This week I was in a large corporate “Christian” book store and I was shocked at the number of books of “false teachers and heretics” that are stocked on the shelves and sold. As I stood in the isle, I must have been muttering to myself. as one of the store’s employees approached me with a smile and asked, “May I help you?” I knew that they were not the store’s manager, and a deep discussion concerning their agreements and contracts with the publishing houses would come to no avail. So, I simply said, “I was surprised that you were carrying this author.” They replied, with a smile on their face, “Oh, we sell a lot of these books from this author.” I was going no-where, so I thanked them and simply said I was just “killing some time until I meet my wife for lunch.” They smiled and as they walked away, he said, “Let me know if there is anything else I could help you with.”
I wanted to shout, “Well, you could remove all the books of this heretic and burn them on a bonfire in the back” so unsuspecting readers would not be harmed by these false teachers. However, I understand where the problem really lays. It is not the reseller or the publisher, and to some degree not even the author. The fault lays clearly on the demand by the readers. If no one purchased their books, they would not be ordered, stocked and sold. They would make their way to the “deep discount” area and the publishers would stop going into contracts with those authors. The problem could be solved in just a couple of years. However, there is so much demand for these authors that until Christians “wake up and heed Jesus’ warning”, the authors will write, the publishers will publish, the stores will order, stock and sell, and the public will continue to be under the spell of “ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, warned His disciples concerning false prophets and teachers.
Matthew 7:1520 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (ESV)
I believe the reason so many people follow these false teachers is because they are lazy. “Lazy” you may ask? Yes, an emphatic “Lazy.” Instead of reading and studying their bible for themselves, they take the easy way of simply reading and following teachers that scratch their itch, instead of spending the time in prayer and study of the Bible.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Understand this. You will be held accountable for allowing these false teachers into your mind. Jesus says that you can identify them because they bring forth thorns and thistles instead of good fruit. Translation: these false teachers bring disease that can only bring evil fruit and destruction.
The Apostle Paul Taught
Don’t take the easy way out. the Apostle Paul understood this and in writing to his protégé Timothy;
“2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The Apostle John quoted Jesus;
“John 5:37 -43 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
41 I do not receive glory from people.
42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.
43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.
What Are We To Do?
- Get a good “word for word” translation of the Bible, without commentary and without references and study the Bible after prayer asking for the Holy Spirit to lead and teach you.
- Journal – write your questions, thoughts and impressions so that you can return to them later.
- Be methodical in your approach to study. Learn how to study the bible by “Observing what the Scripture says; search out God’s interpretation of the verse, paragraph, text or book and then apply what you have learned to your own life.
- Observation, Interpretation, Application – in that order. Don’t jump to interpretation until you fully understand what the “text within the context” is saying. Don’t leap to applying the Scripture until you have completed the hard work of Observing and then finding out what God is saying and what He means.
- It takes time and is an investment in your spiritual health.
As Christians, we are to study the Word of God. We are to receive sound doctrine and oppose false teachers, even if they are the #1 best seller in your local “Christin” book store.