07/16/15 – 203
2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 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.
Admittedly, this passage is more of a reassurance that those who teach false doctrine, or twist the Word of God for their own purposes will be punished than it is a ‘how to avoid them’ instruction. But it’s also a clear warning that they are out there to use you (“exploit you”). Finally, check out verse 2 – they “will bring the way of truth into disrepute”. Do you wonder why it’s becoming so unpopular to be a Christian these days? What do you suppose the ‘way of truth’ is? Just another name for Christianity.
So, how do we know what sources are reliable? I’ve found a few practical things that seem to work. No, I’m actually not going so say make sure your material or go-to person is Bible-based – I think that’s a given – but the best liars will be as well as the most reliable. Every sermon, every book, every article, every organization (store, radio station etc) has human roots. Find them. Examine them. You usually don’t have to go very deep to find that someone’s lifestyle doesn’t match what he preaches, or business practices are not Biblical.
I think I’ve heard all the rationalizations, but no one has yet convinced me that a man of God needs to preach in a $10,000 suit. I don’t recall Jesus ever preaching in a ‘crystal cathedral’, or staying in $25K/night royal suites like Benny Hinn. Jesus didn’t refuse to talk about sin or its consequences like Joel Osteen. He didn’t change His name because it wasn’t politically correct.
Find resources like John Ortberg, who gave his house back to his church to help buy the church back from the denomination when it split over the homosexuality issue, or Rick Warren, lives a comfortable but modest lifestyle, but who won’t take a salary from his church, instead routing that money and book profits to people in need. Find local pastor(s) and especially a discipler (not necessarily the same thing) who does his/her best to live according to the example Jesus set, and stick with them.
Remember, you have to know the truth in order to recognize falsehood – but also remember not to rely on your own knowledge alone. DON”T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS! We all need go-to people that we can ask when we need more explanation.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about books and other resources. For today, let’s continue to pray that God would give us that discretion – just a check in the spirit when we are listening to a deceitful or unreliable person teaching wrongly about Him.