Is it Biblical?
Scoping, Identifying & Taking Aim at Deceivers:
Knowing How and When to Mark
(A Must-Read for all who desire more discernment to escape the evil one in this late hour. This is an excerpt from the book titled Deceivers & False Prophets Among Us which is available on this site)
“Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Romans 16:17
Identifying and marking “them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine” of the LORD, is to be a regular part of the Christian life. In an hour when the proliferation of false teaching is mutating at an increasingly exponential rate, those who love the LORD must examine and test everything against the final authority of the recorded oracles of God (Acts 17:11). The following warning enlightens us to understand this:
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8
Would the all-knowing God have put such a warning in His Word if being spoiled were not possible? People can be spoiled (derailed, made shipwreck of) through false doctrines and philosophies, which, without fail, elevate men and demote Christ (Col. 2:8-9; 18-19).
These derailment elements are designed to steal glory from Christ. If we love Him, we are to “hear God’s words” and “hate every false way.” (Jn. 8:47; Ps. 119:104, 128; Amos 5:14-15)
Let’s break this extremely important Bible text down:
“Mark them” - Beloved, we are mandated to simply and truly hearken to this divinely given instruction, to personally own this truth and walk in it, to be possessed with the protective love of our holy and “Great Shepherd of the sheep.” (Heb. 13:20) One of the ways the “Great Shepherd” protects the sheep of His pasture, is by His other sheep, scoping out and marking the wolves whose venomous lies would devour.
The clear instruction of the Word is to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine.” All human sediments, reasonings, and excuses must be crucified.
“Mark them” – the Greek word here for “mark” is skopeo, which means “to scope out; to take aim at, consider, watch.”
Believers are here mandated to wisely scope out closely, observe and scrutinize all teachings and spiritual leaders under the lamp of God’s holy Word. We are to closely discern between true and false doctrines and leaders and sound the alarm on that which is found to be inconsistent with holy Writ. This is to be done especially when dealing with foundational, essential truths (which are a salvation issue).
“Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” Psalms 119:128
Looking closely at leaders from a Bible perspective is a mandate. Such only becomes a negative when done out of a critical spirit instead of out of love and obedience to the LORD and for the keeping of the way of the LORD in ourselves and others (1 Tim. 4:6, 16). Disciples are to examine every teaching, philosophy, and notion encountered in the light of His holy oracles. In such, the disciple is to identify deceivers, false teachings and practices and “mark them,” that is, watch out for and take aim at them, while warning others. The Holy Spirit also says we are to “avoid them.” (Rom. 16:17)
Concerning this text in Romans 16, Donald Stamps, in the Life In the Spirit Study Bible, writes:
“At the end of his letter, Paul gives a strong warning to the church in Rome to be alert to all those who do inestimable damage to the church by corrupting and extorting the ‘doctrine’ (teaching) of Paul and the other apostles. They are to ‘mark’ the proponents of false doctrine and ‘avoid them' and their ministry. Those marked may have been antinomians (i.e., against the law), who taught that because salvation is by grace, saving faith does not necessarily include obedience to Christ Jesus (cf. 6:1-2; 2 Cor. 4:2; 11:3; Eph. 4:14; Rev. 2:4-5).
They believed that a person could live in sin and reject God’s moral law, and yet possess eternal salvation. These false teachers were eloquent orators, speaking with comforting words and flattering speeches (cf. Jude 16), but deceiving simple Christians.” (p. 1759)
This commentator denotes a specific teaching, all too alive and well in the modern church, that is to be marked and avoided along with those who propagate it.
William MacDonald states:
“It is an ungodly tolerance that has allowed so many pulpits in America to be filled with ‘false apostles and deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ’. Detecting a resemblance to conditions in Elijah’s day, J Sidlow Baxter writes ‘Such are the people who today, with sickly kindness, will tolerate teachers of errors in our pulpits because they are such smooth-mannered and amiable gentlemen. They would rather allow error to be preached and souls to be deceived than hurt the preacher’s feelings. Let Baal be worshipped rather than drought come! Let the cancer kill its victim rather than the cruel surgeon use the knife!…The best thing that could happen to some so-called Christian ministers of today is that they should be denounced in God’s name by their hearers’.
It is a sinful tolerance  that refuses to castigate a false church system that leads millions to eternal destruction with its perverted gospel.  That honours its head as a great evangelist at the same time that he is condemning evangelicals as wolves.  That labels God’s prophets as divisive when they denounce its idolatry, its mariolatry and its other heresies.  That sends converts back into its deadening clutches.
What has happened to the church of the martyrs?
We have an enormous craving for popularity. This is the stuff of which false prophets are made. We have a desire to avoid unpleasantness at all cost. A desire like this keeps us from confronting, from intervening when we should.
We have a distaste for being different. We find it easier to move along with the crowd, to drift with the tide. It is all too easy to remain silent when we are in an adverse theological climate. We are ‘slaves who dare not to be right with two or three’.
We have lost the capacity for being angry. We are not easily enough disturbed. We are in the sorry state of having no capacity for indignation. We are experts at putting off decisiveness simply because we don’t want to act.
Sometimes we are too blinded by friendship to stand against wrong. When a Christian spoke out against E. J. Carnell’s book ‘The Case For Orthodoxy’ because it argued against the inspiration of the Scriptures, a friend of the author said ‘Well you do not know him personally as I do. He is a gracious gentleman, a godly man’.
Jay Adams was right when he said ‘In some circles, the fear of controversy is so great that preachers and congregations following after them will settle for peace at any cost - even the cost of the truth - God’s truth. The idea is that peace is all- important. Peace is a biblical ideal…but so is purity. The peace of the church may never be bought at the price of the purity of the church. The price is too dear’.
Ecumenism and catholicity are two great buzzwords today. Let’s all get together. Don’t do or say anything to rock the boat. Doctrine divides, they say. What we need is unity.
What we really need is to contend earnestly for the faith in a day when it is being attacked, diluted and denied. We will be tolerant in matters of indifference but intolerant of departure from the truth of God. With Luther, ‘Here we stand. We can do no other’.”
Disciples of Christ are held accountable for progressively learning and proclaiming the whole will and counsel of God, which includes warning others of false teachings and those responsible for them (see also Isa. 58:1; Ezek. 33:7-9; 34:1-10; Acts 20:26-32; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 2:17-18).
Christ’s true representatives are known by their purity of character and doctrine (Tit. 1:5-9; 2:6-8).
Friend of Christ, are you beginning to see this truth and understand the reason our LORD instituted such?
“Mark (scope out, take aim at and watch) them which cause divisions and offences contrary (against; opposed) to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Romans 16:17
Christians are held accountable for proclaiming the whole counsel of God and warning others of false teachings and those responsible for them.
Dark Works are to be Exposed
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (EXPOSE) them.” Ephesians 5:11
When false teaching is discovered, it is to be exposed. At times, when a false prophet or teacher is detected, if unrepentant, they are also to be exposed.
Discernment Hint: If someone continues to teach false doctrine, they simply have not repented and are to be exposed and marked for their rebellion. God counts heretics to be rebels whom He told us to “reject.” (Tit. 3:10).
Sinning elders are to be openly rebuked in order that all may learn and more fervently fear God:
“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” 1 Timothy 5:20
It is a sin to condone and not expose deadly falsehoods propagated by leaders “who privily (secret
ly) shall bring in damnable heresies.” (2 Pet. 2:1) The divine purpose here is to identify and announce those who are marked for destruction so they don’t bring others with them.
Here in 2 Peter, the Holy Spirit speaks of “false teachers” and “false prophets” who teach "damnable heresies" - which means lies that damn their listeners to hell (2 Pet. 2:1-3).
The LORD has identified those who teach falsehoods as Satan’s ministers - “such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:12-15) In this passage, we are told that Satan’s “ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Let us no more deny Christ the LORD by hiding Satan’s prophets and teachers. Why would any child of God want to jeopardize the souls of those around them? How can we so misunderstand the LORD by thinking that silence in this matter is loving? At times, silence can be hatred instead of love.
“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” Proverbs 24:10-12
For the sake of the offending party and those under his influence, there are instances where open rebuke is called for instead of love that is hidden and withheld.
Who is to be marked?
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9
Those who teach “any other gospel” are “accursed” of God and to be marked. The term “ANY other gospel” is incriminating, and cuts closer into the core of Christian leadership than many may want to acknowledge. Yet, any other gospel than that given by Christ and His apostles is false and identifies the one who espouses and teaches it as a deceiver.
On a personal note: Throughout my walk with the LORD, I have seen several people fall away who once served Him. Several of these who have fallen away have been derailed due to false teachings they bought into. One particular long-time friend was diverted from Christ by beginning to make Saturday his new “savior.” Jesus no longer remained as his Rest, but rather the idolatry of a certain day that Christ made. Paul warned strongly against this and other pagan idolatrous emphasis which are designed to rob glory from Christ. It is fine to gather on Saturday or any day, but when the day becomes the focus instead of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, the leaven of idolatry is present (Col. 2:14-19).
The convincing cult was successful in alluring and snaring this man with their false emphasis and diabolically diversionary tactics. What might have been the outcome if someone would have preemptively taught this man biblical truth and warned him against the cult that snared him?
Beware of “Fair Speeches”
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Romans 16:17-18
The apostle Paul tells people here to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine” of the LORD which is found in the Holy Scriptures.
Carefully note the phrase “fair speeches” which is defined as “fine style of utterance, giving the appearance of reasonableness.” So, the Scripture here informs us that such beguilers will “deceive the hearts of the simple” by “fair speeches.” This is the very way so many are being led astray in this late hour. The message and manner of these men have the appearance of godliness, and might even include a few tears, but their hidden motives center around their own agenda and not the LORD’s. This alone makes one a false prophet.
Does anyone you know come to mind when you hear these words of holy Writ?
While attending a local fellowship for some time, I had observed the sentiments of the senior pastor month after month, year after year. There was an arrogant spirit, which was like a perfume, sensed more than seen. I witnessed the tears and emotions of this pastor and his wife (as they stood with their thousand dollar outfits – seldom, if ever, worn twice). I tried to be patient but there never seemed to be a difference in the way they lived. There was seemingly no reduction in the high-mindedness. Pride and self-service seemed to fill their lives and therefore exuded from their ministry. So, after ample time had expired, it was time to move on to be with the humble in heart (Prov. 16:19). O How refreshing!
The stylish, persuasive reasonings of this pastor, even his use of Scripture, were compelling. His “fair speeches” were commanding and emotionally and intellectually stimulating. They gave the appearance of reasonableness and godliness. In the final analysis, many of those eloquent of speech and rich with persuasive words, are found to be empty hearted, void of the life of Jesus due to serving self instead of the Savior – “whose god is their belly.” (Phil. 3:19) Paul purposely avoided becoming an eloquent orator in order to establish God’s people in the LORD Himself and not in the wisdom of mere men (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Saints, the LORD promised us that He was going to shake all things in these last days. As he shakes the foundations of our lives – that is, tests with fire the actual materials our faith is based upon, what shall we do? Shall we be willingly broken before His holiness, letting Him have His way in us?
“…but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:26-29
We have all unduly espoused the teachings and personalities of certain men and women in ministry. He is calling us to repent of our spiritual adulteries, where we have alienated our heart affections from Him and placed them in mere men.
Beloved, let us see the big picture of eternity in this. - “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom (forever with Jesus) which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” May He grant us His “grace” with “godly fear” and bring upon our lives His “consuming fire” to burn away all spiritual adultery, that we might soundly worship in Him alone in spirit and in truth.
A tell-tale sign: If we can peacefully receive the expose’ of one of these ministers we have grown to like, we know that the LORD has delivered us from spiritual adultery. Perhaps if we get upset and come to the defense of these mere men while excusing their deadly errors, we have not yet laid down our idolatry of these men.
Like Paul, the apostle of Christ, true disciples of Jesus who serve in leadership go through painstaking measures to root and ground their audiences in Christ alone and not themselves – “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified…That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:1-5)
The Savior is calling His remnant to relinquish all idols of the heart and place our affections upon Him alone who is our life and salvation.
In the ultimate end, many who tickle ears and move hearts and have spent lots of God’s monies to establish themselves, are discovered to be those who bellow out empty words from hollow hearts, void of the fruit of authentic Christ-likeness. These men are what Jude identified as “clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.” (Jude 12) All this is being perpetrated while these people are drowning in the wealth they reap from God’s people, most of whom have no clue as to the disingenuous nature of this type of deceiver. These men, multitudes of whom operate in our midst, “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Rom. 16:18)
Doesn’t it seem like those who have no guile or malice in their hearts are most vulnerable to deception? Could this be due to the fact that it may seldom if ever enter such a pure mind that anyone would be operating according to an insidious, selfish, malicious agenda? The harmless heart many times cannot imagine someone could operate this way since such motives are not within themselves.
Is Silence Really Golden?
Refusing to sound the alarm by speaking out and warning others of Satan’s lies is paramount to being in league with the evil one! In such a case, does not Satan say, “Silence is Golden”?
Such unjust silence endangers the souls of others and will be brought to light in the Judgment.
On numerous occasions, Jesus audibly verbalized His righteous anger toward the Pharisees of His day and so are we called to do at times.
We should ask ourselves: Are we reasoning or seeking to simply obey what God told us to do? Who are we trying to please?
Those who expose false teaching and ministers do the work of God.
Love that emanates from the LORD speaks the truth (Prov. 12:17; 16:6; Eph. 4:15).
The defense of the New Testament, apostolic faith, once given to the saints, will bring division and persecutions (2 Cor. 11:12-15; Gal. 1:9; Phil. 1:15-17). The enemy does not like his strongholds being plundered by the cannons of divine truth spoken by the LORD’s saints.
When discernment and separation are enacted, a sharp sword of division seems to unfailingly separate the remnant from the tares (those who do not love the truth). The tares are those who live to gratify the fleshly lusts in the guise of being a real Christian (Rom. 6).
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12
The returning LORD Himself is our reward, comfort, and consolation (Rev. 22:12; 2 Cor. 1:3-7).
The LORD dislikes when men are not strong in His truth and don’t stand for it and defend it:
“They are not valiant for the truth upon the earth.” Jeremiah 9:3
“…if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38
He actually equips and anoints men to preach and defend His truth – and sometimes this is in a violent fashion.
“But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” Micah 3:8
“Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings… I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the LORD thy maker…” Isaiah 51:7, 12-13
Gospel workers are to be ever ready to “…reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” with “the Word.” (2 Tim. 4:2)
Naming Names? Is that Biblical?
Have you ever personally counted the people the apostle Paul marked by name in the book of 2 Timothy? Try it. Read 2 Timothy (4 chapters) and keep a count of the deceivers Paul identifies and names. You will find 8 men named by name as deceivers in 2 Timothy alone.
“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly (selfish interests), and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Philippians 3:17-21
Saints, are we so naive as to believe that in our day there are no “enemies of the cross of Christ”? Not only are there Christ’s enemies in our day, the Bible foretold that just before the return of our LORD there would come a great falling away at the hands of these end-time predators who operate in the church world, many who are very famous ministers (2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Tim. 4; 2 Tim. 3-4; 1 Jn. 4:1-6).
There are some essential truths embedded and revealed here in this Bible text that are very important to know concerning these “enemies of the cross of Christ.” Let’s look at some:
- They are many (plentiful) not a few - “For many walk...”
- Paul repeatedly warned of deceivers - “I have told you often...”
- Paul warned with tears - “...now tell you even weeping...”
- These men pose as His servants but are actually His enemies - “they are the enemies of the cross of Christ”
- These men are going to hell unless they repent - “Whose end is destruction...”
- They serve themselves in ministry while supposedly representing Christ - “whose God is their belly (selfish interests)...”
- They revel in things they should be ashamed of - “whose glory is in their shame...”
- They speak affectionately of movies and other secular interests and tend to things of this fleeting world - “who mind earthly things...”
- These “ENEMIES of the cross of Christ” must be marked by the LORD’s remnant no matter what the cost (Rom. 16:17-18). We are mandated to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine” of Christ in order to protect the sheep of the LORD’s pasture.
Have you ever personally counted the people the apostle Paul marked in the book of 2 Timothy? Try it. Read 2 Timothy (4 chapters) and keep a count of the deceivers Paul identifies by name. You will find several men named by name as deceivers in 2 Timothy alone. When the Holy Spirit moved upon Paul to foretell that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived,” he also led him to name some of those “enemies of the cross” in his and previous days (Phil. 3:17-20). The naming of these men is for an eternal memorial of the just wrath of the Almighty upon those who defame His holy name through deception and false teaching (2 Pet. 2, 3; Jude). When reading the Old Testament especially, we see a Redeemer who will destroy the enemies of His people - because He loves His people (Isa. 49:25; 54:17, etc.). This is the protective love of the LORD. Here is the list of the 8 evil doers the great apostle was inspired to justifiably identify by name in 2 Timothy:
- 1) Phygellus 1:15
- 2) Hermogenes 1:15
- 3) Hymenaeus 2:17
- 4) Philetus 2:17
- 5) Jannes 3:8
- 6) Jambres 3:8
- 7) Demas 4:10 (apostate)
- 8) Alexander the coppersmith 4:14
It is interesting to observe here that in the same letter Paul names these names of beguilers, he also states:
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8
We readily gather here that naming names is an integral part of real New Testament ministry and those who obey can like this apostle of Jesus, be confident that they have completely fulfilled the will of God – “I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown.” In this text, the Holy Ghost says that the LORD is a “righteous judge.” I believe that those who mark deceivers in obedience to divine mandate, are going to be rewarded eternally for such obedience.
We see clearly here that fighting the good fight and finishing our course involves and includes marking deceivers.
Men of God today are mandated to do the same, yet only by the revelation of the Word of God. Marking people is commanded in the Bible (Rom. 16:17-18). If a public leader is teaching people falsehood, he is to be confronted and exposed. The fruit of truly repenting of teaching something that contradicts God’s Word is that the leader will publicly amend his way and doctrine.
Naming names must never be done recklessly or out of a personal vendetta, but only according to the Word and in the Spirit for the glory of God and protection of His beloved people.
We are instructed to rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). When Jesus' disciples sought to call down fire from Heaven to destroy those who would not receive the Messiah into their town, the LORD rebuked them, and said, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” (Lk. 9:55-56) Jesus instructed us to “judge righteous judgment” and in this case He obviously counted the judgment of His disciples to be unrighteous instead of righteous (Jn. 7:24). Though sin also, unbelief of a group of lost people is obviously different than wolves who operate in disguise among His people in sheep's clothing and deceive the sheep of His pasture. Of these the Word tells us that they have “crept in unawares” and “privily (secretly) shall bring in damnable heresies.” (2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4) The “Great shepherd of the sheep” broods jealously over His beloved people and will smite the wolves who seek to devour His precious sheep (Ps. 23; 91; Matt. 23:37; Heb. 13:20; James 5:5-7). The same LORD who corrected His disciples for having a wrong spirit in trying to call down fire upon unbelievers also instructed those who serve Him to “mark” those who mislead His people and to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” against the “certain men” who are “crept in unawares.” He told us that those men who would mislead His people “were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 3-4) Concerning those who would mislead any one of His precious children, Jesus says that “it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt. 18:6)
Those leaders who refuse to expose lies clearly reveal that they are operating in ministry for themselves and not the LORD. They are not protecting God’s sheep and are thereby disobeying the LORD. Identifying falsehoods and at times the people teaching them, is a protective measure to keep God’s people from being spoiled/deceived (Col. 1:27-2:8). By the way, this Bible topic like all others, does not hinge upon what you or I think should be done - BUT UPON WHAT THE LORD HAS CLEARLY TOLD US. So it is time to die to the self life and all of its emotional affinities and sediments and just DO the Word.
“For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar...” Romans 3:3-4
Note “Let God be true, but every man (including ourselves) a liar... ”
What makes people get upset when names of deceivers are mentioned? It’s biblical, so what are they stirred about? Are the scalded dogs barking? Are those who have made idols of these mere sinful men covering for them? What’s at stake?
Saints, naming names is a divine mandate. Naming names has its place in God’s economy. If one has a problem with that, let him argue with Him. It’s time to catch up with truth and begin to walk in it – seasoned with the protective love of Christ.
Taking offense because certain ministries name the false doctrine in the church world or even the names of false leaders just may be a matter of the heart. Perhaps we need to look within and beg the LORD to search us out and lead us in His way everlasting (Ps 139:23-24).
What does God say about this?
Who are we truly worshipping? Whom do we fear? Who do we seek to please? Upon whom are our affections set? If a person gets upset because their favorite limelight leader or pet pastor or prophet is identified by name as false, perhaps that person has an unnatural soul tie to that leader and his ministry. Is this not idolatry of the heart?
Friend, God’s kingdom is all about Jesus Christ and His eternal, unchanging Word, not any mere man or group of men (Mk. 13:31).
“I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42:8
Why Some Don’t Want to Expose
Could it be self-preservation? What is it that is behind the refusal of some to dispense God’s truth after He has clearly instructed us to do such? And on top of that, why is it that some who fear men and therefore refuse to identify and expose the false, exude an air of spiritual pride as if they are being “loving” by allowing people to remain under the dark shadow of false teaching while hiding the doctors of deception who espouse these falsehoods? How perverse a picture is this and how very absurd for some to believe they are being “loving” by hiding this soul-saving information!
Could it be that these are cloaking pride and self-preservation behind a pseudo “love”? God’s pure love rejoices in and speaks the truth – (Prov. 12:17; 1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:15). When God’s love is truly made perfect in us, we will speak His truth in His love.
Is it not personal and evil pride that is at the foundation of such thinking and inaction, cloaking itself in a false “love” that is not according to the constitution (Word, Counsel) of the One who is love?
Jesus told us He is the “truth” and the Word tells us that “God is love.” (Jn. 14:6; 1 Jn. 4:8, 16) These two attributes are equally a part of the divine character and an imbalance is the result of His people not acknowledging both. God’s method is to get to the root of our iniquities and purge them with His “mercy and truth.” Study Jeremiah 1:10 and Proverbs 16:6.
Do we realize what is at stake here?
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 2 John 7-11
In case you were still wondering if what a person believes is important to their eternal destination, wonder no more. Let these sobering words of Holy Scripture grip your soul deeply:
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth remains) not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” 2 John 9
“Let that therefore abide (remain) in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” 1 John 2:24
Weakness, Disobedience, & Self-love Masking Itself as Tolerance
“Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.” Leviticus 19:17
Here the LORD equates hating one’s brother to the neglect of rebuking and allowing sin to prosper in his life. The Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” and so to allow sin to prosper in our brethren is to hate them (Rom. 6:23). “Open rebuke is better than secret love” right? (Prov. 27:5-6) We should admonish, correct, and at times even rebuke each other for espousing unbiblical teachings and/or living in sin.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:16
In Colossians 3:16 we are told to:
- “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”
- Handle the Word of God “in all wisdom”
- “teach and admonish one another”
- “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”
Hatred withholds truth that would otherwise set someone free as only the truth can do when communicated and adhered to (Jn. 8:31-32, 36). This applies not only to sin but also to loving our neighbor enough to wisely and lovingly attempt to guard him with truth from being deceived and drawn away from pure devotion to the One who died to save us.
Some of us act as if it is a Christian virtue to tolerate any and everything that comes down the pike – “every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). We mask our selfish preservation and self-idolatry behind a false “love” that has no reconciliation with Bible truth.
In his book Man to Man, Richard Halverson wrote:
“There are times when tolerance is not a virtue, but weakness. There is certainly no virtue in being tolerant if one holds no convictions, and it is not uncommon for the man who believes nothing, who speaks the most of tolerance, to be the most intolerant of one who really believes something. Jesus’ absolute intolerance of sin and error was in no way inconsistent with His love for men, even the sinner or the liar.” (p. 59)
Martin Luther said:
“I was born to fight devils and factions. It is my business to remove obstructions, to cut down thorns, to fill up quagmires, and to open and make straight paths. But if I must have some failing, let me rather speak the truth with too great severity than once to act the hypocrite and conceal the truth.”
When teachings that flood the church world would bring God’s people into spiritual deception, are speared and exposed, God will bless.
“Real valor consists not in being insensible to danger, but in being prompt to confront and disarm it.” ~ Sir Walter Scott
God rewards those who vigilantly expose, when He leads them to do so. The LORD can only use us inasmuch as we have His Word in our hearts. Thank God for the modern-day Jaels (Judges 5:24). Thank God for the valiant Phinehas’ of today who spear the sin of false doctrine. These are the resolute defenders of God’s glory who decisively deal with the evil corruption of the divine image in the minds and hearts of His people.
When lies are exposed with divine truth, God will bless (Num. 25; Judges 5:24-31).
When God’s love is truly made perfect in us, we will speak His truth with boldness and kindness (Eph. 4:15).
There is a “Difference”
As we discern we are then responsible to expose our findings to others (1 Tim. 4:6, 16).
“And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.” Ezekiel 44:23-24
Discernment is not condemnation. Discernment is simply the ability and act of distinguishing between holy and unholy, true and false.
Jesus Christ condemned hypocritical judgment, and commanded “righteous judgment.” (Matt. 7:1-5; Jn. 7:24)
Speaking of those who follow Him, the LORD tells us here in Ezekiel 44:23 that “They shall teach my people the difference” – to discern between “holy and profane” and “unclean and clean.” The love of God which abides in true under-shepherds, is protective and trains others to discern and be guarded from the mischief intended upon them by the evil one who works through deceivers disguised in sheep’s clothing and their teachings.
Naivety is not a virtue in God’s kingdom, it is a curse.
Our LORD instructed us to pray for and obtain discernment and 1 John tells us to test every spirit and to not blindly receive and believe every person who comes in the name of Jesus because “many (not a few) false prophets are gone out among you.” (Rev. 3:18; 1 Jn. 4:1; Matt. 24:11)
The Bible speaks of the overseer as one who must “Take care of the church of God.” (1 Tim. 3:5) According to Proverbs 27:23, the overseer of the sheep of God’s pasture must be diligent to know the state of his flocks and to look well (oversee closely with the jealous love of God) to his herds.
“Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.” Proverbs 27:23
He should diligently look out over the horizon for wolves coming in to devour the LORD’s sheep with their deadly lies. All doctrinal error must be met with the full force of divine truth by those who love Him. Divine truth is the safety of the believer in abiding in Christ to the end (Prov. 30:5).
Discernment is simply the dividing of truth from error, relying fully upon God’s Word, which is the final authority for all matters concerning the faith once delivered to the saints (Mk. 13:31; Jn. 10:35; 2 Tim. 3:16; Jude 3-4). When the believer studies to show himself approved unto God, he will then be able to “rightly” divide “the word of truth” from error (2 Tim. 2:15).
In the Scriptures, the Holy Ghost divides between “the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” One of the earmarks of the “spirit of antichrist” and the foretold “many false prophets” is that “the world heareth them.” Those under the “spirit of antichrist” do not endure sound doctrine, they cannot hear it – instead they rebel. These love darkness rather than light. See John 3:19-21; 8:47; 2 Timothy 4:2-4; 1 John 4:1-6. These are those leaders and followers who purposely affirm instead of rebuking their sinful nature (2 Tim. 4:2-4). We must discern those deceivers who affirm people in their sins by not declaring God’s holiness, the biblical definition of sin, and the essential nature of repentance.
When Solomon became king, he was asked what he desired from the LORD.
“In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee…(Solomon answered) Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.” 1 Kings 3:5, 9-10
Solomon wisely chose to covet from the LORD the ability to “discern between good and bad.” The Bible records that this request “pleased the Lord.”
Shouldn’t discernment be what we covet from our LORD in this late hour where we have been told to watch closely for deceivers? - “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy…” (1 Tim. 4:1-2)
Discernment is sought out and then taught to others by leaders who are true to the LORD (Ezek. 44:23). They are ever diligent to feed and guard “the flock of God” from the spiritual rabies of the promised wolves who “lie in wait to deceive.” (1 Pet. 5; Eph. 4: 14)
Check out the state of the people of God in Isaiah’s day, when wolf packs had hijacked the positions of authority, designed to be occupied by men who authentically feared God.
“The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him. All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.” Isaiah 56:8-10
Do we think that our day is altogether different from Isaiah’s when the leaders of the people were self-serving, “blind… ignorant…dumb dogs…sleeping, lying down” and “loving to slumber”?
At the helm, insidiously guiding the Church into deep darkness, are men who have only an outward form or formula of godliness, yet are not submitted under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
“Wolves” and “beasts of the field” must be marked so that “his people, and the sheep of his pasture” can be warned, be wise to them and able to stay out of harm’s way (Matt. 7:15; Ps. 100:3).
“Warn Them from Me”
“So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” Ezekiel 33:7
God told Israel that its leaders “are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.” (Isa. 56:10)
A watchdog instinctively sounds the alarm by barking. What should be instinctive is now asleep in the hearts of those in leadership who have slipped away from their first love. Because of this, they do not warn the people of God of the many dangers that are lurking and being openly taught in the church world.
The Ancient of Days told His prophet Jeremiah:
“I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try (test) their way.” Jeremiah 6:27
“Like People, Like Priest”
“And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.” Hosea 4:9
It appears that the influence of priest and people works both ways. Although the leaders will bear the greatest responsibility, the influence seems to work in both directions. Leaders and non-leaders within the realm of professing Christendom will be rewarded according to their adherence to the clear will of God (Hos. 4:9-11; Matt. 15:14; Prov. 29:12; Isa. 9:16, 24:1-11).
To the one who has never heard a balanced diet of God’s Word, including love, judgment, discernment and correction, the person who exposes may automatically be viewed as judgmental. Someone who exposes is seen by regular churchgoers, who have been conditioned under a soft and incomplete false gospel, as judgmental, divisive, etc. This is only because their pastors are doing NOTHING to protect them from the MANY deceptions that abound in the church world. This is sad. Who is really at fault?
According to the biblical record, the defense of the faith should be a regular part of New Testament Christianity. Paul stated:
Or, perhaps they have heard some who “expose” and realize that they themselves (the exposers) are needing to expose their own self-righteous, pride-filled Pharisaical hearts before seeking to get the speck out of another’s eye (Matt. 7:1-6). Nonetheless, the defense of the faith is a biblical, essential and a regular part of New Testament Christianity, which all believers should be as actively engaged in as Paul was.
Due to his ceaseless intercessory praying for the LORD’s people, James, the brother of our LORD and human author of the book of James, was called “The Just” and “The safeguard of the people.” As a martyr, James died at the hands of antichrist religious zealots, but not before he set the example of diligently seeking to protect God’s flock as every servant-leader is called to do – to be “set for the defence of the gospel.” (Phil. 1:17)
Paul Marked Alexander the Coppersmith
“Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.” 2 Timothy 4:14-16
Paul told the brethren to “be thou ware” of “Alexander the coppersmith” who “did me much evil.” Note here that the apostle Paul warned these believers to beware of someone he named and who had done him “much evil.” Today when someone dares to do as Paul did in this instance, they are accused of being “judgmental.” Instead, we tolerate what God never intended us to. Paul marked several men by name in his two letters to Timothy alone.
The apostle warned the believers of those who worked against the true work of the Gospel.
Beloved, you may be being tempted in your thinking to pander to the sinful nature of men, instead of leading them to the Fountain of Living Waters by showing them, by divine strength, grace and Word, their need to understand what He stated. Now is the time to submit all to the LORD and to accept that we are called to suffer as He did (Phil. 1:29; 1 Pet. 4:1, 2, 12). We are not our own, but bought with the very price of His blood and should be willing to say with Christ, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Lk. 22:42)
Our own will must be laid down and His given total reign. This is what He has called us to beloved.
“It is not a difficult matter to learn what it means to delight ourselves in the LORD. It is to live so as to please Him, to honor everything we find in His Word, to do everything the way He
would like to have it done, and for Him.” ~ S. Maxwell Coder
Defending the faith is a standard and vital part of the Christian life. The faith must be defended by its adherents. We must die to self-isms and obey the One we claim to serve.
Friend, when you create your own Universe, you can then decide what the rules are, but until then, those who claim to know Christ are to submit our lives to Him fully and simply follow His clear directions.
We must mature and realize that exposing false teaching and teachers has always been and will always be an integral, essential and regular occupation of New Testament Christianity and the responsibility of Christ’s disciples of all ages.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, please strengthen my heart with the might of Your Holy Spirit. LORD Jesus You must increase in my life and I decrease. Please break me and make me LORD and cause me to wisely discern while walking in the Spirit. May I be dead to the self life and reputation and fully obedient to walk in Your eternal truth, including being ready to answer your call to expose those doctrines which are contrary to Your holy Word. Lead me my LORD Jesus and allow this to be done in Your love. Protect Your people Jesus and turn men’s hearts back to Yourself. Bless Your body to see and live in Your Spirit and holy, eternal truth. I love You Jesus. Amen.
ORDER Deceivers & False Prophets Among Us
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