Jesus Came to Call the Sinners

(Matthew 9:9-13)

In this section of Matthew we begin to see a further expansion of Jesus’ work where he begins working not with just healing the sick, but teaching and healing sinners. When Jesus had begun his ministry he was called to account for his actions on many occasions by the scribes, Pharisees and the religious people of the day. They judged Jesus for the way he conducted himself and the things he did. On each occasion Jesus pointed out to them why he did what he did, and at the same time it showed up their hypocrisy, which is in part why they both hated and feared him.

On this occasion we see the call of Matthew who was a tax collector. Tax collectors of the day were a much disliked people for often they extorted and defrauded the people taking more than they should have. And nobody likes to pay taxes…even today. But Jesus did the contrary thing by going with the tax collectors and eating with them and other sinners. He often kept company with these kinds of people who were considered sinners and thus looked down upon by the religious people of the time.

But when questioned about this Jesus made the point saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” These people were “sick” but not from illness and diseases, but from sin. They were not necessarily physically ill, but were suffering the effects of sin in their lives. Jesus was teaching that they needed to be “healed” of their sin as he had previously healed those who had physical ailments and infirmities. So in his response to the Pharisees he was saying that in order to heal and release the sinners, he needed to be with the sinners. He needed to go to the sinners so that they could hear his words and learn what was needed so they could be released from their sin. As an example, you cannot catch fish if you don’t go to the water, you cannot buy food if you don’t go to a shop or a market, and Jesus could not heal the sinners unless he went to them and they could receive his healing words.

The Pharisees on the other hand had no desire to even associate with the sinners. They felt they were a cut above the sinners and that the sinners were a low-class citizen, unworthy of their attention or presence. Their attitudes showed prejudice and pride, whereas Jesus showed no bias and humility. Yet these same Pharisees who were the keepers of the laws of God and responsible for teaching the law given to Moses, rejected that same law in their actions and attitudes. Thus they were so often called hypocrites by Jesus for in their hypocrisy they denied the very teachings and attention the sinners needed to be lifted up from their sins. They chose rather to condemn than to build up. They used the law as a weapon against the people rather than a tool of education so that the people could learn and understand the wisdom of the laws of God.

Jesus did the opposite to the Pharisees. He came and taught the people words of truth, and gave them an even better way forward than existed in the law. For Jesus did not just teach the people about the law, but taught them about repentance and the ways that would lead to life and God’s kingdom. And as he said, Jesus came to call not the righteous, but to call the sinners. His purpose was not to just come and spend time with those who were already righteous, but to seek out those who had need of righteousness and who were burdened with sin so that he could proclaim release and take away their burdens.

Finally Jesus pointed to the Pharisees the way they needed to go forward saying, “Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Under the law the Pharisees condemned the people for their sin. There was forgiveness of sin under the law through the process of the sacrificial offerings, but Jesus was saying that this was not what he nor God were seeking. Instead they were seeking mercy and came to give mercy to the people so they could be released from sin. God did not want burnt offerings continually from the people as a means of seeking forgiveness from sin. He wanted the people not to sin. He wanted the people to learn to live lives free from sin and to worship God. He wanted them to live with humility towards each other and in harmony with one another doing what was good and right. He did not want them to think they could do as they pleased and then come and offer their sacrifices and sin offerings as tokens of forgiveness. No, he wanted them to live “right” lives in full observance of all that is good, honourable and pleasing to God and not to please themselves.

Jesus came amongst other things to proclaim and teach the process of mercy. The Pharisees were teaching condemnation and damning the people under the law. But mercy overlooks the faults of others and recognises that as they have faults, so too do we. Mercy does not stand above people, overbearing and condemning, but it encourages and teaches people about what is good and right and true. Mercy is compassionate and loving. Condemnation is judgemental and places barriers between people. Jesus came to take away the barriers of condemnation through giving us his mercy by the grace of God, and it is only in God’s merciful grace that we can stand.

Jesus’ Power to Forgive Sins

(Matthew 9:1-8)

In the previous chapter of Matthew we saw that Jesus showed he had the power over all physical ailments, demon possession and the elements of this world. Now we begin to see the spiritual power he has to enable us to conquer and overcome the passions and weaknesses in our lives.

In this first section of chapter nine we see that a paralytic is brought to Jesus for healing. Previously we saw Jesus heal the sick and lame and so there is no question that he would have the power from God to do this healing as well. But we see now that Jesus takes a different approach to this healing than he had previously.

Instead of just saying to the man, “Rise and walk,” Jesus says to him, “Your sins are forgiven.” This is an unusual statement given that the man has come to be healed. But the lesson here is quite profound. The scribes who were there at the time said that Jesus was blaspheming by saying that the mans sins are forgiven. Their position was that only God can forgive sins, and to a degree they were correct. But they still did not understand that Jesus is both the Son of God and he IS God. So when Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” he was within his rights to do so and was not blaspheming at all.

He then upbraided the scribes for thinking such evil of him. It is clear that no man on earth, and certainly not a sinner or blasphemer can say to a paralytic to rise and walk. Man does not have the spiritual authority let alone the healing power to do such a thing and the scribes as well as the people at the time knew this too. So Jesus used the power of healing in this case to prove that he had the authority to forgive sin. He said to them, “Which is easier, to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?'” (vs.5) He knew that they knew no man could say to a paralytic “Rise and walk” and see the man healed. So using this knowledge he then said to them, “But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, take up your bed and go home.” And the man rose and went home, fully healed of the paralysis that had kept him bedridden.

The healing was done in this case to prove to the people that Jesus could forgive sins. The healing was not for the sake of the healing alone, but to prove Jesus had AUTHORITY to forgive sins. The testimony of John the Baptist when he bore witness to Jesus was, “”Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) And in this section of Matthew we see Jesus proving he had the authority to do exactly that. In this healing he showed he could and would be able to take away the sins of mankind. This is an important point for without the removal of sin we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. No sinner will enter God’s Kingdom, but in Jesus our sins can be taken away for he has both the power and authority to do so. This matter will be discussed in greater detail in future posts or can be studied further on the website www.freegiftfromgod.com.

The Power of Jesus Conquers All Things

(Matthew 8:28-34)

When Jesus took a boat across the water he came to the district of the Gadarenes where he met the demoniacs living amongst the tombs. When these demoniacs saw him it is evident that the demons in the two men recognised who Jesus was and understood his power over them, for they were subject to him.

There were many demons afflicting these men. In the other gospel versions of this section the demons called themselves “Legion” indicating not so much a name but a number. The structure of the ancient Roman army was made up of a number of legions of soldiers. A legion was essentially a complete army which included cooks, armour bearers, smiths and tradesmen to maintain and repair equipment as well as soldiers. It was effectively and army in its own right along with all the necessary service and support personnel necessary to wage war. Typically a legion comprised of up to about six thousand men. So when the demons possessing the men Jesus met called themselves “Legion” they were most likely referring to the number of demons possessing the men, which may have been as many as six thousand evil spirits.

These demons recognised Jesus as the Son of God and were afraid. It is evident also from other scriptures that when a demon is cast out of a man it is most unpleasant for them. Matthew 12:43 says, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest…” So when the demon is cast out it is like wandering through a hot, dry and hostile desert for them and they suffer much torment as a result.

Now the demons in this case, having been commanded to depart from the men, did not wish to be tormented and so they begged Jesus to be allowed to enter the herd of swine. Jesus gave them leave to do so, but their wish was short-lived as the herd immediately rushed down to the sea and drowned and the demons would have to wander the waterless places anyway.

James wrote in his epistle that, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder.” (James 2:19) We see here in Matthew that they had good reason to believe and shudder for they knew they would receive no mercy for their evil ways and would be cast into a place of despair. Nor should they receive mercy as in this case they had tormented these men they possessed and caused them much suffering and harm. The end judgement of these demons was a just punishment for their actions.

The last few verses are interesting too. The people who came out to see him from the town nearby were greatly afraid at what they heard and saw. They were so afraid that they asked him to go away. Jesus did not attempt to force himself on them and nor does he force himself on anyone today. He did as they asked and got into the boat and left. It is interesting that even though a great sign had been performed among them, they did not want any part of what he was doing. There are many people today who say, “Show me a sign and then I’ll believe.” In reality if the do not believe without the sign, the sign may not make much impact. Jesus showed this same principle in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). For after the rich man died and went to Hades he asked that Lazarus be sent back to warn his brothers. But he was told that the brothers had the teachings of Moses and the prophets that they needed to listen to. But the rich man said, “…if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'” Then he was told that, “‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'”

A miracle means nothing to one who has no belief. The miracles Jesus did confirmed the truth of the message he taught, but it is the message that is most important, not the miracle. We must listen to the message and not get dazzled by the miracle for the message of Christ is what will lead us to life.

In the whole of Matthew chapter 8 we see that Jesus has power over all things. He healed the sick, calmed the storms and cast out demons all to show that his is the power from God. We who believe in him should take comfort from the knowledge that he cares for and protects us. And he also showed that no issue was too small or too great for him to handle if we only have faith and believe in Jesus.

Trust Jesus in All Situations

(Matthew 8:18-27)

Here we see that as the crowds began to press upon him as his fame grew and word of mouth got around that miracles were being performed. After seeing these things the people began to press around him wanting to be close to him and seeking more. Under such circumstances he was unable to rest and nor would the people be able to rest.

He showed this when a scribe said to him that he would follow Jesus wherever he went. This is not unlike high profile people today who are hounded by the paparazzi and constantly being followed. Jesus made this point in vs. 20 saying,”Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” There was no place he could go at that time where he would not be followed and thus not be able to get a break from the people. We must remember that although he was the Son of God, he was here as a man and suffered all the issues a man suffers including being tired and exhausted.

Jesus needed to move on & he needed to get some rest. He said to his disciples to get into a boat to go across the water. As they went a great storm arose and he boat was being swamped, but Jesus was so tired he slept through it all. The disciples with him though were in great fear thinking they would perish. They still had not the faith to know that they had the Son of God with them and he would protect them from all dangers. When you consider for a moment that he could raise people from the dead it becomes evident that a storm should have been of little concern to the disciples.

At this stage though they did not have that faith for it was still early in Jesus ministry and they were young in Christianity. They had not learned they needed to trust in the Lord and know that he is watching over them and us. So fearing disaster they woke him up saying, “Save, Lord, we are perishing.” His response was simple and showed their lack of faith, “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” This was a simple enough position. They had seen the miraculous works he had just done, but their faith was still not strong enough to recognise that Jesus was God and could do anything. So he spoke to the storm and rebuked the wind and waves and it became calm. He showed them his power is unlimited. The disciples were shocked and amazed because it was unheard of that anyone could speak to the weather and change it by a word.

Through these proofs he showed the disciples that there is no need to fear the storms of the world, nor the storms of life. Whether physical matters, such as sickness, spiritual matters, like demon possession, or other things that may cause us to be afraid as they feared the storms, there is nothing that Jesus cannot and will not bring under control when the time is right.

We need not fear these things either for the Lord showed in all these scriptures that he protects and he will control these things. When we do have issues though, as the disciples feared being swamped, we need to call out to the Lord for help and he will save us. As we go through the storms of life we need to remember that we can call on him for help and that He has the power to save us from any and every situation.

The Unlimited Healing Power of Jesus

(Matthew 8:14-17)

In first part of this section (vs.14-15) Jesus goes to Peter’s house and seeing Peter’s mother-in-law lying sick with a fever he heals her. There are a couple of interesting points here in this small section. Firstly this woman was Peter’s mother-in-law which shows that he had a wife and thus was married. This was further indicated by Paul who likewise showed that Peter was married in 1 Corinthians 9:5. Some have thought that Peter was celibate but this was clearly not the case.

The second thing we see in this small section is that Peter’s mother-in-law had a fever. Most fevers are associated with infection of some kind and usually not too much to worry about. We don’t know how serious this fever was or the underlying condition causing the fever. It may well have been associated with something quite minor such as a common cold or could have been something more serious. The point here though is that if this was a minor condition it shows that Jesus was concerned not with just major health issues, which were the “big” miracles, but he was also concerned with the small infirmities as well. God is not just God of the big stuff but of the small stuff too. And there is no problem too large or too small that we cannot take to him, even a minor fever from the common cold.

In the next verse (vs. 16) we see many people were brought to him for healing and to have demons exorcised and he healed all of these people. There were no questions, no requirements to be healed, no offerings given or requested. It was a matter as simple as, they came, they were sick and he healed them. All who came were healed. None were too difficult and no case was a bother to him.

Matthew then wrote in the final verse in this section (vs. 17) that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah who said, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” So we see from this and my previous posts that there were many purposes to these miracles and healings. They were a sign to confirm the message he preached, they were to fulfil Old Testament prophecies and of course they were to show the power of God.

Why Jesus Healed the Sick

(Matthew 8:1-13)
 
(At the end of chapter seven of Matthew we see Jesus finishes his sermon on the mount. The people having heard his words were astonished at his teachings for he taught as one who had authority. He spoke powerfully and boldly to the people all the words of life and what would be the keys to entry into God’s kingdom.
 
(Then as evidence of this authority he had, he confirmed all of the words through the acts that he did. This is one of the reasons he did many of the miracles including healing the sick and infirm. We see over in Mark 16:20 saying, “And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.” The signs the disciples were given to practice included healing the sick and the purpose of these signs was to back up the ministry. Likewise when Jesus preached, his ministry and words were confirmed by the signs. No man could do the miracles he did unless the power of God was with him to do it, and so it was evidence that the words He spoke were the words of God.
 
(Now after finishing the sermon on the mount Jesus went forth and healed many who were ill which confirmed the message he had just given. But there are other teachings in this message as well. We see in the first section of Matthew 8:1-5 where Jesus cleansed the leper. Under the Mosaic law there were explicit teachings as to what needed to be done if ever a leper were cured of leprosy. There were offerings to be made over a period of time and they needed to be pronounced cleansed by the priests at the temple and various other practices. At the time of Jesus there was no New Covenant in effect because it did not commence until Jesus died, so the people were still under the law. Also Jesus could not be seen to be breaking the law and he would not, for he came to fulfil the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17). So in accordance with the law he instructed the leper now healed to go and make the offerings and show himself to the priests in accordance with the ordinances on the cleansing of leprosy.
 
(Jesus was not making a great song and dance about this healing either. He was not doing the healings so that people would come to him and look upon how great and marvellous he was. On the contrary he typically told the people who were healed not to tell anyone but go and do as he instructed them. The point of the healings was not personal edification or gain but to confirm the message of the Kingdom of God.
 
(We then see a second healing in this section on the servant of a centurion in Matthew 8:5-13. This healing is different in several ways. Firstly, Jesus was prepared to go to the sick man and heal him, but the centurion said it was unnecessary to do that. The centurion recognised the power of Jesus and that if he would just say the word it would be done. He knew that the power of God was everywhere and that it did not require the Lord to be physically present for his healing power to go forth. Jesus marvelled at this centurion for Jesus saw that the man’s faith was great. This man had an understanding that many others did not. He had faith and so the Lord did the healing as the man requested and his servant was healed instantly.
 
(Although there were many healings done by Jesus and many miraculous things occurred, they were done for a purpose. They showed the power of God and were a wonder and blessing to those who received them, but the main purpose of the healings was to back up the words that Jesus spoke. It is the ministry that is important for the ministry and teachings are what will lead a person to life. Eventually all of the miracles will cease for they will not be required. In God’s kingdom there will be no sickness or death and so healings will not be needed. But the teachings of life are eternal. It is these that are more important and must be noted.
 
(Some Christians and some churches today are seeking miracles once again. It is more important to seek the kingdom. We should rather seek the truth and find the faith that will lead us into the kingdom of God as this is everlasting. Miracles and healings are temporary and of this world only, but the truth lasts forever. Focus on finding the truth that leads to God through Jesus Christ instead.

Build Your House Upon The Rock

(Matthew 7:24-29)

In this final section of the sermon on the mount Jesus gives the last warning to the people and to us today. When he speaks of building your house upon the rock he is talking about your life. And again in this section he is giving us the key to life and living a stable and solid life.

Whenever a builder constructs a house, the first thing they do is to dig a foundation. They dig down until they strike bedrock and build the foundation and structure of the home so that it is anchored on this bedrock. This is to ensure that the building can withstand the forces of nature through wind and rain and so on, and be able to stand firm. If the builder were not to do this and just build the house on the surface of the ground, then movements in the soil caused by the elements would cause it to collapse.

Jesus likens life to this same principle of the building of a house. The key to life is to build your life on the solid foundation of his words and do them. The key is in doing what he says. It is not enough to just hear or read the words of Jesus, but you must then also follow up on them and live your life in accordance with his words. This is akin to building upon the rock. jesus’ words are wisdom, based upon the wisdom of God, and it is His words that will lead us to eternal life in the future as well as a stable and solid life in the here and now. His words provide guidance, insight, knowledge and wisdom about all matters pertaining to this life and the future with God. If you take his words to heart, learn them and apply them in your life, then you will find the pathway to truth and life that exists only through faith in Christ Jesus. This is the solid foundation on the rock of Jesus.

The alternative is like a house not just built on the ground but on sand. If a house built without a foundation on soil will not stand, then how much less if it were built on sand. Sand shifts so readily having no binding properties that it is almost liquid. It takes very little wind or water to move sand and so anything built upon it will simply not stand, but very quickly collapse. There is no anchor on sand and no solid base on which to anchor any kind of a structure.

If you were to hear the words of Jesus and do nothing else, it would be the same. You have nothing to anchor to and hold you fast when the winds and rain of trouble, temptation and ordeal come upon you. What is there to hold onto to anchor you against the days of adversity? This is why when we see disaster strike people in the world they fall apart and are perplexed, not knowing which way to turn. They are without hope in the world and as such are at the mercy of the problems, troubles and issues that befall all in the world. But in Jesus there is hope for he provides guidance in his words that will answer these days of adversity. And in him there is protection.

If you would have life and peace in this world then you need to listen to the words of Jesus and then act upon them. You need to take his words to heart and live by them and they will give you light and life.

Who will go into God’s Kingdom?

(Matthew 7:21-23)
 
Jesus tells us in this section of scripture that not everyone will go into God’s Kingdom. There are many who appear to be righteous that will miss out.
 
It is not enough to call on the name of the Lord to gain entry into God’s Kingdom. Jesus says here that not everyone who does so will gain entry. And we see that some of these people who will miss out did many mighty or significant works in the name of Jesus. Yet still they did not gain entry into the Kingdom of God. The question that obviously arises is why? There are many in today’s churches who are seeking to do magnificent works that may miss out too. We see many who set up ministries, who go out into missionary works, who preach and prophesy and exercise the power of the Spirit but still may miss out.
 
The key to entry into God’s Kingdom though is not in the mighty works. It is not in saying great words or preaching the word or prophesying or missionary work or building churches, schools, hospitals or any of the other works that can and are being done. No, the key to entry into God’s Kingdom is by doing the will of the Father.
 
What is the will of the Father? It is to believe in Jesus whom he sent to be our saviour. Paul wrote in Romans 1:17, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” It is by faith or by believing in God and Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour that we shall live and gain entry into God’s Kingdom. The apostle John made it even more clear that faith in Jesus was the key saying in John 6:40, “For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
 
So the key is through faith in Jesus Christ. All the works that a man may do will come to nothing if he does not have faith. It is the condition of the heart and the faith that a person has that is the key. The question will be whether they are truly doing these works for the Lord or for their own benefit. There may be people who believe they can buy or even bribe their way into heaven; that by building churches or setting up ministries of different sorts they can gain forgiveness for their sins or make atonement for their evil ways. Likewise some years ago there used to be talk that by going to church and donating to the church was like putting savings or credits into a “spiritual bank account.” That these things would offset any sins that a person may have committed or would do in the future. There is no spiritual bank account. God does not weigh up a measure of sin and a measure of good deeds to see which pile is the larger to decide whether a person has life or not. Those who believe such things are blind and have been led astray by false teaching and lies. These things are of no consequence for the forgiveness of sin cannot be bought and God cannot be bribed. Forgiveness is freely available to all, but only through faith in Christ Jesus and through repentance.
 
The works of God are not like the works of man. Jesus was asked about this matter in John 6:28-29 which says, “Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So the works of God are about faith in Jesus Christ, and without faith there is no entry into God’s Kingdom. No person will be accepted on the basis of works of the law as Paul wrote in Romans 3:20, “For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” He added in Galatians 2:16, “…a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.”
 
Do you want to go into God’s Kingdom? Then learn what it means to be doing the will of God. Learn what it is to have faith in Jesus Christ and what to believe, for that is the pathway to life.

Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers

(Matthew Chapter 7, Verses 15-20)

One of the greatest challenges all Christians face when trying to seek out the truth is…who do you believe. Jesus warned us in this section about being careful to spot and avoid false prophets or false teachers. If we choose to follow the wrong teachings from one of these people then we may be taking in information that is not aligned with the truth or even put ourselves in a position where we are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people ministering lies for profit.

Many people have been hurt by false teachers and false prophets through accepting false teaching. I recall an instance where at a church one time a speaker made an altar call at the end of the service for people to come up who had been hurt in some way by the church. With the exception of just a handful of people, the whole church of several hundred people stood and went forward. Such a situation is an absolute travesty and speaks much about the extent of corruption that can exist in Christianity today through false teaching and false prophets.
But what can you do about it? Well Jesus also provided some good information in this section of scripture on how to spot these frauds and what to do.
Firstly we need to understand that they may be hard to see. He talks of wolves in sheep’s clothing, meaning that these false prophets will look as if they are good and will be well disguised and camouflaged. They will have all the appearances of being good teachers and doing what is right. But like all liars, they will not be able to hold onto their lies and evidence will begin to show up that shows them for what they truly are. In order to perpetrate a lie, a liar must tell more lies to cover the original lie. They must then continue this path and weave a web that they will eventually be caught in as inconsistencies arise. Jesus said, you will know them by their fruit. The fruit is the teachings and the things they do. Fruit does not immediately appear on a tree but must go through a process of pollination, germination and growth before it is ripe and ready for picking. So too these people will take time to show their true colours.
Next we see that Jesus shows that they will not be able to help going down this path for the evil will bear evil fruit, but good people will do good. It’s like the old saying that a leopard can’t change it’s spots. These false teachers or false prophets are exactly the same.
Finally it is important that when you come into contact with Christians you need to do two main things. Firstly, you must have an understanding of the truth in the Bible and weigh up all that they say or do against that knowledge. And secondly, you need to spend time to watch these people and see what they do over time, for Jesus says when their fruit ripens you will know them by their fruits. Over time there will be a pattern from these people. If the pattern is to help, assist, speak good things aligned with Bible truth and respecting others, then they may be true prophets teaching truth. But if their words and actions are self-serving, seeking to get gain from those around them and using people to get advantage, especially when falsely using the teachings in the Bible to get power over others, then their fruits can be considered bad.
These are the wolves Jesus is talking about. They feed their own appetites and do nothing unless it is to their own gain or advantage. They are proud and arrogant, but at the same time will disguise themselves well with cunning and deception. As individuals we need to learn from the Bible, seek the truth, and ask Jesus to give us understanding so that we can spot these false teachers when they come along. For as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, they will come. There are many people who see Christianity as a means of gain and will use it to further their own devices and designs. While there is gain through Christianity in godliness, as the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:3-6, the gain comes through contentment, not material gain. And these false prophets are not seeking contentment but rather are seeking material gain or power. This is not of God and as Jesus said, we must beware.
In due course they will be seen for what they are, and even if their disguises are very good, they will be cut down by the Lord. He will protect his church from these people, but it is important for us to likewise recognise them and take action so that we are not hindered through false teaching.

Enter by the Narrow Gate

(Matthew Chapter 7, Verses 13-14)

One of the disciples once asked the Lord, “Will those who are saved be few?” (Luke 13:23) The Lord responded saying, “Strive to enter by the narrow door,” and here in this section we see that same teaching being repeated in a slightly different manner. Here the Lord is saying we need to “Enter by the narrow gate.” He says that there will be many who take the wide and easy path that leads to destruction, but the gate and the path that leads to life are narrow and hard. Finally he says that those who even find it will be few, let alone those who enter by the narrow gate.

Locating this narrow gate will be hard for not many will even find it let alone be able to enter. Earlier in the sermon on the mount Jesus made the following points. “Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened.” These three aspects of finding things out and searching for the truth all had a promise that the searching would not be in vain. The fact that he said this three ways suggests the level of importance there is in making the effort to search out the way.
Then in this scripture we see that it will be hard to find and the way will be difficult to walk that leads to life. Too many people may not be prepared to walk the hard road and will be lost through taking the easy way out. The easy way is a life of compromise and half measures, of listening to what others say and accepting it without verifying the truth of a matter. But as Christ has taught us, we must do the work. We must ask, seek and knock if we are to even find this narrow gate, let alone enter it.
Will the road to life be hard? The truth is that it will be hard in some ways, for there will be the need to subjugate everything for the sake of walking the path to life. It will require a complete change and sometimes a full reversal of human nature, while being bombarded daily by temptation through the weaknesses and passions of the flesh as well as the attacks from the devil and his hosts. But we must also weigh this with other scriptures where the Lord says to, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30) We need to balance these seemingly two opposing positions to try to understand what is happening.
When we come to the Lord he does teach us. We see also that there are many levels of teaching and understanding in the Lord, which Paul described in 1 Corinthians 3:11-12, “For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw.” There is no other foundation by which we may have life than following Jesus Christ. But there are many levels of teaching that are built on that foundation. Consider all the many Christian denominations and non-denominational churches that exist today. All of them have the foundation of a belief in Christ, but then their teachings range from what could be considered rubbish like chaff and sticks, up to precious gold and silver. The analogy Paul makes also ties in with the Lords teaching about how hard the narrow gate will be to find, for it is easy to find chaff and grass for hay, but it is increasingly difficult to find gold and silver. To find the more precious things requires hard toil, searching and great effort. Finding the narrow path will be the same.
Now Paul makes the point that all who have the foundation of Christ may be saved, but they will be tested with the fires of adversity. And fire which will destroy wood, hay and chaff actually has the opposite effect on gold and silver, for they are refined and purified even further through fire as the dross is melted and burned off.
It is my opinion that the reason Jesus said there will be few who find the narrow path is that he was talking about those who find the path in this age. Ultimately everyone who seeks the Lord will need to be made perfect if they are to eventually live with the Father, but there will not be many who reach that standard in this time on earth. Jesus talks of two flocks one of which he calls the little flock (Luke 12:32). He describes the little flock in John 10:1-16 and how they follow the shepherd (Jesus) wherever he goes and listen to his voice. In the last verse he then mentions a second flock that is not of this same group that must be brought in also to make one large flock. Now when we go into Revelation we see there is a group called the 144,000 who fit the description of this little flock in John 10, for they are with the Lamb and follow Jesus everywhere he goes (Rev 14:4). These 144,000 are those who achieve perfection in this age and they go into heaven with Christ singing. These are the ones I believe who found and entered the narrow gate and who found the gold teaching that Paul alluded to.
But we also see a second group in Revelation referred to as a, “…great multitude that no man can number.” (Rev 7:9-17) They also go into heaven but in a much different way. For the 144,000 went into heaven following Jesus singing and with much joy, but this second group we see had suffered on this earth. For it says they were hungry and thirsty and beaten down by the sun and scorching heat. They had need of shepherding and teaching  and they were in tears for the Lord will wipe every tear from their eyes. They were in torment while on this earth because they lacked the teachings and the guidance necessary to overcome the issues in this life. They had not found peace nor perfection, but they followed Christ to the best of their ability. They are those who had the foundation, but the building on that foundation could not withstand the fire of testing.
The aim for all of us is to aspire to find and by enter the narrow gate and to aspire to the standard of the 144,000. Naturally not everyone will achieve that level in this time otherwise there would not be only 144,000. But the closer we can get to that place through prayer, study and searching for the truth, the less we will suffer in this age and the less tears will need wiping from our eyes when the Lord sets up his kingdom.