2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
Much has been said regarding false teachers, just another sign of the days in which we live and while the abundance of these charlatans teach a mockery of faith, it is their followers who need to take heed.
Some of these teach doctrine that subtly leads the congregation away from truth, while others are adamant in their blasphemous doctrine hoping their boldness draws others in.
Since our attention has been placed on being watchful for these deceivers, we must not forget to turn our eyes inwardly and hold ourselves to the same standard of care. The warning to Timothy was not regarding the false teaching of doctrine but for those willing to accept the doctrine.
A scathing rebuke by the late author, A.W. Tozer, reminds us this dilemma has been present for a while.
No Turning Back
A. W. Tozer
With large blocks of evangelicals praying and preaching like Christians while they live and talk like worldlings, how much longer may we expect them to remain evangelical? Apostasy always begins with the conduct. First there is a wrong orientation of the life, a facing toward the lost world with yearning and enjoyment; later there comes a gradual surrender of the truth itself and a slipping back into unbelief. That has happened to individuals and denominations and it can happen to the whole present evangelical communion if it is not checked before it is too late. For this cause, the facing-both-ways attitude of our present Christianity is something to be alarmed about. And if that attitude were the result of plain backsliding there would be much more reason for optimism. Unchristian acts done by a Christian through weakness and over the protests of his better heart may be bad enough, but they are not likely to be fatal. But when he does them with the sanction of his teachers and with the belief that they are all a part of the Christian way, how is he to be rescued?
Isaiah 30:10 “They say to the seers, “Stop seeing visions!” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us the truth! Speak to us pleasant words; prophesy illusions.”
What Do You Want?
The passion of the people is what drives their desire to listen. If people are passionate about success, money, or getting more blessing then that will be the focus. There are plenty of preachers on the world stage that are selling this doctrine and there is no shortage of adherents following the trend. If the core drive is not centered in Jesus Christ, it is driven by selfish ambition. True biblical doctrine refutes this type of attitude and rebukes those who seek after their own gain.
Jude 1:18 “when they said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow after their own ungodly desires.”
Since the Truth of God’s Word becomes a denial to those who seek their own, they turn to look elsewhere and what they find are myths. False representations of christianity that makes God out to be like a billionaire daddy Warbucks, paying out dividends to whoever asks, throwing money from the heavens like some glorious parade of blessing.
Until people read the whole Word of God and understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus, they will not understand the implications for their actions.
1 Timothy 1:10 “for the sexually immoral, for homosexuals, for slave traders and liars and perjurers, and for anyone else who is averse to sound teaching”
The pastors who teach the doctrine of prosperity reap the greatest reward. They have sold their souls to the fame and fortune, don’t expect them to turn quickly from their ways. The lack of applying sound doctrine leads to the justification of all forms of sin. When a teacher is allowed to “reinterpret” scripture based off their desires, the people who seek those same desires gravitate toward them.
Good, sound teachers aren’t afraid to speak the Truth of God in the midst of the congregation. The concern isn’t to fill the pews but to fill the hearts of God’s people with a knowledge of the Word.
Evidence for false teachers can be found everywhere but it is the subtleties by which they weave christianese into their rhetoric is how people are so easily deceived.
- The messages don’t bless people, they bless themselves.
- They preach issues not Truth.
- They major on the minors, neglecting core doctrine.
- They soften sin, making it acceptable.
- The teaching is centered on stories, not biblical doctrine.
- The giving of money is a recurrent theme.
- They allow other false teachers into their midst.
- There is no narrow way, but their way is broad and easy.
1 Timothy 4:1-3 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”
The false teacher or prophet may hide behind a passionate delivery or a dire warning for not heeding their message, but behind the charade sits the father of lies.
If we get caught up in such pageantry and emotional experiences, we can pray for wisdom that God might lead us toward Himself and away from a man-centered gospel. It takes diligent prayer and tough decisions to not break away from a sheepfold that is being led astray, the humility to admit error is probably the largest obstacle.
1 Timothy 1:12-13 “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,”
Repentance and Prayer
The correct response when we understand we have been foolish in our thinking is to simply humble ourselves, repent of our sin, and pray the Lord leads us forward in wisdom.
2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
If we want to see our communities transformed, our children saved from the attacks perpetrated constantly against them, if we truly want to see our countries turned around then it starts with God’s people.
God’s people hold the answers to the dilemmas in the world. We can try to elect conservative politicians all day long, we can march down the streets, or protest at school board meetings, but until our lands are saturated with people who have repentant hearts, who recognize their need for a Savior, then we will see the continual progression of darkness consume our land.
The change must start with the Church.
It is the Bride of Christ that knows and hears the Spirit of God speaking to her, the call to holiness is a call to be more like Christ. the call to walk honestly in the vow you have made to the Lord, not hiding behind closed doors, not shying away from an opportunity to be a light, but practicing your faith openly and without apprehension.
Romans 2:4 “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
The only riches we should relish are the riches of God’s Kindness.
We have received far more than we deserve already, let’s stand up for what we believe in and stand strong until the end.
The Bridegroom is coming soon to receive His Bride, how will He find you when He comes?