"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are! - Matthew 23: 15 (NKJV)
As we continue in our exposition of the seven woes proclaimed by Christ we come to perhaps the most egregious one. Across the modern landscape of Pentecostalism, false conversion is the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about. Everyone would rather hold hands and sing kumbya than seriously examine the end result of false doctrine. That end result has been specifically explained to us by Jesus Himself:
"Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' - Matthew 7: 21-23 (NKJV)
I simply do not understand how Christians cannot be sober minded about matters of doctrine after reading these verses. Jesus is teaching us here that on the last day there will be many who will stand before Him and say "Lord Lord" only for Him to turn them back to eternal damnation because He never really knew them! Beloved, these are not unsaved people as we think of them today. These are fully churched people. These are people who felt they served God their whole life only to discover at the end they had been deceived. These are people who had plenty of religion. They knew how to dress and when to say "amen." They knew how to raise their hands and act pious. They even performed and witnessed miracles in the name of Jesus. They cast demons out! They tithed religiously, watched TBN, and maybe even performed great missions works! How is it that someone can do all of that and so deceive themselves regarding their own salvation? Because the fundamental teaching they sat under was flawed and never actually led them to Christ. Doctrine is not a dirty word beloved. Among the churched, it can be a prerequisite for salvation.
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. - 1Timothy 4: 16 (NKJV).
This is Paul imploring Timothy to guard his doctrine closely because the very salvation of his listeners was at stake! Church is not meant to be a game. It is not meant to be a social club. Our role is not dumb down the Gospel in order to "reach people" because by definition then we are reaching them with a different gospel. Only the true Gospel has the power to save people. Only Jesus Christ has the words of eternal life. The scribes and Pharisees however hated Jesus. They viewed Him as a threat to their dominance through religiosity. The Pharisees were zealous though in their pursuit of maintaining the status quo that favored them so well. The more people they could get to convert to their belief system meant more people they could take advantage of. Increasing their numbers meant increasing their power. It also allowed them to maintain the religious veneer they had set up so well. So to the untrained eye, they appeared very religious and zealous and sincere. Actively pursuing new people. Crossing the land and sea to make that one convert. Except no one bothered to consider what they were converting them to until Jesus makes this statement in today's key verse. Zealotry and sincerity become tools of Satan when they are undergirded by false doctrine. The devil doesn't care if we are sincere as long as we are sincerely wrong. At the end of the day, every single convert the Pharisees won actually became lost because they were leading them away from the only one who could truly save them. In fact, they were more lost than before because now they thought they had been found!
But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! - Matthew 6: 23 (NLT)