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How To Spot A Hidden Wolf pt1

Apollo13

On April 14,1970, The crew of the Apollo 13 experienced a major technical fault in their electrical system. While radioing back to mission headquarters in Houston Texas, Astronaut John Swigert said to Base: “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Decades later, in the 1995 film “Apollo 13” the tag line was changed to the now infamous: “Houston, we have a problem.”

Since the Apollo 13 movie has come out, many times in western culture we use the tag line anytime there is a problem of any sort. In Acts 20, towards the end of a very heart felt goodbye to the Elders of the Ephesian church, Paul gives a “Church, we have a problem” kind of statement. The problem is found in Acts 20:29-30 which says:

Acts 20:29-30 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.

Paul refers to these false prophets as wolves, echoing Jesus, who referred to them as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” in Matt 7:15. Here, Paul says that they will come in from outside, AND from among those who are considered to be Elders/Pastors! these men who teach perverse things, desire to draw the flock away from God as well! There are many men and women out there who are presenting themselves as pastors, evangelists, teachers, and healers etc. who are actually wolves in sheep’s clothing.

So how do we spot these wolves…if they are so subtle that they are disguising themselves as sheep? Peter wrote his 2nd epistle to believers to elevate the importance and preeminence of God’s Word, as well as to warn them to beware of false teachers. at the end of this epistle, Peter tells us how we can remain steadfast and discerning so that we are not deceived by these grievous wolves. Let’s take a look at 2Peter 15b-18a which says:

2 Peter 3:15-18 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As Peter reminds us, those who are unlearned in God’s Word, will end up twisting scripture…which is only to our own harm, and to harm of others. Therefore Peter reminds us to be on guard so that we are not led away by the error of those who twist scripture, so that we don’t fall from steadfastness. So how does Peter say that we are to not be led astray? Verse 18 tells us that we are to: GROW in the GRACE and KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! And how do we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ? by spending much time studying Him in God’s Word. Without this we are setting ourselves up for deception.

So how do we spot these hidden wolves? 2 Peter 2 gives us some clear characteristics of false teachers to look for as we grow in discernment. It’s important to remember that most false teachers will not visibly have all of these characteristics, nor will they always be obvious. Here are just 9 out of the many Characteristics listed in 2Peter 2:

1. They teach destructive heresies

2 Peter 2:1 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.

2. They follow their feelings, not Truth

2 Peter 2:2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;

3. They are Greedy

2 Peter 2:3 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.

4. They Despise Authority

2 Peter 2:10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties,

<>Many times, a warning sign of such men is that while on one hand they LOVE to be the one in authority, and lord it over their followers.

5. They indulge their wicked desires

2Pete 2:10

6. They have a flippancy about spiritual things

2 Peter 2:10

7. They follow after money

2 Peter 2:15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

8. They are arrogant

2 Peter 2:18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error,

9. They emphasize freedom (Christian Liberty)

2 Peter 2:19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.

<>Many times false teachers will emphasize “Christian Liberty” as a license to do whatever. However, Romans 14 and 1 Cor 8-10 make it crystal clear that Christian Liberty is all about what we give up for the sake of the gospel going forth rather than what we are allowed to indulge in.

This list is certainly not exhaustive of the qualities found of these false teachers here in 2Peter 2, much less the rest of scripture. That’s why in the next post we will take a look at a few more characteristics of these wolves. You might be surprised to see how some of those qualities we have discussed or will discuss have subtly made their way into the teachings of some prominent “Christian Pastors, Teachers and Televangelists. You won’t want to miss it! in the meantime, Open up God’s Word and grow in the grace AND knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ so that we wont fall from steadfastness!

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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A Plea For Discernment

Discernment

In the last post I shared a personal experience which highlighted to me the need for discernment in the life of a believer. While scripture shows us that discernment is indeed vital, sadly so many in the church today don’t have it. Even worse, there are some who don’t even believe that it is important! If you are one who doesn’t believe discernment to be all that important, I implore you to keep reading. Today I’d like to take a look at four principles in scripture which show us why a believer cannot successfully live the Christian life without this thing called discernment.

1. We WILL be deceived without it

There is no question about it. It’s not a matter of if we will or will not be deceived without discernment, it is an absolute guarantee. Why? Because there are those out there who are make it their mission to deceive believers! A few passages that attest to this are as follows :

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.

<>Satan himself disguises himself as an angel of light, just as he did when he disguised himself as the serpent and deceived Eve

<>The workers of Satan actually disguise themselves as men and women of God!

1 John 4:1 Beloved, 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.

<>Many false prophets have already gone out into the world! we MUST learn how to recognize them!

Romans 16:18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

<>These men use appealing tactics to deceive such as smooth talk and flattery.

2. We WILL be taken captive without it

The danger of lacking discernment doesn’t end with being deceived. Once we are deceived by Satan or his ministers (disguised as false prophets), we will then move on to be taken captive.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

<>If we are not growing in discernment, we will be taken captive by the philosophies of this world…which is exactly what is being taught by the false apostles mentioned in 2 Cor 11:13-15

3. We WILL NOT be able to discern good and evil without it

Philippians 1:9-10 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;

<>In this passage Paul is seen as constantly praying, among other things that the believers would grow more and more in their discernment. He explains that those who grow in their discernment will be able to prove that which is excellent.

<>The reverse of that would also prove true: if we are not growing in discernment, we will end up approving that witch is evil!

4. We WILL NOT grow to spiritual maturity without it

Hebrews 5:13-14 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

<>This passage could not be clearer! if we do not grow in our discernment, we have no way to grow to maturity. Not much more needs to be said here.

While these passages are not the only scripture regarding the need for discernment, they provide a good framework for understanding why it is so important in the life of the believer. To sum it up, if we develop discernment, we will be less likely to be deceived by false teachers, less likely to be taken captive by worldly philosophies, be able to perceive that which is good (i.e discern good and evil), and therefore, we will be able to grow to maturity.

Ok, so we can see that discernment is important, and that both Satan and his false teachers are out there trying to deceive the hearts of the simple. But how exactly can we tell if someone is actually a false teacher? Let’s take a further look at that in the next post.

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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Could A Beautiful Angel Be Dangerous?

angel-of-light

A few months ago I purchased and download several albums and songs to compile into a playlist of hymns and other worship music. As I was looking up different songs and albums on Itunes, I came across a beautiful rendition of “nearer my God to thee” by an acapella men’s group. As I proceeded to listen to the clips off of their album, I saw other familiar songs such as “I need Thee every hour” “Be still my soul” and Come thou fount”. After listening to the preview clips, it didn’t take long for me to decide to download their whole album for the playlist.

Over the next few weeks, as I listened to the playlist of over 200 songs, I heard a song by the same men’s acapella group that I had never heard before. The song was to the tune of “Scotland the Brave” and had lyrics that seemed to very much elevate Christ. The song contained lines such as “Great is His glory and endless His Priesthood” and “Blessed to open the last dispensation, Kings will extol him and nations revere” and “his blood pleads unto heaven while earth lauds his name”.

Upon hearing this beautiful seemingly Christ-centered song, I began to enjoy it more and more as it would rotate onto the playlist. However, after a while I noticed a line of the song which made me say “hmmmmm…” The line sounded like it said “mingling with gods He can plan for His brethren” My though was “maybe I’m hearing it wrong, it probably says God (singular) and I just sounds like they are putting an S on the end, and I’m hearing them wrong.” And so I shrugged it off.

Not long after however, another line stood out to me “Earth must atone for the blood of that man” upon hearing this line, I said to myself “now wait a minute! According to God’s Word, the blood of that man (the God-man) atoned for the sins earth…the earth need not atone for his blood.” It was at this point that I decided that I needed to look up the lyrics.

After confirming that I was indeed hearing these lines correctly, I decided to research the history of the song. I was NOT prepared for what I found.

The following was discovered on several websites (including Mormon websites). In the early 1800s the writer of the song entitled “Praise to the man”, William W. Phelps was one of the early followers of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion. At one point there was a rift between Smith and Phelps, at which point Phelps left the Mormon church. Phelps ended up having a hand in bringing Smith to trial in Illinois. As the years went on, Phelps experienced a change of heart, which prompted him to seek forgiveness from Smith. The reaction of Smith to this “repentance” by Phelps was to welcome him back into the Mormon church with open arms.

Phelps was so grateful for this grace shown him by Smith that when Smith died, Phelps wanted to write a song in honor of him. Therefore he wrote the song “Praise to the man”.

Wait a minute?!?!? You mean that song wasn’t written about Christ…but about Smith?!?!?….yep! It is amazing that this song which at face value seems to be elevating Christ, is actually talking about Joseph Smith! The fact that Phelps attributes so many noncommunicable roles and attributes of Christ to Joseph Smith moves well beyond the realm of heresy, into straight up blasphemy!

But at a glance it sounded pretty good! Yes, and that’s the danger. 2 Cor 11:14 says: “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

Satan doesn’t always parade himself around in a way which we believers will immediately recognize him. No, rather as the verse indicates, desires to do his very best to deceive each and every one of us!

So this leads me to ask a question: is discernment important? I believe the answer to that question is quite obvious. Therefore in the next post I would like to take a look at what scripture says about discernment: why it is important, and how we can develop it. Stay tuned!

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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

But I Don’t Understand Her!

Today I  have the privilege of guest posting on abiblicalmarriage .com. Go Check it out! click here!

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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Are You Married to a Difficult Man?

Today I have the privilege of guest posting on abiblicalmarriage.com. Go one over and check it out! you can read the post by clicking here!

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Posted by on October 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Who Is Watching You?

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Recently I had the privilege of traveling up to New England for a family wedding. While up there, I had the privilege of seeing a beautiful New England Fall, as well as taking a ride on a four mast schooner off the New England coast. However, what I enjoyed even more than that was being able to spend time with family.

There are some people in our lives who “recharge our spiritual batteries” when we spend time with them, and my family up there are such people. My uncle and aunt are like a second set of parents to me, and my cousins are like 7 additional siblings. All of my cousins in that family are now married, and between the 5 older couples, there are 20 kids who are like nieces and nephews to me.

When I arrived, there were children coming from every direction to get a hug from “Uncle Chris”. I was pulled in many directions as I heard: “Uncle Chris! Come look at this!” and “Uncle Chris! Let me show you something!” These children are being raised in godly homes, by parents who deeply desire to raise their children up in the fear and admonition of The Lord…and it shows.

The more time I spent with the kids during my time there, I was struck by just how much they look up to me. I even saw out of the corner of my eye, one of my 6 year old second cousins straighten up her slouching posture as she watched me straighten up mine!

There are people in each one of our lives who are watching us, looking up to us, and even imitating us….and we don’t even realize it much of the time! If 5 years from now, these children hear that “Uncle Chris” is making bad decisions, and is no longer walking with God, it will have a profound effect on them! The same is true for each one of us! The choices we make in life not only affect us, but many more lives whether we realize it or not.

In 1Tim 4:1-6, Paul is challenging Timothy, a young man whom he has discipled and worked with, to be a faithful example. Even though Paul was writing to Timothy who was a young pastor at the time, the principles in this passage apply to each one of us as believers. Paul writes:

1 Timothy 4:6-12 “6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 11 Prescribe and teach these things. 12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”

Wow! there sure is a lot in that passage! let me try to simplify and break it down into a few key points. We are to be:

1. Growing in Doctrine v6-7

a. Put on sound doctrine v6

This is where it starts. We will not be able to live out an effective example for others to observe and follow unless we are grounded in sound doctrine i.e. what we believe. Notice verse 6…Paul tells Timothy to be nourished in sound doctrine! to be nourished in something means that we are feeding on it daily. In other words we have to be constantly be feeding on God’s Word if we are going to be nourished in sound doctrine.

b. Put off false doctrine v7

Right after telling Timothy to be nourished in sound doctrine, he charges him to have nothing to do with false doctrine, which he calls “worldly fables fit only for old women”. If we follow after false doctrine, we will no only lead ourselves astray, but we will lead others astray as well.

2. Growing in godliness v7-10

a. It’s a discipline v7

Verse 7 describes growing in godliness as a discipline. Just like an athlete disciplines and trains himself both physically and mentally by giving up whatever might hinder his development, as well as working his body beyond its limit, we to are to strive to grow in godliness

        b. It’s Profitable v8

Verse 8 points out that bodily exercise is only profitable in this life because it only affects the physical, yet disciplining ourselves in godliness is profitable all around, because it affects us spiritually…thus in this life and in the next.

c. The end goal v9-10

Verse 10 reminds us that we have our gaze fixed on God…in other words; Christ is the end goal of why we discipline ourselves in godliness. Eph 413 reminds us, Christ is the measure of a mature man, and it is to his stature that we are trying to grow up to. As we become more like Christ, we then are an even better example for others to follow.

3. Be an Example in these areas: (verse 12)

a. Speech: Eph 4:29

b. Conduct: 1Pete 2:12

c. Love: 1Cor 13:4-8

d. Faith: Heb 10:23, Prov 3:3

e. Purity: 1Peter 2:11, 1Cor 6:18, Ps 119:9

Being constantly nourished in sound doctrine helps us to be better disciplined in godliness. As we discipline ourselves in godliness, The Lord helps us to grow in the areas listed in verse 12, therefore helping us to be a good example which others can follow.

People are always watching us whether we realize it of not…the question is, what type of example will you be?

Feel free to leave a comment sharing about someone who has been a good example in your life!

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Posted by on October 16, 2013 in Devotionals

 

Preparing To Be a Husband BEFORE you are one

Today I have the opportunity to guestpost on the importance of preparing to be a husband beforehand. Check it out by clicking here.

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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Guest Posts