Christianity is a multi-billion dollar industry. There is great profit to be made off of those who “follow” Jesus Christ. Money can be made from selling books, movies, music, conferences, music festivals, religious items, etc. to those who are “Christians”, not to mention all of the money that is brought in to churches and “Christian ministries” through tithes, offerings and donations. For example, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers, and Beth Moore, all bring in vast sums of money into their empires and live lavish lifestyles. Kenneth Copeland confessed to being a billionaire to his followers in 2008, saying that over 1.3 billion dollars had come into “the ministry” through donors during its existence. Joel Osteen lives in a 10.4 million dollar mansion, his net worth is 56 million dollars, he expects the attenders at his church to tithe to support the ministry and claims that he and his family try to live “as normal a life as possible”, whatever that means. Joyce Meyers net worth is estimated to be around 25 million dollars, she and her husband receive 1.3 million dollars per year; she owns a 2 million dollar mansion and has made sure that her children live in similarly comfortable quarters on their estate compound that is completely supported by her “ministry. Beth Moore’s Living Proof Ministries had a 2011 income of 5 million dollars and had 12 million in assets; she receives a yearly salary around $200,000, judge by some to be modest, but by what standard? Beth Moore is a serious revenue source for Lifeway, the publishing arm of SBC. All of these teachers have one more thing in common; they teach the prosperity gospel; the belief that God wants all of His children to be healthy and wealthy. They have the temerity to use God’s children to make their prosperity gospel true for them.
1 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. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not. 2 Peter 2:1-3
These purveyors of false teaching do and say whatever it takes to get those who follow them to trust them and give to them out of their hard earned resources. Granted, many who follow their evil ways are not believers, but there are those who do know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior who are led astray by these deceitful workers. The prosperity gospel they teach isn’t the only error they promote, but it underscores what God has warned against in His Word; false teachers make merchandise of those who listen to their lies because their main goal is to get rich. This theme of greedy covetousness is continued in the passage out of 2 Peter that warns against false teachers and discloses their wicked motives; God our Father reveals their hearts!
14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: 15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbade the madness of the prophet. 17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 2 Peter 2:14-17
Notice how God condemns these false teachers as having hearts that are exercised, meaning very adept, at practicing covetousness, and they follow the example of Balaam who loved the wages of unrighteousness rather than the God of righteousness. God’s Word with all of His authority rebukes these evil workers as those who do not benefit or refresh anyone who follows them, and are bound for eternal judgment, which the NKJV calls the “blackness of darkness forever”. They get their large followings by appealing to the lusts of the flesh of those who listen to them, people who are unstable in their faith in Jesus Christ because they have built their faith upon the words of men and not the Word of God.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. 2 Peter 2:18-22
Their teachings completely contradict the Bible, God’s Word, being vain and reckless, and they bring their followers into spiritual captivity and corruption, instead of the promised liberty which they use to lure the lost to perdition. Those who are captured by these damnable heresies prove that their acknowledgement of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was just like the empty profession of Judas Iscariot who used his proximity to Jesus Christ as a means of “padding his wallet”. As Judas escaped detection from those around him, but ultimately was exposed and judged, so too those who follow false teachers because of the lust of their flesh will be revealed and condemned by the untoward outcome of their false faith. What is the outcome for those who may have trusted false teachers for a season, but who truly are the Lord’s own through divinely provided repentant faith and belief in God’s Son, Jesus Christ?
4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) 9 The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: 2 Peter 2:4-9
The Lord God delivers the righteous out of temptation and preserves the wicked for the Day of Judgment. The vexation caused our hearts and spirits by the continuous blasphemous attack by these false teachers upon our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His glorious truth found only in the Bible is expressed in our obedience to our God and His Word. We therefore, obey Christ’s teaching that we must not let anyone deceive us. (Mark 13:5) We obey our Father’s direction given to us by His apostle Paul in the book of Romans that we mark those who teach contrary to the doctrine that we have received (from the Holy, inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God, the Bible) and avoid them, knowing that they serve their own bellies; wallow in covetousness. (Romans 16:17-18) We conform to the Holy Spirit’s command in book of Ephesians to not accommodate those who betray the truth of God’s Word and His holiness through false teaching and fleshly living, but rather we expose them for the heretical evil-workers that they are. (Ephesians 5:3-9)
Those who were called out in the opening paragraph of this article are merely the tip of the iceberg. We must be ever vigilant against any and all who deign to challenge God’s Word with any doctrine that proceeds from the heart of man. Therefore, we must examine any teaching in the light of Holy Scripture and turn away from those who twist the Scriptures because they have not been taught by God to rightly divide the Word of truth. Be warned, that means we will turn away from the majority of those teachers who are now embraced by the nominal “Christian”.
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 2 Timothy 2:15-16
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:15-18
May God our Father grant us discerning hearts that are steadfast in our love for Him, belief in His Son, obedience to His Word and love for one another by His indwelling Holy Spirit.