What Do False Teachers Do?

false-teachersFalse teachers do not march into church carrying a sign that reads, “I hate Jesus and You!”  They come into church dressed in religiosity, Christianese, and shallow kindness.  The Apostle Paul wrote that false teachers have “the appearance of godliness but deny its power (2 Tm 3:5). False teachers will throw on a coat of niceness over their evil souls before coming to church this Sunday. But that form of godliness does not change their character. These false teachers still remain some of the most selfish, prideful, unloving, deceitful, slanderous, and hateful people in the world.

So how can we determine who is genuine and who is false? How do we discover who is in the ministry for the money, for self-promotion, and for sex and who is in the ministry to love the broken, to help the needed, and to encourage the faithful?

Though the hearts of men and women are hard to judge their actions are more easily seen. False teachers generally do two things according to Paul. He writes in 2 Timothy 3:6-9

For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,  always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.  Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.  But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

Avoid Those Who Go After Little Women:

False teachers are attracted to the weak and the defenseless. They are particularly drawn to weak or little women.

Paul is not equating femininity with gullibility. Paul valued women in his own ministry and view them to be integral members of the church. He evangelized Lydia in Philippi and later stayed with her (Acts 16:13-15). He praises Phoebe as a servant of the church and spoke well of the evangelistic couple Priscilla and Aquila (Rom. 16:1-3). And in 1 Timothy 3-5 and in Titus 2 Paul reveals that churches will only be healthy if they have faithful, reverent, and godly women. Paul was not a misogynist.

Paul is not attacking women in 2 Timothy 3. Rather, he is discussing reality. In 2014, The Telegraph estimated that a majority of cult members (70%) tend to be women even though most cult members are men.  False teachers prey on women with weak or little faith.

False teachers do not go after the woman who has a knowledge of the Bible, the woman who can confidently speak of the grace of God, and the woman who regularly chooses Christ instead of the her own wants. The false teachers go after the woman who is overcome by sin, is led astray by passions, and is always learning.

False teachers prey on women who feel the weight of their sin. They have had a secret abortion and yet they can never forget those horrific moments. They feel guilt when they think about all the mistakes they made as a parent. They feel condemned because they can never make it to church on time. They feel the weight of their sin day after day. They long to escape it but do not know how. False teachers seek out women who fear God will never approve of them.

They also seek out women who are controlled by their passions. Instead of being self-controlled, these weak or little women do what they want when they want to do it. If they seek affirmation, they devote their lives to chasing complements on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. They will jump into affairs and expose themselves to gain a fleeting complement or a sense of love. They live their life for approval. And once the complement fads, they once again feel the weight of their sin ever so deeply.

They also chase meaning through stuff. They buy shoes, carpets, toys, books, and anything else that catches their eye on Amazon, Waiyfair, or Zappos. The ladies run up the credit card bills and find themselves lying to their friends and spouses about their spending habits. These women bend and shape their life, families, and budgets to fund their passions. But once the rush of the order is replaced with the boredom and worry about debt.

Passions lead to hopelessness. False teachers seek out women overcome by sin and controlled by their passions.

And lastly, false teachers seek out women who are always learning but are never able to arrive at the knowledge of the truth. Again Paul is not saying that the women who are attracted to false teachers are intellectually stupid. Rather he is saying  women of little faith do not understand the gospel. 1 Timothy 2:3-4, Paul defines knowledge of the truth as follows:

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Knowledge of the truth is knowledge of the gospel. The women who are targeted by false teachers are women who want something more than the gospel. Yes, they understand that God created the world, that men and women sinned, that Christ died for their sins, and that salvation is freely given to all who repent and believe. But these women want something more. They want to be able to do something. They want to say a special prayer, to find a special diet, or to create a special list that grants them everything for life and godliness.

They read book after book, they go to class after class, they do spiritual thing after spiritual thing, thinking, “Surely belief, repentance and faith can’t be enough? There must be more!”

False teachers thrive on this sentiment. Bruce Wilkinson wrote the Prayer of Jabez for such women. He told his readers that they would experience an amazing physical and spiritual life if they would pray one little prayer from 2 Chronicles over and over again. Sadly, Wilkerson’s teachings were extremely flawed as evidenced by his failed African ministry. Yet, his book continues to sell.

Those who have a form of godliness but deny it power prey on weak women overcome by sin, driven by their passions, and who are unable to grasp the truth of the gospel. We need to avoid such false teachers. Moreover, the church needs to be on the lookout for woman who are struggling and must offer them Biblical love, support, and counsel.

Avoid those who deny the Scriptures.

All false teachers oppose the truth like Jannes and Jambres. These two men opposed Moses by magically turning the staffs into snakes to compete with Aaron’s message from God (Ex 7:10-12). Today’s false teachers do the same thing.They replicate the ministry of true teachers with one subtle difference. The false teachers deny the truth of the Scriptures.

Again, they do not come out and say that they hate Jesus and the God of the Bible. Rather, they talk about unhinging the Bible from its less popular parts that unnecessarily confuse the average non-Christian. They talk about evolving beyond the antiquated spirituality of yester-year that defined the four gospel and the writings of Paul. They talk about finding the real Jesus was has been deformed and hidden by religious thinkers over the years. The false teachers claim to be purifying, improving, or saving the faith. But in reality, they are just denying it.

They words of Paul William DeYoung reveal this to be true. The author of The Shack released a theological book, Lies We Believe About God, in 2017 to further explain and expound upon the theology symbolized in Mack’s encounter with God. He clearly and unreserved goes against the Scriptures when he writes,

Is God a Christian? If you are asking if God is about separation and treats people of different denominations, faiths, and ways of thinking as outsiders until they pray a special prayer to “get in”…then of course not.

About a hundred pages later, Young calls the God of the Bible “a cosmic child abuser,” and boldly asserts, “Better no god at all than this one.

Such sentiment boldly denies the truth found in 1 Peter 2:21-25:

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.  He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.  For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

False teachers want to snatch bits here and pieces there, but they do not want to follow the one true Jesus who has revealed himself in the Scriptures. If the false teachers wanted to follow Jesus, they would affirm the Scriptures. Jesus did no less in Matthew 5:17-19

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Essentially, false teachers want to claim Christ, but they want to claim a Christ that they can understand, control, and manipulate. Instead of submitting to God, they require God to submit to them and their finite ideas. And as the false teachers take ownership of God, they cannot help but seek to change, improve, and better the the the Word of God. They cannot help but oppose the truth.

What If Someone’s On the Fence

No some of us may be sitting on the fence wondering if that guy over there or if that girl over here is genuine or false. How do we tell? We wait them out.

We patiently observe them. We watch them. No one can fool all of the people all of the time. Their works will become evident in time. They will tip their hand. They will continually boast in the Scriptures or they will talk about how we need to change with the times and embrace the sin. They will love others well or they will start taking advantage of the women of little faith teaching them error, taking their money, and even exploiting them sexually. The secret works of the heart can never be hidden forever. They will be find out and in a timely matter. Keep watching.

Can you spot the false teachers?

Why is the Church Such a Mess?

why-is-the-church-a-messThe evangelical church in America is a sad mess. Mega church pastors are being booted from their churches for undisclosed moral failures. Smaller churches are consumed with the with the temperature of the sanctuary, the color of the carpet, and the type of coffee being used. Church members repeatedly fill social media with a laundry list of complaints that reflect nothing other than petty selfishness.

And the moral dysfunction that stains and increasingly defines can easily be traced back to theological dysfunction. Most Christians know little to nothing about doctrine. They simply dress up the culture’s ideas in religious terminology. Seventy-six percent of practicing Christians believe that we find our selves from within and that we should not criticize the life choices of others. Seventy-two percent believe that happiness is found in pursing the things you desire most. And 61% believe that people can believe whatever they want as long as they do not try to influence society.  And those that do hold to some form of meaningful religious actions often resemble the works-based faith of the Pharisees more than the of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though a majority of non-Christians know Christians, only 15% of non-Christians know Christians who have been positively changed by their faith.

Why is the church so messed up? Why is the church which follows the Bible which points to Jesus who came to cast out demons, to eat with sinners, to heal the sick, to calm storms, and to save the broken-hearted such a pathetic mess?

Many have heard the quote that, “The Church is not a resort for saints but a hospital for sinners.” While true in sentiment, the words do not fully explain why the church is such a wreck today. What does? The Scriptures!

In 2 Timothy, Paul seeks to encourage his son in the faith, Timothy, to preserver in his faith and in his ministry. The apostle reminds Timothy that a biblical ministry must be founded upon the gospel, upon avoiding worldly or false teaching, and upon correcting others in love. The more we read the words of Paul, the more encouraged we start to become. We begin to dream of church conferences based on 2 Timothy 2:14-22. We can do it! We can excel. And then we hit the “but” of 2 Timothy 3:1.

Often “but” is an encouraging word. Think of “But God” in Ephesians 2:4-5. But this “but” in 2 Timothy is not so encouraging. It shock us like those emergence service messages that briefly transform our phone into demonic. Warning! Warning! Paul writes,

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

Difficult times are coming; they are here!

Yes our churches may be faithfully preaching the Word; they may be offering good biblical counsel; and,’ they may be filled with lovely people. But assets do not guarantee peace and rest. The church is under attack. The last days will be times of difficulty.

Now some of you might have breathed a deep breathe. After all no one has found the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene living in France, the illuminati has not taken over the Vatican, and the world is not controlled by a twisted version of the United Nations. The ends times do not seem to have taken place…yet.

However when Paul speaks of the last days, he is not speaking of the last day. He is not speaking of the time when the anti-Christ will arise and proclaim himself to be God setting in motion the tribulation and the beginning of the end (2 Thess. 2:1-4). Paul is speaking of an age. He is saying that nothing else has to happen before Christ comes back. The Messiah has come and died and been raised after three days. The end times, the last day can begin and any moment. The time is now.

And we know Paul thinks that he, Timothy, and us are living in the last days because verse five is written in the present tense, “Avoid such people.” Those people are here. The last days are here.

What does this mean? It means, we will have difficulty. It means the church of God is under attack. We do not have time for arguments about who get to sit where or about who gets to light the candles. The church needs to be fighting for doctrine and truth. The church needs to be walking through the world with her eyes open. John Calvin rightfully noted in 1564 that,

Paul means here in the Gospel there will not be any such state of perfection in which all vices are banished and every kind of virtue flourishes. Therefore pastors of the Christian church will have to deal with the ungodly and the wicked just as much as the prophets and godly priests of old did. It follows from this that this is not a time for idle repose.

She is under attack. False Christians are seeking to gain entrance into the church by, “having the appearance of godliness but denying its power.”  Wicked men and women will claim Christ even though they live for anything and everything other than Christ. They are prideful, arrogant, greedy, unloving, and self-consumed.  And they are set on destroying the church. Paul commands the church to, “Avoid such people.”

Sadly the church in America has done the opposite. We have welcomed unrepentant sinners into our congregations. We have looked the other way when wives divorced their husbands to pursue happiness, when men boasted more about their cars than the Lord, and when families devoted more of their time to tennis than to church. We did not avoid sinners and the unrepentant. We embraced them because they promised to increase our budget and attendance stats. And then, we asked them to lead Sunday school classes, to help with the deacon ministry, and to serve as elders. We allowed the wicked to remain in the church unchallenged and uncorrected. Consequently, our churches find themselves overrun by evil and directed by men and women who do not love the Lord.

The words of 1 Corinthians 5:5-7 are proving true,

Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

What do we do to correct to fix the church? We fight against evil. We avoid those who love themselves more than God. We avoid evil by defending the integrity of the Church.

First, we ask men and women to demonstrate their faith prior to joining the church. And we extend the loving embrace of fellowship only to those who can both articulate the gospel and point to the work of Christ in their life. We welcome the brother or sister who fights against drunkenness by confessing their sins and seeking accountability. We withhold membership from the woman who comes to church hungover every Sunday morning seeking to appease her conscience with some quality Jesus time. We do not offer cheap grace. Rather we call all to die to self and to embrace Christ as their Lord before entrance onto the membership roll.

Second, we call church members who sin to repent. We recognize that all believers struggle with sin. Paul is not telling us the weak or those battling sin. He is telling us to avoid those who are known for their sin and who cherish evil. He is telling us to avoid those who refuse to repent and who refuse to battle against pride, sexually immorality, and greed. We should discipline those who refuse to obey Christ. We warn them. We patiently call them to repentance. And then if all else has failed, we removed them from the church seeking to see them restored.

We are living in the last days. Evil men and women dressed in religiosity are coming your way? Will you avoid them?