Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, He touches on many subjects centred on the Laws God had given the Jewish people to follow. Keep in mind that He was speaking to those Jews (and perhaps some curious Gentiles) who had become His disciples. Try to imagine what it was like for them to be drawn to this unassuming man from Galilee. Yes, he was clearly a Jew, for many called Him Rabbi (or teacher). He taught in the Temple, and He performed miracles that were so spectacular they were beginning to think He was the Messiah. It had been over 400 years since they had heard or seen anyone like this man. And He said the most unusual things.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
As a new Christian, I trembled in fear over the verses above for many years. Mainly because, as a new Christian, I did not know how to study my Bible properly by taking things in context. So, if the verses above have left you doubting your faith, I want to put those fears to rest today. It is no coincidence that the above verses come immediately after the verses on false prophets. In fact, Matthew 7:13-29 definitely seems to have a theme regarding who we listen to, put our trust or faith in, and how we live our lives. Today's verses can make some Christians wonder if they are really saved. After all, if you prophesied in Jesus' name, cast out demons and did many wonders in His name, why would Jesus say He didn't know you? Probably because, as I previously discussed, the people Jesus refers to in these verses are false prophets and teachers.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Previously, I talked about the narrow gate and the path that leads to destruction from Matthew 7:13-14. Interestingly, this verse, which encourages Christians to enter through the narrow gate, comes directly before Jesus' words on false prophets. I don't believe it is a coincidence that these verses lined up this way. Jesus was trying to make a point. False prophets are on the path that can lead to destruction. So the question we need to ask is, who are the false prophets we need to be aware of today, and why is their message so dangerous?
Before I get to names, let's clarify who Jesus is talking about here. The word in Greek for false prophet is pseudoprophētēs. It comes from two words - pseudēs, which means "liar," and prophētēs, which means "prophet" or "one who proclaims a divine message from God."
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"
Many people say they "know God," but the verse above implies that God will say He never knew them. This is a scary verse for a new Christian. For any Christian, really, who might be struggling with their faith. So over my next three posts, I'd like to look at them in context.
This verse is part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 7. The entire chapter is about how we should live our lives. Not judging others, approaching God with our concerns (ask, seek and knock), how we should walk with God, who we should not listen to, and how to build our faith on a firm foundation are all in this chapter. But today, we are going to concentrate on the verses above. We will start with the narrow gate.