BE CAREFUL WHO YOU LISTEN TO…

II PETER 2:18-20: “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: WARNING – Be careful who you listen to! False teachers are nothing new. They existed in the Old Testament, during the time of Jesus, in the early church, and they are among us today. We hesitate to identify false teachers because we do not want to be accused of judging others. Yet, we need to understand their characteristics, be careful we don’t fall prey to their schemes, and leave judging up to the Lord.

Peter outlines several characteristics that will be found in all false teachers. The first I find very interesting. Peter says,

  • “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness…”

The book of Proverbs says that a fool is known by his many words, but even a fool, when he is silent, will be counted wise. With false teachers, the bigger the story, the more sensational it becomes – the more careful we need to be. The characteristic of a great con is to spin a yarn that is so big it seems impossible – and then convince you to believe it. False teachers use this trick. They make great claims that are never checked or authenticated. They excite their audiences with stories that seem too good to be true. And, this is usually because they are!

  • “…They allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.”

These great swelling words of emptiness are not focused on calling one to the cross, repentance, or commitment to Christ. They are usually focused on the personal blessing that is available for the individual who listens and then supports the false teacher (monetarily). The false teacher appeals to those things that are temporal and passing away. They promise prosperity, divine health, favor, and blessing – without the cross. Unlike Jesus, they would have welcomed the rich young ruler and emboldened him to walk in his covetousness as long as he supported their cause.

The lifestyle of the false teacher is lewd, in your face, and braggadocious. They claim to have the blessings of heaven because they are walking in a deeper understanding of the truth. Like crude multi-level marketing schemes, they promise the same excess and blessings to those who buy their books and give offerings to support the ministry. Many times they will put a price tag on these offerings. I once heard a television evangelist ask for a seed of $1000 to release divine healing. Without this specific amount, there would be no healing or blessing for the individual. They needed to prove their faith by giving $1000 or more!

  • “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.”

When the curtain is rolled back the truth is revealed. I will never forget a local false teacher who lived in my hometown. He had a weekly television show, claimed to be a great healer, and boasted of his faith as evidenced by his luxurious living. Yet, the reality was that he was a carnival huckster who was simply fleecing his flock. On his show, he sold miracle water from the holy land. Yet, an employee who quit the ministry, revealed that these miraculous vials of water were filled from a garden hose in the back of his offices. This false teacher was exposed on national television. So what did he do? He simply moved his show to a new time slot and focused on a new audience who did not know of his past.

  • “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.”

The sad thing about many false teachers is the fact that they came from solid Christian homes. They were taught the truth and were raised in the church, yet they turned from the pure knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ to serve themselves and lead many astray. They forsook the way of the cross and followed the way of Balaam, thinking that godliness is a means of gain. Their condition is actually worse than that of an unbeliever since they openly denied Christ after knowing the way of life.

The spirit that works in false teachers is actively at work in both the world and the church. We see the same excess and attitudes in our politicians today as we see in false teachers in the church. These warnings in Scripture are not given to us as mere knowledge. They are given to us as somber exhortations and instructions. Any person can be led astray if they do not stay true to the Word of God and understand the red flags of false teaching.

So, I am brought back to these words from the Apostle Paul to Timothy in his second letter.

  • “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” II Timothy‬ ‭3‬:‭13‬-‭17‬ ‭NKJV‬

Lord, in these last days, it is evident that evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving many. Grant us the grace to cling to Your Holy Scriptures. Let us look to Your Word as our only source of truth, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness – so that we can be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Lord – Help us to be careful who we listen to!

In Jesus’ Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com. Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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