By Ronald Graham
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:13-14. The first three words of verse 13, “Enter ye in”, can also be rendered “there is only one way in”. Jesus makes the same declaration in John chapter 14 “…no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” John 14:6b. In both instances the words of our Lord Jesus are emphatic – resolute. The word “many” also carries a very significant meaning in the Greek. When Jesus speaks of “many” He’s speaking of multitudes, a massive number.
After Jesus gives the admonition that all would do well to enter in through the strait gate, He then explains what happens when the strait gate is by-passed; destruction/damnation is the only alternative. Then in the next verse it seems He changes the subject a bit “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15. Combining the intent from the previous two verses, Jesus is stating that teachers (false prophets) who seem to be learned in the Word will be accepted by a mass number of the populous as teaching biblical truth. Although their words will appear to be sound and correct, these deceivers will actually be ravening wolves (emissaries of Satan). Because of their convincing style, their ability to present themselves, and their message as truthful, they will lead many (multitudes) down a treacherous path which will only lead to apostasy.
Apostasy is a fact; it was prophesied as a future event. Sadly, apostasy is now in full swing. As Jesus speaks of the apostasy that will be widespread in the last days, He addresses the apostates themselves in the following verse “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? Mat 7:22. You might be asking yourself, “What’s the problem?” These zealots did everything correct, right? Did they not declare the name of Jesus in all their activities? In His name they prophesied, cast out demons, and did many other wonderful works. What can we say about these folks? They’re active, they’re persuasive, and they’re fully adept at convincing the masses of their spirituality simply by evoking the name of our Lord. So what’s the problem? Just this, He (Jesus Christ) is not their Lord. I’ll explain further in a moment. But know this, Satan too will perform miracles and wonders to behold, and the apostates will be in league with him.
The fact of the matter is our foundation must be built on Jesus Christ, holding the Word of God as our final criterion, the final source of authority for all matters of faith and practice. Apostasy begins as folks move away from sound doctrine and begin moving towards the teachings of false prophets. In the new wave of apostasy occurring today there is no sound doctrine. The false prophet’s instructions are all doctrines of demons. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” 1 Timothy 4:1. The word “some” can also be translated as “men”. Men will, in the latter times, depart from the truth, which is Christ Jesus, as they are presented with the doctrines of demons by seducing spirits. The above verse is not merely a suggestion of what might happen, but a firm declaration of what the majority of the earth’s populous will be consumed with in the last days.
“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Titus 1:16. The false teachers/false prophets are quite adept in their teaching, and in their outside appearance they attempt to put on Christ. Although their deceptions rely heavily on the incessant use of the name “Jesus” it’s all just a façade as there’s no indwelling by the Holy Spirit. By their works they are laid bare.
In the Greek the word for falling away is “apostasia” or apostasy, and it actually means to refuse to accept a certain belief or faith. It refers to those who have forsaken or rejected the true faith by turning to false doctrines, doctrines of demons. Any teaching that denies the deity of Jesus Christ is a false satanic doctrine. The religions of Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah Witness, Scientology, as well as many more, all fall under the umbrella of doctrines of demons. Yet they are convinced that they have the true faith, the true doctrine, thus they promote falsehoods and lead many others down the same destructive path. The only possible way for someone to be led astray is to neglect the study of the truth – in the infallible Word of God. Everything we are taught by others must be filtered through the Word of God. The scriptures are our only link to truth and our shield protecting us from the deceptions of the doctrines of demons. One of the worst corrupting influences is our own feelings. Feelings can be deceptive, filter every feeling trough the Word of God.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him… For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ”. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 & 13. Paul tells the Corinthian “ekklesia” (called out assembly) that he was fearful that through subtle means they may be led astray by false apostles, just as Eve was led astray by Satan. He goes on to explain that even Satan has the ability to transform himself as an angel of light. “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.” 2 Corinthians 11:14-15. We are deceived when we look at the outside appearance and accept that person as wise and without fault, while dismissing the fact that the heart of man is deceitful. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. Have you noticed that God always declares that their end will be according to their works? Since the apostasy of the true faith leads to a works based faith, all who fall into that category will be judged by their works. Herein lies a major problem, there will be no salvation attributed to any person’s works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” Ephesians 2:8, 9.
It’s imperative that we take a look at the how and why false prophets and the transformed ministers of righteousness (demons) are so successful, as they will lead many people down that apostasy trail. “Tarry ye and wonder; take your pleasure and be blind: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For Jehovah hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes, the prophets; and your heads, the seers, hath he covered. And all vision is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed: and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned. And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw nigh unto me, and with their mouth and with their lips to honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which hath been taught them; therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” Isaiah 29:9-14.
These six verses of Isaiah contain the how and why many are so easily led astray. First of all, people take pleasure in being led, even to the extent that they are being led to the slaughter. They are caught up in the experiential instead of acquiring knowledge by the diligent study of God’s Word, and in their jubilation staggering around as though they are drunk on wine, but they are actually full of the delight that has tickled their ears. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 1 Timothy 4:3-4. These folks will receive only what they desire to hear, what will be pleasurable to them, and as they progress down this path more and more the truth will elude them.
As Isaiah continues, he explains what happens when the Word of God is supplanted and replaced by the doctrines of demons. A deep sleep comes over those who fall for this kind of teaching and their eyes and ears are closed to the truth. They can no longer understand the truth of God, it’s as though God’s Word has been sealed and they can’t open the seal. What happens then is they begin to seek the truth from those who are just as deluded as they are. They will turn to the educated (those who’ve been through seminary or some Christian college) for the truth, but in many cases today even those folks have been taught deceptions (Satan’s emissaries have moved into those arenas also) so that they, too, can no longer understand the Word of God. God says He will make His truth to be sealed even from the learned (educated). Thus they turn to interpretations that are contrary to God’s truth (doctrines of demons).
Isaiah goes on to explain that these people actually possess a form of spirituality, they draw close to God with their mouths and their words seem to honor Him, but their hearts are far from God. They have been taught the doctrines of demons and men, and the truth is not in them. God says that as they persist in this mode He will hide wisdom and knowledge from them. Apostasy will have them.
Amos tells us there will come a famine in the land (the whole earth), a famine of hearing the Word of God. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” Amos 8:11-12. People will seek to learn God’s truth, and in so doing they will settle on a counterfeit – lies, as the Word of God will have gone missing.
So how shall we know them, these teachers of deceit? “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:16-20. First of all the Holy Spirit will not be a part of their lives, thus their teachings will contradict the Word of God (producing no good fruit). Secondly the fruit of their labor is works based and this concept will fully corrupt the masses, the results of which will only bring destruction. Hell will be their destination.
If you know the Word of God these purveyors of lies/false doctrines will not be able to deceive you in any way, even though their persona may be impeccable. They will speak of Jesus as if they know Him but Jesus Himself says “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (wickedness).” Matthew 7:23. Even though in the previous verse of Matthew chapter 7 we understand that these folks were apparently successful in their casting out demons, prophetic predictions, and achieving a level of apparent wondrous signs, their doctrines were of demons. The Holy Spirit was not indwelling them as they had never truly believed in Messiah Jesus.
Those who are intent on fulfilling their own lusts will accept any lie as long as it makes them feel good. This is, then, the apostasy that the Bible speaks of as coming upon the inhabitants of earth in the last days. Don’t put your trust in man but in God and His Word. There is no substitute, and for the apostate there is little time to reverse course.
God bless you all,
All scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed