This week we are going to have a quick look @ true & false prophets. For the purposes of this study we include all teachers, ministers, & prophets together collectively.
Hosea 4:6 says My people are being destroyed because they don't know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests.
I do not want to see any of you fail to receive your reward because of a lack of knowledge. These are confusing times & more now than ever we need to be grounded in the word of God.
One reason for this can be found in 2 Timothy:
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
In other words, according to 2Peter 2:1,2 But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered.
There has always been a problem amongst God’s people, & within the church, with false prophets~ people who, for whatever reason, teach untruths. I am not speaking of those who speak the occasional untruth by accident but of those who wilfully & deliberately set about teaching things that cannot be found in scripture, cannot be supported by scripture, ~ or twist the scriptures to suit their own purposes.
Jude hadn’t wanted to write about the trouble in the church. He wanted to write about the salvation all believers share in but he was impelled by the times he lived in ~ & so are we ~ for …some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God's marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.
The word for immoral is aselgeia & it means intemperance; licentiousness, lasciviousness, insolence, outrageous behaviour ~ & the definition for licentiousness is lacking legal or moral restraints; disregarding sexual restraints. Lasciviousness means reflecting or producing sexual desire or behaviour, especially that is considered indecent or obscene.
Jude isn’t writing to unbelievers. He is writing to believers & we have seen the disasterous results in the Catholic church when immorality is found acceptable. However there is a less obvious, far more subtle, & generally accepted poison that has worked its way into the body of Christ. Romans 1:29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarrelling, deception, malicious behaviour, and gossip…
Greed, deception [lying], quarrelling, gossip aren’t seen as such terrible things but such thinking is completely unbiblical. It is roundly condemned throughout scripture. [Romans, Corinthians, Galatians & Ephesians all have something to say about it]. Two are listed as an abomination: a lying tongue & a false witness ~ gossip & lies! [Proverbs 6:16~19]
Jude says that wickedness suppresses the truth[v.18] & he gets quite blunt in verses 18 & 19. They [that is the apostles] told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires.
These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God's Spirit in them. Again, we are not talking about unbelievers but people within the church. Without God’s Spirit you get religion & without the Spirit to restrain the natural instincts you get ungodly desires uncontrolled.
Perhaps the most needed gift within the church today is the gift of discernment, that ability to sift the truth from lies, to tell the false from the genuine, sound doctrine from corruption. Not all churches are the same. Not all doctrine is sound. According to Galatians 5:9 This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!
That being the case I am going to give you 7 things that will help to separate the wheat from the chaff.
We know that satan is a liar & the father of lies. All false doctrine originates with him. There is a different gospel. Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.
There are false ministers.
2 Corintians11:12: But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.
They produce false Christians…. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not…2 Cor.11:26
As Jesus stated The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. Matthew 13:38
Therefore how do you discern the Truth?
2nd Peter describes genuine & false believers.
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. .[1:5~10]
2nd Peter 2 lists several ways false teachers operate.
· They deny the Master who bought them. [v1]
· Greed [v3]
· Lies [v3]
· Proud & arrogant [v 10]
· They scoff @ things they do not understand [v 10]
· They delight in deception [v13]
· They commit adultery with their eyes [v14]
· They brag about themselves [v18]
· They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin & corruption [v19]
1.We see that false teachers have a different source. They invent cleverly made up stories [2P1:16] Matthew 15:9 says Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God. Colossians 2:22 also speaks of man made doctrines.
2. They have a different message.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
Jesus is central. Anything else, no matter how clever, or how wise it seems, is not of God. We have everything we need because we have the Holy Spirit. Without Him we have only ourselves & this leads to people making up things to compensate for the lack of power in their lives.
3. They have a different position.
They do not have the freedom that a true Christian has for if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36 Peter condemns them as promising freedom yet themselves being slaves to depravity. [2:19]
4. They produce a different character.
The Holy Spirit produces fruit according to Galatians 5:22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
The counterfeit produces arrogance and slander (2:10). *experts in greed*, *eyes are full of adultery* (2:14)& they “despise authority” (2:10).
5. Different Appeal
This is, I think, pretty self explanatory. The true prophet, the true teacher, the true minister, will always appeal to scripture. What does God’s word say? They will speak the hard things, exhort people to grow closer to God & live according to His standards. The false will offer comforting lies, refuse to confront sin, & appeal to people’s flesh.
6. Different Fruit
[v8] The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We looked at the preceding verses earlier so we know we are meant to grow in knowledge, understanding, faith, moral excellence. A stagnant Christian is a dead Christian.
The false people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. [2P2:17]
7. Lastly they have a different end.
This is the most appalling thing of all & the reason that we must be vigilant as a church & as individual believers.
For the true believer: So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; [2P1:10~11]
But for the false there is only *swift destruction.*
Remember last week we said everything reproduces after its own kind. Satan reproduces himself in those who knowingly or unknowingly follow him. Christ reproduces Himself in us through the work of His Holy Spirit.