In the previous post we looked at three of the ten traits of false teachers that God has laid out for us in His glorious Word the Bible. These traits are found encapsulated in the second chapter of 1 Thessalonians. I have written posts about faithful shepherds and faithful sheep from passages out of Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians. It always amazes me how concise and clear God as He declares the truth for us in His Holy Scriptures. Comparing Scripture with Scripture we can gain much insight and understanding about these false teachers so we can then mark, establish who they are, and then avoid them, have nothing to do with them. We must not think, as Satan has so cleverly led so many to do, that since we are the elect we can just cavort with false teachers, eat the meat and spit out the bones. How can we eat what is putrid? How can we ignore the example of the Israelites unfaithfulness and the devastating results recorded for us in the pages of the Scriptures? Let’s look at the next three traits provided for us in this passage out of 1 Thessalonians chapter two.
3 For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. 4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. 5 For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6
The fourth trait of false teachers is they are not approved by God because He knows they cannot be entrusted with the gospel since He is the One who tests the hearts of men. How does He test their hearts? God the Holy Spirit has given us the characteristics of faithful godly leaders in 1 Timothy chapter three and Titus chapter one. Let’s look at Titus chapter one since it emphasizes something that is sadly lacking in the church’s leadership today, faithfulness to the truth!
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. Titus 1:5-9
Just a casual survey of the leadership within the visible church proves that many are lacking these necessary qualifications. Instead, these men are led to believe that a degree from a theological institution somehow gives them God’s approval for shepherding His people, while much of what they study at the Bible schools and theological institutions actually disqualifies them from that blessed task, since just like the Jews with the Talmud, they are busy studying what so and so has taught and said as a grid when looking at the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, these men are ill-equipped to exhort those who contradict the truth with sound doctrine. Unapproved by God they abrogate to themselves this holy calling.
The fifth trait of a false teacher is they are not faithful with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ with legalism or licentiousness. They twist the gospel to be the “doctrines of grace” rather than the message which was given to Paul by revelation from Jesus Christ, which He taught His apostles before He ascended, recorded for us in 1 Corinthians chapter 15.
44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:44-49
11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it come through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which your stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
The gospel of Jesus Christ, foretold in the Scriptures, is the only means of our salvation, there is no other way. Jesus gave the gospel to His apostles after His resurrection and gave that same gospel to Paul by divine revelation, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that is the power of God for salvation, nothing else!
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16
False teachers corrupt this message and gloss it over either with works, lawlessness, or twist it so that it no longer resembles the grace of God given to us through belief in His Son Jesus Christ. The sinner is then dissuaded from believing that Christ’s death and resurrection is more than sufficient to procure for us forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God, and their trust is moved to an anemic message and feeble person that has no hope or ability to redeem the sinner from their sins and give them the hope of eternal life.
The sixth trait of a false teacher is they are men pleasers. Brothers and sisters, this is the state of the leadership within the visible church today. They do not fear God, but instead are moved by a yearning to be accepted and approved men. They love the praises of men rather than the honor that God bestows upon those who love and fear Him. This servile desire to please man makes these leaders disapproved as men who would serve our glorious God and Savior Jesus Christ in the ministry of the gospel and the Word of God to others, and prevents them from truly knowing the only God who can save them to truly serve Him and others.
40 “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” John 5:40-44
42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praises of men more than the praise of God. John 12:42-43
Praise God for His Word given to us so that we can know the truth and be warned against false teachers. Jesus Christ loves us so much, and wants us to walk with Him in faith, truth and obedience. Believing in Jesus Christ and His Word, not in man-made religion or the word of any man, is our hope of salvation. As we honor Christ, we honor God the Father, we know and believe His Word, and we can then be protected from the wiles of the enemy through the deceitful plotting of wicked men, and kept for Christ’s glory honor and praise. May our glorious heavenly Father bless us through our faith in Christ Jesus our glorious Lord and Savior.
19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does: and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. John 5:19-24