because a person has gone to Bible college or seminary, it doesn’t mean that he or she is a true spokesman for God.

 

THE DECEPTION OF FALSE PROPHETS

 

Matthew 7:15 - Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

 

In order for false prophets to deceive they wear sheep’s clothing. According to John MacArthur, this does not mean that they dress up to look like sheep. They dress up to look like the shepherd!  What were the shepherds’ clothes made of? Wool! Shepherds wear sheep’s clothing and so do ravening wolves who are trying to destroy God’s flock instead of building it. John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary  - Matthew 1-7 (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1985), p. 465

 

So, the people who get up and preach on Sunday Morning who are false prophets, false ministers of God often look, act, and sound like true ministers of God. How then are we going to be able to tell the difference? 1 John 2:20

 

We have the Spirit of God living inside of us, who, if we let him, will guide us so we will know when a person is a true representative of God or not.   

 

THE DOCTRINE OF FALSE PROPHETS

 

Doctrine, of course, is teaching.

You must listen carefully to what preachers are saying.

You can tell if a person is a false prophet based on what he teaches or doesn’t teach.

 

Last week we examined Matthew 7:13-14

 

·        A false prophet will give you a wide gate and a broad way to Heaven.

·        A false prophet might teach that loving your neighbor is all you need to enter Heaven.

·        A false prophet might teach that keeping the Ten Commandments will get you into Heaven.

·        A false prophet might teach that living morally will get you into Heaven.

·        A false prophet might teach that giving money to Him or his church might get you into Heaven.

·        A false prophet might teach that doing good works will get you into Heaven.

·        A false prophet may tell you that as long as you are baptized you will go to Heaven

·        A false prophet might not even discuss how to get to Heaven or how to be forgiven of sin.

·        A false prophet might suggest any number of ways to get into Heaven, but he will not show you the entrance through the straight gate and the narrow way.

   

Entering through the straight gate means coming through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus came to earth and lived a sinless life.

Jesus then died on the cross taking our punishment for sin. Isaiah 53:5

Jesus didn’t stay dead. He arose on the third day.

Because Jesus died for you, all you need to do is to place your faith in Him, for forgiveness and eternal life. Ephesians 2:8-9

 

John 14:6 - Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

 

This is the narrow way.

Any preacher or teacher who does not teach this way to Heaven is a false prophet.

Some false teachers will tell you other ways to get Heaven other than the prescribed way.

Many false teachers will never tell you how to get to Heaven.   

   

THE DETECTION OF FALSE PROPHETS

 

Matthew 7:16-20 - Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? [17] Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. [19] Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. [20] Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

 

You would not want to eat a “grape” that was really a thorn.

It would not satisfy.

You would not want to eat a “fig” that is really a thistle. This will not satisfy either.

If the lives and teachings of false prophets do not bring forth, good satisfying, fruit we can detect that they are false prophets.

Jesus says, “Look at the fruit” and detect or discern who the true prophets of God are.

 

A good tree will bring forth good fruit.

A corrupt tree will bring forth corrupt fruit.

 

I suggest to you that there are at least three types of fruit that a true messenger of God will show, and that a false prophet will not show.

 

Look at a preacher’s life and see if you can detect,

·        THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

 

No preacher is perfect, but a true messenger of God is going to show the evidence of a spirit-filled life.

 

Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

 

If the fruit of the Spirit is not evident in the preacher’s life, the preacher is either backslidden and in need or repentance, or he is not a believer, and henceforth a false prophet.

 

Look at a preacher’s life and see if you can detect,

·        THE FRUIT OF SOULS

 

A true minister of God, as we have said before, will preach the Gospel of Christ.  As a result, there should be those coming to faith in Christ.  Sometimes, there are many, sometimes they are far and few between, but there should, at least once in a while, be conversions to Christ.

 

The Apostle Paul was one who was constantly looking to be fruitful among those who needed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans 1:13

 

The true ministers of Christ will have a burden for winning souls to Christ and will see the fruit of their labors. Psalm 126:5-6

 

Look at a preacher’s life and see if you can detect,

·        THE FRUIT OF SAINTHOOD

 

What is a saint?

A saint is someone who is set apart for God.

It is someone who has trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

How does God want his saints to live?

When saints were saved they were justified, or declared righteous by God.

Now God wants us to show the fruit of sainthood by living righteous lives.

Romans 6:18, 1 Peter 1:15-16

 

And please note what John tells us in

1 John 3:7 - Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

 

A preacher of righteousness will practice righteousness.

 

1 John 3:10 - In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.