“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” — 2 Timothy 4:3-4
I recently heard someone lament that discernment reporters always trot out the same tired old Scripture verses to defend why they report all the negative things that today’s Bible teachers teach and do that aren’t lining up with Scripture. I thought it a strange thing, to tell Christians that using the Word of God as a basis for following His commands to be discerning and defend the true faith as being a bad thing.
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him what would be the signs they could look to as the end of the age, the first thing Jesus did was to warn them not to be deceived. (You can read about that here.) His words were to the believers and true followers. Yes, it seems that true Christians CAN be deceived, or Jesus wouldn’t have warned us to take care not to be.
Why do reporters write about those in our times who are twisting Scripture? Is it because we are hateful, or singularly focused on negative things? No. I believe that discerning Christians need to be Bereans to continually search Scriptures to make sure they are following the truth rather than what sounds almost true. But here’s the problem: They are not being taught how to do that by their leaders. Instead, their leaders are giving a nod of approval to false teachings and teachers.
The wolves of our day are often lifted high to celebrity status, and those who look to them are being bitten. These deceivers employ folks (as I was once employed), to generate headlines and social media events promoting their “brand” or vision instead of the Gospel. Millions of sheep around the world are being taken in, as their church leaders partner with these leaders and sell them a bill of goods in the form of popular paperbacks and feel-good conferences.
Not everyone is biblically illiterate. I believe that many of these deceived Christians do read their Bibles. But the combination of the crafty Scripture-twisting along with the endorsement of false teachers by trusted leaders has concocted a poisonous cocktail of deceit. And these dear lambs are drinking at the table of the devil.
To those who ignore the warnings of Scripture, reporters like me are a clanging gong, a stench in their nostrils. They tell me they’d rather be known for what they are for, than against. (As if they should care about their image or of pleasing man.) I am not here to convince them of anything. Instead I hear the cries of their congregants who know that something is dreadfully wrong, and are being asked to leave their churches for daring to ask questions.
My reason for reporting these things is not to preach to the choir (I know you “get it,” and you’re not surprised). I love you guys, but the work I do is for those who are surprised and caught off guard. We can help some of them to understand this age of the great falling away Jesus spoke of, and snatch them away from the snares of the deceiver.
So I will unashamedly trot out the very Scriptures that God Himself gave all of us as commands to follow. These Scriptures are not tired, but tried and true:
Matthew 7:15-23 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?‘ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
Matthew 24: 3-14; 24-25 “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Vs. 24): For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. (25) Behold, I have told you in advance.”
2 Peter 2:1-3 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
Romans 16:18 “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”
2 Corinthians 2:17 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”
1 Thessalonians 2:5 “You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed–God is our witness.”
Acts 20:28-31 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”
1 Timothy 6:5 “…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.”
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Titus 1:7-11 “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”
James 3: 1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
Titus 2:1 “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”
Galatians 1:6-9 “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”
1 Corinthians 5:11-13 “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of a brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those on the outside. Remove the evil person from among you.”
Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Titus 2:7-8 “…in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”
1 Thessalonians 5:21 “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…”
1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
2 Timothy 1:13-14 “Hold fast (retain) the pattern of sound words (doctrine) which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”
2 Timothy 3:12-17 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 4:1-4 “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4:16 “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
2 Thessalonians 2: 8-12 “Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.”
2 Thessalonians 2:15 “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”
1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.“
2 John 1:7-11 “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”
Jude 3 “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”