UI – Part 153 – FALSE TEACHING
Students of Teachers of the Word – Beware
The Bible reflects on thousands of years of believers, their relationship with God, those who deny God, and experiences and actions taken reflective of God’s wrath towards those disobedient to his call. The foundation established is to be repeated as to the truth. However, many esteemed as scholars and teachers use (in the past, used) their status for personal benefit and gain. They are learned, well versed, and knowledgeable, but lack wisdom as their practical application of the truth was not exhibited in their own lives.
Jesus came (God Incarnate) and for 3 years, during his active true-life ministry, provided the example, reminders, warnings and instructions for believers to follow. The explicit negative outcomes from false teaching were provided. Jesus found those knowledgeable would rise in stature and then become more enamored with themselves. They would relate the conditions followers were to live by then proceed to disregard them for their own benefit. In speaking to teachers, scribes, Pharisees at a diner in which He was invited, in Jerusalem, Jesus compared them to a cup, clean on the outside, but inside “full of greed and wickedness.” Outward appearances differed from the inner self. As to the law, Jesus said, “you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46).
Jesus warned believers, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (from Luke 12) An expression I find most compelling, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.” People are aware and can differentiate between right and wrong. Many choose not to look, preferring the darkness which appears to them more acceptable. God’s light shines on those that enjoy discernment, making clear the darkness others may attempt to impose. Let God be your influence, the Word your guide and light, be independent of society, culture, even your family, so as to follow and obey God. Beware of the false teachers and prophets. Beware also of requirements for how one must live imposed on a society by others that are not acceptable, violating any reasonable standard for equality of human rights and personal dignity.
In Matthew 23:2-4, Jesus warned his followers, “you must obey the teachers of the law and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do for they do not practice what they preach.” He was skeptical and concerned his people knew what can occur or how they might be treated. “They tie up heavy loads and put them on man’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” This is similar to the earlier verse from Luke. The warnings are repeated for good reason.
For the years of his active ministry Paul stated repeatedly, “Remember for 3 years I never stopped warning each of you night and day… Men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!” (from Acts 20:30-31)
Jesus feared mankind, those that knew him, could be influenced. They needed perseverance. In Acts 20:29, Paul reminded everyone he could, “I know after I leave savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.” Evil would continue. The methods employed lacking mercy, compassion and kindness. Followers needed to establish barriers against the intruders that would attempt to distort the focus of a man’s heart from God.
The Shepherd, The Sheep, The Lion and The Wolves
The early prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah saw the teachers as shepherds and believers as the sheep, their flock to instruct and guide in the way of godly truth. They were always concerned with those who abused their authority. Isaiah (56:10-12) called them “dogs with mighty appetites, they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding. They all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain.” And in Jeremiah (50:6), “shepherds have led my people (God’s people) astray and caused them to roam on the mountains, wandering and forgetting their resting place.”
The leaders may think they believe in God, believe in monotheism, encourage understanding, yet their instructions and their example is a false testimony. Noted in Lamentations 4:13, “because of the sins of the people’s prophets, and the uniqueness of their priests (ministers, imams, mullahs, scholars, ulemas, all teachers who make false claims and proclamations), who shed within (their boundaries) the blood of the righteous,” they will mislead using God’s name.
We can look to Ezekiel (22:25) who expressed the false prophets and their leaders conspire “like a roaring lion tearing its prey, they devour people, take treasures and precious things and make many widows.…” They do this for their glory, claiming falsely it is for God’s honor and glory.
Micah made it quite clear (Mic 3:11). The followers of false teachers and prophets, their “leaders judge for a bribe, the teachers, scholars, teach for a price, and the prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they lean upon the Lord and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.”” They think that their belief in God makes them righteous before God and thus they can do no wrong. They attempt to convince their followers their proclamations and instructions are correct. Well, you and I know, they are wrong.
A warning from the only one who lived a perfect life was expressed in John 10:10a, “the thief”, referring to false or self-proclaimed prophets, “comes only to steal and kill and destroy …” And in Matthew 7:15 he warned, “watch out for false prophets, they come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” They are as snakes, their venom destructively used to cause fear and to gain strength to continue a conquest overpowering, seducing and using others. They convince others their actions were requested by God. They create a false belief system for which they are the head, and the beneficiary. Then they credit God to enhance the status of their ideology. Call it blasphemy; call it hypocrisy. Inhumane acts, perversions, torture, killing, a lack of true compassion, servitude or humility proves them unworthy to even touch or carry God’s cloak. They serve only themselves.
The false prophet makes empty gestures, feeding the people to keep them subdued. When unsatisfied the people will rise up and wage war, revolt (Micah 3:5)
Only the perfect sinless Isa, Jesus, provides the truth and way to an external life with God. “I have come that mankind may live, believe in me and the saving grace of the Lord and you will live, you will have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b)
Recognizing the False Teachers and False Prophets
To recognize the false teacher, or more so the one who is true, the Spirit of God, John tells us (in 1 John 4:2-3), “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;” and those that do “not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the anti-Christ” that is “even now in the World.” They who are from the world (mortals), from 1 John 4:5, “…speak from the viewpoint of the world; and the world listens to them.” They are prone to sin, the pleasures of society, many proclaiming to be righteous, but believe not, or when in other areas, live a sin filled existence. They are deceptive, deceiving themselves and others. Be warned, (Matt 24:4) “watch out that no one deceives you.…” (7) Nations will rise against nations and kingdoms against kingdom… (9) You (my followers) will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated “because of me.””
Critical in understanding is the foresight of the prophet Isa (Jesus) when he warned those who follow, “many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and (11) many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” (Matthew 24:10)
Is the world now experiencing the prediction made by the Lord?
Who are the deceivers? Stay the course. Know your God, his saving grace, his compassion and his love. He loves you, all mankind, until the day you die. Then judgment falls on those who never loved, understood, obeyed or accepted God, his sacrifice, and his freedom. He set those whose heart was for God, for Jesus Christ, free.
From 2 Peter 2, “(1) 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. (2) Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. (3) In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been handing over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”
Know this – “The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the Day of Judgment, while continuing their punishment.” (2 Peter 2:9)
May the light of your heart filled with the Spirit shine on the teachings you receive to make the truth clear and evident. If in error your light will disclose the darkness, uncover the lies, the deception, and protect you from the fakers.
May the Blessings of the Lord be upon you. May you be filled with his Spirit.
Grace and Peace.