Brethren, be on your guard for deception has crept into the church wholesale. It has crept into the church through false teachers and false brethren.
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. 2 Peter 2:1-3
6 “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray; They have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place. 7 All who found them have devoured them; And their adversaries said, ‘We have not offended, Because they have sinned against the Lord, the habitation of justice, The Lord, the hope of their fathers.” Jeremiah 50:6-7
28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Acts 20:28-30
4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Jude 4
19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. Jude 19
Looking at these verses we can identify the marks of false teachers. They secretly bring in destructive heresies and deny the Lord Jesus Christ. Destructive heresies are doctrines that oppose the sound teaching of the Scriptures. They will rely on books and the opinions of men rather than the pure Word of God. They deny Jesus Christ by denying He is God, or claimed to be God; they say His redemptive work on the cross isn’t sufficient and must be added to by our works, baptism, the works of others, suffering in purgatory, or rule keeping. They are greedy and look at believers as a means of lining their coffers. They use books, symposiums, seminars, schools, the pastorate, videos, music, movies, supposedly “good works” and all manner of merchandise to enrich themselves. They talk much about money, using guilt to convince those who listen to them to hand over their hard earned money. They extort and abuse the elderly and those who are entering their twilight years. These are evil vile abusers of those who desire to know and obey Jesus Christ. These false teachers are the greatest hypocrites and should be avoided at all costs. False teachers lead the people away from God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and instead draw them away after themselves through their false teaching and perversion of the Scriptures. They are ungodly and count on others extending grace and forgiveness to them so they can continue in their wickedness. They encourage others to continue in wickedness and sin and don’t exhort others that the Beloved of the Lord depart from unrighteousness and sin. They can only live in the flesh since they are devoid of the Spirit and are led by the devil. God’s Word commands that we separate ourselves from these false teachers, and that means avoiding their assemblies, concerts, seminars, books, music, whatever the enemy uses to lead the vast majority of those who claim to be Christians astray.
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness: 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
We have to remember that deception has also entered the church through false brethren.
9 That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the Lord; 10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. 11 Get out of the way, Turn aside from the path, Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” Isaiah 30:9-11
6 My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. Hosea 4:6
12 I have written for him the great things of My law, But they were considered a strange thing. Hosea 8:12
You have plowed wickedness; You have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way, in the multitude of your mighty men. Hosea 10:13
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 2 Timothy 4:3-4
“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me , the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns-broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:13
10…and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for his reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11
False brethren reject the Lord and His Word, the Bible. They reject the knowledge that comes from knowing Jesus Christ and His Word and substitute the empty opinions of men which have their origins in the doctrines of demons. Rejecting God and His truth they embrace the lie, because they have pleasure in unrighteousness and therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion. They desire their own way and will not submit to God’s way. They turn away from the truth and away from God. They are of the flesh and do not have the Holy Spirit just like the false teachers. We can try to bring these back to the faith by the power of God, but if they still reject the truth regarding Jesus Christ and His Word, then we must leave them to God.
19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20
Deception has entered the church through the enemy, through false teachers and false brethren. The enemy has always used this tactic against the people of God through the ages. When we read the Old and New Testament, we see prophets warning the children of God over and over again to turn away from idols and lies and to cling to God and His truth. The distinguishing marks of those who truly know Jesus Christ are their love for God, love for God’s Word and love for God’s children. Those who are false will always reject those who are true. Those who are true must reprove those who stray from the faith, seek to restore them to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and then reject those who refuse correction. May God empower us for this task as we seek to live to God’s glory holding fast to His truth, His Son and His children.