Posted in discernment, false teachers, jim jones, wolves

Chewing up the meat and spitting out the bones- is that biblical?

In the Discernment department, I hear people frequently say they realize that so and so teaches some things that are bad, but some things they teach are good, so they will just take the good and throw out the bad. They call this method of learning the word of God “Chewing up the meat and spitting out the bones.” But is this how teachers should be followed or how scripture should be learned? No.

In Matthew 7:15 we read,

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

It’s a scripture we are familiar with, maybe too overly familiar. Let’s dig down into it again with a fresh eye.

Matthew 7 is the third of three chapters that comprise the Sermon on the Mount, arguably the most important sermon in the entire bible. Jesus is warning, exhorting, and teaching. By Chapter 7, He focuses on judgment/wrath, the broad and narrow road, and judging/discernment. Jesus spends a good deal of time teaching about judging wisely with good discernment. It is here in verse 7 He mentions false prophets.

He opens with the word “Beware.” When a command like this appears, we perk up to an even greater degree than usual. It’s like the word “woe”, indicating the need for special attention to what is being said.

The word “beware” refers to our Lord telling us specifically to be wary of a false prophet. He says they will be numerous and they will be hard to spot. But what is particularly dangerous about false prophets of which we should be aware?

So “Beware” it says – now, that word alone ought to let you know they’re dangerous. “Beware.” Literally, in the Greek it means, hold your mind back from. Don’t ever expose your mind to the influence of a false prophet. Don’t pay attention to, give heed to, follow, notice, devote yourself, don’t even put your mind in his vicinity. They’re dangerous, they pervert the mind, they poison the soul. (source)

People’s Temple cult leader Jim Jones

Beware means warning, danger! It tells us that extreme caution is to be employed. The action we
should be taking is not to give any quarter to any part of a false teacher’s teachings. To “hold your mind back from” … that is an interesting phrase. We know the scriptures transform us by the renewing of our mind. The mind is the first battlefield. Not the heart. See the scripture in Romans, it dovetails nicely with Matthew 7:15

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

It once again illustrates that there is a severe dichotomy. Either/or. You are either being conformed to the world, OR you are being transformed by the renewal of the mind. There is no chewing meat AND bones and then spitting out bones. Your mind will either be conformed or not. It will be transformed or not. False teaching will poison your mind or not.

And secondly, the verse says we should seek that which is good. We should seek that which is acceptable. We should seek that which is perfect.

The Matthew 7:15 warning and the Romans verse say nothing about ingesting poison just so we can get to some nugget we believe is good. It says nothing about allowing poison into our mind just so we can strain out what we deem as bad. We in our pride think we can chew meat and spit bones even though we are told to seek what is good and acceptable and perfect by the One who is Good and Acceptable and Perfect? We are not to seek what is imperfect and full of bones! We are then choosing not to be careful. This is setting ourselves to be smarter than Jesus! WE are too smart for Jesus? Let it not be so!

You see, we see the results of what they [false teachers] do in 2 Peter 2:2, “Many people follow their pernicious ways.” (source)

Many will follow the false prophets. Do we think we are so strong that we will not be one of the many? Do we think we are so strong that we will be able to ingest poison and spit it out before it affects us?
The subtly of that false prophet can even singe your garment. MacArthur

The second reason, after pride, not to follow false prophets altogether and avoid chewing on meat to spit on bones, is destruction.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

If we believe we can withstand all the warnings about false prophets, be able to detect to the smallest degree what is good and acceptable and perfect in their teachings, and to in effect be smarter than Jesus and ignore His warnings, then we are proud. And pride sets us up for falling into destruction.

In Maine where I lived for many years, there are sea urchins in the intertidal zone. These marine animals have spikes. If you step on them, they hurt. Some are poisonous. What people say who claim they can “chew the meat” of a false teacher’s teachings, and “spit out the bones” is that they have confidence in walking on kelp-covered, slick rocks in bare feet with tide and current pushing them off, and be able to perfectly balance and make progress without slipping and stepping on one of the spines. Or swallowing a bone. Pride. No, eventually they will slip in due time and they will step on a spike and they will be destroyed by the poison the urchin holds for them.

A third and most important consideration is this: if a teacher has shown themselves false by their fruit, and by God-given discernment you’ve realized this, then nothing they offer will be meat. It may look like meat, just as their garment may look like a sheep’s. But that “meat” the prideful ones claim they can chew happily will have worms, e coli, and ground glass in it. For nothing a false teacher has to say is healthy. Nothing. It might sound good…you might think it is helpful, but it is not.

A false prophet has neither a divine commission nor a divine message. He neither speaks for God or from God. He stands in his own authority speaking his own message, and it is utterly false. (source)

Utterly. False.

In the above linked source, the example is given about the horrific and tragic events in 1978 in Jonestown Guyana, where 908 people drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid and died in the jungle. These people had followed Jim Jones into his cult. Jones, that false teacher, brought them in a long slow descent from Christianity to Jones personally claiming to be Jesus, and when he said so, killed themselves.

There was a man named Tim Stoen. As John MacArthur described,

Here was this fellow attending the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley and at People’s Temple at the same time. Raised in a G.A.R.B. background – a Fundamentalist, Bible-believing, Christ-honoring people – but exposing his mind to that instead of holding back his mind.  

Jonestown, Guyana, Nov. 1978.
This mass suicide (304 were children) resulted in the greatest single loss of American
civilian life in a deliberate act until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001

Tim Stoen was married with a son, and the Stoens followed Jones from California to Guyana to the compound Jones had created. Eventually Grace Stoen left the cult and her husband, she defected. She battled for her son from the States. Tim left the cult year later. They battled for their son, hard, but the suicides occurred before they could get him out of the cult. John’s 6-year-old body was discovered in Jones’ cabin when the story broke.

Tim Stoen started out well. He had a large ministry in his church, he was regarded as an elder, was seen as mature and solid. However when Jones came to popularity, Stoen divided his mind. He ingested some bones with his meat. The bones will get you every time.

Stoen sadly discovered the hard way what happens when you do not hold your mind back from false teachers. He lost his marriage, his wife, and his son- all destroyed. He lost many years of valuable time he could have been working for the Lord- destroyed. He’d aided and abetted this cult leader in deceiving many- they were destroyed. Aside from the children, when the adults woke up, they were in hell.

False teaching destroys. Do not be so prideful that you think you can detect meat from bones, or even more foolishly believe that any part of a false teacher’s food is healthy for the body. It isn’t. Beware.

Posted in discernment, false teachers

Marks of False Teachers, a discerment lesson

Scripture gives us many warnings about false teachers. False teachers of any era (and they have existed since the beginning) all have the same markers. They can be identified. And, they should be identified.

They bring hate for Christ, destruction of the sheep, pollution of the church, and grieving of the Spirit. They need to be marked and avoided, and warned about. (Romans 16:17).

Tim Challies published a list of 7 Marks of a False Teacher, and the Gospel Coalition published 7 Traits of False Teachers.

I intend to quote various markers from one or the other of the lists, and then quote a false teacher exhibiting that exact marker. I intend to name the false teacher.

The Gospel Coalition’s piece begins this way:

How would you recognize counterfeit Christianity? In 2 Peter 1 we read about genuine believers. And in 2 Peter 2 we read about counterfeit believers. If you put these chapters side by side you will see the difference between authentic and counterfeit believers.

Different Source—Where does the message come from? Peter says, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:16). And then he says the false teachers exploit you “with stories they have made up” (2:3). So the true teacher sources what he says from the Bible. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message.

Challies says,

“False teachers teach their own wisdom and vision.”

We have a prime example of this trait, or mark. Beth Moore often departs from the bible, she  sometimes unfortunately doesn’t even get there at all. In this quote from a video that is now taken down, Moore teaches the entire segment from a vision she claimed “Jesus” gave her. As The Gospel Coalition said, ‘the false teacher relies on her own creativity.’

I see God doing something huge in the body of Christ. I do not know why I have had the privilege to get to travel around and see one church after another, one group of believers after another, interdenominationally all over this country but I have gotten to see something that I think is huge. And I’ll also suggest to you that I am not the only one. And tonight I am gonna do my absolute best to illustrate to you something that God showed me sitting out on the back porch. He put a picture I’ve explained to you before I’m a very visual person. So he speaks to me very often in putting a picture in my head and it was as if I was raised up, looking down on a community as I saw the church in that particular dimension. Certainly not all dimensions, not even many, but in what we will discuss tonight the church as Jesus sees it in a particular dimension.” Beth Moore

False teacher Beth Moore had swapped scripture for a picture from her own mind. Moore then taught from that picture. In the video from which the quote was taken, now taken down, Moore went on to teach that ‘Jesus’ taught her that Catholics are part of the Christian church. She taught that the Catholics were part of Christianity by being just another denomination on a par with Methodist or Baptist. Since the Catholic Church is not a Christian religion nor a denomination, we know for a fact that whoever ‘showed Moore that picture sitting out on the back porch,’ it was NOT God. Worse, by teaching that Catholics are part of Christianity, they therefore need no evangelizing.

In this second trait of false teachers, The Gospel Coalition (TGC) writes,

Different Message—What is the substance of the message?
For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. “We have everything we need for life and godliness in Him” (1:3). For the false teacher, Jesus is at the margins: “They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them” (2:1).
Notice the word secretly. It’s rare for someone in church to openly deny Jesus. Movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.

It’s very difficult to notice the absence of something, even the absence of Jesus. False teachers speak flatteringly, smoothly, sincerely, even passionately. But over time, you’ll notice a false teacher’s lessons are absent that very present teaching about Jesus. Joel Osteen rarely speaks of Jesus at all. He exemplifies the trait.

In the quote below, false teacher Billy Graham exemplifies the trait also, by his teaching the following from an interview with Richard Schuller in 1997. Graham has always believed this, having written about it in 1960 in his Decision Magazine. Here, he responds to a question about the future of Christianity and how people come to be saved.

Well, Christianity and being a true believer–you know, I think there’s the Body of Christ. This comes from all the Christian groups around the world, outside the Christian groups. I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the Body of Christ. And I don’t think that we’re going to see a great sweeping revival, that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time. I think James answered that, the Apostle James in the first council in Jerusalem, when he said that God’s purpose for this age is to call out a people for His name. And that’s what God is doing today, He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.

Schuller: What, what I hear you saying that it’s possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and soul and life, even if they’ve been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you’re saying?

Graham: Yes, it is, because I believe that. I’ve met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, and never heard of Jesus, but they’ve believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they’ve tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived.

Challies gives us another mark:

False teachers save their harshest criticism for God’s most faithful servants. False teachers criticize those who teach the truth, and save their sharpest criticism for those who hold most steadfastly to what is true.

Beth Moore says that the brethren who challenge her false vision of a phony unity are bullies, mean spirited, scoffers, a threat, and demoralizing. How charming to call the people standing on the same blood-soaked ground as she claims to stand on, are mean and bullies because they differ from her view. This quote from Moore perfectly exemplifies the trait of a false teacher.

Challies’ seventh trait of false teachers is False teachers exploit their followers.

Peter would warn of this danger, saying: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. … And in their greed they will exploit you with false words” (1 Peter 2:1-3). The false teachers exploit those who follow them because they are greedy and desire the riches of this world.

There are so many examples of this, both subtle and unsubtle. Here is one that is unsubtle but occurred a few days ago.

Televangelist asks his congregation for $65M to buy a jet

Televangelist Creflo Dollar asked his congregation to donate $300 each to raise money for a $65M luxury jet. The website was taken down after online criticism but the World Changers Church International is still accepting donations

In the way that things on the internet may go away but never die, an enterprising person has grabbed the video and uploaded it independently of Dollar’s church website. You can see the video where Dollar is pleading for cash to buy his jet at the link above or below. The enterprising person’s youtube channel is Andy Moore and he says, “## NOTE: I have posted this video to show just how deplorable and exploitative Creflo Dollar and his organization are. This is NOT an endorsement. ##”

I hope you can find the time to go to both the Gospel Coalition’s piece and Challies’ article on false teachers. Also, here is Jeff Grapnell’s piece at Entreating Favor’s site to read Five Marks of a False Convert

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Study Guide: How to Treat False Teachers

When Wolves lead the Flock, part 1 of a series

Speaking out against False Teachers

BibleGateway: Exposing False Teachers

Posted in discernment, false teachers, joel osteen

What Joyce Meyer believes & teaches, what Joel Osteen believes & teaches

On Twitter, A Call for Discernment ‏( @call4discern) posted a few pictorial cheat sheets on what several of the false teachers believes and teaches. I asked permission to post two of them here, What Joyce Meyer believes and teacher,s and what Joel Osteen believes and teaches.

A Call for Discernment’s bio blurb states that it “calls for Believers to stand and contend for the Faith. Our ministry is to expose the wolves that have infiltrated the flock.”

Click to enlarge

A Call 4 Discernment posted; “The teachings of Joel Osteen compared to Scripture. #falseteachers pic.twitter.com/Cp7AHlSzL9”. Click to enlarge

Note: the falseteachers.org website at the bottom of Joyce Meyers photo is a redirect to a church in Orlando FL.

Posted in discernment, false doctrine, false teachers

"But you can’t know that [false teacher’s] heart! You can’t ascribe motivations!" Yes. Yes we can.

One of the common accusations from defenders of false teachers lodged against Christians who make the claim, is that no one can know their heart. That no one can know their motives. They say therefore it is not fair to make such claims. Only God can judge.

Once you know how to spot them, the fakes are easy to see.

That’s a synopsis of their argument, an increasingly frequent one. But is it true? Let’s look at the Bible.

First, in order to make a determination whether a teacher is teaching according to the bible or is straying from Christ’s doctrines, we test them. (1 John 4:1). We test what they teach against the bible- no matter who they are! (Acts 17:11). If they preach a different Jesus, (1 Timothy 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 11:4) fail to affirm His word, deny what the bible says (or that God said it), bear no fruit, or has a life that is below reproach, among other identifiers, they are false. They must accurately teach the full counsel of God through a life that stands up to scrutiny.

Once you’ve tested a teacher and they have fallen short, you know that they’re false. Now we can look at bible verses about false teachers to learn more about what motivates them and how they operate.

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— Galatians 2:4 (cf. 2 Peter 2:1).

  • Their motivation is jealousy.
  • Their purpose is destruction of the true brethren.
  • Their method is by adding works.

[The above in context were the Judaizers preaching works, circumcision].


And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:3)

  • Their motivation is greed.
  • Their purpose is exploitation.
  • Their method is oratory.

Trivia: the Greek word for the term “false” above is from a root of plastós –  which is the root of the English term, “plastic”


Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Romans 16:17-18)

  • Their motivation is their own appetites.
  • Their purpose is personal satisfaction.
  • Their method is flattery.

Conclusion:

Once a person has been deemed a false teacher, we DO know their heart. We DO know their motivations. The bible states them, not just in those three verses, but in many others too. A false teacher’s motivations and heart are evil and at enmity against God. They do not seek to glorify God and worship Jesus in His authority (they hate authority) but they seek to–
  • Blight Jesus’ name
  • Destroy you
  • Satisfy themselves
  • Get money

FMI on false teachers, these New Testament books were written to educate us as to the false teachers’ methods: Please read Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude

False teachers and their plastic words … one after another. Beware.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading-

How to Treat False Teachers

The Strange Case of Brenda Maxwell

Posted in discernment, false teachers, false teaching

People who believe false teachers will be judged, too.

Jeremiah is told by God to prophesy against the false prophets. God said He did not send them in His name nor did He give them any message. They are prophesying deceit from their own mind, God said. (Jeremiah 14:14).

However, God also told Jeremiah to prophesy against the people to whom the false prophets were preaching.

And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them. (Jeremiah 14:16)

Why would God be so hard on the people? Aren’t they just helpless victims of lying religious preachers? No. According to that verse, listeners to and followers of false teachers are doing evil.

TWISTED SCRIPTURE. Jeremiah 14:14

Throughout the ages, self-proclaimed prophets such as Joseph Smith, Jeanne Dixon, and Edgar Cayce have claimed to speak for God. Jeremiah, an authorized ambassador of God, identified false prophets as “prophesying … a false vision, worthless divination, the deceit of their own minds” which is “spoken … presumptuously” (Dt 18:22).

The people were to be punished because they listened to the false prophets. It was their responsibility to test the prophets (Dt 18:21–22), not just to accept whatever they said without question, but they failed to do so. They may have known that what the prophets said was not in line with God’s will, but because they liked what they heard, they condoned it (Jer 5:31; 23:16; 29:8; 2 Co 11:4; 2 Tim 4:3). We are also obligated to test the messages we hear and reject those who preach a false message in God’s name (Acts 17:11; Gl 1:6–9; 1 Jn 4:1). See notes on Lam 1:5; 2:14.

Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1110). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Sisters, be aware of who you allow into your home, heart, and mind. Reading that certain book, or listening a certain teacher, or attending so-and-so conference, can be deadly to you.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Posted in discernment, false teachers, jesus, spiritual armor

The most dangerous people in the world

There are dangerous people in the world. We know that some are more dangerous than others. Some people are extremely dangerous. Dictators can be considered among the world’s most dangerous people. Pol Pot, Hitler, Lenin, Idi Amin, Muammar Gaddafi among many others through time go down into the history books as heinous criminals committing mass murder.

World Trade Center on 9/11

Terrorists are certainly dangerous. The 9/11 terrorists who killed 3,000 people by suicide bombing via airplane were shockingly absent of any sense of conscience whatsoever. The 9/11 terrorist leader who organized the US terror attack Osama Bin Laden was supremely dangerous.

The ISIS militants are a dangerous group, beheading with impunity and terrorizing populations all throughout the Middle East.

Sociopaths/serial killers are among the most dangerous people on the planet, also. We shudder at the very thought that we might be captured and tortured all for the corrupt whims of a conscience-less, evil mastermind.

Throughout history, the names of Ted Bundy, Adolph Hitler, bin Laden, Jack the Ripper, Al Capone, Charles Manson remain shudder-worthy because their crimes of evil were so shocking.

But none of those are the most dangerous people on the planet. It seems crazy to even think that there is a more dangerous class of person more devastating than a war-starter, dictator Hitler. That there is a more sinister evil among a community than serial killer Ted Bundy. There truly is is a more dangerous person in the world.

Who could it be? Who is worse than the man known for burning millions of people alive in a gas oven? Worse than the serial killer’s evil at the end of a sharp knife? Worse than a terrorist whose very name indicates their putrid heart filled with terror and crime? Who??

Beth Moore.
Pope Francis.
Rick Warren.
Billy Graham.
Ellen G. White.
Creflo Dollar.
Aimee Semple McPherson.
Joel Osteen.

False teachers within Christianity. No dictator, serial killer or terrorist can hold a candle to the evil that false teachers do. Why?

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28).

All a dictator can do is oppress you or kill your body. Jesus is life giver and eternal Judge, and it is He who determines where your immortal soul and resurrected body will go when your short life on earth is over. Fear THAT. What false teachers do is nudge you, compel you, jostle you down the eternally broad road to hell. They appear as pleasant sheep but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. They’re soul killers, and that is eternally worse than anything any dictator or terrorist can do.

Some of the harshest language in the New Testament is reserved for false teachers. The damage they do to your soul is likened to gangrene, a stealthy and putrid killer of the body. Except, what false teachers bring is death to the soul. False teachers are a serious problem.

Was Jesus polite to false teachers? No. See video- 2 min.

How can we spot false teachers? The bible mentions them frequently (as false prophets, wolves, sons of hell, spies, hypocrites etc) The bible condemns them frequently. So let’s take a look.

First as mentioned above, they come in disguise. They look like sheep but they are actually preying on you as a vicious wolf. (Mt 7:15). They won’t look like a false teacher and they won’t sound like a false teacher. Galatians 2:4 reminds us that false teachers come in as spies, stealthily. (2 Peter 2:1).

False teachers substitute the call of God with their own made-up call, whether it is to self- esteem, or pride, or earthly gain, false teachers always shift your gaze from Christ as the central point of life. They can speak well, mesmerizingly sometimes. If we take the most extreme example of a false prophet, the antichrist, he appears at first to give everything to everyone what they want, and insinuates himself into a solid position of influence by smooth speech and flattery. (Daniel 11:32). False teachers are good at what they do.

Another way false teachers shift your gaze from the Holy One is to substitute empty rituals for the simplicity of the grace of Jesus. Walk a labyrinth. Meditate contemplatively. Pray in a circle. Fast in this way and this often. Light a candle, confess to a priest, speak the rosary. John MacArthur said in his sermon “How to Evangelize Religious People“, that the more a religion has symbols, (and by extension, rituals) the more false it is.

And this is how it is, my friend, with false religion. They love the symbols. When we were in Moscow a few months ago, slipped into a Greek Orthodox church–literally repulsed by extravagant symbolism. You stand in one spot and this parade goes on of people with all these elaborate dressings and head dresses and waving censors, and icons all over everywhere. It literally blasts your senses; it’s so garish, bizarre, and people walking in endless circles and mumbling incomprehensible drivel and waving things in the air–and these poor, sad souls trying somehow to connect with the external. But religion that has nothing inside proliferates the symbolic. Look at the Roman Catholic Church, just full of it…full of it. False religion loves symbols.

False teachers bring false rituals along with the eventual religious symbolism as their doctrines mature.

The nursery for false religion is false teachers infiltrating the real religion, Christianity. If it comes to your church, stop it before it gets to that point.
“Suppress the heretics while they are young, that is, when they begin to show their malice and destroy the vine of the Lord.” Geneva Bible, on Song of Solomon 2:15

Third, their teachings spread like gangrene. (2 Timothy 2:17). Gangrene develops when the blood supply to an affected part is cut off. Gangrene is caused by interruption of blood supply to an area which causes tissue death. Left unchecked, gangrene kills all the living tissue it touches. In Galatians 5:9 Paul wrote of false teachers again, saying, “a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” In both the yeast and the gangrene examples we understand that the negative influence of false teachers and their doctrines will leave no part of the body untouched if not dealt with swiftly.

Source

Next, think about this- if faith brings joy, then its opposite, doctrines of demons, bring confusion, fear, discouragement. (Galatians 1:7, Acts 15:24). Pastor Justin Peters often shares during his discernment conferences how discouraging it was to follow the false faith healers. He did so as a youth, hoping for a healing from his Cerebral Palsy. Others who follow Joyce Meyer and her ilk eventually become despondent when their abundant life doesn’t show up, or those who follow Joel Osteen find that no matter how hard they try, nothing they’ve declared has come true and every day is not a Friday. Then they either redouble their efforts at trying pointlessly to find peace through false teachings or they become angry and leave the faith, blaspheming it. (2 Peter 2:2).

In Matthew 23:15 Jesus remarked to the false teachers of the law that they made sons of hell twice as bad as they were. The next generation of disciples learning at the feet of the false teachers are always worse than the generation before. (also, Revelation 2:21-23).

One extremely telling indicator of a false teacher is that they diminish the offense of the cross. Their message will increasingly speak of anything else except that. Oh, they’ll mention Jesus, they’ll fling around some bible verses (out of context and incorrectly) but they cannot bear to dwell on the cross. (Galatians 5:11, Galatians 3:1). The cross is an offense to a false teacher, because false teachers are not saved.

There are other ways to detect the false ones who creep in among us, but suffice to say, they are there. They are dangerous, extremely so. False Christian teachers are the most dangerous people on the planet.

False teachers are not committed to Scripture. They may speak of Jesus and the Father, but the heart of their ministry will not be the Word of God. They will either add to it, take away from it, interpret it in some heretical fashion, add other “revelations” to it, or deny it altogether.

Let’s compare Hitler to Pope Francis. Or Muammar Gaddafi to Benny Hinn. It is an unutterable tragedy what Hitler did, its reverberations are still like an open wound on the world’s conscience and heart. He killed 6 million Jews, and others too, including the mentally retarded, gypsies, and homosexuals. Yet Pope Francis is enslaving 1.2 Billion people. And that’s just the Catholics right now, not even mentioning all the previous generations of people unfortunately deluded by empty ritual and false teaching. Billions upon billions have gone to hell under the false teaching of the Catholic church.

Or how about Benny Hinn and his charismatic gospel of healing and wealth. It is sweeping Africa and India right now, not to mention America. There are over 500 million people in the world at this moment who self-identify as Charismatic.

There was an independently produced documentary about middle school students in Tennessee who appealed to the world to send in 6 million paper clips to their classroom. They were doing a project on the Holocaust, and one student asked, ‘How much is 6 million? I can’t picture it.’ So the paper clip project began. They eventually gathered over 6 million clips. The stark reality of seeing with their own eyes the representation of that many people lost to the gas chambers was shocking and brought the reality of all those lost souls to the fore.

But what if you gathered 500 million clips representing the Charismatics under the influence of that false ‘Christian’ doctrine? And then gathered 1.2 billion clips representing the Catholics? And 3 billion more, the estimates of how many lives and souls of people in the world right now are influenced by Joyce Meyer’s doctrines of demons. Plus Joel Osteen, whose message reaches 28 million people a month. This number doesn’t even count his books, podcasts, and conferences. Add to that total the 30 million copies of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, a book that was named several years ago as one of the top 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. Add some more, the 215 million people in over 185 countries who have heard Billy Graham’s messages, and those who ‘came forward’ only to be assigned to a Catholic counselor, or a rabbi.

All the teachers I listed above claim themselves to be part of Christianity. You see the magnitude of the problem.

False teachers are the most dangerous people on the planet. The spirit of antichrist is alive and well and working its way as leaven through the bread. But there is manna from heaven, bread from heaven that is gloriously more potent than any piddling false teacher. Jesus Christ and His truth.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26).

The safeguard against false teachers is the Word. All truth is there, all joy, all faith, all hope and all peace. Read His word and pray to have it applied to your mind and heart. The Spirit will teach you and in so doing you will be able to withstand the detect the false doctrines when they appear. Wear your spiritual armor.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:14-18).

Wearing your armor even the most dangerous person on the planet cannot harm you. There is One who is more dangerous than any and He is your defender and your avenger:

and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (Revelation 1:13-16).

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27:1)

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Further Reading

Little Foxes Eventually Grow Up

The Pathology of False Teachers

Posted in discernment, false teachers

Discernment: Faked out by fake leaves

It’s fall and the leaves are turning. Fall comes late to Georgia, and gently. The daytime temperatures decrease slowly by one degree or two, lower and lower until you notice that you need a sweater if you’re going to be outside for any length of time. You barely need the heat turned on inside, and if so, only to take out a chill. I love this about Georgia.

The one thing that is different than in the northern climates where I’m from, is that the leaves do not turn as vividly red, orange, or yellow here as they do up north. They turn, but it’s a duller kind of foliage. It brightens when the strong sunlight streams through, but overall, foliage down here is ho-hum.

That’s why I was surprised when I walked out of the church doors Wednesday night after prayer meeting, and spotted on the ground a twig with several very red leaves attached. I love leaves, especially if they are large (fig leaves) or unusually shaped, (maple!) or a great color (bright red!). I take photos of them, look at them, put them in art collages, press them, enjoy them. The ones I saw on the ground were a great color red, deep and bright. I stooped down and picked them up immediately.

I had a few things in my hands as I entered my front door, including the twig with leaves, so I dumped them all on the table and then went to the other room to finish unpacking. Excited, I returned to the kitchen and looked at the twig with red leaves in the better light than I had seen them in the gloaming when I first picked them up.

They were fake.

I’d been totally taken in by the extreme resemblance they had to real leaves. Fake!

I thought about this for a long time. It’s like false teachers. I was faked out because I’d made two mistakes.

The first was the obvious one: I hadn’t looked at the item carefully enough. I only made a quick glance, and picked up the twig with leaves and brought it home because it looked close enough to the real thing. A surface glance, though, won’t do when sitting under a teacher of the bible.

In Acts 17:11 we learn that the Bereans were called ‘noble’ because after listening to Paul, they “searched the scriptures” to see if what Paul said was so. They did not skim the scriptures. They did not glance at the scriptures. The word ‘searched’ indicates they spent some time comparing the words of God to the words of Paul. After a period of time doing this, one would know that the words of God were indeed emanating from Paul. But it takes time to search and compare and make a determination.

It also takes effort. Admittedly it was easier for me to simply stumble over the item and pick it up. If I really wanted cool leaves to play with, I’d have to walk, and go, and look, and maybe climb. But no, I walked up to a spot on the ground and with minimal effort on my part, I stooped down and thought I’d gotten myself a prize. In the end what I had was a pale imitation of the real thing, and I was disappointed. Minimal effort usually means maximum disappointment.

The second mistake I’d made was more subtle. It is about context and expectation. If it had been summertime, I would not have expected a twig with several leaves attached to be on the ground. Fall winds make this a common sight. Summer’s gentle air doesn’t. If it had been summer, the red leaves would have stuck out like a sore thumb. Leaves aren’t red in summer. They’re green. They’re red in fall. The context I had for seeing these leaves was appropriate and the expectation I had matched what I thought was the reality. Fall leaves on the ground in fall. This expectation formed a preconceived notion in my mind and I didn’t stop to investigate. I just went with it. I had not expected them to be fake.

In church, one expects a pastor or teacher or deacon to be many things. Because of the context of the place in which they appear, one would expect them to be saved. One would expect them to be qualified. One would expect them to behave in the way the bible says they must. One would expect them to handle the word rightly. One has a preconceived expectation of all these things due to the context in which the teacher labors: church. This expectation means we tend to extend trust to the teacher in great amounts and almost immediately.

Trust is different from respect. I respect my elders as the bible says we should. And I do extend more trust to a guest speaker or a teacher that the pastor brings in, because I trust him to make good decisions on behalf of his sheep. But it isn’t a blind trust. It isn’t a mindless trust. I listen respectfully, but alertly. I go back and compare what has been said to the bible.

If the situation is that a teacher of the bible hasn’t been introduced by my pastor and is a television or celebrity personality without a church (and it seems there are more and more of those lately) then the context is a bit different and thus my expectation is different. My immediate trust level is lower. It doesn’t border on skeptical, that would be rude I think, but I do listen with all discernment cylinders firing. I put a higher guard on my heart and mind while listening to this itinerant teacher or celebrity pastor etc., and then I go back and check it out. All of this of course is bathed in prayer.

My point is that one should look deeply and carefully at a teacher you’re going to sit under, and look hard. Do your research beforehand. Don’t relax your guard just because they are a teacher of the bible. We know from scripture that the church isn’t safe from predators. Wolves will come in and they have come in, not sparing the sheep. What a false teacher brings is death, so the stakes are high.

As for our expectations in the context, I am sure that the Bereans had an expectation that Paul would teach rightly. He was famous, had studied under famous teachers, and was known to be brilliant. However, they still searched. Their searching did not mean they didn’t respect him, they likely did. However, they respected God more. They wanted to be sure what they were hearing was not contradictory to His word.

One last piece of discernment advice: just because you searched out a teacher and found them to be sound 20 years ago, doesn’t mean you stop comparing what they say to the word. Over time, teachers fall prey to false doctrines or twisted interpretations, or fads. Over time, the teachers (being human like us!) stop being vigilant, and they teach wrongly instead of rightly. Just because they were great three years ago doesn’t mean they are great now. Keep searching the scriptures to see if the things they say are so. There is no rest for the weary soldier, not yet anyway. Not yet. But soon? Dearest Lord, I hope soon. Won’t it be wonderful to sit under the greatest Teacher of all? We will never have to check what He is saying against the Word, because He IS THE WORD!!

Posted in discernment, doctrine, false teachers, jesus, teaching

If a teacher teaches some things wrongly, but the Gospel rightly, is it OK to follow them?

A lot of people wonder when it is reasonable to leave off following a teacher. What are the standards for giving loving benefit of the doubt, and banning them completely from your mind, your church, and your home? Both are called for in the bible.

There are these verses,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)

And then there are these verses,

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, (2 John 1:10)

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us  (2 Thessalonians 3:6)

How do we know when to do which?

First, it’s helpful to understand the difference between brethren and teachers. All Christians are brethren, including teachers. But the standards for becoming a Christian and the standard for teachers are different.

Pure

All brethren stand on the same, equalizing blood-soaked ground. None are qualified to do so, except by the grace of Jesus and faith alone. This standard includes teachers.

But once in the Lord’s kingdom through salvation, the Spirit bestows different gifts. The gift of teaching is given to some, not many, and for those, there are different standards of behavior and of scrutiny. In James  3:1-2 we read,

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”

Not many of you. This indicates the seriousness of the calling. The verse also indicates the extreme fallibility in all of us. So teachers should be especially wary, because they handle the word of God, and are in a position to cause more damage and harm in Jesus’ name. That is why they are judged more strictly.

So already we know that the first standard of teaching is that it is given by gift of the Spirit. It’s not something that can be taught, adopted, or decided upon, and certainly not entered into casually.

The second thing we learn from that one verse alone is that it is a serious calling, and a stricter standard is given for the Christian’s performance in it.

Thirdly we already know that ‘not many’ are given the gift.

So what are the standards for teachers from there? There are moral/behavioral standards, and there are doctrinal standards for teachers.

BEHAVIOR

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8)

not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:3)

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. (Titus 2:3

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, (Titus 2:3)

DOCTRINE

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. (1 Timothy 4:6)

So what IS good doctrine? Well, we know that there are teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). And likewise, there are teachings of God. Theologians generally categorize doctrine into ten major headings: (source MacArthur Study Bible)

  1. Holy Scriptures
  2. God the Father
  3. God the Son
  4. God the Holy Spirit
  5. Man
  6. Sin
  7. Salvation
  8. the Church
  9. Angels 
  10. Last Things

All good teachers will teach any and all ten doctrines rightly. But what about the Gospel? If a teacher teaches The Gospel rightly but some of the other doctrines wrongly, it still OK to follow that teacher?

Well, let’s look at exactly what The Gospel is.

Here is 9Marks listing of the elements of the Gospel.

  • The one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him (Gen. 1:26-28).
  • But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him (Gen. 3; Rom. 3:23).
  • In his great love, God sent his Son Jesus to come as king and rescue his people from their enemies—most significantly their own sin (Ps. 2; Luke 1:67-79).
  • Jesus established his kingdom by acting as both a mediating priest and a priestly sacrifice—he live a perfect life and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of many (Mark 10:45; John 1:14; Heb. 7:26; Rom. 3:21-26, 5:12-21); then he rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted his sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted (Acts 2:24, Rom. 4:25).
  • He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness (Acts 17:30, John 1:12). If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God (John 3:16).

If you compare the Gospel to the ten doctrines, you find the doctrines permeate the Gospel and the Gospel permeates the doctrines. A teacher must know holiness, speak of and understand how exalted God is. He or she must have a true understanding of sin. So many false teachers teach sin is just a mistake, or can be controlled, or is not our fault due to generational bondage, or any number of reasons that distance ourselves from responsibility for our sins.

A teacher must have a proper understanding of who Jesus is. There’s ‘this same Jesus’ who will return (Acts 1:11) and ‘a different Jesus’ preached and taught falsely. (2 Corinthians 11:4).

A flawed teaching on the law vs. grace, of the cross, of the resurrection, or of sanctification affects the Gospel relating to those elements. Not understanding what God’s wrath affects the doctrine of Last Things.

So you see, if a teacher teaches “the Gospel”, they are really teaching ‘the good doctrine’ (1 Timothy 4:6)

In addition, if you still want to follow a teacher who seems to be teaching some things well and others poorly, remember the demon possessed slave girl.

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:17)

Is there anything inaccurate about what she said? No. Then why didn’t Paul like the free advertising? Because nothing pure can come from a deceitful heart. Because her father is the father of lies. Who needs satan to advertise the Gospel when we have the pure word and holy servants to do so?

Matthew Henry commentary says of the slave girl verse,

Satan, though the father of lies, will declare the most important truths, when he can thereby serve his purposes. But much mischief is done to the real servants of Christ, by unholy and false preachers of the gospel, who are confounded with them by careless observers.

Mixing lies and truth is what satan did to Eve. And look what happened.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Galatians 5:9 cf 1 Corinthians 5:6)

If a teacher is teaching wrongly have nothing to do with him or her.

That’s not to say that a true teacher must teach all doctrines perfectly. We are imperfect individuals. But as I said in a previous essay, the Holy Spirit who is inside us will never allow a true teacher to remain in a false understanding. The Spirit always testifies of Jesus and points to Him, who is Truth. That’s why discernment means being alert, and watchful and patient. A teacher should always be growing in Christ-likeness. A false teacher is always growing away from Christ.

1 Timothy 6:3 says that good teaching is sound doctrine according with godliness. An overseer’s primary job is to “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

Jesus IS Truth. Seek Him and don’t compromise for anything less.

Posted in false teachers, sanctification, sheep's clothing, wolves

Has so-and-so false teacher always been false, or did it just start now?

Source

A reader asked if the seeds of apostasy were always in Beth Moore or if they are just emerging now.

The answer is both.

There are only two states for man: we are either ‘in Adam’ (sin) or we are ‘in Christ’ (righteous). (1 Corinthians 15:22). If a teacher is in Christ, they will always grow more sanctified. Sanctification ALWAYS grows in an increasing, upward direction. Sure, sometimes it is slower than others, and for a season a teacher might teach something false, but Spirit will never allow a sanctified teacher to remain in heresy or falsity. The Spirit is in us to testify of Christ, not satan. (John 15:26). The Spirit will cause a sanctified teacher eventually to see his or her error and repent of it, and then continue growing.

There are false teachers who are in sheep’s clothing. (Matthew 7:15). Since those ‘in Adam’ always grow too, but grow in their sin, eventually they outgrow those sheep’s clothes and their falseness becomes apparent. At some point they are unable to keep up the charade. Moore has outgrown her sheep clothes.

But she has always been false.

It’s a business chart but it shows clearly what I’m talking about
in the Christian, sanctified life.
Wolves might walk for a while with us, but they outgrow their ability to hide
Source