In my last writing- False Prophets in the End Times- I covered various motives behind false prophets’ deceptive messages as well as some basic criteria to look for in assessing the authenticity and validity behind any single prophet’s doctrinal message.
True apostles and prophets are rare
I offered a rather broad, generalized definition of a “prophet” (i.e. one who hears and communicates a message on behalf of God (ref: Bible Gateway, “definitions”)) so that in talking about a false prophet I could, in turn, offer a fairly wide scope of catchall motives. The motives I offered are indeed broad enough to where they can apply to virtually anyone attempting to communicate a false message on behalf of God.
In getting a little more granular, the apostle Paul separates distinct parts of the holistic “body of Christ” (1 Cor 12) and gives a rank order of importance, with the first three members being apostle, prophet, and teacher, respectively. He describes (true) apostles and prophets as the “foundation of the (worldwide) Church (with Christ as the cornerstone)” (Eph 2:20), who are able to understand the “mystery of Christ” (Eph 3:4). Apostles are in a league of their own, able to perform signs, wonders and miracles (2 Cor 12:12) and “having the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor 2:16). Additionally, we know that an obvious way to tell these true messengers of God, both apostles and prophets, is that we find what they prophesy actually comes to fruition (Ez 33:33).
It’s safe to say that true apostles or prophets in the sense of a more concrete definition are fairly rare in our current end times period. Do you know of any? Yet false prophets are numerous. In fact, the bible tells us that many so-called prophets in the last days are going to be ashamed (Zech 13:4) when actual truth is revealed.
The good news, however, is that all of us who desire truth in a day when it is sorely lacking have all we need in the Word of God- the Word originally given to us by God’s own apostles and prophets, divinely inspired by, or witnesses to Jesus Christ himself. In the course of our own study of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit and prayer can help us with our interpretation and understanding.
Teachers of the Word (next in Paul’s rank-order behind apostles and prophets as shown above) should also be able to help. Paul and Peter discuss teachers as “overseers” in scripture, which we can likely directly associate with our modern-day pastors or heads of the church who preach, teach and shepherd the flock.
Teachers are common, but so is false teaching
So in speaking about teachers/teachings in this writing, I am getting slightly more focused and practical as well as detailing a few types of false teachings that contribute to the deception we are called to watch out for in these last days. Keep in mind these do not include teachings in numerous other false religions, but in some cases may include those that at least loosely purport to be associated with the one true God of Israel (who we know is Jesus Christ). These false teachings reflect obvious impurities and infiltration by the modern day anti-Christ Chaldeans in pastoral-teaching ranks, and thus, have the same dark underlying motivation(s) that I laid out in my last passage.
For the purposes of this passage, I divided the topic of false teaching into three categories, based on what we are told in scripture: 1) False doctrine and heresy; 2) teaching of the law; and 3) Anti-Christ blasphemy. I address each of these below.
1) False doctrine and heresy- This is the modern day representation of “Greeks seek wisdom”-thinking. It is found in what appears to be a Christian setting, but it has a Pharisee-like manifestation due to rules, rituals, traditions and routines. It is similar to a modern day Gnosticism in that there is an appearance of wisdom, but no existence of the true Holy Spirit. A primary distinction is that this teaching is not about the true Jesus Christ who we know came as both God and man.
Instead, it claims to offer special “mystical” knowledge for one’s true spirituality and salvation. There is at least a rough parallel here to Jewish Kabbalah teaching, which at it’s root (no pun intended) goes back to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and how eating from that tree, figuratively speaking, can bring enlightenment. Like the serpent said, “…you will be like God…” (Gen. 3:5). Again, this teaching is couched as some form of wisdom and intellectualism but it is correctly called out by the apostle Paul as follows:
- Old wives tales and godless myths (and mythological characters) (1 Tim 4:7)
- Godless chatter and opposing ideas falsely called knowledge (1 Tim 6:20)
- Hollow and deceptive philosophy depending on human tradition (Col 2:8)
- Meaningless talk (that they don’t understand themselves) (1 Tim 1:6-7)
- Strange teaching (Heb 13:9)
2) Teaching of the law- This is the current day Jewish-Pharisee “circumcision group,” as referred to by Paul in Titus 1:10. They have rules and laws upon more rules and laws as they have errantly sought to establish their own righteousness. Their Jewish Rabbi teaching and Talmud doctrine takes precedence over scripture. They still teach the law as if one can actually meet its requirements and be justified in God’s eyes. As Jesus warned the Pharisees:
- “…woe to you (experts in the law) because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46)
Ultimately this Pharisee-ical teaching leads to the opposite of justification- that is, it leads to to bondage and spiritual emptiness (i.e. being a “slave to sin” as Jesus said in John 8:34) with no awareness of the grace offered as a result Christ’s death and resurrection. You are probably familiar with the shortcomings of the law as expressed in scripture below:
- All who rely on following the law are under a curse (Gal 3:10)
- Written code with regulations was against us and stood opposed to us (Col 2:13)
- Before true faith (in Christ), “we were held prisoners of the law” (Gal 4:23)
- Works-based faith causes stumbling (Rom 9:30-32)
3) Anti-Christ spirit and blasphemous teaching- At the root of this teaching is intentional evil deception and a determination to mislead or “hinder” the flock by denying Christ. Peter describes how those in this group secretly introduce destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1), including denying the Lord. Both Peter (2 Peter 2:10) and Jude (8) describe how these men slander celestial beings, with Jude (11) pointing out that they make the same mistake as Korah’s rebellion, which involved a revolt against Moses and the Levites, God’s anointed.
These teachers in our day possess or are influenced by the evil spirit of the eternally condemned, fallen angels or false brethren who Jude (4) says “have secretly slipped in among you,” or who Paul says, “came in secretly to spy out our liberty in Christ…” (Gal 2:4). Peter refers to these as the ones for whom “condemnation has long been hanging over” (2 Peter 2:3), and for whom both Jude and Peter say the “blackest darkness” has been reserved. These infiltrators intentionally deceive, lead astray, divide and cause confusion. They have apparently committed one of the gravest sins possible in that they once knew the true way of righteousness but then willfully turned their backs on God in defiance (2 Peter 2:21, Heb 6:4-6).
Due to their overt blasphemy, these divisive and destructive traitors are labeled an “accursed brood,” and “springs without water,” by Peter (2 Pet 2:14 and 2:17). They are further referred to as “clouds without rain” by Jude (12). Not surprisingly, these deceivers and those who willfully engage them possess a dark spirit that leads them into destructive, sinful, immoral behavior described as:
- Shameful ways (2 Peter 2:2); corrupt desire of the sinful nature (2 Peter 2:10)
- Eyes full of adultery…seducing the unstable…experts in greed (2 Peter 2:14)
- Grumblers and faultfinders following their own evil desires (Jude 16)
- Men who divide and follow mere natural instincts (Jude 18)
In closing, given the rampant deception and lawlessness in these last days, as my last two passages about False Prophets and False Teachers have discussed in some detail, believers would do well to heed the Apostle Paul’s principle of milk versus solid food in Hebrews 5:13-14. Here, Paul tells us that solid food is for the spiritually mature who learn to distinguish good from evil. This attribute of discernment is increasingly important for believers in these last days so that we do not fall into the deceitful temptations surrounding us.
Grace and Peace,
Lion’s Lair (LL)