False Teachings: Characteristics, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 15, 2019 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

As I continue my series on identifying false teachings, we must be alert to the mixing or blending of pagan ideas into Christianity and calling it “Christian.” A term that describes this is “Christian Syncretism.” This is when someone takes a teaching, practice, or idea from the world and gives it a “Christian flavor.” It is a grievous sin and blatant distrust of God whenever we do this.

James warned us that friendship with the world is enmity towards God. If we want to be friendly with the world’s way of thinking, the world’s methods, and the world’s ideologies, we will be in direct defiance of God’s way of thinking, God’s methods, and God’s ideology. We can’t have it both ways. A clue we can use to detect false teachings is if we see using the world as bait to draw people to Christianity. It’s the idea that if we look like the world, the world will like us and then embrace our message. It is very difficult for something more stupid to be said. Jesus gave a message that required renouncing of the world, denying self, and to follow Him no matter what. Most pastors and “Christians” today need to rip that completely out of their Bibles because they flat out have no hint of a desire to follow it.

Now, the common defense for these false teachings is that when Paul went to the Greeks he became a Greek, when he went to Thessalonica he became a Thessalonian, and to the Jew he became a Jew. Jesus went and ate out with the sinners and tax collectors. He hung out with prostitutes. They cite Paul’s preaching at Mars Hill by referencing their culture as evidence they should look like the world. Those are the Scriptures they use to justify looking worldly. But there’s a problem: none of these people ever did look like the world.

When Paul went to Mars Hill, he did not embrace the Athenian culture of polytheism of which the Stoics and Epicureans really did not believe. In fact, he used their own culture as a launch point to tell them, “You are all wrong and don’t know what you do. Here is the truth about this Unknown God you don’t know nor know how to worship.” He was directly counter-cultural and the responses he received of mockery and laughter showed very clearly that he was not seeking to appease anyone where they were at. Jesus did the same. He never once made any appeal to emotion or sought to make His message more appealing. He spoke the hard truth, and when people objected, He made it even harder to accept. Just read John 6.

People will say that our culture is too sensitive to hear a message like that. Give up self and repent from your sins? Let go of your education and your social prestige and start all over, relying on God? Be ready to be persecuted and suffer and be hated? Who can handle that kind of message? The answer is simple: NO ONE. No generation has ever been able to withstand the Gospel message. When the true Gospel is being preached there will be only two possible responses: resistance, if not hatred, or conversion. The true Gospel forces us to make a decision to go with God or not. No choice or waiting is simply saying, “No.” When we preach a true Gospel, those who love their sin will reject us, and those whom God calls will run to Him.

But there are a lot of counterfeits out there and they all have this characteristic: using the world as a draw card. It’s utter deception with bait-and-switch. Suck the person in with what his sinful flesh desires and then tell them that sinful flesh is a bad thing. How can anyone think that is reasonable? When you use sinful carnal desires to draw people in, the only way you will keep them is to keep feeding them sinful, carnal food. If the flesh is the draw, then no Gospel can be preached.

The majority of preachers today appeal to the flesh and teach to pray to God to feed your flesh. I’m dead serious. The modern evangelism tactic has abandoned the use of the Law of God to convict the soul and instead appeals to Jesus as a replacement for the sources of joy previously offered by sex, drugs, alcohol, education, sports, etc. It’s flesh-motivated. Jesus is used as nothing more than comfort for this bumpy ride we call life. Then it gets worse. The Christian life is preached to be a lovely, fluffy, padded, wealthy, prosperous life here and now. That is not what Jesus promised: tribulation, suffering, hardships. It’s a counterfeit. It takes the promises God offered in the next life and tries to apply them in the here and now, with no regard to eternity other than “I get to go.” It’s so dangerous. And they preach this because they are afraid their congregation will leave them unless they preach something that will appease them. It’s total fear of man.

Even the seeking after God has been counterfeited. A couple years ago, I did a study on prayer. It’s something that is not easy to learn. But a while back I was relistening to some sermons on prayer and I realized something. This too is being counterfeited. True Biblical prayer takes what God initiates and without doubt and without ceasing we pray until we get the answer God has promised. But there is a counterfeit to this. One such counterfeit is the “Law of Attraction,” which is heavily promoted by numerous BIG names in Christian circles today. It is disguised as prayer, but it does nothing but seek what self wants, visualizes it, speaks out loud, and persists until “God” answers. The problem is, when our “prayers and desires” are aligned to the flesh and not God, there are many demons who are more than capable of answering them for you. The reason these false teachings work so well in giving the flesh what the flesh wants is because they are serving their god, the devil, quite well.

When Christians start suggesting they can do “Christian Yoga,” or bands say they can do “Christian Rock” while dressed just like the heathen, or Christian scientists suggest that we can use the secular models of Deep Time to “present a better picture of truth to the unbelievers,” they are anything but Christian. Many people have suggested these are compromises, but I have grown to disagree with that term. Those are not mixing or blending of Christian and pagan ideas. They are pure pagan ideas just decorated cosmetically in Christianese. Remove all Christian references to the idea or act and virtually nothing but the wrapping changes. The concept and idea all remain. We don’t need to get the world’s approval on our messages.

Now I am not suggesting we be so isolated that we make no connections at all. We still must speak the language of our audience, but our message must not change. I use the sport of fencing as a tool to help visualize concepts and tactics of spiritual warfare. I am not taking the message of spiritual warfare and catering it to fencing, but rather using a tool to illustrate the message without changing it. Creation organizations do love the science involved in studying origins, however, it is an attempt to preach the Gospel to an academic audience. It’s never an attempt to look like the world in order to “win them over.” So, using tools or visual aids can most certainly help. However, we must not settle for a counterfeit version of the message that sells us short and people to Hell.

So, let me summarize the characteristics of false teachings from this series:
1. They LOOK like the real thing, often differing in seemingly minor but significant areas.
2. They never point towards nor glorify God as the primary. They always point towards man’s education, man’s discoveries, the “revelation” given to man, etc. God may be given credit, but only as an afterthought, hardly a footnote.
3. They seek to fulfill man’s sinful, selfish desires, and never promote death to self or surrender of self to God. They always seek to give what self wants.
4. They will use the world as a draw card and will give an appearance of spirituality, but it will be without Christ as the center. If one were to strip away all Christian references to the idea or activity, very little would change.
5. They seek the approval and applause of their audience. They want to be received, not to be ministers of the truth, especially if they never get credit.

I’m not done with this series yet. For the next few weeks, I’ll look at some of the tactics that false teachers use to get their ideas into the church. We must be alert, because these false teachers will look and act like your friend until you question them.

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elhombre57 said...

Thank you, Charlie. Your thoughts are honest, accurate, and well-researched. Thanks for speaking the truth that we so often wish to ignore.