But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
I often will listen to John MacArthur on Moody radio. His exposition of the scriptures is strong and his application to life is often encouraging. However, he spends a lot of his time rooting out false teachers in the church. His present argument is with the charismatics and Pentecostals and his arguments are now available on line http://www.gty.org/resources/sermon-series/325/ . Should we go after false teachers with the frequency and the vehemence of John MacArthur and James MacDonald? Should we show videos on our church websites that accuse former board members of being used by Satan to spread falsehood?
The passage above seems to indicate that we should be aware that in many congregations of believers there will be those who promote unsound ideas. However, isn’t that part of growing pains. Some children I know think that when we die we become angels. The Bible teaches nothing of the sort – should I publicly out them and condemn them? No, of course not. They are not teachers and they are not leading others astray. Should I throw myself out of the church because I have changed my position on some doctrines as I have studied scripture more? No, that is part of the maturing process. The key for recognizing false teachers is what they do with Jesus. The word referring to Jesus, Master, is the word that we get ‘despot’ from. False teachers are often those who use Jesus to get what they want. They manipulate those around them, and manipulate God (in their own perception, but not reality) to get what they want. Jesus is not the despot over them, they are despotic in their teaching in the church.
So, is John MacArthur right? I’ll let you listen to his sermons and make up your own mind. I believe that any person who promotes ‘believing for’ something should be regarded with suspicion. Often today it is a phrase used for manipulating Jesus and the Holy Spirit rather than submitting to God. We should look at 1 Corinthians 14 and ask why many churches speak in tongues without an immediate translation. Should we then say that all those who practice such things are heretics, false teachers, or even damned? It all depends whether their religion is really a sham and their faith is rooted in self or in Jesus. The evidence that Peter sees of false teaching is that there is an air of sensuality or greed. Do you know anyone who teaches from those motives? If you do, stay away.
Jesus, I am grieved when I hear preachers on air go after others with the fervour of witch-hunters of the Puritan era. I wish there was no conflict in the church. I am not a fan. However, we need to pursue truth and we need to stand by it. May we crave the truth of scripture and a sincere experience of the Holy Spirit. May the Spirit lead us in prayers that enhance a true relationship and may the Spirit lead us to speak up when the truth is compromised but to hold our tongue if it will bring about true peace.
- How does the acknowledgement of false prophets transition from chapter 1?
- How does a false teacher differ from a false prophet?
- Why would Peter refer to Jesus as ‘despot’?
- Is John MacArthur correct to spend so much of his time addressing false teachers and false teaching in his sermons?
- What false teachers and teaching are you addressing in the lives of those you know?