The Apostle Paul died a very troubled man. As did Peter. As did John. As did Jude. Know why? They shared the same concern.
The identically same concern that Jesus addressed rather pointedly here in this PODCAST.
15 Watch out for false prophets! They dress up like sheep, but inside they are wolves who have come to attack you. 16 You can tell what they are by what they do. No one picks grapes or figs from thornbushes. 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that produces bad fruit will be chopped down and burned.20 You can tell who the false prophets are by their deeds.
Rather than speak for Apostles Paul, Peter, John, and Pastor Jude, I’ll let them speak for themselves. And as you hear them, please know that they are speaking to us.
First, we’ll look at what Paul said:
28 “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood[h]—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.[i] 29 I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30 Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. 31 Watch out!
Next, we’ll look at what Peter wrote:
2 Peter 3:17-18
17 My dear friends, you have been warned ahead of time! So don’t let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance. 18 Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing. Praise Jesus now and forever! Amen.
The Apostle John wrote this:
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.11 Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.
And Jude wrote this:
Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.
Do you hear a common thread?
The fact is, people of faith are especially vulnerable to in the insincere and subtle seductions of false teachers. But understand, this is nothing new – it’s been going on for thousands of years. These “scoundrels” have left a trail of Christ followers who have been spiritually abused, emotionally damaged, and led astray.
Which poses two questions of vital importance:
- Why are we so vulnerable to false teachers?
- How can we identify them when we see or hear them?
- Deception is Satan’s native language. (John 8:44, Ephesians 4:14, 1 Timothy 4:1)
- False teachers look and sound just like us. They sound right, look right and are so attractive, irresistible and charismatic – like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
- Too many of us have not been fed enough of a steady diet of sound Biblical teaching to cause us to crave more unsound teaching or make us unable to identify and reject unsound teaching when we hear it. You see false teaching is so seductive; but true teaching really isn’t. You see, the Bible contains many difficult truths that are hard for many of us to hear. Another seduction technique stems from the notion conveyed by a pastor or a teacher that he or she is the ONLY pastor or teacher who preaches the truth – and not just the truth, but the DEEP TRUTHS of the Bible – in a way that you won’t get anywhere else from anyone else.
- We long to be a part of something bigger than ourselves – sometimes to a fault.
So, how can we identify false teachers when we see or hear them?
Jesus answered this question in Matthew 23:
2 The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. 3 So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.
4 They pile heavy burdens on people’s shoulders and won’t lift a finger to help. 5 Everything they do is just to show off in front of others. They even make a big show of wearing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms, and they wear big tassels for everyone to see. 6 They love the best seats at banquets and the front seats in the meeting places. 7 And when they are in the market, they like to have people greet them as their teachers…
…13-14 You Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs. You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You won’t go in yourselves, and you keep others from going in.
15 You Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs. You travel over land and sea to win one follower. And when you have done so, you make that person twice as fit for hell as you are.
16 You are in for trouble! You are supposed to lead others, but you are blind. You teach that it doesn’t matter if a person swears by the temple. But you say that it does matter if someone swears by the gold in the temple…
…27 You Pharisees and teachers are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs. You’re like tombs that have been whitewashed, On the outside they are beautiful, but inside they are full of bones and filth. 28 That’s what you are like. Outside you look good, but inside you are evil and only pretend to be good.
In contrast, this is what Jesus said about Himself, and what should be true about authentic teachers of Truth are like:
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I willease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment andrecreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.
30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. (Matthew 11:28-30)
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