False Teachers and How to Spot Them

 

False Teachers & How to Spot Them
II Peter 2:10a
 
I'm going to read several verses in the second chapter because as you will recall in the first chapter, Peter sets before us the genuine faith, and he's setting the stage so that we can recognize the counterfeit faith in the second chapter. The best way to be able to recognize that which is false is to first of all be thoroughly familiar with that which is real.
 
So in the first chapter we have spent a little time laying before us the genuine faith, the like precious faith. Now in chapter two he moves into the section which deals with false teachers and how to spot them.
 
We are living in a day where there is a flood of false teaching. I think more false teaching is among us today than I have ever witnessed in my entire ministry. The religious world is like a zoo with every shape and every stripe of religious animal. Just about anything you want to believe you can find a religion today which will teach it. Nick Garland, pastor of First Baptist in Broken Arrow, describes Tulsa as the granola bar of religion. Every fruit, nut and flake is there!
 
If you don't want to believe there's a hell, then there is a religion that will teach that there is no hell. If you want to use drugs and have promiscuous sex and do it in the name of religion, there is a religion out there that will allow you to do so. 
 
 
If you want to lay aside your Bible and totally disregard the Word of God, there are religions today that will make it possible for you to do that very thing.
 
As we move to this second chapter of II Peter, in this chapter in the opening verses, he makes it very clear to us that there will be false teachers. In fact, you will notice in verse 1, "But there were," and then in that verse he says, "There shall be." He's saying that there has always been false prophets, false teachers, and he is saying that there always will be false teaching and false preachers.
 
The warning is very clear in scripture that there have always been and that there shall be false teachers. Just because they smile or just because they have a skillful delivery, just because they have a Bible in their hand, it doesn't mean necessarily that they are true teachers and preachers of the Word of God.
 
I want to talk to you about false teachers and how to spot them. As you move down through these verses and as we work through the teaching here, you will see first of all
 
I. Their Defection.
 
They will defect from the true faith. He talks about false teachers who bring in “destructive heresies”. 
 
A heresy is a teaching which departs from the teachings of God's Word. The very root of the word heresy literally means to choose. In other words, a heresy is something someone chooses to believe. 
 
 
You decide to believe what you want to believe and what you think rather than what God says in the Bible. That's what heresy is. "heresies of destruction.
 
Why is that so serious? If it's just a little off from the truth what difference does it really make?" He calls these heresies, "Heresies of destruction." When we come to religious matter, when we come to matters of truth and error in the realm of religion, we are dealing with eternal issues. We are talking about heaven or hell. We are talking about eternal life, and we are talking about eternal destruction. 
 
The Bible is very careful about their defection. It talks about how they are defective in their method
 
He says that they will secretly bring in these heresies. The word secretly means to come in along side of. They don't come through the front door. They come through the side door or the back door. 
 
In Jude it talks about these false teachers and how they operate. It says in verse 4, "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men." The phrase "crept in unawares," means they slip in and they occupy chairs of religion in religious schools. They begin to teach in Christian schools. They slip into pulpits of orthodox churches.
 
In my own ministry I have witnessed churches that were one time conservative, churches that were one time true to the faith. Then some teacher got in, or some preacher got in who deviated from the faith, and the church went totally apostate. 
He warns us here about their defection and their method, how they go about it. They come slipping in on the side. 
 
They are defective in their message
 
He says that they will deny the Lord that bought them. That is an interesting statement right there. He is talking about false teachers. Would we not all agree that false teachers are not saved? As you read this chapter you will discover very clearly that the false teacher is not a saved person. Yet, he says in this statement that they deny the Lord who bought them.
 
There is a teaching abroad which teaches that Jesus died on the cross only for the elect, that He did not die for the whole world. In I John 2, verse 2, it says, "And he," that is the Lord Jesus, "is the propitiation," that is the atoning sacrifice, "for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." 
 
You can say to anybody you meet that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. Jesus bought them, that is, Jesus paid the atoning price with His own blood that even a false teacher could be saved if he would repent of his sins. But they deny the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. They deny the atonement of our Lord. They deny what Christ did for them on the cross of Calvary. They are wrong not only in their method but they are also wrong in their message.
 
First of all he talks a little bit about their defection, false teachers and how to spot them. Then notice secondly not only their defection but
 
 
II. Their Deception.
 
He talks now about how the false teachers deceive. 
 
Look at what he says in verse 2. 
 
Isn't that an amazing thing right there? "Many will follow." It is an astonishing thing to me how false teachers can get so many people to follow them.
 
I remember a number of years ago when Rev. Sung Moon burst upon the religious scene. Rev. Sung Moon came with his off-the-wall teaching. It is utter blasphemy. It is utter heresy. Yet thousands and thousands of people followed that man. 
 
We remember Jim Jones and the cult that built up around Jim Jones, and he got them to leave America and go somewhere else. Before it was over, the poison was in the Kool Aid and he got them to drink the poison. "Many will follow."
 
How do they get many people to follow? I want you to notice that he first of all indicates to us that they are deceptive in their ways. He says in verse 2, "And many shall follow their destructive ways." The word destructive means low morality. It means a low style of living.
 
Here's something that I want you to understand about false teaching that's very crucial to know. False teaching will always lead to false living. The false teachers will lead people toward a low form of morality. "destructive ways, immoral ways." 
 
 
 
That is exactly what we are witnessing in the religious world of America today. The immorality that is rampant in the culture of America today is being spawned in churches where people are being taught that it doesn't really matter how you live. Just live any old way and everything is alright. 
 
I would absolutely blow your mind this morning if I told you some of the things going on in so called Christian churches today. I'll give you just a few. I could point you to a church. I could name the name of a church where when you come to that church you can take your choice between a drinking Sunday School class and a non drinking Sunday School class. 
 
For some of you sitting here, this is the only church you've ever known. You were saved and baptized in this church. You've never been to another church. You don't have a clue to what is going on out there in the religious world. But I am telling you it is an immoral mess out there in many of the churches of America. 
 
I can take you to another church, and in that church if you want to be immoral you can be a leader in that church. I'll give you just one example. I could name you the name of the church. A single went to this particular church. They got involved in one of the singing groups in the church. 
 
After they had their rehearsal, they all went out to the bar for drinks. This single, who came from a good solid Christian church, was so devastated by it that the single decided to go to a staff member in the church and said, "I don't want to be a tattle tale, but I think the church needs to know what's going on with this singing group," and told the story. 
The staff member said, "Well, we're just hoping you will grow enough in your Christian life where this will not be a problem to you any more." 
 
"Many will follow their destructive ways," and they will do it in the name of religion. They will claim that they have the blessing of God upon it.
 
They are deceptive in their ways. They are deceptive in their words
 
Verse 3
 
The idea here is manufactured words, molded words, plastic words, made up words. They are words that are used with careful intent, words that are used basically to fleece people and to get money out of people.
 
We have an abundance of that today. "They exploit you." It's all about money. It's all about taking advantage of good and godly people.
 
They know the words to use. Not only do false prophets use false words, but sometimes false prophets use true words but they don't mean by the words what you and I mean by the words. It's called neo-orthodoxy. 
 
Neo-orthodoxy is when people use the words of the Bible, but they change the definitions of the words of the Bible. They talk about salvation, but they mean something else. They talk about eternal life, but they mean something else. They talk about the inspiration of the Bible, but they mean something else. In other words, they use our vocabulary but they don't use our dictionary. 
I know there are some today who say we shouldn’t bad-mouth other religions and preachers. That is wrong-headed thinking. I am jealous for my flock. I don't want anything to mess you up. I don't want you to get a hold of any teaching that's not true to the Word of God. I'm the shepherd of the flock. I'm responsible. 
 
He is saying here that they are deceptive in their ways and they are deceptive in their words. Then notice number three that he talks about
 
III. Their Destruction.
 
Look at the end of verse 3. It's saying that their judgment is not slack. In other words, the destruction that is on the way is not taking a nap. It's on the way.
 
Do you see what he does in verse 4 and on down? He gives three illustrations to illustrate the fact that you can't sin and get by with it, and that false teachers can't do this kind of thing and get by with it and that judgment is ahead. He uses three illustrations and every one of those illustrations comes from the book of Genesis.
 
The first illustration he uses is about the chains of the fallen angels. 
 
Verse 4
 
The Bible says that there were some angels that rebelled in heaven and they fell, and this passage says that they are now in chains in hell.
 
 
The word for hell there is the word tartaros which seems to be a special prison house of hell where these demon spirits, these fallen spirits, are incarcerated. The point of the passage is that if even the angels in heaven could not rebel without being judged, how do you think you are going to get away with sin and not be judged? It says that they are reserved in chains unto judgment. 
 
The second illustration is in verse 5. In the second illustration he uses the catastrophe of the flood. 
 
He says, "the ancient world" That's the world before the flood. You know the story about the world before the flood. Read about the days before Noah and see what was going on, all of the immorality and all the apostasy that was going on before the flood. It says that God didn't spare them. 
 
Noah was a preacher of righteousness. For 120 years Noah preached righteousness to the people and Noah was building an ark. They laughed at him and made fun of him. But every peg in the ark was a sermon that God was going to send a flood. The day came when God said to Noah and to his family, "Get in the ark." When he got in the ark, the Bible says that the flood came.
 
The flood's coming one of these days. You had better get in the ark. Jesus is the only ark of safety from the coming judgment upon the world.
 
The third illustration he uses is the condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah. It says that Sodom and Gomorrah were left in ashes. 
 
 
Verse 6 says, "Into ashes." Those cities were turned into ashes. Archeologists have now found evidence for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and they discovered that the cities were destroyed by fire and brimstone just like God said.
 
Then he talks about Lot. God delivered Lot, but look at what he calls Lot. It says in verse 7, "And delivered righteous Lot." Then in verse 8 it calls him, "That righteous man." 
 
If you go back to the book of Genesis and you read about Lot, you certainly won't think that he was a righteous man. You have to read almost to the end of the Bible to find a statement that Lot was a saved man. Don't live in such a way that people will have to read almost through their Bible to find any assurance that you might be a saved person. 
 
Lot was a saved man. But do you remember what happened to Lot? He pitched his tent toward Sodom. Then the next thing that you read is that he was living in Sodom. That's what will happens to a lot of people. They pitch their tent in a sinful direction, compromise and get as close to the world as they possibly can. See how close to the edge they can get without falling off.
 
He pitched his tent toward Sodom. The next think you know, he and his family have moved into Sodom and the Bible says that he vexed his soul from day to day with the filthy lifestyle of the people in Sodom. The first word "vex" means that it wore him down. The word means to wear down. Just Lot was worn down with the filthy conversation.
 
 
Sixty years ago "Gone with the Wind," and Rhett Butler, Clark Gable, came out with what today would be considered a rather mild curse word. 
 
Yet today people sit in their homes with their own sons and daughters, boys and girls, and listen to and watch stuff on television that ten years ago would have shocked us. You've been worn down. You've compromised. You're going along with it.
 
Lot was a saved man, but he was worn down. He was a saved man, but he got used to the things of old Sodom.
 
Notice what it says in verse 8. 
 
Life for Lot became a hell on earth.
 
There are some of God's people today, I'm afraid, that have pitched toward Sodom, and you are going to turn your family and your life into a hell on earth.
 
How many parents, by the sinfulness of their choices, have made life for their families a hell on earth?
 
Peter is giving us a word of warning: God says that you are not going to get by with it. The angels that sinned didn't get by with it. The old world that was flooded didn't get by with it. Sodom and Gomorrah didn't get by with it. Why do you think you are going to get by with it?  The false teachers are not going to get by with it.
 
I want you to see something. Look at verse 9. "The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations." That's the good news today. 
The Lord knows how. 
 
Are you going through a fire? You may have a health storm, a fire you are going through, or maybe a trial. The Lord knows how to deliver you. You're battling temptation this morning. The Lord knows how to deliver you. You've got problems in your family with your wayward children. The Lord knows how to deliver you. 
 
I don't care what you are going through, dear one, but the Lord knows how. Not only does He know how, He will deliver you. You may be going through the fire right now, but Jesus is the fourth man in the fire and He'll lead you through that fire; and though you go through the fire, the Bible says that you will not be burned neither shall the flames kindle upon you. 
 
So I've got some good news for you today. God will judge the false teachers. That's true. God will judge the ungodly, but God knows how to deliver His people and He will.
 
Let's bow our heads in prayer.
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