Tuesday, January 29, 2013

False teachers deceive, deny, and depart: Discernment from 1 John

In reading 1 John 2, the warnings about false teachers are so vividly clear. Isn't the bible amazing, that the readers in our time would benefit just as much from this living document, as those in John's time, 1,900 years ago, did?

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.”

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.
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.

John warns the flock that false teachers will engage in:

Deception.

"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--

We get so involved with examining our bag of candy that we wander off the path before we know it. John was telling the flock that there were some who were trying to nudge them off the path, and they were using deception to do it. For some gullible 'believers', it is like giving candy to a baby.

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.

Denial

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."


Departure

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.

11 comments:

  1. I commented here 2 days ago but it was not posted. Was it something you disagreed with?

    Robert

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    1. Robert, what was your comment? If it wasn't published there could be several reasons. Disagreeing with a commenter may or may not be a reason. I often post comments that disagree with the point of the piece. If you care to re-send, I'll take another look. That way I can let you know what happened. :)

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  2. Elizabeth,

    First of all I agree that the false teachers are running rampant today. The first two alliterations are clear to me but the third, DEPARTURE, is from what I have seen the last few years, just the opposite. Rather than the false teachers and those who support them departing from the visible church congregations, it is those who stand firm on sound Doctrine who are either forced to leave or voluntarily leave. They are studying at home, online and meeting in smaller groups to continue to grow in Christ. Not the ideal, but most are finding that if they question why Rick Warren or Rob Bell or any other nonsense is allowed to be promoted from the pulpit, they are labeled a troublemaker or worse and basically shunned. Unfortunately, what passes for sermons in most churches is much broader and farther reaching than what I have listed, as you know.

    That is what I tried to publish the other day; I may have hit a wrong key.

    Robert

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    1. Hi Robert,

      Thanks for trying again. I don't know what happened either.

      I think verse 2:19 days departure in the sense that they are not departing from the visible congregation. I agree with you there. The teachers are heaping up! And they are heaping up followers to themselves, just as 2 Tim 4:3 says.

      I think the traditional interpretation of 'depart' ("they went out from us') means they have departed from the faith, not the congregation. Some have left of course. But heaps of others are still present and singing, laboring, and attending in droves. But they are not true disciples of the true God inside their heart. That's what I think the verse is saying...

      What do you think?

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  3. Thank you for drawing my attention back to 2:19. Agreed.
    Interesting that you bring out this point, "Heaps of others are still present... But they are not true disciples of the true God inside their heart." This is something that myself and others have been struggling with for years, are they really saved? In most of my conversations with others, we inevitably end up back in John chapters 8&10. 8:31,32,37,38,43,45,47,50. 10:1-5-14. Also 25-30.
    This mornings devotional from Oswald Chambers: "Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel" 1 Cor. 6:19. He states," Discipleship has an option with it,'If any man..." Can one be truly saved and refuse discipleship? Can one continue in fellowship if there is watered down or partial Gospel, or worse yet, no Gospel? LOL! I hope I am not deviating too much from the topic but these are questions that myself and others wrestle with. We are certainly in the "Latter times where some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." 1 Timothy 4:1.
    Robert

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    1. John wrote that their going proves they were not saved. The departure is the proof. Nothing God does can be countermanded by man. If He saves us, were saved. If we depart from the faith, we never were. Which is a relief, because as John MacArthur said, "If we could lose our salvation, we would." :)

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  4. Yes, that is a relief! And oh so true the words of John MacArthur,"If we could lose our salvation, we would."

    The people I know who KNOW they are Born Again, understand this one simple truth; we DO NOT deserve this gift of eternal life through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.So many who claim to know Him believe that they have somehow done a part in earning their salvation. John Newton said it so well,"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me..."
    Robert

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    1. Really good words, Robert. What a comfort.

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  5. What a marvelous exchange and sweet "fellowship" between fellow believers! Thank you for posting the comments between both Robert and yourself, Elizabeth. Blessings for all of us with His Spirit!

    I agree and understand that in order for one to "depart from the faith", they had only the faith which the flesh produces, not the Faith of Christ Jesus indwelling, which is Fruit of His Spirit, Gal 5:22,23.
    When He saves us, placing His Spirit in us, He keeps us, John 10:28.
    This takes us back to the Parable of the Sower...only one of the four was saved.

    In Him,
    Shannon

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  6. I've run into two false teachers now online, and their following is astounding. When you try to correct their teaching using sound Biblical wisdom, they make fun and draw their faithful around them or say you have religious claws and are a wicked spirit attacking them and their followers. They pull out a scripture here and there and twist it to what THEY want it to mean, not what it really means. Just for example of what the one is teaching, humans do not go to hell because "God wants no man to perish and because He always gets His way". Her reasoning is then that because God doesn't want humans to perish, the unsaved are nephilim. Her 'students' are also taught that we have no free will and all of our entire life has been programmed by God from day one. If you want to know who, contact me privately, I don't want others to end up being deceived by posting her name on here in public. I and some others have been working to help negate the damage she is doing. God bless

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    1. Hi Soccerkidsmom,

      I know, it gets so aggravating!! But we can continually gaze upon the beauty of Christ and know that as long as we submit and repent His saving love will keep our minds continually transforming.

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