It is great to be with you. We’re going to go ahead and get into our message today. And I want to remind Marcus that I thought an incredible job setting us up for today’s lesson, and I’m looking forward to is sharing it with you. But he talked last week and let me make sure my clicker is ready to go. All right.
Yeah. Beware of false prophets. That’s our topic today. That’s the subject of the lesson. And last time Marcus talked, I thought beautifully about the importance of the word of God.
I mean, it was really very well done. And he talked about the passage where it says, and that may be a little small I didn’t realize it’d be so small. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word of God. We have the word of God today.
We have something much more sure than others. And I love what Peter refers to. He refers to the Transfiguration. You remember how Peter appeared there with Jesus on the mountain, and there was Moses and Elijah with Jesus. And Peter said, Lord, it’s good to be here.
And let’s build some booths and all that kind of stuff. And God said, no, this is my beloved son. Hear him. He’s the only one you need to think about. But what made that such an incredible scene? You have Moses who represented what he represented the Old Testament law.
You had Elijah, who was arguably the greatest of the prophets. He represented the prophets of the Old Testament. You have Jesus himself, who is the gospel. He is the good news. So you have the Gospels brought into play.
Then you have the Apostles who represented the New Testament, eye witnesses. So in this one scene, you see, Jesus pulled together the word of God all into himself. And it’s a powerful, powerful testimony that’s going on. And I love how Marcus ended the messages.
He challenged us with a couple of questions. He said, how often do you dig into this book, meaning your Bible? How often do you just spend time with it? And don’t get me wrong. Podcasts are okay.
Podcasts about the Bible are okay. Reading a good book about the Bible is okay. But the real challenge is to get into the word of God for yourself. And one of the things that I’ve seen over the years as I’ve read through the Bible, is after a while, you start seeing cross references, even in your own study, you’ll read something here and you’ll say, wow, that relates to something I read over here. And you’re going to hear some of that in today’s message.
And I’m going to bring that question up at the end about being into the word of God. And you’ll see why this is so important today. So we’re going to talk about how Peter says you’ve got to beware of false prophets. In other words, you got to be careful. You’ve got to be vigilant.
You’ve got to be aware of what’s going on around you when it comes to this area. And now some of you may be wondering, okay, what’s the big deal? Why is it such a concern and be aware of false prophets? Now, if you’re religious, you know that. Okay.
There are obvious reasons, but there may be some not so obvious reasons why this is so important. And one of those is that so much is accessible to you and me right now. Yeah. I mean, in this information age, you can watch teachings of whomever you want. You can watch podcasts.
You can read blogs. You have access to so much information every single day. In the last couple of years, I have listened to more sermons and seen more services of other churches that I have in my life because I can just flip onto YouTube or Facebook Live, and I can catch a service. But the real challenge for you is that you must be discerning as you listen. You’ve got to be discerning as you listen. Hebrews 514 talks about that that we have to be able to discern between good and evil.
Now, later on today, I’ve got a funeral that I’m going to. It’s for a friend of mine’s brother who passed away. And I hope you hear this in the right heart. But we go to funerals. And I’ve said it before.
You never hear of anyone at a funeral not being right with God. Everybody goes to heaven. It doesn’t matter how you live. Everybody goes to heaven. But Jesus.
And you’re going to see this today. The Old Testament warns us about false prophets. Some of the scriptures I will read will shake you to your core today. So I’m going to forewarn you about that. But the Old Testament warns us about false prophets.
Jesus warned us about false prophets. This is Satan’s scheme. Satan is a deceiver. He is a liar. He is on this Earth to deceive us and pull us away from God.
And you will see that as we get into it. The thing I want you to understand is access to information isn’t wrong. Listening to podcasts isn’t wrong. Exposing yourself to other ways of thought. Actually, it’s pretty healthy.
It’s really a healthy thing. But you must learn to be discerning according to the word of God. So let’s go ahead and we’re going to read our text here. Okay, that’s about the Transfiguration. We’re going to read our text.
As Marcus said, the more prophetic word we now have is the Bible. Let’s move on. Second Peter, one verse. This should be chapter two. Long reference there chapter two, verse one through three.
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping. In the lifetime of a lot of us, we have seen what false prophecy can do.
Some of you have lived long enough that you remember this man, Jim Jones, and the whole Jonestown massacre. On November 18, 1978, almost 1000 people passed away because they followed this man, Jim Jones.
And if you ever needed an expression of what false prophecy is all about, this man is it. From the character, the teaching, the lifestyle, the approach very obvious with him. You can see it by the outcome, sadly, of a lot of people losing their life. But the real challenge when it comes to false prophets is that they’re not always as obvious as Jim Jones. They’re not that obvious. You won’t see this prayerfully too often in the news, but you still have to know when you are dealing with a false Prophet.
The tragedy of this situation is not that almost 1000 people died. That’s not really the tragedy. All of us are going to die. That’s coming. If you live long enough in this life, you will get to that point.
But the real tragedy I see in this is that these people really thought they were doing what was right.
They followed this man because they believed he was God’s representative on Earth. And they ended up losing their life. And so Peter says, guys, there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. Jesus warns us about false prophecy.
This man led a lot of people astray to the death. Let’s talk about some of the key characteristics of false prophets. We’re going to just run through these. We’ll stay long enough so that you get it. But key characteristics of false prophets.
First one, they were more interested in gaining popularity than in telling the truth. Their policy was to tell people what they wanted to hear. And you see that all throughout the Old Testament, all throughout the Old Testament. In Jeremiah 614, it talks there about how the false prophets say peace, peace when there was no peace. In Ezekiel, chapter 13, verse 16, you have false prophets again prophesying visions of peace. But God says, no, that’s not the case.
There will be no peace. But one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is in One Kings, chapter 22. And that’s the scene where you have Ahab and Jehoshophat, these two the Kings who decide we’re going to come together and let’s fight against Syria. But then Jehoshaphat said, but wait a minute before we just go off and do that, let’s inquire of the Lord. And that’s always a wise thing to do.
You want to ask God if that’s a good idea. And so they call in 400 prophets and all these guys come in and they said, yes, you should do it. You’re going to have victory. You’re going to overcome Syria. And one guy even donned some horns like he’s a Bull, and he’s just as I push with these horns, you’re going to push the Syrians back. And then they have said, Well, okay, but isn’t there anybody else we can hear from?
Is there anybody else? At least Jehoshaphat and Ahab said, Well, there’s one.
His name is Micaiah, and he never says anything good about me.Micaiah is not my guy.
I don’t invite him to breakfast when I go out. I mean, he doesn’t have much good, but they go and they get Micaiah. But here’s the thing that’s really fascinating about what happens. The messenger goes to Micaiah. Here’s what he says.
He says, look, the other prophets, without exception, are predicting success for the King. Let your word agree with theirs and speak favorably. Can you just say something good this time, Micaiah? Can you just pretend you agree with us?
Now Think about it. You have 400 on this side saying, go for it. You’re going to do it. And you have one on this side. I don’t know about you, but when the odds are that imbalanced for me, I can tend to go to a weird place and think, Well, maybe there’s something wrong with me.
I mean, if everybody else thinks its of God, then what’s wrong with me? Well, sure enough, you have that Zedekaiah who’s saying, yeah, you’re going to take these horns and you’re going to win. Micaiah said, no. If you do that, it’s going to lead to disaster. And of course, Micaiah was the one who was correct.
Hannanaiah in Jeremiah in the Old Testament. Hannanaiah, who said this Babylonian thing is just going to be over very quickly. Jeremiah said, no, settle in. You’re going to be here 70 years. And Jeremiah was the one who was right.
My point is that these guys so many false prophets want the popular option.
Marcus talked about Guy Hammond coming here, and there are a lot of people who would love to feel a certain way about the whole same sex issue and to imply that that’s the way God feels. But what does God say is the point. That’s one of the things I love about Guy Hammond in his presentation. So this is one thing popularity rather than truth. Another thing is that they were interested in personal gain. These guys were interested in personal gain.
I’m just going to read Micah 311 for you. It says her leaders judge for a bribe. Her priests teach for price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, is not the Lord among us. No disaster will come upon us.
These guys religion was all about money. It was all about getting ahead. It was all about gaining more. And even Timothy says the same thing. He says they have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind who have been robbed of the truth and who think that Godliness is a means to financial gain.
Marcus and I are part of the full time Ministry of this Church, as is Tyler, and we’re grateful that we get to be supported full time. The Bible makes it clear that that’s acceptable. But what’s going on with these guys? And they were specifically in it for money. That’s what they were all about.
That’s what false teachers are all about. And if you want to know how much in the money I am, I’m still driving my 2006 Honda Accord with 207,000 miles on it. I love my accord. That’s why I ain’t getting rid of it, all right? But you don’t have to worry about me riding in some big old Cadillac or something.
Whatever the fancier your cars. I like my old car, and I’m going to keep driving it till it tells me to stop. But your personal gain is what these guys were all about. Here’s another thing. They were depraved in their personal life.
When you really Peel away the onion when you get behind the curtain, when you see what’s going on in those quiet moments at home, these guys were depraved to the core. All you and I generally see is what we see on TV or what we hear on the radio, what we see on a podcast. But we don’t know the rest of the story. As Paul Harvey used to say, these guys were depraved to the core. Listen to what it says in Isaiah 28, verse seven.
And these also, and speaking of the leaders of Israel at this point, and these also stagger from wine and reel from beer. Priests and prophets stagger from beer and befuddled with wine. They reel from beer, they stagger when seeing vision, they stumble when rendering decisions. All the tables are covered with vomit, and there is not a spot without filth. He is talking about the leaders of Israel.
He said they are a mess. Jeremiah 23, verse 14. And among the prophets of Jerusalem, I have seen something horrible. They commit adultery and live a lie. In just a few minutes, I’m going to refer to a place where Paul refers to his life. Guys, I believe one of the things we should be able to say to anybody is imitate me, warts and all.
Even when you mess up. Why? Because when you mess up, you fall down, but you get back up, you repent. You keep going. We should be able to say imitate me.
But I think it’s especially important for leaders. It’s especially important. And a big one, and I put this scripture here, this is one of those scriptures that shook me to my core when I first read it.
This is Deuteronomy 13. These guys led others farther away from God. That’s what false prophets do. Because what is the goal of Satan? Satan’s goal is to pull as many away from God as he can.
And that’s what these guys are all about. But look at what it says in Deuteronomy 13, starting here, verse one. It says, if a Prophet, a one who foretells by dreams appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place. And if the Prophet says, Let us follow other gods, gods you’ve not known and let us worship them, you must not listen to the words of that Prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you.
I said, wait a minute. So God, you may put me in a situation where you’re testing me to see if I’m going to do the right thing. That’s what the Bible says. He says, The Lord, your God is testing you to find out whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord, your God you must follow. In him you must Revere. Keep His commands and obey Him. Serve him and hold fast to him. That Prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That Prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow.
You must purge the evil from among you. That’s how serious God is about us following and obeying His word. He said, if somebody comes along and they’re trying to get you to do something that God doesn’t want you to do, even if they announced an incredible miracle and the miracle takes place. Don’t look at that as confirmation that he’s from me. I’m testing you to see how important the word of God is to you.
Deuteronomy 18 simply says, but a Prophet who presumes to speak in my name, anything I have not commanded or a Prophet who speaks in the name of other gods is to be put to death. The point is, God is serious about His word. He is serious about us following the truth. He is serious about us knowing the truth and putting it into practice in our lives and teaching it to other people. God does not take it lightly when someone presumes to speak in his name.
And we just need to understand that. Jesus talked about all of this as well in the New Testament, he says, you’ve got to be aware. Matthew 24, verse four, it says, Jesus answered watch out that no one deceives you for many will come in my name claiming I am the Messiah and deceive many. Now notice that, lots of Messiahs. Lots of people come and say, I’m the Messiah. I have come. I’ve heard preachers say things sometimes, and I think, really, where do you get that?
But that’s what he says in verse four. You drop down to verse nine, he says, then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death. And you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. And listen to this and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Even though God says, you got to be aware, even though the warnings in the Old Testament warning now in the New Testament, he still says a lot of people are going to be deceived. And before we’re done, I’ll tell you how you can make sure you’re not one of them. Jude Warns about false prophets in Jude four. And false prophets work in various ways. In the case of Jim Jones in Jonestown, he went after those who were down and out, those who were down trodden and having a rough time in life.
But all false prophets don’t work that way. They have different methods of going about it. Some are straightforward and they look together and all of that. And then you have others that are outwardly vile, like Jim Jones. And it’s really sad what happened. Here are three categories of false prophets. I want to put before you.
First of all, you have the heretics. Now, these are people who have simply decided they’re going to openly defy the truth. They know what the Bible says. They won’t obey it.
They’re the heretics. But what’s interesting about this word? It comes from a Greek word hereticos i think that’s how it was said on Google last night. Hereticos, which simply means to choose.
So in the beginning, this simply meant someone who made a choice. It didn’t have to do with sedition or going against the Scriptures. It was simply someone who made a choice. It could be like a group of physicians who choose to do a certain practice. It was used in that sense.
But after Jesus came along, Jesus put it before us to choose. Remember how Moses told the people he said, look, choose this day. Who are you going to serve? But that’s what Jesus did by His coming. He forced us to decide either he’s the Son of God or he’s a madman or whatever.
You have to make a choice. And so you have the heretics. And so the word went from being a not so bad word to a really bad word. And that’s only the way Paul uses it in the New Testament. So you have the heretics, then you have those who are apostate.
These are people who once knew the truth. They were all around the truth. They lived the way God intended them to live and all of that. But they reached the point where they decided I am rejecting all of it. These are the apostates that are out there.
They are flagrant in their disobedience. But the third category is a deceiver.
These are Wolves in sheep’s clothing. Fat sheep right? But these are Wolves in sheep’s clothing. And these are the ones that I think Peter says you got to be careful of why. Because with people who are deceived here’s the scary part. Sometimes they don’t know they’re deceived.
Sometimes they do know they’re deceived. Like the pastor I once talked to, and I’m not mentioning any religion. So don’t anybody go to a weird place with me? But I talked to a pastor. I showed him some verses from the Bible and some of you know this story.
This man looked at me and he said, I have never read these verses before.
And I said, Well, what are you going to do? And he said, Well, I’m going to have to start teaching this. But between that day and the next day, he decided he was not going to change what he taught. I said, Wait a minute. Last week and he wouldn’t even look at me.
He just kept it here. He said, I am not changing what I teach.
There’s some that are deceived and know they’re deceived. But then there are others that are deceived who are unaware.
And there are many deceivers out there. And I wanted to just show this in second john seven for many deceivers have gone out into the world. And guys, I hope this at least gets you to be a little more discerning about what you hear, because these are all in the Bible. They said they’re going to be false teachers.
This verse says there are many deceivers out there. There are many deceivers out there, and we need to be aware that that is the case. These people will deny the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The heretics in Peter’s letter were denying the Lord who bought them something that has to do with the Gnostics, who believe that Jesus didn’t come in the flesh. And that’s the thing about some of these guys is that these are not kind of your bad Christians who are not doing well spiritually. These are guys who really think they’re enlightened, that they have special truths. They have special understanding. And they’re trying to get you to go along with them.
You have to be aware and aware of how to avoid this. Okay, so how do we deal with this? Okay, how do we deal with this? Let’s talk about that.
Second John, chapter Nine. Love this passage it says anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God. Whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.
Do not take them into your house. One thing you can do with a false teacher, don’t take him into your house. Don’t even welcome him. You said, wow, that’s harsh. What if I think I can help them?
I’m just reading you what the Bible said. He said, don’t even let them in. Don’t let them into your house.
Going on. Second Timothy, chapter three, verse eight. Just as these guys opposed Moses, just as Janice and Jambras oppose Moses. So also, these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved mind who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected, but they will not give or get very far because as in the case of those men, their father will be clear to everyone.
Okay? These guys are going to be judged. It’s going to happen. Just these guys opposed Moses. And in verse ten, I love what he says here, he says, but you know about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love and endurance.
Paul says, you know how I live. You know what I’m all about. You’ve been in my home, you’ve eaten my food you’ve hung out with, he said, you know what I’m all about. And every leader needs to be able to say that. Every leader needs to be able to say, every disciple needs to be able to say that there shouldn’t be things in the closet going on. I mean, we all need to be able to say that.
Paul reminds us, you can imitate me guys, you know how they live. But you know how I live. And in verse 13, he warned them, he said, but it’s going to get worse, he said, while evaders and imposters go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. Again, you ask the questions, do deceivers know that they’re deceived? Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t.
So I think we can guard ourselves by, first of all, not even welcoming people who are teaching false teaching, man, just bye, I don’t need you here. You’re not here to help. Now, does that mean you got to get behind closed doors and lock your door and don’t open your door for anybody who, you can’t live in that kind of a bubble? Okay? We’ve been in a bubble for a year and a half.
We don’t want you to do that, I think. And we’re going to wrap up with this. The last part of Timothy’s message is a real key for all of us. And let me get that up on the screen. Verse 14, this is really good stuff, he says, but as for you, here’s how you protect yourself. Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy, you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for Salvation, know who taught you the word. And that’s one of the things that’s always amazed me over the years I’ve gotten with good friends and we’re studying the word of God, and we’re learning stuff and they realize things that they’ve never seen before.
And then sometimes you reach a point where there’s a little bump in the progression of studying. And I’ve had these same people say, Well, I’m just going to go back to my old Church.
And I said, Did you learn any of this there? Did that makes any sense at all?
Yeah, you can do that. And that’s what he appeals to, he said. Remember the people you’re learning from, he said, focus on the word of God.
And then last passage, I’m over time, but they started me late, Marcus, it ain’t my fault. All right? Okay. So last verse, how do you know when you’re dealing with a false Prophet? Jesus gives us a very clear way to know.
Matthew, chapter seven, verse 15, watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly, they are ferocious Wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit.
And a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit. And a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit, you will recognize them.
Jesus said, just look at the outcome of a person’s life. You remember in Luke three, when John the Baptist was baptizing and all these people came to him to be baptized, they said, what should we do? He said. Produce fruit in keeping with repentance, he said, if you have been stealing, stop stealing.
He told the soldiers don’t extort money. He gave them specific things. So look at the fruit of a person’s life. Look at how they live. Look at what they stand for their work in the attitude.
So I’m going to close out with I want to remind you of those questions that Marcus asked last week. Do you dig into the Word of God? Podcasts are okay, and books are okay. But do you dig into the Word of God? How much are you devoted to that every single day?
But the other question I want to put before you the last two here. What false teachings do you tell yourself? Now, I specifically talk about people who are deceived because you have those who are deceived and maybe you’re much too gracious with yourself. Maybe that’s a false teaching. Jesus said, you’re going to reap what your sow.
Then maybe you’re accused. Maybe you’re the kind of person who feels like God can never love me. That’s a lie. That’s a false teaching. And you need to get that one out of your head.
So whatever those false teachings you tell yourself, my goal today was to simply say, Guys, you can protect yourself against false teaching. Just look at the Word of God. Focus on the Word of God, obey the Word of God, and God will keep you on the straight and narrow. Thank you so much for your attention. Really appreciate being with you today.