The Right Road to God: False Prophets and Doctrine
We asked what Bible topics you wanted us to discuss, and your questions and suggestions did not disappoint. Here on our blog, Kevin and I (Jennifer) will try our best to tackle these and any more that come our way in the future.
From our friend Lei Holder:
“False prophets/teacher. Sadly, so many popular preachers, ministers, evangelists, etc. are teaching a false doctrine. Right now, more than ever, we need truth.”
Well said Lei! We need to seriously consider the dangers of false prophets and doctrine in today’s culture. People are hungry for truth, but also the flesh is attracted to what “feels good”. Navigating through our flesh and focusing on the right road is often a journey that is bumpy and difficult. It takes careful consideration of scripture, time in prayer, and a sensitivity to the nudges of the Holy Spirit.
When there is something in the house I don’t like I will playfully refer to It as “the Devil” or that’s from “the Devil”. The most recent example of this is when Cheyenne insisted I try brussels sprouts. I like vegetables and it seemed reasonable that I would enjoy them. My friends, brussels sprouts are from the Devil and I do not advise trying them. Just don’t. In all seriousness, False prophets, doctrine, and many occult practices that “feel good” are straight from the Devil himself. Think about the bumper guards when bowling. They keep you straight, down a narrow path, and to a victory at the end. The Devil’s job is to tear down the safety guards and create a broad path to everlasting destruction in your life.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV
In scripture you can find the Devil described as a wolf, a serpent, and a roaring lion seeking who he may devour. If you stop to think about what these predators have in common, you might come to the same conclusion I did.
- They are fast.
- They hunt
- They are masters of camouflage
The Devil has no moral compass preventing him from attacking you. A common method he uses are people that look and sound like the real deal. Do not be deceived into thinking the Devil cannot imitate God. Just spend time reading Exodus 7:8-13 and you will see just how clever the enemy is:
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Show a miracle for yourselves,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and cast it before Pharaoh, and let it become a serpent.’ ” So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the Lord commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said.”
We live in a time where any minute of the day we can turn on a tv, radio, or pick up our phones to watch or listen to a sermon. What a blessing to have a continual supply of God’s word! For most people, this is a lot easier than reading or studying your Bible by yourself. When your Bible is open in front of you, all contexts can be considered where you can discern what’s right and what’s wrong. Instead, we judge a sermon by what feels good or sounds right. The real danger lies in that ability to choose what we accept as truth and what we cast off. Where do we stop? This is how we arrived as a culture to “all roads lead to Heaven”. The ill-conceived notion that it is all the same god leading to the same place. We have the ability to test anything we read or hear against the scriptures, and when we ask for the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit, we can decipher truth from lies. The challenge we then face is to stand up against something that looked really good, that felt really good, and say, “This is not truth taught to us by scripture.”. The challenge is even harder when the person spreading this message is someone you admire, a family member, a friend, or even your Pastor. It is important that we clarify that not everyone we disagree with doctrinally is a false prophet or is spreading a false doctrine. Rather, use those times of disagreement to edify your own testimony and beliefs. Particularly since the reformation movement, we have many brothers and sisters in Christ who carry different doctrinal beliefs. Jesus does not desire that these differences divide us, but rather we continually seek unity as one body of Christ.
In 1 Timothy chapter 1, Paul is encouraging Timothy on how to spot bad teaching and how to stand up for what is right. Paul is advising caution from false teachers to controversy in modest dress with a lot to break down in between. Overall, the book is about a church in crisis and correcting those who caused it. When a person sounds like they know what they are talking about and we follow along, we allow for their own brand of Christianity to take place, and this is how false doctrine is born. 1 Timothy chapter 1:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Galatians 1:6-10 does not come with an option out discloser, but rather a heated warning of those bringing a false doctrine:
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”
Here are just six of the many false doctrines being taught in churches today. I’m sure with careful thought, you can expand upon this list greatly:
- Jesus isn’t the only way
- Eternal security/once saved always saved
- Repentance isn’t required for salvation
- There is no hell
- The prosperity gospel
- All religions are the same
There are only two options given in scripture- belief and unbelief. When it comes to Jesus, you cannot be lukewarm. There is not a neutral gear option that allows you to bow out of defense for what is truth.
How do we recognize false doctrine? Here are some basic things to consider:
- Does this square up with the word of God?
- Does this promote controversy instead of a final understanding?
- IS there good “fruit” present?
- Does this lack a basic understanding of the Bible and gospel message?
- Does this reject Jesus Christ?
- Can the person teaching this doctrine be approachable and has repentance for mistakes make in doctrine?
Be encouraged to carefully reflect upon your beliefs and why you believe them. If we are honest, at one point or another in our lives there have been things that sounded good and may have caused us to drift in a dangerous direction. This is where we rejoice, my friends, in the grace of God that cleanses us from all sin. We can rejoice in the Holy Spirit who guides us on the narrow path, and we can grow in the teaching and direction of our savior, Jesus Christ.
You may find yourself disappointed that this blog didn’t provide a list of televangelist, mega church Pastors, and faith healers that I believe to be false prophets spreading a false doctrine. Rather, our desire is to equip you with the tools, and motivate you to seek those dangers out and extinguish them out of your life. Run the good race down the narrow path, my friends, and have joy in the struggles knowing you are laying up your treasures in Heaven.