It wasn't long before false teachers were infecting the church with false doctrine, perverting the Apostles' teaching. Actually, they came in right away.
We are no different today. False teachers sway the unwary and pollute the church with their man-made philosophies. Humans are human. Just as there were believers and liars then, there are believers and liars now.
I love the preacher's tendency to alliterate their bullet points from their sermon outline. Alliteration is a tactic often used by public speakers to help listeners remember the main points by making the first word of each point begin with the same letter. As a speech communication major and a rhetorician at heart, I love the alliterative device. (As long as it is not overdone). Phil Johnson is Executive Editor of John MacArthur's Grace to You and a pastor himself. The two men were engaged in a Q&A recently and they had a loving and laughing exchange about alliteration. Phil begins:
In fact, my favorite, you did a sermon once from Matthew 27 on the miracles that occurred during the crucifixion. And you had…you had doubly alliterated every point. There were like six or seven points, I forget how many miracles there were, but I do remember your outline because it had to do with the tearing of the curtain in the tabernacle and you called that “sanctuary desecration,” and then there was the supernatural darkness and when you got to the earthquake you called it “soil disturbance.”I was reading 1 John chapter two this week. I keep going back to it. The Spirit has grabbed a-hold of my brain and grabbed a-hold of that chapter and is not letting go. So anyway I'm reading and the flow of the chapter floats to my mind in sort of a picture. A picture of a list. An alliterated list, lol.
Well yeah, that’s the best I could with an S D for an earthquake.
If you guys use that, make it “seismic disturbance,” or something.
Yeah, well why didn’t I think of that? That’s why you edit my books.
John warns the flock that false teachers will engage in:
"I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you." (1 John 2:26).
John uses the word planao for deceive. Planao means properly, "go astray, get off-course; to deviate from the correct path (circuit, course), roaming into error, wandering; (passive) be misled."
Perhaps they go off-course like this, metaphorically speaking--
At this stage of his life, John was quite advanced in age. He made oblique reference to this in his letter, calling the flock "little children" or "children" many times.
"Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour."
In speaking to them as children, John was being fatherly in his shepherd office. He was also reminding them that deception has one source: demons. The antichrist spirit is behind all false doctrine. All. Beware of their deceptions.
The second "D" that came to my mind as I read the chapter is Denial.
"Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son." (1 John 2:22)
Deceivers deny the Christ. Now, some undoubtedly denied Christ outright, they still do that today. But remember, John is speaking of false teachers within the church, and who were successful in leading some away. If they deny Him outright, they are very easy to spot, no? So how does a false teacher deny Christ? Perhaps by denying He was born of a virgin. Perhaps by denying He lived a sinless life. Perhaps by saying He was a really good teacher but...that's it. Perhaps by saying that He is truth but that there is more truth to be had in visions and dreams and personal revelations. In other words, that His truth is not authoritative as spoken in the bible.
So the false teachers deny His authority. They deny His attributes; such as His sinlessness, or His wrath or His deity. ("God is love, He won't judge..."). False teachers deny, deny, deny. And this is important: they make you doubt what you know.
The scene below is from the 1960s movie A Guide for the Married Man. It is where we got the quote, "deny, deny, deny."
False teachers do what they do to draw you away from the center point which is Jesus. Anything they can do to divert your focus, nudge you off the path, they will do it. If they go, it proves they were never of the faith.
"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." (1 John 2:19).
Some will always find false doctrine a treat, a candy sweetness they wrongly assume is as sweet as Jesus. It is not, but they still seek after it, and false teachers know this and deceive in order to draw out those who are willing to be drawn. It is one way the Lord purges His flock. John 15:2 says that He cuts off the branch that bears no fruit- He prunes.
But it is still traumatic to lose congregants who follow after the false ones. It is heartbreaking. But go they will and it is one way the Lord makes something good from something bad. The branch always buds more flourishingly after the dead weight is cut off.
Not just the congregants depart. The false teachers depart too. They see each church as a field with assets and once they strip it of all riches, they move on. How many alien movies have we seen where the alien invaders' plan is to strip-mine the earth for all its minerals, or humans, and leaving the planet a wasteland, move on.
It is the same with false teachers. They strip-mine the weak of their money or their time or their heart, and scooping up their booty, leave with spiritual devastation in their wake.
False teachers deceive, deny, and depart. Beware. The New Testament is full of warnings about false teachers. If you study the bible, you will read and heed the warnings, because you will be getting filled with the truth! The truth is the best and only barometer of falsity. It is the sure thing.