False Teachers as a Plague by God

Countering False Teachers - Diakonia Christian Church

As we begin these sermon series let me lay before you certain two sets of facts. The first is that statistically speaking the church is on the decline.  Listen to these numbers:

For the first time in the history of the Barna polls, church membership has dropped below 50%.  In 2021, church membership or to say people how say the regularly attend church is now at 45%.  Down from 50% in 2018, down from 73% in 1993. 

Notice the rest of these numbers.  Only 30% of Americans have a favorable view of evangelicals according to Barna.  35% of Generation Z students are either atheists, agnostics, or have no religious view. 

What is bleaker than the 45% who belong to a church is that of that percentage, only 1 in 4 actually profess to practice the faith. 

Atheist, agnostic, none categorize have doubled in size from 2003 to 2018 from 11% to 21 %.   Surprisingly, the elderly and Boomers have even taken a sharp decline in church association to the tune of 14% and 13% respectively. 

Here is a quote from the article, BARNA: US Adults See Evangelicals Through a Political Lens. “Non-Christians are predisposed to hold negative opinions, favoring adjectives like: 34% narrow-minded, homophobic 30%, misogynist 21%, racist 17%, uptight 20%. 

Persecution for the church is already here. 

To sum up fact one, church attendance is down, unbelief is up across the board. 

Fact number two.   The church is not measured by number or percentage.  The church will never be obsolete, diminished or empty.  The church will prevail and in the words of our Lord the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church.  God has providential care over the church.  He will see her through the times of pining, pruning’s and persecutions. 

The next few weeks will be devoted to pointing out declaring with crystal clear voice the issues that face the church today.  Describing clearly the demarcation of rock or sand upon which the church is built. 

Today will be discussing the issue of false teachers that are plaguing the church. 

A false teacher and false teaching in the church is nothing new, in fact much of the New Testament is written in response to false teaching.  Jesus, Paul, Jude, Peter, John, practically every New Testament writer had something to say about false teachers. 

I believe the decline of the church outwardly is false teacher promote variant shoots of Christianity that take up so much space in modern times that true Biblical Christianity is dwarfed by it.  So, dwarfed in fact that, true Biblical Christianity seems unusual, odd, marginalized and narrow minded. 

The Bible uses these terms to describe how the world feels and sees the church:

The word of the cross is folly…

A stumbling block….

God chose what was low and despised in the world…

Many disciples heard it and said this is a hard saying who can listen to it? 

After this many turned back and no longer walked with him….

The false teacher however many times has good report with the world.   

Tim Challies In his article 7 false teachers in the Church Today, has some interesting descriptions of the false teacher: (The following was taken from that article with some wording changes):

The Heretic- This is the person that adds, who takes away from the scripture.  The Bible calls this type of person false teachers and here are the hallmark characteristics:

Adding to scripture to distort the text. 

Take away from the scriptures to distort

Sometimes blatantly contradict truth revealed in scriptures.

Someone will ask how could they be so blind to the clear teaching of the text, that is because they are spiritually blind and lost altogether.

Examples: Oneness Pentecostals that deny the Trinity, Jehovah Witness and the Mormon Church. 

The Charlatan—Those that use Christianity as a means to worldly gain and riches.  II Timothy talks about these fakes as those that suppose gain is godliness. 

They have a natural bent toward meaningless controversy and divisions.  They are loud, emotional, boisterous and charismatic.  The sin of Simony is rampant with this group.  That is the sin found in Acts 8:9-24.  In short Simon saw the apostles casting out demons and wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit for his own personal means of power and gain.  To which Peter sharply rebuked him. 

The modern day descendants of Simon offer courses, books and giftings, healing water, cloths, all for a sum of money.   They are littered throughout the internet and TV peddling their gimmicks.

The prophet—They blow in blow up and blow out.  This person proclaims generalities clearly outside of Biblical teaching.  They often use buzzwords strung together and call it prophecy.  Such buzzwords are: mandate, flow, fire, levels, assignments, realms.  These men and women twist scripture, take passages out of context and spiritualize illustrative texts to prove any point they want. 

They specialize in marginalizing the truth and causes people to chase after sensationalized nonsense.  They claim to see inside the spirit world and pull down made up spirits like, python, Jezebel, orphan, and vagabond to name a few.  

The Abuser- This type of teacher uses their position on power in the church as a means of sexual predidation, fuel for their ego, and an outlet for their domineering character.  They push their “vision” isolate themselves in a cocoon of fake importance and scream, don’t touch God’s anointed when anyone dares question their doctrine. 

The Tickler:

These are those that care little for the Word of God, only the select portions that people, with their natural desires, seem to respond to.  Their primary goal is to please the people, they are people pleasers.  No hell, holiness, crosses, or sufferings are mentioned in their messages.  They crave popularity, status and praise.  Their only concern is to build as big, and hip as church as possible. 

Lastly, the speculator

These false teachers are so obsessed with novel, originality and speculation they compromise the plain truth.  They miss the forest for the trees.  They preach conspiracy, and claim to uncover revelation that no one else is smart enough or spiritual enough to see.  They have a different doctrine, a contentious speech.  If they do preach any faith, it is so marginalized and minimized it is of no use. 

Let me tell you some fact about false teachers from scripture:

First, false teachers will rise by the providence of God.  In fact, they will rise with powerful influence.  Notice Mathew 24:24.   It is interesting their arising is by the hand of God allowing it.  God is in essence sending judgement on the world through the ministry of false teachers.  He is hastening the gathering of the goats and sheep as the goats following their own lust run after false teachers, while the sheep listen to the words of their Shepard through clear teaching of scripture.

II Thessalonians 2:  The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

So you see, because of the wickedness and refusing to love the truth, God will send upon them a strong delusion so they will believe what is false.  This is all according to God’s will.

That’s right the providence of God allows these teachers to infiltrate the church.  False teachers are a hallmark of the last day, this is in direct correlation to the rise of un-godliness and self-centeredness of the last day.  Jesus said of the last days they would be characterized as ungodliness resembling the days of Noah. Hear me, the false teachers are not leading people into ungodliness and self-centeredness.  The fallness, and gross ungodliness of the unbeliever’s heart heaps to themselves teachers that justify and elaborate upon the lust in their own heart.  The false teacher is popular because they legitimize and justify the desires in the fallen heart.  So it is not the false teacher who is leading the sheep astray.  The reality is the sheep is actually a goat.  They cannot stand self-denying God centered teaching and would prefer to have man-pleasing, lust justifying teachers.  

Paul Washer says, “False teachers are God’s judgement on people who don’t want God, but in the name of religion plan on getting everything their carnal heart desires.  That’s why Joel Osteen is raised up.  These people who sit under him are not victims of, but he is the judgment of God upon them.  And they want exactly what he wants, and it’s not God.”

In almost every instance, false teaching is manifestation of what is already in the heart of people.  For instance the people who came out of Egypt wanted a god to worship, like the ones in Egypt.  They, through Aaron, created a golden calf.  A calf like the ones in Egypt. This was an idol produced from the people’s heart.  So today, the people wants to worship their version of God, a god that satisfies the lust of Egypt or of the world.  They uses various Aarons (false teachers) to create for themselves a false God to justify their unlawful desires.   Oh and just to prove that it was in the unholy heart of men this idol was produced, in worshiping the idol, they called God, they were engaged in all sorts of unholy acts, immorality and folly.  A false minister today can capitalize on the whims, fears, desires and delights of the carnal heart.  Such movements are nothing more than golden calf’s than have nothing to do with the God of scripture. 

Many if not all sins, comes from Christian narcissism.  This maybe a new name, but not a new principle.  It is actually a fancy word for self-centeredness.  It stems from the old Genesis 3 lies where the serpent said to Eve in in eating the fruit, you will become like gods yourself knowing good and evil.  You will be able to, in essence, form your own reality.  If you don’t want to be a man, change it, if you don’t want to follow the rules, don’t, if you don’t like God, kick Him out and make up one, or be a god to yourself. 

A fertile breeding ground of false teaching is the narcissism of the human heart.  There is a natural tendency to make everything about self, we as a natural cause, minimize God or worse, use Him as our means to an end.  That end is to exalt self.  John said in Matt, He must Increase and I must decrease.  Today’s false teachers in essence say, I will increase and use him to do it. 

This narcissistic tendency has so infiltrated our culture and even our churches.  It plays out in church when people design services placing people as the main point of the service, the need of people are top priority.  Scripture, prayer, worship, means of grace are nothing more than means to selfish ends.  God is not the object of worship, we are.

This plays out in our society when, at the climax of a Disney movie, or popular TV show, the music fades and the character suddenly realizes they have the power within themselves to control their own destiny, to do and become whatever they want to be. 

The scripture says, there is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof is death.

Another fact about false teachers is, they are characterized by being loud and boisterous. This can present in various ways.  I don’t necessarily mean audibly loud.  Now one can be loud and boisterous without being physically loud in an auditory fashion.  One can be loud in terms of self-promoting, attentions seeking, and working good in the sight of men loud.  Men who seek to have the largest Facebook and twitter followings.  Men who correlate following and success in worldly terms as having heavenly approval.  Men who are more concerned with marketing their ministry than holiness of ministry for Christ sake. 

The scripture says of these men: They are waterless springs, a mist driven by storms, speaking load boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh. 

See the imagery here.  Loud and boisterous, but empty of any substance.  Notice the words of Jesus, In Mark 13:6 “Many will come in my name saying I am He!.” Also Mathew 24:24 says “they will perform GREAT signs…”

Jesus has something to say about all this loud boasting.  Matthew 7:22-23 “On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name?  And then I will declare to them I never knew you, depart from me you worker of lawlessness.”

The proof here of legitimate ministry is the holiness, the substance of a person’s character and life, not the Facebook following they had. 

What is the hallmark of those that follow Christ?  Ability to teach, preach, have faith, or prophecy?  No, it is the imparted love, that changes the heart, and causes one to love God and each other with a love that God gives.  It is not simply to love. Anyone can love.  It is actually to love with an alien love, a love that does not originate from the fallen heart, but that is imparted by the Spirit and overflows into life.  This is the proof of conversion: good works, that flow from Godly love, that originates from a heart made new by the Holy Spirit. 

An interesting fact is that there will be signs and wonders produced by the false teachers.  This should ot be strange however.  Powerful human influence enhanced by the spiritual forces of demons produce wonders that capture the mind of people.  Great influence of music, mixed with atmosphere filled with smoke, dim lights, and structured meetings and media theatrics can hold powerful sway over the desperate and depraved.  It is not hard to follow your own desires, emotions and inclinations.  Add that to the mix of demonic influence and one can clearly see the powerful influences hastening people to a path of destruction. 

So powerful in fact, even the elect could be subject to the influence.  But notice the word is added—if possible.  God will save His elect.  He bought them, sealed them and they know His voice, they know the scripture and deny their self, their lust and know their heart and flesh cannot be trusted, only the words of the Shepard. 

Jesus describes them as the blind leading the blind, Matthew 15:14 Let them alone they are blind guides.  And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a pit. 

This is a clear description of spiritual blindness in the teacher.  Spiritual blindness is universal, and profound.  It is simply not just not being able to see spiritually, it is not being able to see, sense or exist spiritual.  Spiritually blindness is so profound that it leads to everlasting Hell.  Spiritual blindness in the heart of men and the blind teacher hates the light.  John 3:19 says that is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 

Here is the heart of the matter, why reject light?  Because their deeds were evil.  They did not want their deeds exposed, because sin is too much fun.  This is the reason to reject the light, and this the reason to heap up false teachers, to keep them unexposed.  To keep people safely hidden in sin and justify their evil. 

False teachers love their sins, just like all unredeemed.  They love sins in a Pharisee type of way.  That is they love praise of men.  They love the rush of popularity and power.  They love self-righteousness, self-self, indulgence. They gloat of their spiritual power and accomplishments.  Jesus said of them, that is all the reward they will ever have. 

Another distinction can be made regarded the false teacher.  A false teacher will not have the scriptural Christ as the theme of his message.  Sure they may use the name of Jesus, but to be sure it is a Jesus divorced from the pages of scripture.  It is a cultural construct Jesus. 

If one was to ask Paul: what is the gospel, his answer would be Jesus’s work according to scriptures. 

I Corinthians 15 tells us explicitly what the gospel is:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 

For Paul this was the thrust of his message.  Every context he found himself in, he preached the Jesus of scripture.  To the learned Jews, Jesus.  To the poor and ignorant in the Gentile slums, to the giant intellects on Mars Hill—Jesus, to the royalty—Jesus, to the prostitutes and idolaters in Corinth—Jesus. 

Contrary to Paul, the false teacher will place their ear to the cultural ground and fashion their teaching to the whims of the people.  The cross of Jesus is many times peripheral, or nonexistent altogether. 

How is one to live in light of the epidemic of false teaching?  Are we to ferret out every variant teaching?  Are we to be paranoid and the perspective of being lead astray?  Are we to endlessly examine and judge?  No I feel the best way to combat false teaching is love, read, pray the scriptures.  Snuggle up to the real and be so consumed with the Jesus of scripture that when we hear a false Jesus it literally makes us sick.  We instinctly run from the false messenger.  Our spiritual sense is so attuned, our taste for the spiritual is so keen we can easily discern the good and bad 

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