In this series on The Wolves (Part 1 and Part 2), I’ve asked that we take a look at the scriptures in the Bible that warn us and teach us about the false teachers and false prophets that will come in the end times.
Jesus warned about their coming in Matthew 7 and likened them to wolves in sheep’s clothing, and Paul reveals that perilous times are coming and a great falling away in which false teachers will come according to deceitful spirits and the doctrines of demons to turn people away from the faith; the conditions and sins of the time are revealed explicitly in these passages.
With great clarity we see the scripture revealing the wolves by their fruits; it is, therefore, important that we know these conditions and be able to discern the fruit of these false teachers in order to turn away from them, just as the scripture likewise commands us to do.
And that is my first point: what is the proper response to false teachers? To my knowledge, I only know of two responses the Bible gives to the kingdom of darkness.
- Expose it by the light of the word of Truth: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
- Turn away: “Having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2nd Timothy 3:5).
To my knowledge the scripture doesn’t ask us to sit at the table of wolves and try to gradually win them over in subtle variations or degrees. The Bible does talk about bearing with your brothers in love and patience- I am not talking about dealing with the brethren, therefore, please do not apply these things to the brethren. This is why I encourage you to pray to the Lord for discernment in these matters because you need to know if you are dealing with a true brother or a wolf in sheep’s clothing. By the scripture and the Holy Spirit, these things are revealed (not by man’s devices).
Now, Paul gives the following charge:
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. ~2nd Timothy 4:1-5
We must understand the condition and climate of the times Paul is talking about; we’re warned that they will not endure sound doctrine and they will gather to themselves teachers that are pleasing to their own ears.
Of this I must earnestly warn my brethren; nothing is easier to do in our age than precisely this! If a Church disagrees with us, we can simply drive our car to another church, and if there are no churches that we like, we can go online or to the TV!
Understand me clearly when I say that these things are not always wrong. I believe there comes a time when you must get in your car and drive away from some churches that have gone apostate. There are some preachers online that are very beneficial. However, this makes it very easy for us to customize what we hear to our own liking, and that is deadly to our faith!
Regarding the times we live in, I believe we are in a time when people will not endure sound doctrine. They crave fanciful and complicated teachings (fables) that depart from the sound truth of the scriptures, and they do not know the scriptures well enough to discern the truth. This is a generalization, for I have met Christians of righteous zeal and holy conduct filled by the Holy Spirit, who listen to sound truth even when it may be personally painful. But, today is a day when we are so enlightened in our own estimation that we are too good for the teachings of the scriptures.
It will suffice for now to say beware of this; examine yourself to check and make sure that you’re not becoming hardened to sound doctrine. The grace of God permitting, I will do the same and we will be spared by His mercy to walk pleasing in His sight even in this wicked and perverse generation!
6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”
~1st Peter 2:6-8
You are picking up by now that I am not aiming this post entirely outside—that is to say that I’m not directing this post at “the preachers” and “the teachers”, which can be a vaguely anonymous collection of people, rather, this post is also aimed directly at “you” (whomever you are), and me.
All of us must come before the “stone of stumbling and rock of offense” and love Him for it! We must look upon the chief cornerstone and see Him precious and love Him for all that He is. Every one of us has been called before Him at the pronouncement of the Kingdom of God, but it remains to be seen who will be arrayed in fine linen garments and who will be stripped naked and found in their shame!
To us who believe, O how precious He is! But to those who disobey, He is a mighty stone of stumbling and a rock of offense!
I aim this at “you” and me because it is by this that we must check ourselves! The Lord has given me a call to preach against disobedience and warn the church to reconcile themselves while the time is called “now”; I have battled in myself to wage this war and cut from me every unwholesome thing and remove every sin according to the grace of God by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, and I exhort you, brethren, do not resist the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, nor defile the sacrifice of Christ.
Therefore, I will encourage you all to give attention to sound doctrine and to apprise yourself of the Word of God by the Holy Spirit. Be watchful in all things, and endure the coming trials with the joy that is set before you because of Jesus Christ our God and Savior.
Grace and peace to all the brethren and the power to endure, amen!