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February 23, 2023

Defending Discernment - The Troubler of the Church

By Anthony Wade

I do not have to defend discernment. God already has.


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But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. - 2Peter 2:1 (NLT)

I like all who enter into discernment ministries understand that this calling is not for everyone. Many prefer to not make waves, sing Kumbaya, and hold hands until Jesus comes - and I get that. Believe me I do. I sometimes miss the days before the little dog pulled the curtain back and I saw the wizard for who he really was. It was nice believing everyone was in this for Jesus until you were faced with the cold harsh reality that all are not. The more you truly read your bible the more you are faced with the reality of false teaching because it is one of the primary subjects from the beginning until the end. In the Garden it was "surely God did not tell you", and in Revelation we were faced with churches that believed and taught falsely. It sure seemed a very important subject to God, so it left me wondering why so many ignore it or even worse, come against those trying to speak the truth. Now I can take the slings and arrows, for I know they are misspent. I can take the accusations of negativity and dividing the body even though the bible teaches us in Romans that it is doctrine contrary to what the disciples taught that is dividing the body.

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. - Romans 16:17-18 (ESV)

It is the deceived hearts of the naïve that keep me up at night. When Jesus looked over multitudes, He wept for they were like sheep without a shepherd. Such is churchianity today. Plenty of people in church buildings with just enough scripture reference knowledge to appear dangerous but in the end, they are so easily deceived and then defend their deceptions. Let me start this biblical review with the foundation found in the key verse. Here we see Peter distinguishing between Israel, the Old Testament and the new paradigm they were setting up after the resurrection of Christ. In the Old Testament, there were false prophets. This is because prophecy was the primary way that God spoke to His people. Sure, there was the occasional burning bush or audible word of God, but they were very infrequent, which is why the Old Testament saw so many prophets of God and so many false prophets bringing a word that God never said. Just as there were false prophets in those days there will be false teachers now. Why the distinction? Because the word was being formed. Peter would eventually refer to the letters of Paul as scripture! For our benefit today, it is best to understand that false teaching and false prophecy are essentially the same biblical concept. Both are stating God said something that He never said. With that established, let us turn to an Old Testament example of the criticism we see today leveled at discernment ministries:

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, "Is it you, you troubler of Israel?" And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father's house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."' - 1Kings 18:17-19 (ESV)

Ahab was one of the most wicked kings Israel ever had. Much like the apostate church today, Ahab led the people of God into idolatry, worshipping the Baal's of his day. Elijah was the true prophet of God in his day. He was the one insisting on what God said, not the idolatry of Ahab. I love this verse from 1Kings because Ahab, upon seeing Elijah, declared - "is that you oh troubler of Israel?" I would encourage those who do the Lord's work in discernment to rest in this accusation. We are always accused of being the troubler of the church. We must remember as Elijah did that this is merely projection. The true troubler is the one who leads the sheep falsely. Who teaches them to abandon the commandments of the Lord. Who teaches them to follow the Baals of today. Prosperity, word faith, false signs and lying wonders are all Baals of today. Politics, politicians, carnality are all Baals of today. Elijah then decides to put an end to the false accusations - gather 850 false prophets and I will take them on! That is the proper odds even today beloved. For everyone properly discerning ministry we may be up against 850 false teachers between the Internet, local churches and of course the popular TV ministries. Now, we should know the story. Elijah has two offering sites set up. One for them and one for him. He lets the false prophets go first and challenges them to call on their God to consume the offering. After they fail, Elijah calls on the one true God who consumes the altar, offering and Elijah slaughtered the false prophets there at Mount Carmel. For the purposes of this discussion, here are the verses when the false prophets tried to call on their false God:

And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened." And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention. - 1Kings 18: 26-29 (ESV)

I recently had someone refer to the efforts of discernment as "sitting in the seat of mockers." This poor reference is to Psalm One, which is actually reinforcing the importance of God's word ironically enough. The concern shown for those who are actively deceiving is staggering. It also ignores scripture, such as this story from 1Kings. Did Elijah privately rebuke the false prophets? No! Did he try to speak kindly to them? No! The word above clearly states that he MOCKED them! God does not care about the delicate sensibilities of those trying to maul His sheep. Can you picture the scene? There were 850 people crying out to their false God in unison. Elijah suggested that their false god might be asleep, away on a journey or perhaps relieving Himself in the toilet! Beloved, God did not instruct us to play with wolves, pet them, or be concerned about their feelings. It is the sheep that we should be concerned about. While on this subject, stop referring to the wolves as brothers or sisters in Christ - they are not! Active defenders of the so-called Asbury revival include Todd Bentley, Greg Locke, Dr. Michael Brown, Steven Strang, Rick Warren, Francis Chand and Mike Bickle to name a few. How can any professing Christian be comfortable in that company? These 850 false prophets were slain by Elijah! False prophets of old were stoned to death! Even false teachers in the New Testament were handed over to Satan! Another lesson here is to stop embracing emotionalism and trying to pass it off as a move of the spirit! God does not require us to cut ourselves until blood is gushing out. Neither does He require us to roll around on the ground, spasm involuntarily, run into imaginary rivers, or soak in some carnal "presence" we have convinced ourselves is God. Oh, and stop being concerned that the wolves are being named:

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. - 2Timothy 2:14-18 (ESV)

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. - 1Timothy 1:18-20 (ESV)

Paul presents a dichotomy here for young Timothy. Present yourself to God as an approved worker who knows how to handle rightly the word of God! False teaching is presented as the opposite to this - irreverent babble! Leading people into more ungodliness. Note here that the bible says such teaching spreads like gangrene! False teaching is like gangrene in the body of Christ. It is infectious. It causes a lack of blood supply! Eventually it may end up with it needing to be cut out of the body. Then note here that Paul names, names! Hymenaeus and Philetus have swerved from the truth of scripture! Their teaching has upset the faith of some. The second set of scriptures finds Paul naming Hymenaeus and Alexander, who have blasphemed God with their false teaching, shipwrecking their own faith. Who are these three people? The bible does not say much more but obviously they were known to the early church and perhaps at some point they were solid in their theology. Was this relevant anymore? No! Paul did not coddle these people. He did not show concern for them over the sheep they were lying to! He had no issue saying their names! Maybe you think this was only because these three were obscure? Try this then:

But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favor of circumcising them. The other Jewish believers also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?" - Galatians 2:11-14 (NIV)

Paul publicly rebuked Peter! Why? Because he was clearly wrong! He was refusing to sit with gentiles for fear of making those that still believed in circumcision upset! This was negatively affecting the other Jewish believers, even Barnabas! Paul even confronted Peter about his false teaching and behavior in the open! Peter would eventually agree and relent. Not satisfied yet? How about John the Baptist?

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. - Matthew 3:7-10 (ESV)

Brood of vipers! Hardly pulling his punches! Mocking their sincerity as well! Mind you, these were the false teachers of the day. They controlled the religion of the day. They very much were like the apostate church today. Joel Osteen, Bill Johnson, Dr. Michael Brown all sit in the desirable seats within religion today. Yet John the Baptist would just scoff at them today. What about Jesus you may be asking? Here are just His words against the false teachers from the seven woes He proclaimed over them in Matthew 23:

· Tie up heavy burdens for others to carry without lifting a finger to help

· Hypocrites

· Travel across the world to make a single convert, making him twice the son of hell

· Blind guides

· Inside are filled with greed and self-indulgence

· Whitewashed tombs

· Brood of vipers

Whitewashed tombs! That was mocking them worst than Elijah mocked the 850 false prophets of his day! Modern day churchianity has portrayed this lovey-dovey, only encouraging Jesus but the truth is He had no tolerance for those who would preach falsely. If we follow throughout the Old Testament, we find He has never tolerated such:

Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. - Jeremiah 14:14 (NIV)

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. - Jeremiah 23:16 (NIV)

The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: 'Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals among ruins. You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord. Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. Even though the Lord has not sent them, they say, "The Lord declares," and expect him to fulfill their words. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, "The Lord declares," though I have not spoken? - Ezekiel 13:1-7 (NIV)

Prophesying lies in my name. False visions, divinations, idolatries, and delusions of their own minds. Trying to fill you with false hopes! Prophesying out of their own imaginations. Following their own spirit because they have seen nothing! They are like jackals and woe to those that follow them! Are we getting the overall sense of how God views that which is false? The worst thing is that no one ever handles the word correctly in their criticism. Discernment can be wrong. But you better come at me with bible verses properly exegeted and in context. It has been offered that there is a proper "time" to call out the wolves in sheep's clothing and to that I say rubbish. Just look at the plethora of scripture provided in this one devotional and believe me when I say that this took no time to pull together as the entire bible is just replete with support for calling out false teachers to protect the people of God. The last argument I always here is that discernment doesn't "win anyone" for Jesus. To this I respond twofold. First, the false teachers not only do not win anyone to Jesus, but they win them for the other team! Just read Matthew 7 and realize all the people saying Lord, Lord on the Day of Judgement thought they were serving Christ. This is not a game beloved. The eternal destination for the souls of men lie in the balance. There is a reason why narrow is the way, and few are those who find it. I have had plenty of people email me that what God has written through me or other discernment ministries has led them out of darkness and into the glorious light. I will leave this for now with the final word from the Beatitudes, often neglected:

Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. - Luke 6:26 (ESV)

The term woe means a pronouncement of judgment. The judgment there is against being spoken well of when not deserved. The example provided by Jesus? The fact that the Israelites in the Old Testament always spoke well of the false prophets of their day. They followed them just as much as the apostate church follows false teachers today. Beloved, we are not supposed to speak well of those that are in opposition to Christ. I know it can be difficult because these are the popular "ministries" of our day but popularity with the world should tell us something, no? Joel Osteen does not draw tens of thousands of people because he is presenting the gospel. Discernment separates truth from lies. Good from evil. Right from not quite right. False teachers and prophets deserve our disdain. They deserve our mockery. They deserve the working end of the shepherd's rod, nothing less. Nothing more.

Reverend Anthony Wade - February 22, 2023

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.