Sound The Alarm
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-10 (NASB)
Dear friends, the church is suffering from an influx of false teachers who are contradicting the Word of God, endangering old and new believers alike.
I could name dozens upon dozens of these false preachers, but I believe that would be somewhat counterintuitive at the moment, primarily because I wouldn’t even scratch the surface of names.
Your first question to me, understandably, would be “Isn’t this judging? Doesn’t the Bible say not to judge?”
YES, Christ tells us not to be judgmental and condemning (Luke 6:37): that is, we are not to take the place of a judge, declaring the person guilty and sentencing them to pay for their crimes. However, this does not overturn Matthew 18:15-17. In fact, 1 Corinthians 5 orders us to call out sin within the church. Furthermore, we are repeatedly ordered to exercise the discernment in regards to teachers and teachings:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have done out into the world. (1 John 4:1, NASB)
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far, and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.” (2 John 1:7-11, NASB, emphasis mine)
Abiding in the teaching of Christ. Jesus didn’t make mistakes. He didn’t leave stuff out. He didn’t omit portions of the truth. What He said was absolute, complete, total truth. If we’re adding to His words, interpreting the living daylights out of them until they’re unrecognizable, twisting them to fit what we’re teaching…that is NOT “abiding in the teaching of Christ.” That is, quite literally, going too far.
“Do not receive him into your house,” John says. “Do not give him a greeting.” Did you know your television is a door to your house? That your computer, your radio, your bookshelves, these are all doors into your house?
Think of it like this: if someone were to make a platter of brownies, using only the finest ingredients, would you eat it? Of course. But, let’s say the cook put in a tablespoon of dog feces into it. Would you eat it then? Why not?
By this, I do not mean our preachers are supposed to be perfect. None of us are. However, if a preacher is going too far, distorting the teachings of Christ, bringing a gospel other than the one Jesus himself handed down, why would we listen to them?
I once explained it to a close friend in the faith like this: every sermon is a sunflower seed. You chew it and spit out the shell, ingesting only the good kernel. But if that sunflower seed has been soaked in poison, it doesn’t matter that we spit out the shell. The very kernel is poisoned!
Every sermon is soaked in the gospel the preacher believes. If they believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that kernel is good, even if they say something wrong. But if they believe in another gospel, that kernel is now poisoned, and we suffer.
This is where it is SO important to know the Word of God. One of the biggest pitfalls in today’s church is “proof-texting”, taking a single verse, or even a chapter, out of context. Every part of the Bible has to be taken in the context of the ENTIRE Bible.
A popular heresy today is “when we come to Christ, we’re perfect. We no longer sin at all, so we must assume that everything we do is good.” This is proof-texted by 1 John 3:7, “No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.”
When this was first quoted to me, I was perplexed, especially because 1 John 2:1 (writing to the SAME Christians) says “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Woah, wait a minute…the Bible doesn’t contradict itself! I grabbed our original Greek New Testament, and lo and behold…1 John 2:1 and 1 John 3:7 weren’t even using the same word for “sin”! Even a few concordances miss it, but if you look at the actual Greek words, and note the differences in the letters, you’ll see two different words are being used. A bit of research reveals their meanings:
Chapter 3 referred to the living and active root of sin, while Chapter 2 referred to an accidental stumbling, a tripping up.
Okay, NOW this makes sense, and the apparent contradiction is removed. The Bible tells us in many ways and many places that when we come to Christ, our fallen, sinful root is removed. However, we are not yet perfect. We still make mistakes. Shoot, Paul himself made a mistake in how he addressed the high priest, and he apologized for it (Acts 23:5).
Unfortunately, many Christians, especially first-world Christians, have grown lazy in their understanding of the Word of God, in “accurately handling the word of truth.” In fact, the earlier part of that verse seems to be a favorite church pastime these days.
“Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.” (2 Timothy 2:14, NASB)
God is pretty overt in His Word. If He said it, He meant it. Yes, translation has made things a little fuzzy in places, which is where a Hebrew/Greek version comes in handy from time to time, but there is a profound difference between checking translational integrity and using the Devil’s Bible interpretation method: “You surely will not die!” (Genesis 3:4, NASB).
I sat in a church service a couple years ago and listened to man say that “when Christ said those who don’t forgive are in danger of hell, He didn’t really mean hell.”
Guess what, Christ’s teachings aren’t sugar coated. He never said this would be an easy walk (in fact, He said “in the world you have tribulations, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NASB).
Satan invented proof-texting. He pulled it on Jesus during the temptation (Luke 4:10-11, NASB). How did our Lord shut him down? He slammed that verse back into context in Luke 4:12.
I cannot say this enough – God does not contradict himself!
As I said, there are quite a few heresies in the church today, and we need to start putting some context BACK into these proof-texted verses and carefully crafted lies.
Before you read on, I urge you, I implore you, suspend your pride in what you think you know about God long enough to see what God actually has to say. I say this from the perspective of someone who has to do that on nearly a daily basis. We’re human, and none, I repeat, none of us will get all our theological ducks in a row this side of heaven.
If you feel offense at something I say, take it as a cue that you need to take those beliefs back into review. The Spirit of Christ is not offended. Jesus didn’t even take offense when people said He was a liar and a heretic. I’ve learned that the feeling of offense against one of my theological beliefs means I need to take it to review. Many times, there’s something in there that isn’t in line with the word of God.
Grab your Bibles and hold on tight.
1. Prosperity Gospel: In a nutshell, this teaching says that God wants us to be rich, and if we give money to Him (often times, allegedly by giving to a particular ministry or preacher), God will pour out abundant blessing.
Proof-text: Malachi 3:10
Context #1: The final response from the apostles in the debate about whether Levitical law should be applied to the Gentiles: Acts 15:11.
Context #2: Is the Gospel for gain? 1 Timothy 6: 3-11.
Context #3: Proper giving in the Church: 2 Corinthians 9. (Please also note how the funds are to be used.)
2. Hyper-Grace Gospel: This says, in one form or another, that because we’re forgiven, it really doesn’t matter how we live. God has grace for us, and we’re saved, so we’re all good.
Proof-text: Romans 11:6; Romans 5:1-2 (among others)
Context #1: How we are to live: 1 John 1, 2, 3
Context #2: How we can be recognized as Christians: John 13:34-35
Context #3: If we go on sinning willingly…Hebrews 10:26-39
3. Ragamuffin Gospel: Yes, I am also referring to the book, which I strongly advise you to re-read chapter 1 of if you have any doubts about what it teaches. This “gospel” says we’re all saved by default, and we are all going to heaven because He loves us too much to send us to hell.
I give you six context verses, because this is easily the most dangerous heresy of all the ones I address.
Proof-text: Romans 8:38-39
Context #1: If someone does fall away: Hebrews 6:1-8
Context #2: Yup, reposting: Hebrews 10:26-39
Context #3: Matthew 7:21-23 (what do you think “depart from me” means?)
Context #4: Matthew 21:35-46
Context #5: Revelation 20: 11-15
Context #6: Revelation 21:27
Again, I admonish you to take what I’ve presented to you in prayer. This is not “throwing stones”, this is using the discernment we as Christians have been commanded to use. And this discernment must be applied to EVERY SINGLE teacher, preacher, prophet, apostle, pastor, Christian musician, author, and mentor we listen to spiritually. I apply my discernment to preachers I enjoy listening to just as much as to to preachers I don’t enjoy listening to.
Read these to better understand how to discern between true and false teachers:
2 Corinthians 11:3-4
2 Timothy 4:14-15
2 Peter 2:1-22
2 Peter 3:17-18
If you have spread any of the lies which I have addressed, and you are now feeling convicted, know that there is forgiveness through Christ. However, I urge you, abandon these heresies and return to the teachings of Christ, not just in your words, but in your lifestyle!
I say this as a former Pharisee. I used to be extremely religious, believing and spreading many lies and intentionally proof-texting at times. I am myself guilty, and it is something I’ve had to fight through over the past decade.
Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.