Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 22, 1956
NUMBER 45, PAGE 12-13

False Teaching

J. P. Lusby, Amarillo, Texas

False teaching had its origin on earth in the garden of Eden. The devil through the serpent contradicted God's edict. False teaching was prevalent in Old Testament times and raised its ugly head during the apostolic days. Therefore, it is no amazing thing that we should have false teachers today. Nay, rather, it is to be expected.

Paul said of some in his day: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (2 Cor. 11:13-15.)

False Teachers In Israel

"A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof." (Jer. 5:30, 31.) Alarming condition!

It is bad when the preachers preach false doctrine. It is worse when a collusion is formed between preachers and those who bear rule to practice deceit and fraud upon the people. It is worst when in addition to this the "people love to have it so." But this was the "wonderful and horrible" condition prevailing in Israel. False doctrine had a "fetching appeal" then, and it does now. Preach the truth and people become offended; teach false doctrine and they "love to have it so."

We are warned repeatedly both in the Old Testament and New Testament against false teachers. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Prov. 14:12.) "I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed." "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied." "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord." (Jer. 23:25, 21, 16.) The Son of God warns: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" — greedily devouring and destructive like wolves. (Matt. 7:15.) "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you (or lead you astray). For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." (Matt. 24:4, 5.) Notwithstanding these and hundreds of other dreadful, fearful, and even tearful warnings there continue to arise false teachers and multitudes of people to rejoice with them in their error.

Error cannot set man free from sin and death; the truth alone, unmixed with speculation, can do that. Jesus declared: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free .... If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:32, 36.) Jesus makes men free through the truth--i.e., through their obedience to the truth. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth . . ." (1 Peter 1:22.) No wonder then Solomon admonished: "Buy the truth, and sell it not . . . ." (Prov. 23:23.) But what is truth?"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth," prayed Jesus. (John 17:'17.) Is it not therefore the height of folly for one to become offended at another simply because he tells him the truth and exposes the fallacy of man's way? Yet there is that weakness in the human family.

Paul, in exposing false teaching in the church at Galatia, recognizes this human infirmity, and raises the question: "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" (4:16.) The Galatians were being misled by Judaizing teachers who "would pervert the gospel of Christ, (Gal. 1:6, 7) and thus hinder their obedience to the truth. (3:W; 5:6.) To pervert the gospel is to distort it, garble it, misapply — the gospel. Seemingly, there are thousands who "love to have it so." The more irrational, mystical, inexplicable and non-understandable a doctrine is the more prone some people are to receive it. Let a sectarian preacher preach on the new birth telling people that is a mysterious something like "the wind (which) bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth" — one just knows it happens, but he doesn't know anything about how or why, he doesn't understand it, he can't explain it — it is intangible, mystical — and the only way he knows he has "got it" is by the way he "feels" which he can neither explain nor describe! and hundreds, if not thousands, will bow in abject submission to the fleshly wisdom of this apostle of error. But let a gospel preacher point out to them that Christ said: "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," (John 3:5) and that three thousand on the day of Pentecost did enter the kingdom, consequently they must have been born "of water and of the Spirit." (Acts 2.) Let him call attention to the fact that the only thing they did to obey the voice of the Spirit when through Peter it said: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost," (Acts 2:38) and that therefore that must constitute the new birth — i.e., believing the gospel, repenting of one's sins, and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, according to the instruction of the Holy Spirit — and they will repudiate the teaching and deprecate the preacher. Truly it is a "wonderful and horrible thing."

The Terrible Plight Of Israel

In addition to loving the false doctrine spoken by the prophets the people counted the word of the Lord a reproach and delighted not in it. "To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it." (Jer. 6:10.) "Pride, prejudice, and the love of idols and iniquities, so closed their ears, that the word of God could find no entrance: they could not hearken, because they hated God and His service; and their inability aggravated their guilt . . . . They counted his precepts, warnings, and reproofs to be a reproach to them: they were affronted at the prophets for describing their characters, exposing the ingratitude and rebellion of their conduct, and shewing what punishment they deserved and were exposed to: they could not endure those teachers, who were always reproaching them with their sins; but preferred such as had a better opinion of them, and gave them more encouragement." (Scott's Bible.)

We shudder at this description, but there are numbers in similar condition with identical disposition today. Appeal to them to obey the gospel and it "is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it." To them it is disgusting, disgraceful, and they are grossly offended; they love not the truth, and therefore rejoice not in the word of the Lord. They will heap unbecoming epithets and hurl firey darts of criticism and slander against him who preaches it. They rebel and revolt and absolutely refuse to take heed. But these people are not irreligious! They will at the suggestion of a false prophet pray long and loud for salvation, they will sign a card that God wondrously and gloriously saved them, they will relate an experience to prove it, they will testify of God's mysterious workings with their soul, and raise the hand for any reason or no reason — anything that some emotional emissary of Satan may suggest! And they wouldn't trade "this feeling" which they say they have — usually near the center of the left side of the torso just above the belt — for a positive declaration of God's word sealed with the blood of His Son!!!!

God's Call To Repentance

Notwithstanding the sinful rebellion of Israel and her depraved attitude God through the prophets pleaded with her to repent and return. Israel's reaction was: "There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go." (Jer. 2:25.) God commanded: "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you." (Jer. 6:23.) "But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward." (verse 24.) God warned: "Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good." (Jer. 18:11.) "And they said, ''here is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart." (verse 12.) Therefore Jehovah declared: "Because my people hath forgotten me .... to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths . .. . I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity." (Jer. 18:15-17.) Fearful pronouncement!

Israel's Undone Condition

Israel's undone condition is portrayed in these mournful words: "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." (Jer. 8:20.) It was not because there was "no balm in Gilead" or physician there" that they were not saved. But because they had refused the remedy prescribed by the Physician and had hearkened to the voice of false prophets. Let us learn the lesson, heed the warning, reject the false teachers and repudiate their doctrine, return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon us; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." (Isa. 55:7.) Let us now accept the remedy for our sins "prescribed by the Great Physician, lest we too one day ""are made to cry out in agonizing regret: "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!"