“The earth groans to bear such wicked men, and hell is fitted for them…one day divine justice will hang them up in hell as the greatest malefactors, unless the physician of souls graciously delivers them.” (Thomas Brooks)
They may have started out as men of God (2 Peter 2:20-22).
This is the saddest part of these false teachers and false prophets. They were once gifted, on fire for God, used greatly by the Holy Spirit but now have subtly cooled off in lukewarmness, “mellowed with age” that is, this present evil age (Gal 1:4) and have conceded on many issues that go against scripture. They have known the right way, they may have been or seemed to be true gospel preachers but then they start copying and imitating the ways of the world. They are backsliders in heart (Prov. 14:14) and have an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God (Heb. 3: 12). It is my hope that God will break their hearts in repentance and then heal their backsliding as a testimony to God’s restoring grace.
They are agents of Satan masquerading as ministers (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
Notice how Satan masquerades himself as light, illumination or new understanding! These false teachers wormed their way in, slipped in unnoticed into churches and gained popularity (Jude 1:4). They pretend to be something they are not and they have no life and blessing to give others, “they follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.” (Jude 1:19). They advertise themselves and their ministry as liberating, animated, imaginative, vibrant and attractive but they are repackaged stale product-unstable, disappointing, lifeless and full of sin (Jude 12-13). These false teachers, people who were never really Christians only pretended to be and “went out from us, but they were not really of us.” (1 John 2:19).
They are men-pleasers (John 12:43).
This is the most distinguishing mark of a false teacher. They do not care about people’s souls just how much people like what they hear (Isa. 30:10). They are religious marketers who preach more to please the ear than to profit the heart and the end up as Thomas Brooks says, “soul poisoners” (Jer. 23:16, 17). They make lies so attractive, like an unfaithful wife who kills her husband with sweet desserts laced with poison so she may commit adultery with another man whom she will poison as well. People who do not love Jesus love themselves and their deranged religious fantasies. They work overtime to convince people they are right and they care more about people liking them rather than offending them with truth because they care about their souls. In the end, this is no better than desiring people to worship them, just like the devil.
They distract Christians from obeying the truth of the gospel (Gal. 5: 7).
Running in a race was an illustration of obedience. But false teachers came in and distracted them and cut them off. With all the false grace teaching today people are being told they don’t need to confess their sins, repent and worry about obeying God, “saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.” (Jude 1:4). The gospel gave us life, the ability to run in freedom from slavery to sin and to please God. They sell and market the vomit of their own idolatrous minds and hearts (Jeremiah 14:14; 23:16) and create division and distraction from Christ and God’s glory.
They are wealthy or preach about financial wealth being a major part of God’s blessing (1 Tim. 6:5).
They are so greedy that will make up lies to pick pocket people under their ministry (2 Peter 2:3). “False teachers are the great worshipers of the golden calf.” (Jer. 6: 13). They are shepherds who feed themselves! (Jude 1:12). These false teachers have an agenda of their own. They make churches into businesses that sell their books and videos and make people think that is how they obey God by supporting them. They preach an ideal life-the new legalism based on self-esteem that will get you the best spouse, position, health and wealth. Of course, they must exemplify this is gathering as much wealth for themselves. But like the rich man who did not even give scraps to Lazarus they will bake in the heat of hell always thirsty and full of regret.
More later on how to be rescued from the dangers of deception and false teaching.
©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney