False Teachings: Characteristics, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 1, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The old adage says that bank tellers are trained to identify counterfeit bills by studying, touching, feeling, and smelling the real thing. By knowing the real thing, any counterfeit will be easy to spot. I used to work as a cashier and without ever going through formal training on this, I once was able to spot a fake $20 bill just by the feel of it. After sensing something was wrong, I took my marker, checked it, and it sure was a fake.

A local newspaper article recently warned about fake bills going around. Some of the clues they gave included Russian letters or Greek figures. To which I thought, “Really? Making it that easy?” The problem is very few people are bothering to check things except at an initial glance. And in today’s society, if someone were to give me a fake $20 bill in exchange for goods, and I identify it as such, I would have to be prepared for that customer to demand I take it anyway because “they don’t know any better” or “just let it slide” or “why are you being so judgmental.” I’m not joking or exaggerating on this. That’s the kind of society we live in, where we are supposed to accept whatever someone wants to give us without question and don’t dare challenge them on it, as long as it’s not Biblical Christianity.

The fake currency that gets through the system is the fake currency that looks most like the authentic currency. The same is true about false teachings. The ones that are most successful are the ones that most resemble the Truth. I have had skeptics tell me frequently, “There are 500 million gods out there. What makes yours the right one?” They know that the bulk of the gods are false. A quality response would be: “There are many counterfeits out there. But what makes something a fake? Is it not by comparing it to the real thing?”

I am not going to address false religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or the like because that is outside my scope. My target for this series is that which claims to be Christianity and clearly isn’t.

I have had people in the origins debate tell me, “Young Earth, Old Earth, and Theistic Evolutionists agree on 97% of Christian doctrines. Why can’t we join forces and combat atheism? Then we can battle out our differences?” Here is my response to that: “The majority of Old Earthers and Theistic Evolutionists are holding hands with atheists, using their arguments and their thinking, and are constantly joining sides with them against Young Earth models. How can we join sides?”

Technicalities aside on origins, I want to zoom in on the “97% of commonality” claim. If two teachings agree in nearly everything but a few minor points, we should be able to get along, correct? Well, you need more information. Paris Reidhead gave such a clear image that I will never forget in this sermon. He described the right hand and left hand. They are nearly identical – five fingers, each finger about the same length, same number of knuckles, etc. The list goes on. But there is one major difference: one hand points one direction, and the other points the other direction. All but identical except the direction they point.

This is a BIG clue we can use to discern true and false teachings: to whom or to what do the teachings point? One of the reasons I can discount all origins models that include millions and billions of years as being false teachings has nothing to do with science or the study of Scripture, but who the teaching glorifies. The Young Earth models, when taught correctly, only point to God and any study man does is subservient to what God has revealed. In every Old Earth model, the scholarship and authority of men and “modern science” are the focal point: “We know the earth is 4.6 billion years because we scientists have figured it out.” While any of these models may give God credit for the creation, the credit is a footnote, not the central focus. God has nothing to do with any study of origins involving billions of years because the very methodology used in the study purposefully keeps God out. It is called naturalism.

If the model glorifies what man has studied and discovered, be alert. This is really just another version of an ancient tactic used by Islam, Mormonism, the Roman Catholic Church, and all the way back to Genesis 3 at the Garden. It is the concept of the “private revelation” able to be equal if not superior to the “previous revelation” of Scripture. Peter immediately refutes that saying no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. Ezekiel also decries such notions, condemning prophets who said, “Thus says the Lord” when God had not spoken. He called such prophets ravenous wolves, devouring the people and conspiring, in our midst, against God for selfish gain. Those weren’t my words; that was God’s Word spoken through Ezekiel. The conspirators are in and among us, and at first glance, they look like us.

Jesus warned about wolves in sheep’s clothing. Paul gives multiple warnings against false teachers but specifically told the Roman church and Philippian church to mark and identify the true and false teachers and to avoid the false. He even gave some clues on how to identify them: they serve not Christ but their own belly (selfish interests) and they use smooth, flattering speech to deceive the hearts of the simple. Do not be impressed by eloquence or by presentation. Always examine the message being given. There is a famous preacher (whom I will not name at this time) who does a great job at relating to his audience (notice I meant audience, not congregation), but when he says things like “God broke the Law” to save us because “The Law didn’t have enough leverage to save us,” my response is, “This man does not know nor understand the Gospel, nor God. That is heresy. God had to send Jesus to save us because He would not break the Law, lest He deny Himself.” And if I mentioned his name, I’d have a lot of people blowing up on me for exposing him.

Who are we listening to? This preacher is not pointing towards Christ, but towards a “Christ” of his own liking and making. One that will cuddle him and come to his rescue, but not one who is holy and just and righteous. If a teaching does not reveal the One True God and the FULL council of Scripture, it should not be trusted.

There’s more on this. Next week, I’ll look at some other key characteristics of false teachings.

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