This is a series of quotes to emphasize the seriousness of deception and our responsibility to look out for it constantly.
I must be careful. It is easy to get confused and stumble around. I have been brought out of slavery but will I see the promised land? I must listen to what God has said. That requires I know the word of God in a very detailed way.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?‘ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’” | Matthew 7:15-23
As followers of the Messiah, we have no excuse for remaining ignorant of theology because we have the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) available to us — the Bible is complete. As we “study to show ourselves approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15), we are less likely to be taken in by smooth talkers and false teachers / prophets. When we know God’s Word, “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).
It is important to point out the difference between false doctrine and denominational disagreements. Different congregational groups see secondary issues in Scripture differently. These differences are not always due to false doctrine on anyone’s part. Church policies, governmental decisions, style of worship, etc., are all open for discussion, since they are not directly addressed in Scripture. Even those issues that are addressed in Scripture are often debated by equally sincere disciples of the Messiah. Differences in interpretation or practice do not necessarily qualify as false doctrine, nor should they divide the Body of the Messiah.
The maturing follower of Jesus is not tossed about by every religious novelty that comes along. There are religious quacks waiting to kidnap God’s children and get them into their false cults, but the maturing believer recognizes false doctrine and stays clear of it.
The cultists do not try to win lost souls to the Messiah. They do not establish rescue missions in the slum areas of our cities, because they have no good news for the man on skid row. Instead, these false teachers try to capture immature disciples of Jesus, and for this reason, most of the membership of the false cults comes from local churches, particularly churches that do not feed their people the Word of God.
What are we to do? “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Matthew 24: 3-14; 24-25 “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This good news of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Vs. 24): For false Messiahs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. (25) Behold, I have told you in advance.”
2 Peter 2:1-3 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
Romans 16:18 “For such people are not serving our Lord the Messiah, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”
2 Corinthians 2:17 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in the Messiah we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of the Messiah. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”
1 Thessalonians 2:5 “You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed–God is our witness.”
Acts 20:28-31 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”
1 Timothy 6:5 “…and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”
Luke 16:13-14 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him”
Titus 1:7-11 “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”
James 3: 1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
Titus 2:1 “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”
Galatians 1:6-9 “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of the Messiah, for a different “good news”; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the good news of the Messiah. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a “good news” contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a “good news” contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”
1 Corinthians 5:11-13 “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of a brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those on the outside. Remove the evil person from among you.”
Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of the Messiah.”
Titus 2:7-8 “…in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”
1 Thessalonians 5:21 “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…”
1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
2 Timothy 1:13-14 “Hold fast (retain) the pattern of sound words (doctrine) which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in the Messiah Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”
2 Timothy 3:12-17 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in the Messiah Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith, which is in the Messiah Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 4:1-4 “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of the Messiah Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4:16 “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
2 Thessalonians 2: 8-12 “Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.”
2 Thessalonians 2:15 “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”
1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
2 John 1:7-11 “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus the Messiah as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the anti-Mesiah. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of the Messiah, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”
Jude 3 “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”