I. BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS.
A. This comes in the context of entering the straight gate and walking the narrow path.
1. The false prophets will always be seeking to broaden the gate and the path to heaven.
2. There rational is usually, we don't want to drive people away by being too narrow.
3. My response is I do not want to send them to hell by being too broad.
4. The scripture clearly warns us that people who are guilty of certain practices will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.
a. One of the areas where there seems to be a lot of endeavor to broaden the path is in sexual relationships.
b. It seems that we are reluctant to teach abstinence. We would rather encourage the children in safe sex.
c. Yet in the three lists of people that Paul gives of those who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven, fornicators, adulterers, and homosexuals are listed.
d. If anyone tries to assure you that you can practice these things and still go to heaven, they are false prophets.
5. The road to heaven is not crowded, Jesus said, "Few there be that find it."
B. It seems that there have always been false prophets.
1. In the law, God commanded that they be put to death. You might think that that is pretty severe, but consider for a moment.
a. They are guilty of putting many people to permanent death.
b. There are many people in hell today because they have listened to the false prophets that tell them that all roads lead to God.
c. If you take away a man's life, you are guilty of murder and under the law be guilty of murder and sentenced to be executed by the state. It is a terrible thing to take another man's life.
d. How much worse to take away a man's opportunity for eternal life by giving him false assurance of his salvation.
e. I believe that the false prophets will have a far more severe punishment in hell, than murderers.
f. James warned concerning setting yourself up as an authority in the things of God knowing that you will receive the greater condemnation.
2. God said to Adam and Eve, "If you eat of the tree, you will surely die." Satan said, "You will not surely die."
3. God said, "If you commit fornication or are guilty of adultery or homosexuality, you will surely not inherit the kingdom of heaven. The false prophets declare, "You will surely enter the kingdom of heaven, God is too loving to send you to hell."
4. Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life, no man cometh to the Father but by Me."
5. The false prophets say, "Surely all roads lead to God, and you don't believe that God will cast out those who are sincere in their religious beliefs. Certainly the devout Jews today will be accepted by God.
6. They say to me, "You are not being loving by saying they are going to hell if they do not receive Jesus as their Messiah." I am far more loving than the false prophets who send them to hell by assuring them of salvation in a false belief.
7. I think of the young prophet who came from Judah to cry against the altar erected by king Jereboam. He was told by the Lord not to eat bread, nor drink any water, nor even return by the same way he went. The old prophet came to him and said the Lord sent me to tell you to come and eat with me.
8. Jeremiah spoke out against the false prophets.
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love [to have it] so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.
Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.
And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons,
9. Jesus warned about the false prophets in the last days.
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
10. Speaking of the false apostles Paul said:
For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
11. John warned in his first epistle:
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
II. HOW CAN YOU TELL A FALSE PROPHET?
A. Surely not by their looks.
1. Jesus said that they were wolves but they come in sheep's clothing.
2. They many times come in clerical robes.
3. They many times have the word "reverend" attached to their name.
B. You cannot always tell by their words.
1. Peter speaking of them said:
Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam [the son] of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
For when they speak great swelling [words] of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, [through much] wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
2. Many times they say things that sound very fundamental, but they have changed the glossary so that they can use the words born again, but mean something entirely different than what we understand the word means.
a. One definition of born again by a prominent T.V. pastor is to go from a low self-esteem to a high self-esteem.
b. So when he says, "You must be born again." He is saying something entirely different than what we believe.
C. Jesus said by their fruit you shall know them.
1. Do they draw people's attention unto themselves or unto Jesus Christ?
2. Do people leave the services talking about the dynamic communication skills of the speaker or are they talking about the wonders of the grace of God?
D. Peter gives us another telltale sign of a false prophet.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
1. I do not hesitate to tell you that that person who tells you that God's program is depending on your support is a false prophet.
2. Bulk mailings that appear to be personal notes are what Peter referred to as feigned words, designed to make merchandise of you. Those who send out such mailings are false prophets.
E. John in his warning of false prophets gives another test.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.