“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” 2 Peter 2:1-3.
I was listening to a radio call in program the other day when a man came on and asked the radio host if he knew anything about a new offer by a college to teach anyone how to become a biblical prophet for a mere $4,000 dollars. In other words they will sell you the gift of prophecy. “And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” Acts 8:18-20.
The gifts given us by God through His Holy Spirit can’t be bought as Simon found out. They are a gift and they are given to whomever He chooses.
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:” 1 Corinthians 12:7-10.
Paul tells us that we’re each given a gift, but that those gifts vary. Not everyone is given the gift of healing. Similarly, not everyone is given the gift of prophecy. You can pay one million dollars to become a biblical prophet but if the Holy Spirit hasn’t given you that gift then you’ve just wasted a million bucks. The people that promote this type of heresy are false teachers and the Bible says they will abound in the end times.
We’re also told in the Bible that in the end times the Church will go into a massive and destructive stance of overwhelming apostasy. In my estimation, most of the Church today hasn’t a clue as to what’s happening or that the apostasy is here. The most pervasive and gross attacks on the Christian Church today will come from within the church body itself. False teachers are rarely attacking the Church from the outside. More than anything else the false teachers are standing behind the pulpits.
People know the truth from reading the scriptures yet teach false doctrines for the purpose of promoting themselves and for obtaining financial gain from their followers. “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you:” These folks either don’t care or don’t understand that they are receiving their reward now in this life. “And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness…” 2 Peter 2:13.
“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 1:11. There is no greater curse on the earth than empty, vain religion; “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud…, unholy…, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:1, 2, 4b, 5. Many Christians are afraid of secular humanism or atheism or the world. But false teaching is far more dangerous, and sends more people to hell than anything else. These who teach thusly are going the way of Cain, ungodly, greedy, and finally apostasy.
False teachers twist scripture like nothing we’ve ever seen before and all to fit their own fancies. Evangelists have appeared on the national scene many of who the uninformed simple minded folks swoon over because of their appeal and charisma. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” And by the sheer number of email responses I receive from folks who have been taught false doctrine, there must be a great amount of these preachers on the scene today.
I receive letters from folks who tell me the Trinity is a false teaching because the word Trinity isn’t in the Bible. Next they’ll complain because I equate Jesus to God because (they say) everyone knows Jesus isn’t God, even Jesus Himself never said He was God. They continue with the following lie, if you aren’t baptized you’re not saved. Others say if you can’t speak in tongues you’re not saved. Here’s one that really gets me. If you worship on Sunday you’ve taken the mark of the beast. Then of course there are always those who condemn me for teaching on the Rapture of the Church which they see as heresy, and on and on it goes. What in the world are these people being taught? And what does the person who’s teaching them this tripe hope to gain?
God, in His word, isn’t condemning those who honestly misinterpret a verse or make a mistake, but who are open to correction. He’s speaking about blatant and persistent false representation of His word. Lying for the purpose of fulfilling one’s own agenda, such as monetary gain, that’s the heretical teaching God hates.
Heresy is akin to leaven; it only takes a small amount to infect the whole bunch. Heresy spreads beginning from a small misrepresentation and almost without notice this lie begins to grow, and before long it has infested the whole congregation. Then some of those lie polluted people leave that congregation for another and they take the lies they’ve been taught with them. Within a very short period of time the Christian Church becomes replete with heretical teachings and false doctrines.
A friend of mine recently told me of a book he is reading where the author gives all authority for the interpretation of scriptures to the Catholic Church. How many people are going to read this same book and be swayed by the author’s un-biblical arguments? This is just one instance of leading people astray. How many Christians and non-Christians read the Da Vinci Codes and were swayed by Dan Browns attempt at fiction? Millions. Then the movie did it’s best to give credence to this same heresy. The same can be said for the book entitled “The Shack”. A book of fiction, yes, but with horrible misrepresentations of God, and the simple minded are led astray.
These are the times Jesus speaks about “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” Matthew 24:4. How many today are following Jesus admonition? By what I see going on in the media and different ministries, not many.
Peter tells us that such teachings are “damnable heresies”. What does damnable mean? The Greek word used here is “apōleia” Which is explained in my concordance as the destruction which consists of eternal misery in Hell. People who teach others heresies are on a one way trip to Hell.
Can you just imagine the snowball effect associated with the promotion of a heresy? Here’s an example to consider, Joseph Smith claimed he was visited by an angel named Moroni. This angel told him that he was giving Smith a new gospel because the original had become corrupt. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9. Paul repeats the condemnation twice, “let him be accursed”. I’ve noticed in the scriptures that anytime something is reiterated twice it carries much more weight.
Joseph Smith was certainly accursed; he soon became involved in a shootout in which he died a horrible bloody death. And of course he is in Sheol awaiting his turn to appear before the White Throne Judgment Seat of God which occurs at the end of the thousand year reign of Christ here on earth.
How severe will Joseph Smiths punishment be? Well he started off with a handful of converts to Mormonism leading people away from the true Gospel and over the years the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has grown into a huge conglomerate, a false religion of which millions of followers are already condemned to Hell. Joseph Smith is responsible for the condemnation of millions of simple minded people who are all perishing because of his false teaching. How severe will his punishment be? We mere humans would probably consider Smiths punishment extreme. But through his own actions Smith condemned himself.
Another man who is awaiting his turn before the White Throne Judgment seat of God and who is even today continually adding more and more severe condemnation to himself is Charles Russell. Russell was the first president of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Russell originally denied the doctrine of Hell, and would go on to reject nearly every other Christian doctrine, as well as add many physically and spiritually dangerous doctrines of his own making. Many of these unique and bizarre teachings were to be found in his six volume series titled, Studies in the Scriptures.
For the year 2000, the Watchtower Society claimed a worldwide membership of over six million (about one million U.S.) in more than 91,000 congregations in 235 countries speaking 340 languages, and takes in approximately 300,000 new members each year (288,907 in 2000). Charles Russell no longer denies the doctrine of Hell; he has since learned that Hell is a real place. What kind of severe punishment will Russell endure? God knows.
“Denying the Lord that bought them” Peter continues with his explanation of the false teachers and what they can expect as punishment. But what constitutes false teaching? Anything that adds to, or takes away from, or that runs contrary to God’s inerrant word.
When men and women stand before an audience, and deceive that audience for the explicit purpose of monetary gain or some other agenda or write books for the same purpose, those folks are void of conscience. They are reaping their reward here on earth. They should do everything they can to live the happiest life they can because when all is said and done and they leave planet earth for their eternal destination, the fun and games will be over.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15. Wolves in sheep’s clothing? In other words they will look like you and I. They will speak words that seem to be so true. They will give great advice and lecture on current societal problems which will make all the sense in the world. But their motives will be selfish. Many will follow their evil ways. They will begin to behave in bazaar manners but they will be recognized as leaders in the Christian evangelical movement. Beware!
Some of these wolves will be debased sexually and after they’ve deceived many their dark secrets will be revealed, but it will be too late for they will have influenced many of the weak minded and biblically unstudied masses. People, this is going on right now in many Christian churches and it needs to be nipped in the bud. We need to make a stand against anyone who stands against Christ in any way. We need to remove leaders who don’t actually believe what they teach, and all who teach false doctrines.
And just how do we know they are teaching falsehoods? We study our Bibles and we learn the scriptures for ourselves. This way no church leader or any other Bible teacher can deceive us with words of deception. If this were the case those who teach false doctrines wouldn’t make it past a sentence or two before someone in the congregation would stand up and call them on the lie they are proclaiming.
The rub is we must study our Bibles otherwise I can promise you, you will be deceived. Whether intentionally or not, false doctrine will creep into your congregation when the flock hasn’t the biblical knowledge needed to confront those heresies. “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:29, 30.
We are held responsible to know the truth, each one of us individually. We are to work out our own salvation as Paul tells us “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12. Paul means to put forth real effort into our Christians lives. This is not to work our salvation in the sense of accomplishing it, but to work out our salvation – to see it evident in every area of our lives, and to activate this salvation God freely gave us. The believer must know God’s word so as not to be led astray.
Only those foolish enough to believe every word someone tells them are foolish enough to be led like sheep to the slaughter. Don’t allow this to happen to your family or to your congregation; don’t allow deceptions and false doctrine to ruin your life and your eternal destiny. Continue to study God’s word, and stay alert.
God bless you all,