Then there is the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:24-30. Unger’s Bible Dictionary defines tares as: “a poisonous grass almost indistinguishable from wheat while the two are growing into blade, at the beginning.” When they come into ear, they can be separated without difficulty.
At the beginning, all the crop “looks good”, according to what the eye can see. But as time goes on the tares become visible. The wheat is sown first by the Lord. Then the enemy sows his tares as men sleep. Isn’t this another way of saying that, first, the true gospel may be preached, but “alongside” of that, tares are sown? (remember 2 Peter 2:1-2) “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”
The Matthew Henry Commentary states:
…when reason and conscience sleep, and people are off their guard then the enemy comes in…Note, when Satan is doing the greatest mischief, he studies most to conceal himself; for his design is in danger of being spoiled if he be seen in it; and therefore when he comes to sow tares, he transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor 11:13,14)…The tares appeared not until the blade sprung up and brought forth fruit, v.26. As the good seed, so the tares lie a great while under the soil, and at first springing up, it is hard to distinguish them…”(Henry, Matthew. N.P., Matthew 13 Commentary)
All revivals may look good: great enthusiasm and devotion may be displayed. But, religious enthusiasm in itself is not evidence of the truth. The Pharisees had great religious enthusiasm, so do Catholic mystics and Mormon missionaries. Yet, remember Mt 7: 21-23: “Not every one who says to Me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your Name, and driven out demons in Your Name and done many mighty miracles in Your Name? And then I will say to them openly, Depart from Me, I never knew you.”
Who were in danger: just a few? No, many. Were evil acts being performed? No, they were doing miracles, great signs and wonders, prophesying. Were they done in a demon’s name? No, in JESUS’ NAME! In His Holy Name. Yet, He said – depart from Me. How “good” it all looks and sounds – in our eyes. Not in His.
There is presently such a preponderance of false “signs and wonders” taking place that do not line up with the Word of God. Enthusiasm is not a Biblical criteria for truth no matter how exceedingly popular the movement is.
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,” 2 Thessalonians 2:9 (NKJV)
Moses was a true man of God, working true miracles. Yet, in the beginning, his miracles were duplicated by Pharaoh’s magicians (Exodus7:11-12, 22; 8:7). So that we do not forget how prone we always are to “signs-and- wonders” deceptions, 2 Timothy 3: 5-9 makes references to these magicians, Jannes and Jambres by name. It warns against “silly” (v.6) people who are “forever inquiring and getting information, but are never able to arrive at a knowledge of the Truth”(v.7). Verse 9 promises that these counterfeits will eventually be exposed. But, in the meantime, they will continue performing signs and wonders, counterfeit signs and wonders.
Counterfeits, in the real world, are only successful in so far as they, as closely as possible, imitate the real. Only very close scrutiny will show that that $100 bill is not legal tender. In the real world, if a warning went forth that there were counterfeiters at large, wouldn’t we scrutinize our money with great diligence? Yet, there are “spiritual counterfeits” at large and so many are gullibly accepting what they teach at face value. There is so much more at stake – our spiritual lives hang in the balance. For years I was taught that the prefix “Anti” in Antichrist meant “against.” That led me to think that it would be easy to spot the Antichrist – his evil would give him away. Fortunately, the deeper I got into the Bible and the more Biblically-solid became my teachers, I learned that the Greek root word Anti means “in place of” or imitation. In other words, the Antichrist is a counterfeit of Jesus. From that discovery I learned two things: I needed to know the Word of God, His Bible, so well that I could quote it whenever necessary and I learned the absolute necessity of not being swayed by appearances or popularity.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12Amplified Bible
“9 The coming [of the lawless one, the antichrist] is through the activity and working of Satan and will be attended by great power and with all sorts of [pretended] miracles and signs and delusive marvels—[all of them] lying wonders—
10 And by unlimited seduction to evil and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing (going to perdition) because they did not welcome the Truth but refused to love it that they might be saved.
11 Therefore God sends upon them a misleading influence, a working of error and a strong delusion to make them believe what is false,
12 In order that all may be judged and condemned who did not believe in [who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely on] the Truth, but [instead] took pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Additional verses:Matthew 24: 4,11; 23-26.
1Thessalonians 5:21 commands us to test all teachings. It is “noble to discern” just as the Bereans did. Error is subtle and sneaky and is purposely mixed in with truth to deceive the believer. Holiness is not contagious’ but unholiness is. Put another way: if you plant flowers and weeds together, it is the weeds that will take over the garden.
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TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
Henry, Matthew. “Matthew 13 Commentary – Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete).” Bible Study Tools, Bible Study Tools, http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/matthew/13.html.
Feature Image Source:
“An Enemy Sows Tears”. Author Unknown, 1873. URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:An_enemy_sows_tares.jpg
Source: “The story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Told in simple language adapted to all ages, but especially to the young. 33d thousand.” by Charles Fostor. Catalog Record: The story of the Bible from Genesis to… | Hathi Trust Digital Library, Philadelphia, Pa., Charles Foster Publishing Co. [c1911], catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100408692.