Lesson 5 - Other Warnings

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Below we will briefly explore what the scriptures warn about false teachers and prophets and the work they do in undermining what God has done through Jesus and the Holy Spirit to bring the truth to us:

The Role of the Holy Spirit in Bringing God's Word

The New Testament writers wrote by inspiration (inspiration means "God-breathed") of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus told His apostles and close disciples that the Spirit would be a helper to them in that the Spirit would teach them and would bring to their remembrance the things that Jesus taught:

"These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14:25-26 (NAS)

Many of Jesus' teachings were brought to the New Testament writers by the Holy Spirit:

"I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 "All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.  John 16:12-15 (NAS)

Warnings of False Teachers and False Prophets

Even as the writers penned the individual letters of the New Testament between AD40 to AD90, false teachers and false prophets were beginning to arise:

1. The Bible warns that what has been written in scripture is not to be changed:

A.  We are not to add to, or take away from God's word:

Deuteronomy 4:2 -- "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." (NAS)

Hebrews 2:1-3 -- "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard..." (NAS)

B.  The prophecies, especially the Book of Revelation, were not to be changed (nothing added or taken away).

Revelation 22:18-19 -- "I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book." (NAS)

C.  The gospel that was "once for all delivered" to the saints could not be changed, even by one of the apostles or an angel from heaven.

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 though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed." (NAS)

Jude 1:3-4 -- "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 delivered to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (NAS)

D.  One of the New Testament's recurring themes is for the Christian to hold fast to the doctrine already delivered.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 -- "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain." (NAS)

Hebrews 3:5-6 -- "Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end." (NAS)

Hebrews 3:13-14 -- "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end;" (NAS)

Hebrews 4:14 -- "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession." (NAS)

Hebrews 10:23-25 -- "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more, as you see the day drawing near." (NAS)

Rev 3:11-13 -- "'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one take your crown. 'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" (NAS)

2. False teachers and prophets would arise to lead away Christians into error:

A.  Some of the false prophets and teachers would arise from among them. 

Acts 20:29-31 -- "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." (NAS)

1 Corinthians 15:12 -- "Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (NAS)

1 Corinthians 5:13 -- "But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves." (NAS)

2 Corinthians 11:26 -- "I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;" NAS)

James 5:19-20 -- "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins." (NAS)

B.  Some of the false prophets and teachers would come from outside, disguised as sheep (figuratively each Christian is referred to as sheep, with Jesus as the chief Shepherd) or angels of light. 

Matthew 7:15-21 -- "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? Even 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." (NAS)

Matthew 24:10-13 -- "And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved." (NAS)

Matthew 24:24 -- "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect." (NAS)

Mark 13:21-22 -- "And then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ'; or, 'Behold, He is there'; do not believe him; for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray." (NAS)

Philippians 3:2-3 -- Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh," (NAS)

2 Peter 2:1-4 -- "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. And 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. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment... " (NAS)

I 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." (NAS)

C.  Those that did not love the truth would be deceived:

II Thessalonians 2:8-12 -- "And 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. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness." (NAS)

D.  Those that are deceived would go back into the things of the world including any or all of the following:

1.  Exchange the Glory of God (His invisible nature) for images resembling people, birds, animals or other creatures.

Romans 1:22-23 -- "Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures." (NAS)

2.  They were given over to lusts and dishonoring their bodies. 

Romans 1:24 -- "Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them." (NAS)

3.  They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and would worship the creature rather than the creator.

Romans 1:25 -- "For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." (NAS)

4.  They fell back into homosexuality and lesbianism.

Romans 1:26-27 -- "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error." (NAS)

5.  They fell into all manner of ungodliness and gave hearty approval to others who were sinful.

Romans 1:28-32 -- "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them." (NAS)

6.  They would gather up teachers who taught what they wanted to hear and turn aside to myths.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 -- "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." (NAS)

7.  They would get caught up in strange teachings and endless genealogies.

1 Timothy 1:3-4 -- "As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith." (NAS)

8.  They would pay attention to deceitful spirits and strange doctrines, create religious rules forbidding marriage and requiring the abstinence from certain foods.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth." (NAS)

9.  They would teach justification by the Law of Moses.

Galatians 5:1-4 "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (NAS)

10.  They would deny the deity of Jesus, and that He came in the flesh.

"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 Peter 2:1 (NAS)   

...and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. I John 4:3 (NAS)

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. II John 1:7 7 (NAS)

Although the list above is not a complete list of the false teachings that would arise, it gives you a good introduction to the false teachings of that day...some of which continue even to this day.

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