Matthew 7:15-23


“Beware of false prophets, which come to you I sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every  tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity.”


Beware of false prophets


“Matthew chapter 7, we’ll be dealing with verses 15-23 as we continue Jesus sermon to his disciples.  Matthew chapter 7, verses 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?  Even so, every good true bears good fruit, but the rotten tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a rotten 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 every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  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.’”  This is a very heavy part of the teaching of our Lord, but I think a very important part of Jesus’ teaching for us to understand and comprehend as his disciples.  You need to understand that there’s three kinds of false teachers in the world. 


[Above email taken from p.5 Zion’s Fire Magazine, P.O. Box 121048, Clermont, FL 34712-1048 (see ) ]


Three kinds of false teachers in the world


1) First there are heretics, people who openly reject the Word of God.  We call them heretics, they teach what we would call heresy.  2) Then the second group of false teachers are apostates.  Those are people who once followed the Truth, but have now turned away from it, and try to lead others away.  I know a man like that, I know of his ministry.  For years he sat on the fringe of truth, then he came into truth, and it was a though a lot of people where I was coming from in the cult I was in, God used him to pull people out of that.  And then all of a sudden he skewed in a funny direction, and now the man, he’s gone to teaching strange doctrines, like now teaching everyone’s saved, and it doesn’t matter what you believe because God is whatever you think God is, and Jesus died for everyone and so everyone is going to be saved.  It’s a crazy mismatch of doctrine, and he would be classified as an apostate.  He had once followed the truth, has turned away from it, and is now trying to lead others away from it.  3) And then there is the third class of false teachers, those who we would call deceivers, false shepherds.  Look at 2nd Corinthians 11, verse 13.  So you go to the right if you’re not really familiar with the New Testament.  2nd Corinthians 11, verse 13, the apostle Paul warns us about these kinds of false workers, false teachers, false shepherds, these people who are deceivers.  11:13, he says “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”  False shepherds, false apostles.  The book of Jude, Jude verse 4, Jude says “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who long beforehand were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness” (that’s loose living) “and deny our Master and Lord Jesus Christ.”  False teachers.  Now the Word of God tells us, as we were reading there in 2nd Corinthians, Satan is able to transform himself into something bright and shiny and acceptable.  Jesus is warning us in the passage in Matthew 7 now to watch out for that kind of person. 


What motivates false teachers?---Holy Spirit check-off list


False shepherds lie, their motive is money, sensuality.  Look at how the Holy Spirit warns us against them in 2nd Peter chapter 2.  You couldn’t really get a better check-off list of what motivates false teachers and how they operate than what you find in 2nd Peter chapter 2, it’s incredible, how the Lord just hits it right on the head here.  He says “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”  False prophets have arisen in the past, and they will arise now.  It’s not a matter of “if they’re going to come along”, it’s “Where are they?” according to the teaching of Peter the apostle here.  These according to the teaching of Peter the apostle here, these are people who secretly introduce destructive heresies.  I mean, I’ve never yet seen a heretic, I’ve never yet seen a false teacher put up a banner and say “You know what, I’m starting a false religion, everybody whose going to follow me is going to go to hell.  Ah, would you like to follow me?”  Instead they’re at your door saying “We’re representatives from the church down the street.”  [As a matter of fact, two Jehovah’s Witnesses just came to my back door yesterday.  I informed them that since they do not believe Jesus is God, I had no time for them (which they don’t).  Didn’t want to waste their time or mine, just got right to the point.]  And we’d like to come and share the shiny new church with the bright steeple, and we’d like to share with you another gospel, the Lord Jesus.”  And you even ask them now, you ask Mormon missionaries now, ‘Are you born-again?’  ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with that because you’re not born-again…’, and they’ll now tell you ‘Oh, we’re born-again.’  They’ll tell you anything you want to hear in order to get you in, because they’re ‘deceitful workers.’  They won’t tell you about the Mormon massacres in the past century (see ), they won’t tell you about Joseph Smith’s polygamy.  They call him a martyr, they don’t tell you that he was killed in a gun-battle in the jail he was at.  He wasn’t a martyr, he was shooting at people too.  Don’t put him in the same class as the apostle Paul, please.  They don’t tell you about the prophecies that their prophets make that don’t come true.  They’re secret.  And the flubs and foibles of their prophets they cover up, ‘Well, we don’t want anybody to see this.’  And the real history they hide.  2nd Peter 2:2, “And many will follow their sensuality and because of them the way of truth will be maligned.”  I’m amazed at how many people will follow this kind of stupidity.  People all over the place, it seems as though they’ll go around the world twice to follow a lie.  And if the truth is at their door, they’ll slam the door in the truth’s face.  I don’t get it, do you?  But it seems like that’s the way it is.  Many will follow their sensuality.  We see the false teachers today, somebody last week gave me a “quote” prayer letter “unquote”, from a lady whose husband used to be on the radio all over the place, and he has since died, terrible deceiver, and she is still at this deceptive work, mailing you little prayer-clothes, they look like little fabric samples.  And there’s a green one and a red one and a white one, and you’re supposed to send in different ones with money at certain times of the month, and she will pray over these, supposedly.  You’re supposed to send back one, I meant to bring it, it’s on my desk, maybe the Lord didn’t want me to even bring it in this room, but one has a dollar bill stamped on the back of it.  And you send that in and she’ll pray over it, and that’s the prayer cloth for the multiplication of your money.  And I’m thinking, how many dear, sweet, dumb people are sending in their money to this rip-off, this lady’s been conning people forever, I mean, she was exposed by one of these TV news coverage’s, when her husband was supposedly getting “words of knowledge.”  And he had a little receiver in his ear [a deceiver-receiver], and she was reading the prayer-cards---‘She’s from Milwaukee and her street address is, she’s got arthritis, oh, God is telling me, you live in such and such a street’---and they tuned into the frequency that he was broadcasting on and got it all taped.  This is the guy who died.  I just wouldn’t want to be anywhere near wherever he is.  “And in their greed” verse 3.  Oh, by the way, “the way of truth will be maligned because of them.”  You know, people still remember that, ‘Oh these Christians.’  I’ll tell you what, that isn’t the majority of Christianity at all, but that’s what the world’s going to remember, you know.  While they get rich on their little plots and plans, and the world finds out and exposes it, then the world maligns the way of the truth.  And then verse 3, “and in their greed they will exploit you with false words.”  How many of you have ever, I remember this one time I went to this lady, and she was having words, and in fact I remember some people left our church to go to another church, because the church ministered in “words of knowledge”.  And it’s sort of like ‘fortune telling, Christian fortune telling’, you know, they go up to somebody and say ‘Brother…’  But what they’ll do is they’ll give you a word, you know, ‘God has prosperity for you, I sense the Spirit of the Lord’, and they’ll tell you what you want to hear, just to get on your, well of course there’s always a big offering.  ‘And of course if you’ll be obedient to what the Spirit’s telling you’, and it’s all a psychological build-up for the offering.  It’s just so sneaky!  Exploiting people with false words.  In Jeremiah, Isaiah, the Lord speaks to those ‘prophets’ and he tells them, he says, ‘You know what’, he says, ‘You lie, you prophets even steal your words from each other.’  We have modern-day prophets, modern-day churches that have done that.  The Seventh Day Adventist church, interesting organization, their ‘prophetess’, supposedly, she had more visions than all the Bible visions combined.  But her visions as she wrote them down in her books, which [by them] are considered to be as inspired as the Bible, if you look at the books she had in her library, 90 percent of her books are copied from other books, she was a huge plagiarist.  And by the way, she didn’t like anybody plagiarizing from her.  And when asked point blank “Are you plagiarizing from others?” she says “No, the words I use are my own, always use marks of quotation when I’m copying from somebody else.”  And so she just lied about it.  Now the prophets, the Lord through his holy prophets says “Woe to those who are prophets but steal their words from others.”  Don’t be deceived.  It’s interesting how the Bible says Satan will conceal himself, disguise himself as an angel of light.  How many cults today have angels, or have had angels appearing to their founders.  Mr. Smith, angel Meroni, Ellen G. White had this angel which kept appearing to her, the Adventist prophetess.  New Age movement, all these angels, angels are everywhere.  Thing is, they’re not the right kind.  Angels throughout Scripture are always ‘male’, they’re not little blond ladies, and their certainly not chubby cherubs, in diapers floating around like flies [laughter].  Bzzz, get out of my face, I don’t want to die and become one of those.  You don’t become an angel when you die.  No, angels are always masculine, huge, these incredible beings that have been created by God, another form of being created by God.  [Read Isaiah 6:1-9 and Ezekiel 1:1-28 for a very interesting and Biblical picture of what angels really look like.  They can appear to look like a man, as the two angels with the Lord that appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18, but that is not their normal appearance.  And the apostle John, when the angel appeared to him when he was receiving the vision of Revelation on Patmos, fell down in fear as dead at the appearance of that angel, and I think you would too.  That is the normal reaction of a human seeing a holy angel in all his glory.]  OK, reading on, the Lord says in verse 3 “They will exploit you with false words, their judgment from long ago is not idle and their destruction is not asleep.  For if God didn’t spare angels when they sinned…” and then Peter goes into this long, long tirade about what’s going to happen to these folks, to the end of the chapter.  And God is going to judge them.  But beware, there’s greed, notice what he says here, just to review:  False prophets will arise, they’re secretive, they bring swift destruction upon themselves, but sensuality is involved.  It’s interesting to me that with the false teachers in church today usually some kind of immorality is involved, or they get found out that they’re involved in some kind of immorality.  Sensuality of some type is involved, greed is involved, false words are involved, and they never cease from sin, verse 14 says, “having eyes full of adultery, that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children, forsaking the right way”, oh, it just goes on and on and on. 


“B” for “Believe”


So, going back to our Lord’s word in Matthew.  Jesus says, as recorded by Matthew, verse 15, “Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing.”  I want to give you an acronym to help you remember what to do in terms of false teachers, heretics, deceivers.  And I want to use the word “Beware”.  OK?  So if you want to write B. E. W. A. R. E., I’m going to give you an acronym to help you remember what to do. And the “B” would stand for ‘Believe, believe what Jesus is saying here.’  I mean, it’s one thing to say ‘Oh, false prophets will come’, the other thing is recognizing them, guys.  Believe it’s going to happen.  Matthew 24:11, look at what Jesus says in just over a couple chapters here in chapter 24, verse 11.  The Lord says that one of the signs of being in the Last Times, “and many false prophets will arise, and mislead  many”, many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.  To me this is just tragic.  It doesn’t say “Many false prophets might arise and might mislead many”, that would be more hopeful, and it might sound a little bit better.  This is “will”, this is “going to happen”, they are going to arise, they are going to deceive many people, and I don’t want you to be one of them.  So in order not to be one of them, you have got to believe, #1, believe that this is going to happen.  Look at verse 24, same chapter, “For false christs and false prophets will arise, and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead if possible even the elect.  Behold I have told you in advance.”  Not only are they going to say smooth things, but they’re going to have some miraculous power behind them.  Not all power is from God.  There are such things as false signs and false wonders.  There are churches today, sadly, where the ministries are based upon false signs and false wonders.  You say, ‘How do you know that?’  Because they are stepping out on the realm of the unBiblical.  I’ve shared before, but it’s a fact that in Hinduism, in different streams of Hinduism, the guru devotees will come up, and he will pat them on the head, and they will fall back, being knocked over by a supernatural power.  [I’ve witnessed that in a Pentecostal church.]  It’s an occultic pagan practice.  You say, ‘Well maybe it’s Satan counterfeiting the power of God.’  Well the problem is, there’s nothing like that recorded in the Bible.  I mean, there are false healings, Satan can make somebody sick and then heal them, and God does heal, so there could be counterfeit healings.  But there’s nothing like a counterfeit being knocked down.  What is known as “being slain in the spirit” today, in practice and all, it’s dabbling in the occult.  Now I believe in the power of God, I believe wholly in the power of God, and we see the power of God work a lot.  But that is some power I don’t want to have any part of (i.e. “slaying in the spirit”).  “There will arise false prophets, who will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead if possible even the elect.  Behold I have told you in advance.”  Now before you get mad at me, ‘You’re so critical’, and you walk out, don’t you dare stomp out of here.  You wait until I’m done with B.E.W.A.R.E.  [laughter]  Because there is something you need to hear here.  You’re not done, you’re only to “B”.  OK? 


“E” for “Examine”


Go next to “E”,  “Examine”, examine the fruit.  Going back to Matthew chapter 7, what does Jesus say in verses 16 through 20?  “You will know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”  Well, you say ‘The ministry of this person is wonderful, they have a good ministry and all.’  That’s not what Jesus is talking about, you’re not supposed to look at the ministry, you look at their life.  You look at their life.  Not the orchard, the tree.  And then you look at the fruit on that tree.  Ever bite into an apple that looked real nice on the outside only to discover on the inside there’s worms!?  Ever had that experience?  [It’s one you don’t forget.]  If not, you should, I mean, it’s an experience [laughter] everyone should have.  There’s a very interesting plant in Israel, it’s called the Sodom Apple, and it looks like a luscious piece of fruit, something like a pomegranate.  I saw that, they grow by the Dead Sea.  I saw one.  I’d read about them, but I’d never seen one.  You would think that, ‘Man, I’m going to bite into this and it’ll be awesome.’  You bite into it, and it’s like cobwebs and dust inside.  Of course he’d be aware of that kind of plant growing there.  I wonder if Jesus wasn’t thinking of something like that, oh, a whole lot of outward appearance, but inside there’s nothing really there.  Or you remember the fig tree that he cursed?  ‘It looked like it was a great looking tree, man, I’m hungry, I’m gonna go…’, and you look and there was not a fig on that tree.  It’s fig season, there should be fruit here, it’s the season for fruit.  Now granted, no tree is fruitful all the time.  OK?  I mean, you’re not some ever-bearing tree.  In season there should be fruit on the tree.  OK?  And he went for the fig, and there’s nothing there…he gave it some time, ‘I’m gonna come back’, and cursed the thing, finally.  It withered up.  Well it was no good anyway.  Be better to be used for firewood or something.  And so the Lord is saying, ‘Look, I want you to examine the fruit.  That’s not being critical, that is being careful.  Examine the fruit, judge a righteous judgment the Lord says.  ‘Oh, doesn’t it say “judge not that ye be not judged?” We already talked about that last week, it’s not talking about judging a ministry, judging someone whose in authority, judging someone who is ministering to you or claims to be a prophet, who claims to be something, you are supposed to look at their life.  And the interesting thing is, a lot of these folks, we can’t even see their lives.  It’s not even possible to do that, because they’re so totally removed from the people that they minister to.  So examine the fruit, and don’t be afraid to examine the fruit at all.


“W” for “Watch for wolves in sheep’s clothing”


And then “W” of B.E.W.A.R.E., “Watch for wolves in sheep’s clothing”.  Look at verse 15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”  I can’t help but think of those missionaries who come to your door by two’s, of different cults, knock, knock, knock, knock, who look like sheep, but inwardly are wolves [and the sad thing is that these wolves in sheep’s clothing don’t even realize they’re wolves, they honestly think they are “sheep”.]  Denying the Master, saying that Jesus isn’t God, saying Jesus is Satan’s brother, saying that Jesus’ atonement isn’t complete, saying that the blood of Christ isn’t enough to save us, so we have to add to it our works.  What an affront to the Gospel and an affront to the One who died for our sins, treading underfoot the blood of the Covenant.  And so, watch for wolves in sheep’s clothing.  They are all over the place.  Don’t be afraid to do a little check, for real, smell their breath (spiritually speaking).  If it smells baaah’d, you know [laughter].  I don’t know how you’re going to test that one, but you know, if they have real long canine teeth when they smile at you, beware.  ‘Who are you?  You’re sort of hairy, long hair for a sheep.  We’re curly haired puffy little sheep, and you’ve got long skinny legs and what’s the long tail sticking out of…?’  You know, the costume doesn’t fit.  And they will have little things that will give them away.  But watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing.  [Also helps to know the Scriptures that show Jesus is God, God the Son, the pre-incarnate Yahweh.  See John 1:1-14; 8:58-59; Exodus 3:13-14; Isaiah 9:6-7, just to name a few important ones.  See how those JW’s or Mormon’s respond to those verses.  See for a more complete treatment of heresy verses mere differences in secondary belief.  Also look up and read Jeremiah 27:1-22 to see what God thinks of false prophets and to find out what God did to one of them in Jeremiah’s time.]


“A”, “Arm yourself with the Truth”


A, arm yourself with the Truth.  Jesus says in John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”  There’s nothing like knowing the truth that will keep you from being deceived.  I don’t know what every false doctrine in the world is.  [And be careful in judging, every legitimate denomination has varying and differing interpretations in the area of what I’d call secondary doctrine, doctrine that does not effect one’s eternal life.  Denying the Divinity of Jesus as very God is a false doctrine which will deny you entry into eternal life, that is what I would term as Primary doctrine.  But the controversy between “Young Earth” advocates (i.e. the earth and universe were created in six days, period), and “Old Earth” advocates (i.e. the Earth and universe are billions of years old) will in no way deny one entry into eternal life.  That’s just one tiny example of what a secondary doctrinal difference is.  Be careful not to label (libel) other church denominations solely upon secondary doctrinal differences.]  I know a lot of false doctrine, I’ve learned it, I’ve studied it in order to refute it.  But you know, I don’t know it all, and I don’t need to know it all, because I know the truth.  And I’m not afraid of false teaching, because I’ve looked at the truth.  And it’s sort of like you can figure out that the counterfeit is, it looks sort of real, but it’s not.  Hang on to the very clear known’s of Scripture.  Salvation by grace through faith alone, don’t let anybody take you away from that.  Don’t let anybody take you away from the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, his God-nature [he was actually Yahweh in the Old Testament times, just look up those Scriptures I gave you.]  Don’t let anybody take you away from that doctrine.  Don’t let anybody take you away from the doctrine of his virgin birth.  Don’t let anybody say that the Bible isn’t the inspired, pure Word of God.  Don’t let anybody say that  you need to add another book to the Bible, don’t buy that kind of stuff.  [And we’re not talking about booklets written by a denomination to explain the various doctrines for their membership.]  You’ve got it all here, God has spoken to us once and for all, Hebrews 1 says, through Jesus Christ.  We have the complete total Revelation, all that we need right now is in Holy Scripture.  It’s great, I mean, we really don’t need anybody else.  They can come at your door and you can say ‘You know what?  I don’t need to watch out your tower, because [laughter] I’m in the Mighty Tower of Strength, the Lord Jesus Christ.  I’m in the mighty tower of strength, the Lord Jesus Christ.  And I’m already a Latter Day Saint [applause], I don’t have to become one, I am a saint in Jesus Christ.  So, arm yourself with the truth, Ephesians 6:14 says “Gird your waist with the truth.”  Buckle on truth.  In the Roman attire, the Roman military outfit, the belt held everything in place.  They would take their long tunic that went down about their knee, down to knee length, and they would tuck it in so that it was shorter, it was like at mid thigh, so that they could run and fight.  You can’t run and fight in a dress, you know.  ‘Wait, Tacticus, till I tuck it within.’  [laughter]  You can’t do that kind of thing [laughter].  So they would put their tunic up in their belt, and then that would give them freedom of movement.  In the spiritual battle in which we’re in, gang, listen, in this spiritual battle, truth gives you mobility.  You can move about quickly and freely, and you’re not going to trip.  If you get all tangled up in stuff, you’re going to fall and you could get the knife.  And so instead, the truth sets you free, so you’ve got this freedom of movement, you can defend yourself more easily, you’ve got the truth.  And of course you’re hanging onto the Word of God, that’s where the truth is found.  [The Word of God is also called the Sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6.]


“R”, “Refute False Doctrine”


So we have “Believe”, “Examine”, “Watch”, “Arm yourself”, now “R”, “Refute False Doctrine”.  Refute false doctrine.  Turn to Titus, the book of Titus.  And when Paul writes to Pastor Titus, another one of his protégé’s and one of the young men that Paul poured himself into, he exhorts Titus to refute the false teachers that had come into the Church and were upsetting people.  We are not to passively sit by and let the false teachers come in.  And I’m not just talking about the cults, I’m talking about the other ‘Christian’ false doctrines that blow through the church.  Remember two years ago what was a “hot” thing?  Well it’s not “hot” anymore, is it?  And there are other false teachings that maybe are hot right now, I don’t know, because I don’t watch “Christian TV”, so I don’t know what the hottest false doctrine is right now.  [laughter]  And before you get mad [angry] and march out, we’re not to “E” yet.  Right?  [laughter]  You know I love yah, and I don’t mean anything mean by that.  But I just, there is such a lack of discernment in the Christian community.  It’s either cry or poke fun at it I guess.  But he’s talking about elders, the requirement for elders, and he says in verse 9, “Holding fast the faithful word, which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine (that’s healthy teaching), and to refute those who contradict.”  We are to refute those who contradict.    Those who contradict what?  Sound doctrine.  We’re to refute them.  We’re not to just go ‘Oh me, oh my, let them believe whatever they want.  Well, we don’t want to be a controversial place.  We don’t want to cause people to stumble, we don’t want to take a stand.’  Oh hogwash.  You know, God says refute the false teaching, don’t be afraid of it.  And you should speak the truth in love, and all of that kind of stuff, if you want to use some humor I think God thinks that’s ok too.  But, Titus 1, verse 10 it says “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision (oh, he named a denomination) who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach,”---(here we go again, bottom line is always what!?---money or sex…there are three pitfalls that you can see people falling into, money, sex, or robbing God of his glory)---“for the sake of dishonest gain.”  Watch out, those are the three temptations.  And he says right here, he says these people have to be silenced, because they’re upsetting whole families.  [To see what problem Paul was having with some false teachers who were among “those of the circumcision”, the Jewish branch of the body of Christ back then, log onto]  A church should move in when false teaching breaks out, it’s almost like a cancer that needs to be contained quickly before it spreads.  It needs to be taken care of, he says, and they should be silenced.  These things should not be taught. [Comment:  Realize, Pastor Mark is talking about within one’s own congregation, or with those two-by-two “missionaries” that show up at your doorstep.  But also realize that the legitimate body of Christ is made up of a whole slew of differing denominations and independent churches, all of which have differing secondary beliefs, which the Bible allows for, beliefs one group may view as heresy, and another as proper secondary doctrine.  You are not to walk into one of these churches and try to “straighten them out”, nor if you find yourself in a joint community prayer-meeting with other denominations are you to try to “straighten them out” on their doctrinal beliefs.  For more on this subject, see  as well as  There are a few apologetic ministries out there that think it is up to them to correct the whole body of Christ and decide who is legitimate and who isn’t.  Some are non-biased, and pretty good at what they do, while others tend to be a bit rabid and can at times tear at the legitimate body of Christ.  It is my sincere wish the Lord would put those that do that out of business, as they go overboard to the detriment of the body of Christ, having the effect of being destroyers of unity in the body.  And God, as he pointed out in Proverbs, hates those that cause division, especially within the body of Christ.  Use wise discernment is all I’m saying.]    2nd Timothy chapter 4, says very clearly, going to the left in your Bibles.  2nd Timothy 4, just a page back from Titus.  Verses 1-5, “I solemnly charge you”, now he’s talking to Tim, another young pastor that was like the closest person to Paul on earth, ok, and he’s encouraging Timothy in his ministry, and he says, “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.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For a time will come (and believe me saints, I believe we’re in it right now) when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  That’s the second time Paul has mentioned this.  In Titus he’s spoken of sound doctrine, we’re hearing it again in Timothy.  Remember those who were lost that Paul speaks of to the Thessalonican church, and he said “they will be delivered over to a strong delusion because they did not have a love of the truth so as to be saved.”  Do you have a love for the truth?  I mean if you’re going to have a love for the truth, it’s going to manifest itself in your lifestyle.  Are you really a Christian or are you just once in a while because you’re more of a moral kind of person, you think I need to take care of this moral itch, or do you really have a heart transformed by the power of God through Jesus Christ?  We’re living in a day when people want to turn their ears away from the truth, they have itching ears.  You ever get a good itch in your ear, give me anything, a stick, a pencil, a pen, you know, aaah!, it’s just awful isn’t it?  And people get this kind of itching ear going, and they’re sticking anything in there, rather than dealing with the infection, dealing with the problem, sickness.  And there’s all sorts of vendors there to sell you their stick, their pen, anything to stick in your ear.  [laughter]  Didn’t mean to go there.  So believe what Jesus is saying, “E”, examine the fruit, “W” watch for wolves in sheep’s clothing, “A”, arm yourself with the truth, “R”, refute false doctrine, and “E”, this is what I wanted you to wait for.


“E”, “Expose false teachers”


“E”, “expose false teachers.”  Look at 1st Timothy 4:1-6, “But the Spirit explicitly says” (I think that’s so interesting, that he says ‘the Spirit explicitly says’, do you hear the emphasis there, do you catch the emphatic nature, it’s like he’s been listening to God’s Spirit, writing under this inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit’s saying, ‘This is gonna be!  This is going to happen!’  it’s like the pounding on the pulpit, that kind of emphasis) “The Spirit explicitly says that in latter times, in the last days, some will fall away from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,” (verse 1)  That means, gang, that right now there are deceitful spirits that are trying to lead you, me, and others away from the truth, deceitful spirits, not just people, but behind people there is a spiritual realm, there’s a spiritual battle going on.  “…deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”  These doctrines are demonic, doctrines saying that Jesus isn’t God, doctrines saying that Jesus is a created being, doctrines saying his work isn’t completed at the cross.  [Our work, that God gives us to do isn’t completed yet, the work of spreading the Good News of the Gospel, but Jesus’ work of redemption through his sacrifice at the cross is completed, and thus works will not earn you salvation, it is a free gift of God given to believers in Jesus.], doctrines that are leading people into error and false lifestyles, they are literally of Satan he says, they’re demonic.  They’re not just human contrivances.  And he says, “I want you to understand that these are propagated by means of the hypocrisy of liars, seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,” (verse 2)  He’s not trying to be nice about it.  He calls them liars, with seared consciences.  He would look them in the face and say “You’re a liar and you have no conscience.  How can you do this to people!?  How can you destroy their lives?”  I don’t know if you’ve spoken to many people involved in false religion or have come under the umbrella of false teaching in Christianity.  But you’ll see how it destroys their lives.  You see, the problem with false doctrine is it leads to false living.  If we could believe the wrong thing and live the right thing, maybe there would be some way we could hang onto both, but when you try to, one leads inevitably to the other.  You walk out what you believe.  And so, he lists some of the doctrines, “…forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.  For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (verses 3-5)  [Comment: Now here is something interesting, because the Jews and Messianic Jewish believers believe Leviticus 11, giving the laws of clean and unclean food, are commanding that certain animals are not fit for human consumption.  How do you reconcile that with this verse?  Notice verse 5 “for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”  Now Leviticus 11 is part of the Word of God, and it does not sanctify “unclean meats”.  That is how they would interpret these two sets of verses.  And they are to be allowed to interpret them that way.  This is a secondary doctrine where we are not to mess with other believers who abstain from the unclean foods mentioned in Leviticus 11.  Don’t do it.]  What does that say to people who say you have to be kosher? [I’ve explained that one].  What does that say to people who say you have to eat fish on Friday?   What does that say to people who say you can’t marry, a priest can’t marry?  I mean, look at it?  They’re demonic doctrines.  [The Biblical kosher laws found in Leviticus 11 are not a demonic doctrine, they are part of God’s Old Testament Law.  See what Jesus said about the whole Law of God in Matthew 5:17-19.  But the kosher laws the Pharisees and Sadducees added onto God’s kosher laws found in Leviticus 11 are demonic doctrines, like not having milk and meat at the same meal, or mixing them in cooking.  But I wouldn’t recommend attacking the Jews for these beliefs, just wouldn’t be a wise move.]  They’re demonic doctrines.  I think we should carefully deal with it, but I think in-house we can more openly talk about it.  Of course, in the world, we’re going to be a little more tactful about it, because we don’t want to just turn the world off immediately, we’ve got to be wise as serpents, harmless as doves as Jesus said.  But it is the duty of those who teach to point these things out.  [In the Sabbatarian Church of God I was a member in, the pastors would point out the Biblical way to refute the add-ons to God’s kosher laws, by showing us that in Genesis 18 Abraham and Sarah fed Yahweh and the two accompanying angels with a meal that contained both milk and meat, roast lamb and milk.  That was how we were taught to refute the Jewish add-on kosher laws.  But we didn’t go around to every Jewish person we met and hit them over the head with that.  I wouldn’t try walking the streets of Old Jerusalem teaching that either, you’d get stoned.]  Because verse 6 says “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”  There’s our word again, “…sound doctrine, which you have been following.”  Now some day I want to stand before the Lord, and I’m sure you do too, and you want to hear from his lips “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  I want to hear both, I want to hear “Good” and “Faithful”, I don’t just want to hear ‘Well done faithful servant’.  It’s like, ‘Well a dog could be faithful.’  [laughter]  And I don’t just want to  hear ‘Well done good servant.  You couldn’t hang on for the marathon, you were good for the little sprint, you know, but then you pooped out.’  I want to  hear “Well done good and faithful servant.”  I want to hear both.  And like the apostle Paul says, I want to finish well.  I want to finish right up to the end.  And so you have to do what you have to do to be able to do that.  But he says, if I’m going to be a good servant of Christ Jesus, I’ve got to point these things out to you guys.  I don’t think it was easy for Paul.  By nature I don’t think he was a big kind of confrontative kind of a guy, I don’t think he enjoyed that one bit.  I  hate it, I don’t like it.  It’s not my nature to like confrontation.  But you know if you’re going to stand and teach the Word of God, then you’ve also got to teach [warn people] what isn’t the Word of God sometimes.  And you say, ‘But Mark, I don’t think you have to go in, you mention maybe Christian TV sometimes…’  Obviously I’m not talking about everything on Christian TV, right?  And I’m even withholding, I’m holding back right now, I’m being really good right now [laughter].  And that’s a work of grace in my life.  [laughter]  But I want you to understand that it is OK to point out the people that are teaching the false doctrine, and even to name their names.  I want you to look up 1st Timothy chapter 1, just go to the back, a page or two back and look at 1st Timothy chapter 1, verse 18, “This command I entrust to you Timothy my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regards to their faith.”  Whoa, somebody’s faith crashed, I mean shattered.  “Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”  He’s writing to the Ephesus, Ephesian church, and he’s telling Timothy those guys, Hymenaeus and Alexander, “I’ve delivered them over to Satan.”  You know I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I sure don’t want to know.  I don’t want to have anything to do with that, I’m not ever going to be close to that one, by the grace of God.  He named their names.  Oh horror.  He named their names, how insensitive, how politically non-correct, he named their names.  Because how would you know who they were if you didn’t name their names?  [Comment: The Bible in the New Testament says we are to mark those who cause division amongst you.  God hates divisiveness, sowing discord among brethren, more than anything else, because it is a destroyer of unity in the body, whether a local church body, or the greater body of Christ. Romans 16:17-18, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”  By the context of taking it with verse 18, that verse is obviously talking about those who were really false teachers that had sometimes made their way into the body of Christ, but can apply also to those who have started up a false or counterfeit Christian church or movement, like many of these charlatan televangelists begging for your money over the air.]  It’s like hearing that the burgers at a certain restaurant are poisoned.  The News reports ‘That the burgers at a certain large burger chain establishment are killing people [laughter], 25 people have died already in a large metropolitan area.  We have no idea how many more people may die, or be effected, however we do know the chain, and we do know the city where the poison is, where the poison burgers are.  You should beware, generally, [laughter]’---Boy, I’m never eating a burger again!  Tell me where!  What chain!?  I mean, their phone-lines would be jammed.  ‘I want to know, give me the name of whoever it is?’  ‘Oh we don’t want to name names, we don’t want to be too specific.’  Or you hear of a certain airline [laughter], their engines don’t work [laughter] when they reach 30,000 feet.  ‘Now there have only been two plane crashes, 240 people each, but we’re not wanting to send general panic through the public, so we’re not disclosing which airline it is at this time.’  I’m not flying, I’ll go Greyhound, believe me.  I’ll walk, rowboat, but I’m not gonna do it.  You see, in order to be secure and safe, we’ve got to have the facts.  And it’s not a mean issue, it’s not meanness to declare who is teaching a false doctrine.  And that’s where I appeal to your reason.  Those of you who have been involved in The Faith Movement, and you’re not totally clued into yet the false teachings of the ‘Faith teachers’, [the ‘name-it, claim it group’] Copeland, Hagen, Benny Hinn and others, ad nosium, and you’re not exactly sure, it sounds like ‘Oh those critical people’, no it’s not a critical spirit, it’s a discerning heart is really what it is.  And the other thing is, I think, a desire to see the people of God not being ripped off anymore, I’m getting sick of that.  Just one other incident here is in 2nd Timothy 2 Paul does it again.  2nd Timothy 2:16, Paul says, “But avoid empty and worldly chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.”  That’s pretty gross.  “Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place; and thus they have upset the faith of some.”  Here’s Hymenaeus again, that dirty rat.  I thought he was dealt with.  Well I don’t know what happened after Alexander, maybe he got delivered over to Satan and he’s not in the picture anymore, but Philetus is now the cohort.  This guy Hymenaeus always has to have somebody with him, you know.  Always duping someone.  Paul names names.


In conclusion


So, to summarize, to conclude, to end.  “B”, believe what Jesus is saying.  False prophets are coming.  They’re here.  They’re deceiving people today.  “E”, examine the fruit, look at their lives.  Look at their lives and lifestyle.  “W”, watch for the wolves in sheep’s clothing.  “Not everyone that says to me ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven.”  “A”, arm yourself with the truth.  John 8:32, “the truth will set you free.”  Know the truth so you’re not deceived.  “R”, refute false doctrine.  And “E”, expose false teachers.  Let’s pray…[connective expository sermon on Matthew 7:15-23, given by Pastor J. Mark Martin, Calvary Community Church, 12612 N. Black Canyon Hwy., Phoenix, AZ  85029]


Related links:


Discerning true from false, being careful not to call false teaching what is merely a secondary doctrinal difference in interpretation:


Look up the history of a group, examine them:

(case in point: actual history of the Mormons)


False teachings of Judaizers:


[Note:  It was brought out in a Bible study I attended recently, this new movement called by the name of The Emergent Church is filled with New Age type altered-state, zoned-out, Buddhist type religious practices and beliefs, a real false religion masking itself as Christianity in a new and vibrant way.  Don’t be deceived. Time to Examine, Refute, and Expose this false religion, refute its teachings, and expose it’s teachers.]