15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:15–20, NKJV)
Are you sure your preacher is preaching the truth? How do you know? Jeremiah warned of prophets who “prophesy lies in my name” by speaking “the deceit of their heart” (Jer. 14:14). These two-legged wolves in sheep’s clothing continue to devour God’s flock by speaking error in the name of God. When someone speaks on behalf of God we must test what is said to be sure it is indeed from God. Our measuring stick is inspired Scripture, including what the apostles taught (Acts 17:11-12; 1 Jno. 4:1, 6). You see, it does matter what is taught and what is believed. If doctrine doesn’t matter, then why does Jesus warn us of the wolves?
13 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. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13–14, NKJV)
00:05As Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, He discussed entry into it. Far from teaching there are “many ways that lead to heaven and everyone must find their own way to God”, Jesus Christ said there is a narrow gate through which one must enter, and a difficult or confined way one must walk. Few find it. Few are willing to jettison sin for the disciple’s life of submission, sacrifice and service. In stunning contrast, the entrance is wide and the path is broad that leads to eternal destruction. The wages of sin is death, and many choose to travel the easy freeway of sin. The implication is clear: You are not on your way to heaven when you are walking the path of sin. Jesus is the only way to the Father (Jno. 14:6). He demands all your faith, all your obedience, all your love (Jno. 14:6; Lk. 9:23-24; Matt. 22:37). His gospel reveals the narrow gate and difficult way to eternal life. Which way are you traveling today?
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12, NKJV)
Worldly-minded people do not follow the Golden Rule. They practice the exact opposite, which is condemned in Solomon’s proverb, “Do not say, ‘I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work'” (Proverbs 24:29). Christians rise above the world’s standard treatment of others. We do good to those who do not return it. Indeed, we are called upon by the Lord to do good to others without thought of their response (Matthew 5:44-48). So today, make it a point to think about how you treat others. Use kind words and thoughtful actions. Treat them the way you want to be treated. Your day will be happier, and you will please your Father in heaven.
Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.” (John 18:18, NKJV)
During the Passover meal before He was arrested and put to death, Jesus told Peter he would deny knowing Him three times before daybreak. Peter vehemently objected, and all the disciples joined in refusing to believe such a thing (Mk. 14:27-31). Later that night Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest to be examined. Peter warmed himself by the fire in the courtyard of the high priest (Jno. 18:15-16). Peter put himself into a situation in which he was influenced by unbelievers to deny the Lord. He could have rationalized why he was there. He was in the courtyard because he cared about Jesus and wanted to see what would happen next. He was by the fire because it was cold. Nevertheless, his decision to be there put him in a compromising (and ultimately sinful) situation. Learn from Peter to be wise and to choose carefully where you go and the people you will be around. They will have an influence on you. Will they influence you to honor Christ? Or, will they tempt you to deny the Lord?
who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. (Hebrews 5:7-8, NKJV)
God’s ears are open to the prayers of the righteous (1 Pet. 3:12). So, why didn’t the Father answer Christ’s prayers to escape the torturous death by crucifixion that was awaiting Him? In fact, the Father did answer them. Jesus prayed, “if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will”, and God’s will was that He endure the cross (Matt. 26:39). He accepted this answer with complete obedience to the Father’s will. We tend to think that if our prayers are not answered in the way we prefer, then God has not answered our prayer at all. But, when we pray with a heart that defers to the will of God, every prayer is not only heard but also answered according to God’s good will. Let us follow the example of Jesus when we pray, and continue to obey the Father fully, whatever His answer is.
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:10–11, NKJV)
Peter urges Christians to be eager to insure the certainty of our calling and election. Clearly, there is something the Christian must do in order to verify his or her entrance into heaven (the everlasting kingdom). God has called us through the gospel into fellowship with His Son. He has chosen to save us in His Son. Christians are forgiven of past sins in Christ, but we must diligently mature in Christ or risk stumbling and becoming “useless” and “barren” (2 Pet. 1:5-9). No one stumbles into heaven.
And Achan answered Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.” (Joshua 7:20–21, NKJV)
Achan did not make an excuse. He had sinned, and then tried to hide his sin. He knew what he had done was against the will of God (Josh. 6:18). With his sin now exposed, he acknowledged it, including how it happened and what he did. Do not wait for God to expose your sin against Him. If you wait until the Day of Judgment it will be too late to confess your sin and seek God’s mercy. Do not make excuses for your sin. Face up to it and come to Jesus for cleansing. Do not try to hide your sin; you will not succeed. God already knows if there is sin in your life. As Christians we are assured that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jno. 1:9).