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. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 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. -- 2Peter 2:1-3 (ESV)
Discernment is not easy business. It is critical by nature because it exposes what is false within the church. For every single person who is freed from the darkness of false teaching there are 100 who like the teacher in question or even follow them. It does not matter how absurd the teacher is. Think about how many followers Benny Hinn has. Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, TD Jakes? Hillsong, Bethel, and IHOP are international ministries making millions upon millions of dollars while leading millions upon millions of people to hell. We must understand that the rapid expansion of the NAR, through the purpose driven models of seeker friendly church growth have resulted in the great apostasy warned about in the bible. People are simply not tolerating sound doctrine anymore and gathering for themselves teachers that would scratch their itching ears and tell them what they want to hear. They want to hear that God wants them rich. They want to hear that they have the same power of God. They want to hear they are heaven bound without changing anything about their sinful life. So they are still bound by Satan and serve him, while believing they are saved and going to heaven.
This is why we are at a red alert in the church. This is why discernment ministries sound the alarm as loudly as possible and stand in the gap. I understand that not everyone shares this burden. I understand that not everyone is going to receive the message. That is irrelevant to the truth. Those who refuse to listen cannot say they were not warned when they stand before Christ, saying "Lord, Lord." Let's start with the foundational truth that is rejected by those who reject discernment. That is the simple fact that false teachers are wolves and are not our brethren. They are not saved. Not only that, but they will not be saved. The bible instructs us to mark them, avoid them, expose them and rebuke them. Nowhere does it say we are to play with them, pray for them, coddle them, or ask them to stop being wolves. It is so sad to see Christians constantly defend voracious wolves and not seem to care one bit for the sheep they are devouring. So let us dissect one of the plethora of scripture segments in the key verses for today regarding false teaching and see what we can learn to better understand the crisis and discernment in general.
Peter starts with the difference between falseness under the old and new covenants. Because the word of God came only through the prophets in the Old Testament, those who spoke falsely were considered false prophets. Since the new covenant has the benefit of the final revealed word of God in the bible, those who would speak falsely about it would be considered false teachers. Both terms are essentially interchangeable for our purposes. Peter's words here are an assurance about the existence of false teachers. So despite the resistance from many, their reality cannot be denied. Secondly, the false teachers will be among us. They are not some existential threat beloved. They are directly among us, in our churches and in our pulpits.
Thirdly, we cannot ever forget that they bring heresies into the church. Heresies are teachings that are opposed to Jesus Christ and His Gospel. In case we try to minimize this, God reminds us they are destructive heresies. They destroy people. In this world, those who are unsaved are lost and when they come to a church they are supposed to hear the Gospel. Why? Because only the Gospel has the power of God unto the salvation of man. That means only the Gospel can save someone. If someone instead hears heresies they cannot be saved! The heresy also assures them they are saved when they are not. Read Matthew 7 and see the people who stand before Christ on the last day saying "Lord, Lord." These are churched people who never heard the Gospel but were told they were saved. Fourthly, they will deny the true Master. They will not preach the real Gospel. They will not speak of sin and the need for repentance. They will pay lip service to Jesus of course but denying the power of the Gospel to save. It is interesting that Peter refers to the Master as the one who "bought them." That is a reference to the cross and His blood. This is what is denied by heretics. This is the heart of the Gospel but it is not seeker friendly. It is not purpose driven. The true Gospel divides father against son and mother against daughter. Do not be deceived with Kumbaya Christianity -- Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword.
Look at what they are promised! Swift destruction! This is what I say to those who think we ought to be praying for those who prey upon our true brethren. Their condemnation is from long ago and it is not idle! Their destruction is not asleep! Wake up oh slumbering church! False teachers do not repent! That notion is folly designed to stop people from exposing them! This is also why we need to be vigilant in correctly naming names. Someone who has a hole in their theology or someone who espouses something false should be given chances to renounce what they have said. People can get things wrong. When we talk about false teachers we are talking egregious error that has been reaffirmed by the wolf instead of repented of. Joel Osteen, Joseph Prince, Creflo Dollar and the rest have defended their heresies. They will perish with them.
Next, our Lord describes the false teachers as being driven by sensuality. The definition of sensuality is pleasure through the five senses. God is saying here that they are carnal beings who are led by their own carnality, selling carnal wares. Carnality, or sensuality, is the opposite of the spiritual. The Christian is called to deny self. To deny humanity and pick up their cross daily. Now think about what the false teacher plays to. That you can be rich from the prosperity gospel. That is of course rich on this earth. It is carnal by definition. The false signs and lying wonders are entirely fleshly. Word faith usurps the power of God! I can't think of anything more humanistic and carnal. Places like Bethel teach people to falsely prophesy by emptying their mind and speak whatever evil pops into their heart. Carnal, carnal, carnal. Modern "worship" music is purely carnal. Songs that declare that we are all friends of God. Songs that declare how much the Lord loves us. Songs that demand our inheritance from God. Songs that turn Jesus into our boyfriend, or worse. Songs that transfer the worst of humanity onto God, such as calling Him reckless. There is no question that false teaching is bathed in the carnal sensuality of man, and in turn, denying God.
Next, before you get upset at your local discernment minister, take into consideration that the end result of these teachings is that the way of the truth will be blasphemed! These teachings not only consign people to hell but they prevent the unsaved from even wanting to come to Christ. Do you honestly think that people who see the TBN huckster parade scheming for your money are not affected? I always am saddened by reading comments on an article about Paula White for example, the current presidential advisor. Inevitably, those claiming to be Christians defend her while people in the world see right through her, as well as her third husband, and her infatuation with stealing millions of dollars from her congregants. Do you think people cannot see through the greed of Creflo Dollar and Mike Murdock? Do you think they cannot see through the mysticism of Bill Johnson and IHOP? Do you think they cannot see through the absolute insanity of Heidi Baker and Jennifer LeClaire? Discernment exists to expose the nonsense. Not only to save those under their teaching but to restore the credibility to the Gospel and reverse the damage wrought by false teaching.