Just like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, satan prowls deceptively among the people of God. He spreads dangerous lies and his doctrines of demons have infiltrated the Church. Satan never relents in his quest to lead the sheep away from the Great Shepherd Jesus. His methods are crafty, surreptitious and often imperceptible. We need to know what the enemy is speaking into the hearts of the sheep.
John knew. He was keenly aware of the false gospel being industriously promoted within the church. John spent a great deal of time noting and correcting the false teachings being systematically circulated. He knew exactly what was being said and he worked to undo the damage (1 John 2:18-23, 1 John 2:26, 1 John 3:4-10, 1 John 4:1-3, 1 John 4:6, 1 John 5:1-13, 2 John 1:7)
But what is the enemy speaking to the “modern” church?
We must go back to the beginning to know satan’s slimy methods– From Genesis 3 we see the primary tactics satan uses against us. He lingered by the tree waiting for his chance. Aside from putting for thoughts of doubt regarding God’s motives for His people, satan begins rewording what the Lord had said. He took a bit of truth and wrapped it in a lie. He has not changed his methods with the modern church. His methods work so why bother with a new way of deluding?
Imagine a mousetrap. You choose a certain location, put a tempting treat to bait it with and then set the trap very carefully. It looks good and smells good. You know that you will catch the unsuspecting mouse that is looking for a nice meal. The trap is perfect because the mouse thinks it has won the prize. He is oblivious to the truth and dies in his happy delusion. False doctrine and false teaching is the same thing. Our enemy knows us well and satan sets the trap with a yummy piece of truth. (With Adam and Eve it was fruit from the “Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good & Evil”) Common offerings of truth from the Bible are set right into the middle of a false teaching to make the lie palatable. An example of some true statements used all the time wrapped inside a false teaching: “God is loving”, “God is forgiving”, “God wants us to be in unity”, “Love your neighbor”, “Do not judge”, “God has set you apart”, “God wants to bless you”, “God has a great inheritance for you”, “You are a priest”, “You can move mountains”, “You have authority”, “Flee from religion”, “The Pharisees are out to get you”, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood”. I am sure you have heard them, too. People hear these, recognize the truth in it and then trustingly & naively swallow the whole thing that was preached along with it. The truth masks the false teaching that ran clear through. Snap! The trap has caught it’s victim.
We should become familiar with major new teachings and fads that the church flocks to. If that means listening to a sermon or reading their book, then we need to do that.
How else are we to adequately unravel the works of the enemy? However, I think it is important that I say, and to stress, that we should not devote large portions of our time studying the messages of false prophets and teachers.
Some examples of material* that has infiltrated the Church-
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
Seven Mountains by C Peter Wagner
Prayer Of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
and anything by Bill Johnson of Bethel in Redding CA
False teachings always have a portion of truth to entice and convince the audience. The convinced people then internalize the false teaching and it becomes part of them and their perceptions. Their internal doctrine, if you will. This is clearly very dangerous. Many times we try to reach this group of people by making broad sweeping gestures with our hand and proclaim it is all lies. But what fruit comes of that method? What good have we done? Nothing good, that is for sure. By taking an attacking stance and armed only with hearsay, we accomplish almost nothing. We only alienate the hearer of our words, instead of pointing them toward the Lord and away from a false Gospel. We must be able to delineate. We must know specifics.
A serious consequence of not really knowing the specifics in a false doctrine or teaching is that our response to it is, as a result, nonspecific. The mistake also comes when we have no real details and then pair it with coming down very hard on the individuals or group. Instantly the walls have gone up with these deluded people. They will not listen. They label you a Pharisee. That is not good, my friend. If you are hearing “Pharisee” in reply to your statements, then I challenge you to rethink your approach. Of course, there are always those that will cry “Pharisee” or something similar to anything said to them that might call attention to their mistake in following a false teaching. You cannot do a whole lot to help them- they are stiff-necked. But it is important to see that often WE are too quick to label everyone stiff-necked instead of reevaluating our own approach.
* The Lord will sometimes use material that is polluted to touch and move in a person’s life. We must realize that simply because we were “touched” or healed in some false prophet’s meeting or read a book with a false gospel and it somehow helped us, does not mean that ministry is a good or valid ministry. It only means that God used this tainted deceptive thing you have exposed yourself to, to work some measure of good in you despite the offensive source. He works all things for the good of those who love Him and often uses the evil present in our lives to speak to us in various forms. If you find you have been exposing yourself in such a way, repent and turn from your wicked ways… even if your friends and church are accepting it.