In these last days the proliferation of false teachings assaulting both the
Church and Scriptural integrity requires a closer look at how those promoting
such doctrines should be dealt with. While no one with a genuine desire to
follow Christ should eagerly want to accuse another of error in ministry, the
prophets of the Old Testament, our Lord Jesus Himself, and the apostles make it
clear that many will come in the name of the Lord who profess to follow Him, yet
by their teachings actually deny or present a different image of God than what
is demonstrated in the Scriptures. Paul said of these that, “many walk, of whom
I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the
cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18).

False teachers, false apostles, false brethren, etc., have the ability to
damage or even destroy the simple faith in Christ delivered once for all to the
saints (Jude 3). Jesus said that many would be deceived by those claiming to be
from God (Matthew 24:5, 10-11, 24). As one who has  been in the forefront of
false movements and unknowingly promoted error for twelve years, I well know the
danger to one’s faith because of the redefinition of Christianity and the
presentation of a different “Jesus”. Heresy is not a plaything–it is a lie set
forth that destroys the relationship between the Savior and the saved, and leads
trusting sheep into a wilderness filled with a multitude of violent predators.

Naming people specifically involved with promoting heresy or extrabiblical
doctrine is, and should be, an uncomfortable last step, taken only after all
other reasonable avenues at reconciliation have taken place. Anyone can make a
mistake; it is the unrepentant attitude, elitist mentality, or the single-minded
unwillingness of the brother in error to heed the truth that makes coming out
into the open with damaging evidence at times an absolute necessity.  If a
thief, vandal, or worse lived in your neighborhood, ask yourself if you would
not want to know the man=s name and where he lived, that you could guard both
yourself and your family from harm. How much more, then, in dealing with
spiritual issues–things of eternal significance–do we need to guard both our
own souls and the souls of those entrusted to us by the Lord?

The inherent danger of co-habitation with heresy cannot be overstated. Error
unmolested will always eat away at the flesh of Christ’s body, the Church (2
Timothy 2:17-18). That is its nature. To deny this is to disavow the very
history of ancient Israel, whose repeated dalliances with false gods and their
prophets reaped for them a wide destruction of their faith in God and certain
retribution from Him. We have forgotten the admonition of Romans 15:4:

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction,
that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have
hope.”

While Israel’s spiritual failings were recorded to serve as a warning, many
Christians believe themselves above the same kind of deception. False prophets
have always been the bane of God’s people, making crooked the right way of the
LORD and leading the people to follow a depravity “…in the form of corruptible
man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Romans 1:23).

While current sophistication among our own false prophets and false teachers
now precludes the use of stone and wood idols, they yet paint their images of
God with words that stir the imagination of man–and redefine the object of his
worship. Even those who unwittingly teach contrary to the Gospel of Christ,
believing their teachings to be genuine revelation, are leading multitudes down
the dark path leading ever further from the truth. Their sincerity
notwithstanding, they have made themselves enemies of the faith and unless there
is wholesale repentance they will suffer shipwreck and take many others with
them (1 Timothy 1:19).

In this age of “tolerance”, even many Christians have fallen prey to the
temptation to make evil somewhat less than it is. Sprinkled with a bit of
honest-to-goodness Bible teaching, heresy often becomes palatable, especially if
it caters to the listener’s self-importance or desire for power. The tickling of
ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4) has become a national religious pastime. Many would
rather listen to fantastic myths given a Christian veneer, than hard truth that
requires Biblical death to self.

Yet our God is not inactive. The least Christian can know the voice of his
Shepherd, and those with sensitivity of heart can sense the grieving of the
Spirit when the fraudulent is presented as the genuine article. But it is the
route of least resistance to simply maintain the status quo, regardless of the
violence done to the Scriptures. Coupled with repeated threats from local and
national pulpits of “Do not touch the Lord”s anointed”, the desire to not rock
the boat can silence even a sincere believer in Christ. But then the easy way
out inevitably becomes a dictator, supplanting the true knowledge of God with a
false piety that decries sin yet looks the other way when it is committed in
one’s very presence. The knee once bowed to compromise will stay locked in that
position until repentance unbends it.

The simple fact is that no amount of glazing false theology with sugar-coated
euphemisms will negate its poison. It is in vogue to say of a popular false
teacher, “He missed it,” and pass over a glaring doctrinal error. But it is much
more Biblical to call that which is false, both man and teaching, by its proper
title. And none of the descriptions laid on the backs of false teachers are
pretty. They shouldn’t be. A man who deliberately infects others with his own
consuming leprosy should be confronted with the fact of his disease and
quarantined for his own good and that of his followers. To do less is to assist
the spread of this doctrinal contagion.

With constant and unapologetic fervor, the early Church waged warfare against
those who would pervert the faith of Christ. Any who refused to do so were
counted mere mercenaries and guilty of gross cowardice (John 10:12). Those true
to the Good Shepherd will not hesitate to use His staff to club the wolves away
from a flock which needs protection.

In the personal arena, why make a fuss over the beliefs of a brother who is not a leader in the Christian community? As long as he is not teaching others, the current theological fad of “do not judge” dictates we just leave him alone. Ironically, the Bible counters that kind of thinking from the mouth of the first murderer (Genesis 4:9). Cain’s sarcastic response, reworded into a statement, tells us what he already knew. We are indeed our brother’s keeper. If we love him, not only in tongue but in deed and truth (1 John 2:18), then we must inform him of his error. His beliefs will carve out a path for him to walk on, which, followed far enough, can lead him over the precipice and plunge him into the abyss of heresy. The same holds true for all of us. What we believe in our hearts we will live by, and that will determine our eternal destiny.

While public exposure of a brother in serious error may not be necessary, as
long as he is not a leader in the Church assembly, Biblical separation is still
mandated as a response to those who call themselves Christian yet live like
those who are unregenerate (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

Through The Eyes Of God

It might be of help to personally see how false teachers, false prophets, and
false brethren are portrayed in Scripture. The God of the Bible made certain
these specific references were written down for all generations, that none doubt
the seriousness with which He views those who pervert His character, ways, or
Word.

Wolves–Matthew 7:15
Tares–Matthew 13:25
Brood of Vipers–Matthew 23:33

Servants of Satan–2 Corinthians
Unreasoning animals–2 Peter 2:12

A Thief–John 10:1
Wild waves of the sea–Jude 13

A Hireling (only in it for the pay)– (John 10:12)
Revilers—Jude 8

Brutal Shepherds–(Ezekiel 34:1-22)
Spots in the Love Feasts–Jude 12

Licentious–Jude 4
Twice Dead–Jude 12

Old Testament

References to false teachers, false brethren, and false prophets especially
are legion within the pages of the Old Testament. We will concentrate on only a
few, dealing with specific individuals named and dealt with by the LORD.

Leviticus 10:1-2–Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, put strange fire in
censors (made up their own worship of God according to their own desire), and
were publicly consumed by fire from the LORD. Substitute worship was the same
sin for which Cain was rebuked in Genesis 4. When God specifies the way of true
worship, He means for us to cleave to that pattern. Any addition, subtraction,
or man-made contrivance on our part is an abomination.

Numbers Chapter 16–Dathan, Abiram, and Korah were publicly rebuked by Moses
(verse 26) and swallowed by the earth in judgement of God (verses 31-32)

1 Kings 22:11, 24-25–False prophet, Zedekiah, was rebuked and judged by
Micaiah

Jeremiah 28:15-17–The false prophet Hananiah dies after rebuke by the LORD
through Jeremiah

Jeremiah 29:31-32–false prophet, Shemiah, dies after LORD’s rebuke through
Jeremiah

Much of the book of Jeremiah is spent rebuking the false prophets that have
seduced Israel from following the LORD, and have led the people into idol
worship (a false or man-made image of a god) Jeremiah 2:8, 5:30-31

Ezekiel 8:8-11–false elders of Israel exposed by God, including Jaazaniah,
the son of Shaphan

Ezekiel 11:1-13–False brethren exposed and one of them, Pelatiah, dies

In addition to these, much of Ezekiel’s time is spent prophesying against:

False brethren    (Chapter 11:4)
False prophets (Chapter 13:16-17)

False shepherds (Chapter 34)

Much of the book of Isaiah is devoted to the rebuke of the LORD against the
false prophets who are leading Israel astray from the true God to idols. Isaiah
9:15, 28:7

There are many more instances, but the pattern is plain–God exposes men
publicly who defy Him, preach, teach, or prophesy out of their own hearts, and
try to lead His people astray.

New Testament

Matthew 23–Jesus publicly rebukes the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and
man-made worship of God, and the twisting of the Scriptures

1 Timothy 1:19-20–Hymaneus and Alexander delivered to Satan because of
blasphemy by Paul the apostle

2 Timothy 4:14– Paul warns Timothy to beware of Alexander the Coppersmith,
who greatly opposed the gospel

Galatians 2:11-13–Though certainly not false brethren, Peter was rebuked by
Paul, for, along with Barnabas, Peter was guilty of public hypocrisy–Paul
publicly corrected him

3 John 9-10–Diotrophes opposing John and controlling Church members–John
said, “I will remember him”.

Revelation 2:20–Jezebel–false prophetess in Thyatira congregation–everyone
knew who she was, as she was active in the Church

There are many other Scriptures that, while they do not name individuals, the
individuals guilty of teaching false doctrine or living in blatant sin were well
known among each congregation. In these cases, the Church in a particular area
was named, and everyone knew who was being pointed out in Paul’s letters.

1 Corinthians 4:18 and all of chapter 5–many puffed up (prideful) in spite
of open sinning by congregation member–they are told to get that man out of the
church–Paul delivers the man to Satan

2 Corinthians 10:8-11, Chapter 11:1-4, 12-15, 20-23–false apostles exposed
as bringing another “Jesus” into the congregation

Revelation 2:14–Pergamos–some hold to the teachings of Baalam, and, verse
15, some who hold to the teachings of the Nicolatians, which Jesus said He hates

Romans 16:17–Church there told to take note of those causing divisions
contrary to the doctrine of Christ and avoid them

Galatians 1:8–false brethren bringing circumcision into the Galatian
church–presenting another “Jesus”–Paul said, “Let him be accursed!”

Titus 1:9-16–Timothy told to rebuke false teachers–they must be stopped
because they are doing great damage to the body of Christ there

1 Timothy 1:3-4–Timothy told to command those teaching wrong doctrine to
stop it

1 Timothy 5:19-20–Rebuke in public those who continue to sin

The Church today is nearly overwhelmed with those claiming to bring new
revelation, a “fresh word” of the Lord that cannot be validated by the inerrant
Scriptures. Men like Rick Joyner, whose visions of angels, vomiting demons, and
a Jesus that contradicts what He previously spoke in the pages of the Bible have
led a multitude down a path of make-believe wisdom and authority. Or Kenneth
Copeland, who denies the blood of Christ atoned for sins, and whose “Jesus” had
to be born-again in hell after taking on the very nature of Satan. And Benny
Hinn, whose on-stage presence sways many to believe he is a true messenger of
God, even as he rages under a contrived anointing, and publicly calls down
curses upon his adversaries in a growling, hissing voice.

But these are merely a sampling of the high profile ministries confounding
the Biblical record. Their doctrines and demonstrations of false signs and
wonders  have produced a veritable swarm of imitators, from the local pastor
faithfully mimicking his fleshly icons, to the bewildered sheep in the pew
hammered by church leadership into proclaiming a “gospel” contrary to the Christ
he has grown to know and love.

The time for silence is long past. The “Ananias and Sapphira” threat can no
longer be allowed to bully the true believers of the Cross. The “ do not touch
My anointed” intimidation has grown stale. If the price of speaking the truth be
condemnation from the religious community, so be it. If loss of influence,
status, or respect, it is a pittance compared to the glory of suffering with our
Lord. The voice of Christ speaks out over the ages, as strong now as when they
were first inscribed into the pages of the Bible:

“Why have you been standing here idle all day long?” (Matthew 20:6).

To know the truth and withhold speaking it is to become an accomplice to sin.

So much has been touted about the so-called “prophetic voices” of today.
Cries of “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace echo through the empty hearts of
those who long for the comforting word of truth but can find none among the
clamor of the Temple moneychangers. The clink of coin on coin purchases silence
at the expense of the multitudes. But the real prophets of God rebuked heresy
openly, with their words hewing at the rotten wood of false doctrine. Kings,
priests, and false prophets felt the cut of the axe. It is telling that the
anointed of God (the true prophets) did indeed “touch” the others anointed of
God, as well as those whose feigned allegiance to the Lord had dishonestly
earned them a title of respect among their peers.

A plenitude of passages, both in Old and New Testament Scripture, speak of
bringing the false out into the light, that it may lose its power over people.
Ephesians 5:11 states this clearly, but the choice is ours to obey–or not, and
suffer the consequences. Consequences that are even now destroying lives and
taking the people of God by the hand into spiritual harlotry.

“And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even
expose them.”

It is not a suggestion or challenge but a command. How well we heed it may
determine the integrity and Biblical stalwartness of the next generation of
Christians.

By Kevin Reeves, 2/02