Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad (diseased) tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Do you remember when your parents said this as you crossed the road to catch the school bus? “Watch out for cars!”
Maybe as you went swimming in your favorite lake, “Watch out for snakes!”
Maybe as you caught wind of a Facebook or telephone scam, “Watch out for scammers!”
When we see danger, we warn people we love so they are not negatively affected. When we are warned, we know what to notice and avoid to prevent harm and danger coming to us or those we love.
The motivation behind Jesus’ words is his love for us.
Just prior to verse 15, Jesus said this in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Jesus desires that all of us enter eternal life with him, not apart from him. As he claimed in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
So, watch out for any one, any thing, any teaching that would teach or lead contrary to Jesus being the way to heaven.
The world around us promotes the opposite of Jesus’ statement. Many would like to believe and teach that wide is the path to heaven and narrow (if there is any) is the path to hell. Individuals claim, “All paths lead to God.” Other’s claim, “We all worship the same god, just call him by different names.” To claim otherwise is attacked as close minded, arrogant, or judgmental. A wide path to heaven sounds loving, accepting, non-judgmental. It looks like an innocent sheep.
But this teaching is dangerous deception.
Any teaching that distorts the truth that Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven is Satan’s ferocious lies that he tells to lead us down the wide path to destruction.
Jesus warns us because he loves us. Jesus’ disciples warn us because they love us. Here are Paul’s words to the leaders of the church in Ephesus, “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:29)”
The greatest threat to the Gospel of grace found in Jesus is any teaching that shifts the focus from the perfect performance of Jesus to the personal performance of the individual. Whether it is a teaching that makes salvation 100% dependent on your effort or 1%, each is equally as dangerous and damning.
Like a child ready to cross the street who doesn’t see the oncoming car coming at a high rate of speed, our Savior yells in love, “WATCH OUT!”
Apply: What teachings have you heard (or believed) that sounded really good, but when measured against the truth of the Bible they were destructive deceptions?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the warning. Give us wisdom and discernment to recognize and avoid any dangerous teaching that would lead us to turn to ourselves and away from Jesus. AMEN.