Read: 2 Peter 2:1-3
Reflect: You know there are some good people in the church, right? You know that not all pastors just want your money and not all evangelists just want you to pay for their private jets and expensive beach houses? Right? I hope you are not as jaded as I was back in the 80’s and 90’ when it seemed like every day another minister of the gospel was peddling their own versions of lies and “miraculous healings” and telling us that GOD was doing some mighty works and wonders (but only if you sent in money to their ministry).
Today it seems that the lies are more subtle and destructive. Peter told us back in 2 Peter 2: “there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord, who bought them- bringing swift destruction on themselves.” Yes, the destruction will be swift, but the damage will be even greater. Many thousands of people have believed these false teachers and therefore they bring dishonor upon the Lord. The teachers are celebrities who bring even more misery and disappointment upon the church and upon their own families. Peter says that these false teachers will exploit you (vs. 3).
Currently in our country, there is a minister who is a multi-millionaire, with book deals and television contracts, just waiting for you to send him that check that supposedly in turn bring you happiness and much success. This works because the danger is in the fact that there is some truth to all of this, after all, sometimes you will be blessed, or you do get healed.
When you mix truth with lies, you only end up with lies. Denny Burk writes: “I think this teacher is dangerous. The prosperity “gospel” that he preaches makes the Almighty into a cosmic slot machine; just believe hard enough and you’ll hit paydirt and have your “best life now.” Yet the Christian gospel explicitly teaches that if a person tries to have their best life now, they will forfeit eternity: “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26).
I love the story of how a popular drink came to be. In 1857 a man by the name of Pete Conklin created something we all love today, pink lemonade. Conklin had mixed up a batch of lemonade, but unwittingly used a bucket of water in which a circus performer had soaked his red tights in. Voila! Pink lemonade. The lemonade had been tainted by the red tights. The point is, it’s not hard to see that the “red tights” contaminated the lemonade. In the same way, sin (false gospel) contaminates that which is preached by false teachers. Remember what Peter said, “with their greed these teachers will exploit you, with stories they have made up.”
Apply: The most disturbing truth in all of this is found in that first verse when Peter speaks of the false teachers: “they even deny the sovereign Lord, who bought them.” He bought them! He died for everyone’s sin. John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever…..” He died for “whosoever”, and that would include the false teachers who are profiting off that same truth. We must be aware of what is being taught “in the name of the Lord”. We must be diligent in our study of the scriptures.
May I suggest three things that may help in detecting false prophets?
· Pray every day that the Lord would keep you from hearing false teaching that day
· Start asking some difficult questions like “what do I believe”. What do I believe about the Bible, about suffering, about how to live the Christians life, and more?
· Talk to more mature Christians on a regular basis. Always be aware of who the false teachers are today! Remember, what you learn from the Bible will never change. However, what you learn from men, may change with the weather. And if the weather really gets hot, relax, and have a tall glass of pink lemonade, but watch out for the pink tights!
Authored by Bill Stoner
Bill is a retired pastor who continues teaching, discipling, and working with children through the church and by substitute teaching. He loves to serve his Lord.