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In this message, Todd continues our series on 2 Peter and addresses the dangers of false teaching. Listen and discover how you can guard against the lies told inside and outside the church.
A Diligent and Right Response to "These Things"
A Reminder of How and When "Joy to the World" Comes
Saints and Scoffers Running out of Time
False Teaching and False Teachers: the Difference and the Danger of Both
False Teaching is a Trap
Lot: the Trampled Spring That Is Wonderfully Saved and a Horrible Warning
The Grace and Truth False Teachers Miss and the Judgment They Won’t
The Words and Ways of the False Teacher and What to Do about It
Stirring Truth That Makes Men Useful
The Choreographed Christian Life
Persecution From Without Is Not Near the Threat as Is the Poison From Within
Last week, we started our journey through 2 Peter 2:12 to the end of the chapter by talking about some myths you run across…the myth that if you eat a bunch of carrots you're going to see better, the myth that if your kids have sugar they're going to be hyperactive… That's not the case. Chocolate, yes, because chocolate has caffeine, but sugar doesn't cause hyperactivity. Eating doesn't cause you to have to miss out on an opportunity to swim. That's not what causes cramping at all.
I can remember when I was a kid I suffered from that myth. My dad was a hospital administrator. He wasn't a doctor himself, but every Memorial Day we would get together with a doctor group that served at this very large hospital, and one of these doctors had a pool, so we were always excited to be there over holiday. But this doctor, when we'd have our big lunch around 11:00 or 11:30, wouldn't let us get into the pool for 30 minutes to an hour. It didn't take me more than one or two years at these holiday gatherings to realize, "This is a bad idea."
So what I did when everybody went to eat is I just jumped in the pool. He'd say, "Todd, you've got to get out. We're eating." I'd go, "I haven't eaten. I'm not going to cramp." I would have the whole pool to myself. What I learned is once everybody had to wait the entire hour and was ready to jump in the pool, I would get out and go eat a couple of hot dogs, and then I could be back in five minutes, and they didn't even notice it. It was like an adult swim for an hour, just me.
But I suffered from that myth. Now there are some myths people suffer from more than just in having to eat vegetables and not necessarily be able to see better or not be able to swim. Some of them cost you some hard cash, and some of them might cause you a really hard time. Here are a few myths out there related to products. How about this one? This one made its way through our society not long ago.
Female: Apply directly to the forehead…HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead…HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead…
[End of video]
It goes on. All the commercial does is keep saying that. You're like, "Just give me the product. You're giving me a headache. I'll take it." It turns out that HeadOn is just wax. That's all it was. It was a placebo. Some folks when they got ahold of it were like, "Hey, this is really helping me," because it had a certain placebo effect. However, it didn't take long, between a year or two, once it was out for some folks to start to do some diagnostics and testing on there, and they realized it was a sham, and it got pulled.
What's funny is they released ActivOn right after that. They go, "Yeah, it doesn't help headaches, but it does help arthritis." Well, wax doesn't help arthritis either, but it made some serious cash. Then there's another one. If you weren't taken out by HeadOn in 2006 and 2007, a lot of folks, especially you athletes, you golfers especially, started wearing little copper bracelets or maybe these little Power Balance bracelets. You dropped 20 or 40 bucks for these.
They told you that you could jump higher, swim faster, improve your balance, intelligence, mental clarity, improved healing, stronger immune system, better circulation, sounder sleep… All that was offered to you, and it was a lie. Not at all the case. In fact, if you paid much attention to what was going on there, in 2010 this was released by the maker of it:
"In our advertising we said the Power Balance wristbands improved your strength, balance, and flexibility. We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims. Therefore, we engaged in misleading conduct and breach of S-52 of the Trade Practices Act of 1974. If you have been misled by our promotions, we unreservedly apologize and offer now a full refund." There was a class action suit against them.
They paid out $57 million and went bankrupt in 2011, which I think was a real disservice, because they did have some utility. Specifically, it helped us distinguish between gullible morons and the rest of the American public. Some of you go, "That is hilarious! That's funny, isn't it? Yeah, I agree." A lot of folks went down on that one. What they do is they prey upon people… When you're in pain, you'll do anything to get out of that pain.
HeadOn is an example of the classic lie that's often said that if you repeat a lie long enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself. That statement, by the way, is really a summarization, not of a guy by the name of Joseph Goebbels… Anybody know who Joseph Goebbels is? He was Hitler's chief propagandist. It's a quote often attributed to him, but he never said it.
It actually was a statement that summed up what Hitler himself wrote in Volume 1 of Mein Kampf. He knew the best way to get people to believe something is to repeatedly, over and over, in small little points, say things in a persistent way, and it would ultimately successfully convince people something was true. Adolf Hitler. If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you might even come to believe it yourself.
We're talking about something much more than wearing around a little bracelet or rubbing wax on your forehead. We're talking about something that is warned against all through the Bible. You've heard me say, and it's worth once again making mention of, I wish every single pulpit in America put this up every single Sunday: the surgeon general isn't just going to warn you that cigarette smoking can harm your health but the Divine Physician wants you to know that ingesting false teaching will complicate your life, possibly eternally, so you should examine the Scripture to see if the things that are said here are so.
That is 2 Peter, chapter 2. There are false teachers out there not just selling headache remedies and balance and sounder sleep remedies, preying upon weak people, but there are false teachers who are preying upon people who are corrupted by the desires of their flesh and who have not yet come to understand that we have a good, good Father who desires to shepherd and lead us, and they're still, if you will, communicating toward people's desire to have their ears tickled and look for teachers who will teach them in accordance with their own desires, as it says in 2 Timothy 4:3.
This has not just shown up on late-night infomercials. It has shown up all over TV, way too often with charlatans behind pulpits. You may not know a guy named Peter Popoff, but he was all around in the 80s, and he was selling his little miracle water. Watch this.
Male: Reverend Peter Popoff wants you to know that God can reverse every negative verdict in your life. You don't have to live a life sentence of lack and defeat. You can be free to enjoy all of God's richest blessings. That's why he wants to send you your free packet of miracle spring water, your point of contact for the miracle you need. Now in a larger size.
Female: I had been in two car accidents, and the doctors kept saying, "Well, here. You've got to take painkillers." I used your miracle spring water, and it's gone.
Female: The banks had told me that I could not get another home. I prayed, I believed, I followed every instruction, and on May 26 we closed on our dream home.
Male: Stop settling on less and reach for God's best. God is a God of more, and now there's more miracle spring water in a new larger package.
Female: You sent me the water and I used it. You told me I was going to get a check for $7,000. Sure enough, I got a check in the mail. It was exactly $7,000.
Female: Another check for $4,700 for me to move to New York City. Glory to God! Supernatural wealth transferred.
[End of video]
There it is. Supernatural trash transfer is what that is. Charlatans, scoundrels, men who prey upon people's desires. When you start offering to people a life that's always going to get better in terms of health, wealth, and prosperity, some of the people who suffer underneath that teaching are getting exactly what they deserve, because they're not there to learn of God and to receive God's intended provision of grace through his Son Jesus Christ.
They're there because maybe God is like that. Maybe if you give God 10, he kicks it back to 100. They are looking for teachers who will give them what they want, but there are many who are victims of teachers who exploit that. Again, let me just say this. God is going to deal with false teachers, but you are responsible for the teaching you ingest.
This week in the Watermark News there is a story about the different ways we're involved around the world, and we do have members of our body who are on short-term deployments other places in this local area. We are all missionaries, and some of our missionaries are not serving in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. A couple of them are serving in Rwanda right now for a short period of time with our partners in ALARM.
Paul and Sarah Stehlik were over there. Paul and Sarah had grown up here, been discipled here, been encouraged here in many ways. If you look for something to read that would sharpen you, you ought to go to Sarah's blog called The Stehlik Chronicles. Sarah wrote a blog not long ago. I want to read it to you. She's writing to her kids, Noah, Sam, and Ben.
She's talking about a time after they got there that the kids went to church with their mom and dad in Rwanda, and they didn't go off to the children's area but stayed with their mom and dad in the large service. They did that because they were a little bit intimidated with the new environment. So Sarah writes to them something like this.
"We know it can be overwhelming and so you didn't step outside. We're glad you sat with us during church. And you heard the preacher. The particular preacher that day came all the way from America to tell the people there about five steps to a successful life. He shared about the power of praying to be blessed by God, about how we have not because we ask not, about the futility of a poverty mindset and the power of a prosperity mindset.
You didn't understand all of what he was saying and the ramifications of what he was teaching. You are young. In the innocence of childhood, it has not occurred to you yet that giving to God is a smart way of getting him to multiply back what you already have, as the teacher claimed. In your simplicity, you assume we give to God because he is God, and after all, he gave his Son first for us.
So maybe you were surprised when you saw a man stand up in the large room full of people and question that particular preacher. You saw him ask how his teaching fit with Paul's word in Philippians 1, where believers were given the privilege of sharing in Christ's sufferings, or Philippians 4, where Paul says he had learned contentment in abundance and in need, in plenty and in lack.
You saw this man hold out his Bible and respectfully remind the preacher that Jesus promised we would have trouble in this world and that it would be a shame if people walked out of that room, misguided by the notion that God always gives us everything we ask for.
There aren't words to describe my joy to you, Noah, Ben, and Sam, that the man you saw stand up in that room was your father. It was courage and conviction that you won't fully yet understand, but I hope it takes deep root and firm hold in you. I hope you know there are some things worth standing up for and that you're willing to do it.
Among the treasure I hope you stand for one day are care for the poor and oppressed," and she writes a paragraph on that. "The meaning of discipleship," and she holds up a paragraph on that. "The Word and character of God," and she writes a paragraph on that. She says, "I hope you will, like your dad, grow up to be a workman who does not need to be ashamed, who accurately handles the word of truth, who is ready and willing to stand up against false teaching when we hear it."
I've been on the continent of Africa in several different parts of it, and I've been in some of the most impoverished areas of the world. I remember driving north of Nairobi in Kenya up to an area that can only be described as a classic third-world context and getting to a church where we were going to be training pastors from the entire region, and when we pulled up, there were two men washing the pastor's Mercedes.
The pastor showed up. He had a nicer suit on and patent leather shoes than any I've ever owned. He was just dressed to the nines. He looked at me and said, "Why are you dressed like that?" because I was wearing something similar to what I have. He goes, "People won't listen to you if you're dressed like that. I have told them that men of God are powerful and provided for." I said, "Well, we're going to straighten that out this week, my friend."
I explained to him that a lot of what he had apparently been trained by was erroneous. So we opened the text together and looked at some things. He said, "Listen, man. You guys put your best artists, your best singers, your best performers, your best athletes on TV. I thought you put your best pastors on TV, and I've been watching them." He had learned their ways, and we had some undoing to get busy with.
It's not just in Africa, though, where that nonsense is propagated. It starts right here, and it starts close. If you get a chance, I highly commend to you a guy by the name of Shai Linne who actually wrote a song… He, like me, has spent some time in Africa. He's a reformed rapper (yeah, you heard that right) who lives back on the East Coast.
Shai has some of the most amazing lyrics that will teach you more about Trinitarianism and religious terms or theological terms. He also did one not long ago on false teachers. One of the false teachers he called out was Paula White. Here's Ms. Paula White.
Paula White: I'm telling you right now the anointing you sow into is the anointing you reap of. I want you to hear me. God is speaking to many, "I want you to give a $126 offering." Somebody, it might be $1,260. Somebody, it might be $12,600. This seed is the sealant. The seed says, "God, I stand. I'm positioning myself in a place of faith. I'm positioning myself for 2011 strong." I want you to be seated for just one minute.
Make your checks payable to The Potter's House, and every single person get it. When you get it, I want you to pass it all the way down to the right. Is that okay? The very end, on the end of every aisle, if you'll stand and just pass it all the way down, and then let that person just hold it. You say, "Why do they do that?" Because they're acting as a high priest, and this is a sweet smell of savor, acceptable and pleasing to the Lord.
[End of video]
Oh my. Paula White, right here in good old Dallas, Texas, visiting our friend T.D. Jakes at The Potter's House, propagating that nonsense. Now listen. In a minute, I'm going to make very clear to you that what Peter is talking about in 2 Peter, chapter 2, are false teachers. False teachers are eternally damned. They have never become regenerate. They are not sheep. They are dogs that return to their vomit and pigs that return to mud.
There is, however, also false teaching. I don't know if Ms. White is a false teacher described in 2 Peter 2 or if she is just caught up in some errant, false teaching. The way you know I'm going to explain to you in just a moment. Let me just say this about what she said. Paula twists Scripture. It has been well said that there is no worse lie than a truth that is misunderstood, and she has misunderstood what the Scriptures say about sowing a seed.
The sowing of seed in Scripture is not about material giving. I'm not telling you if God stirs you to participate in the need here at Watermark on an ongoing basis or on new capital opportunities to put together more resources to serve a greater number of people that God is going to get back more into your pocket. You don't ever give to God to get more back into your pocket. You give to God because you think it's going to give the gospel to more people.
You give to the Lord because you believe his name is being furthered and his work is being done, and you give your time, your talent, and your treasure to those places. False teachers like Ms. White, at least in her false teaching there, will take these little ideas, and a little bit later when she was doing the exact same thing somewhere else…
Actually this time on TV she said, "Your seed today," talking about money, "is going to turn everything around for your children, your grandchildren, your family, your spouse, everyone in relation to you, but you have to activate it by giving."
Sometimes it's as blatant and ridiculous as Peter Popoff and what happened down there at The Potter's House and is happening. Sometimes it's a lot more subtle. They go, "I'm not a prosperity teacher; I'm a provision teacher, and I want you to know that you're going to be cursed if you don't give," they'll say. They'll tell you stories about, "Every time I've given everything away, God has resupplied and given me back more." Maybe God did that, but I wouldn't teach that like they should expect it.
You can share your story. You can make the observation that if you find somebody who's faithful with a little maybe you would give them more, but that, again, is even a misunderstanding. That's given in Matthew 13 to people who are faithful with a little bit of response to faith in who Jesus is. He'll give you more faith, and maybe if you have more faith you'll give more, but don't you think your giving is going to lead to more getting. No. You give because you think the gospel is going to go forward and grow, not your bank account.
The more subtle the deception the more dangerous the lie. There are churches filled with people who look just like us all around us and always moving closer who are trafficking in this error. Now I told you there's a difference between false teachers who are being held for the darkness… There are basically three things that are true of a false teacher. They deny the truth, they appeal to the depravity of the flesh, and they pursue their own depraved flesh.
They are going to be destroyed by God, and you need to know, 2 Peter 2 says, that they are a danger to the unstable and untaught. So you'd better be spiritually appraised, and you'd better test everything you hear everywhere you are. Here's the difference between what I would say is people caught up in false teaching… Why do I say that? Because Peter himself got caught up in false teaching.
One of the ways he got caught up in false teaching was he didn't believe Christ was worth dying for, and he denied him and fell away. That's why when Peter was approached by Jesus at that moment he wasn't called Peter, the Rock; he was called Simon, the old man. "Simon, do you love me? Then let's act like a rock. Let's get your faith back in order." More than that, Peter fell away and started acting like Simon.
If you want to go read Galatians, chapter 2, verses 11-14, you're going to find the apostle Paul rebukes Peter for false teaching. Here's how you can tell that somebody is caught up in false teaching and not a false teacher: they repent. They return to faith, whereas a false teacher doesn't repent. They return to filth. They go right back where they were. They have eyes full of adultery. They never cease from sin. They live to entice stable souls.
In other words, not only do they avoid looking at people's money; they look at people and go, "How can I get from them what I want?" That's what false teachers do. I'll show you that in just a minute very clearly from the text. You need to know that they take advantage of your desire. See, false teaching is a trampled spring. Proverbs 25:26 says, "Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked."
False teachers aren't a trampled spring; they are a spring without water. Where do they come from? They come in the church. Acts, chapter 20, talks about that in verses 29-30. Verse 29 says, "Savage wolves will come among you." Verse 30: "From your own selves, men will arise." All over America today there are men standing in pulpits, and they are going to do one of two things.
They're going to seek to appease your flesh by not telling the truth to your flesh that is deceived and corrupt, and just because you feel a certain way doesn't mean you should do it. They're going to say, "Hey, we're just a loving community. We're not going to call it sin. We're going to accept you right where you are, and it's okay. By the way, we're going to accept you where you are because we're going to demonstrate God's love to you."
You don't need to change to receive love around here at Watermark, but if you meet the God who is love, you will change. When you meet Jesus, it is a life-altering moment. You repent, which means not just that you say something different. You turn around and start to go a different direction, away from where your flesh is going. False teachers will always do one of two things. They either don't call you to full devotion… In other words, they don't teach you the full counsel of God.
They'll just say, "Hey, just show up, shut up, pay up. Keep the lights on. Validate me with your presence. I won't ask too much of you, and we'll get along. We'll write checks to missionaries. You don't need to be a missionary. You don't need to be salt and light. You don't need to be a kingdom of priests. You just come and show up here, validate me, give me money, and I won't ask too much of you, and we'll both say we're in God's will." Those are false teachers. Those are dead churches if they're not calling you to radical and full obedience.
So one thing they do is they don't call you to full devotion. The second thing they'll do is proclaim false doctrine. It's not that they don't teach the full counsel of God. They change the counsel. They corrupt the counsel of God. They'll tell you that God always wants you to be healthy, wealthy, and wise, and if you had enough faith you'd never be sick. I'm like, "Are you reading your Bible?" Spiritual, good people die.
By the way, a bad way to judge whether or not somebody is teaching what God wants is to measure the size of their ministry and influence. Some of the largest churches in this country that people go, "Well, they must be doing what God wants. Look at the size of their ministry. God must be in that…" No. It's a lie that healthy things grow. Why is it a lie? Because it's only half the truth. The truth is it's not healthy things that grow; it's living things that grow.
Cancer is not healthy, but it grows and multiplies, rapidly, especially when you have people who want their ears tickled and accumulate for themselves teachers after their own desire, teachers who will not call sin sin and teachers who will not call surrender surrender and will not teach everything God said. That's what Jesus said. "Go and make disciples, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you."
Here's the deal. Some guys will say, "I know this gospel to preach. Hey, if you give to me, God is going to bless you, and one day you'll be a man of God like me and be as blessed as I am. The reason I drive a Mercedes…" By the way, I don't think you can judge a person's spiritual maturity by what kind of car they drive, but if you think you can, that's the problem.
If you think that accumulating for yourself more and more by exploiting people is what God wants you to do by people who are easily exploited, because in their instability they want what they want, and if God is going to give them what they want, they'll listen to you teach it… There are two kinds of people under false teachers: those who want what they're getting and will get what they deserve and people who are just untaught and unstable. Beware.
Look at who these guys are. Second Peter, chapter 2. I love this. I just want to comment on "these, like unreasoning animals." The word unreasoning is the word irrational. In Greek it's the word alogos. Logos was the immutable truth anchored in the heavens that the Greeks first introduced about 400 BC. They didn't know who it was or what it was. They didn't even know it was a who. It was just an idea.
They looked and saw that there were some fixed laws in the universe, not just mathematical laws or physical laws, but they went, "There are some spiritual laws, and if you jack with the Word," which encompassed all of those immutable truths, they said, "It is going to hurt you." Now they didn't know what the Word was or who the Word was.
That is why John, when he was writing in the late first century, grabbed this idea, which was trafficked among men, and said, "You guys want to know the Word? The Word is not just an idea; it's an individual. It's not just a proposition; it's a person, and I know the Word. In the beginning the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word is Jesus Christ, and he's the one you need to respond to. Anything contrary to life in intimate relationship with him will cost you everything."
That's what John introduced, but there were some alogos… Logos is the word for Word that captures that idea of truth and revelation. Have you ever been around somebody who is just ignorant, and you go, "Brother, come here"? Typically, they're 16. So you're talking to your teenage son, and you go, "Let me give you a word," which means, "You are acting irrationally and in an unreasonable way, and if you continue to do this, it will not go well with you. You are an irrational zoon." That's the word for animal. It's where we get the word zoo.
When you see the word zoon, it just means animal kingdom. It means you're not a plant. It means you have the ability to respond. What makes men unique is that we are not alogos zoons. When you run around an alogos zoon, an unreasoning animal, the only thing those things are good for is to be put in a zoo, where there is a thick piece of glass separating you from that gorilla that wants to peel you like a banana because he's annoyed that you keep pointing at him and tapping on the glass like the last 10,000 unreasoning zoons that walked by here.
Or that lion. He doesn't know you are something he shouldn't eat, so if he's hungry and you're there, that unreasoning animal is going to consume you. Guess what? That is a perfect picture of people separated from Jesus Christ. Some of you guys have run into alogos zoons, unreasoning animals. They are not plants; they are humans. Like I said, zoons are animals. They're giraffes, they're gorillas, they're lions, and they are Homo sapiens.
When you run into a human who is not informed by this inviolable grace and truth, they become self-seeking, self-serving, they are corrupted by lust, and they will destroy your life and your family. They are not safe to date. They are an absolute heartache if you marry them. They are going to be a source of slander if they are around you, and guess what? If a world is propagated by them and filled with them, you have a world that is marked by terror, which is exactly what you see happening.
You look around America today, because the church is filled with false teachers who either don't call sin sin or who are exploiting people for their own little insecure purposes, and what you have are a bunch of untrained people who aren't informed by the Word, and all of a sudden you have a nation of people who call themselves Christian who don't know who to call him and who to call her.
They are afraid to say anymore that it's better for kids to have a mom and a dad than two dads, two moms, or two moms and two dads. Because they are not taught to die to their flesh, they'll be false teachers and say, "God just wants you to be happy." By the way, that'll preach. I'm just telling you this. God wants you to follow him. He wants you to deny yourself. Jesus said, "If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and come after me."
He bids you come and die. He's not trafficking in the trash that happens at so many of these false-teaching churches, which is, "Hey, I'll tell you what. You don't have to come here and trust and obey. You don't have to discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. You just need to pray some magic prayer, some awesome power will come down on you, and in a moment you'll just march to varsity Christianity. Just rub a little of this worship experience, this ecstatic language, on your head, and you're on your way."
That placebo works for a while, but you will soon be disillusioned that your headache is still there, because you have not been transformed by truth. America is the most imprisoned country in the world and the most churched country in the world. Do you know why? Because we are fed and led by false teachers, so we have a bunch of unreasoning animals out there, and just like wild animals are good for one or two things…
You put them in the zoo and lock them up. You go look at them and are glad they can't come mess with you or you hunt them down and kill them because they are destroying people, because they say they represent God and they are working for the Enemy. It is the Enemy's teachers who say, "Why would God not want you to do it if he made you that way? That's not sin. That's just who you are."
It's false teachers who say, "Hey, don't come to God for who he is. You come to God for what he can give you." You come to God and pray that he would give you grace and forgiveness and redemption. He'll give you that. Then he says, "Now let's go fulfill my sufferings, and you be missional, and you don't just become some attender; you attend to my business. You must add to your knowledge of who I am self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and agape, self-denying, unconditional love. If you do that, you will be neither useless nor unfruitful."
Look at verse 17 of chapter 2. Guess what these guys were. They weren't just trampled springs; they were springs without water. They were useless. You're in a desert. You're thirsty. There's a mirage out there. It looks like there's going to be water. You get there, and there's nothing to refresh you. That's a false teacher. There was hope for a while, but when you get there it's gone.
They are mists driven by a storm. In other words, you're a farmer. It's an arid land. You see a cloud or a mist coming, but the wind just blows it by, and it does not refresh the earth. That's what a false teacher is. It holds promise for a while, but after a while you see it for what it is. They are men "for whom the black darkness has been reserved."
Verse 18: "For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape…" In other words, if you really know Christ, you will barely escape. It might be just like Lot escaped, ushered out at the last minute, and you'll have a smoky salvation. As it says in 1 Corinthians 3:15, you yourself will be saved, yet as one who passes through fire, because you sat under that teaching for a long time and never bore the fruit that you should, because all you had was false teaching that catered to your fleshly desires.
Second Peter 2:18 is letting you know that that's what these men are. They traffic in desires and tell people, "Hey, you come when you want. We're not going to really meddle in your life too much. We're not going to ask you to be equipped. We're not going to tell you that you're a kingdom of priests. You can just be church attenders. You don't need to attend to God's business."
If you're in a church that is not calling you to devote yourself daily to God's Word, pursue other believers relationally, and practice the "one anothers" of Scripture, where you live authentically, admonish faithfully, and counsel biblically so you can engage missionally while you're here, you are in a dead church under a false teacher, and all they want is your little tithe or your 2 percent, which is what most folks give, so they can keep the lights on and be validated by your presence. It is easy to have a church like that.
I said in the very beginning I couldn't care less how many people come to Watermark. I want a biblical church. I don't care how big it gets, but if it's biblical, I hope it takes over the entire world until the entire world is a logos zoon and not an alogos zoon…people who come and have reasoned with God, seen his Scripture, and are obedient to the full counsel and who are not afraid to speak the truth in love, who do it in a winsome way with their speech seasoned with salt, as it were, so it might give grace to those who hear it but who speak call sin sin and crazy crazy.
People say to me, "Can you believe that our world is going crazy?" I go, "Absolutely." It's because the church isn't making disciples, and it's because guys who have them come to their church say, "Well, this is loving. Let them go. Let them be" or "Hey, let them come. Let's get them to give." How about this? Verse 19: "…promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved."
What it's talking about is these false teachers. They tell you, "You're free to do whatever you want." Can I just tell you something? You are free to do whatever you want. I'm going to love you whether you sign off on radical obedience to Jesus Christ or not. I'm not going to love you more if you agree with me. You are free to do whatever you want, but you are not free to ask me to participate in your delusion and rebellion against God. I can't do it, because it's not loving.
False teachers will do that. They'll go, "What do you want? Do you want more? Give more and you'll get more. What do you want? For that not to be a sin? That's not a sin. We're going to be an ecumenical, loving, grace-filled community." Love without truth is not love. That's not grace-filled. Jesus was filled with grace and truth, and that doesn't mean he was grace sometimes, truth sometimes. It means he was always grace and always truth, and those two never contradict.
I will say it to you this way. When you talk about what freedom is… These guys offer freedom. "You're free to do what you want. Just come here. We're just going to love you." True freedom is not the right to do whatever you want to do but the freedom to want to do whatever is right. People think, "If I'm free, I can do whatever I want to do." That's not true freedom, because you're going to be enslaved to the lusts of your flesh.
You're going to be enslaved to a way that seems right to you, but in the end it's the way of death. Galatians 5 says, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free." True freedom is not the right to do whatever you want to do but the freedom to want to do whatever is right, that you might be set free. These guys promised freedom, but they themselves were slaves to corruption and lust.
They had eyes full of adultery. They look at you and see an opportunity for gain and their own pleasures being advanced…if not sexually, financially or famously. Every time you see a false teacher, you're going to see one of three things: someone is getting in bed, someone is putting stuff in the bank, or somebody is getting in power. Every time.
It says in verse 21, "For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them." What does that mean? Well, it means one of four things or it means all four of these things. First, if you're some guy who says you know God and you did not walk with God in an ongoing, abiding way…
When you rub that wax on your head and still have a headache, you're going to go, "Okay, well, I don't know what the solution to my life problem is, but it's not Jesus. I've been to church. I've heard teachers. I've given money. I didn't get rich. I had faith. I'm still sick, so I don't know where truth is, but it's not with Jesus." That's a problem.
By the way, you get some folks around these "fast track to spirituality" and "second blessing" churches, and you'll see a placebo effect when they first show up but, eventually, when they get sick and don't get healed, when they give and don't get rich, like the testimony about a heavenly wealth transfer, they check out and are bitter and scorned.
Some of you guys have gone to churches, and they act like alogos zoons, and you're like, "I'm never going back there, because I don't know where the truth is, but it's not with Jesus." Well, I will tell you, "Yes, it is." You just weren't running with Jesus' people who clothe themselves in humility, who needed grace and extended it, who sought forgiveness, made amends, and restored relationships, who when they were caught in false teaching or living repented.
Secondly, their false teachers are in worse case than they were before because of what Luke 12:48 says. When I was doing the Prep series, I talked to you about how the guy who knew the master's will and didn't do it is going to get more lashes than the guy who never knew his master's will. These are guys who trafficked in God's Word, represented God, and their teaching will be severe.
Thirdly, it's a bad deal because those guys are going to cause other people to suffer, and teachers incur stricter judgment. Fourthly, it's a bad deal because when you get around spiritual things and start doing stuff, what happens is you're no longer a prostitute or a pimp. You're no longer a drug addict. You clean yourself up because you have to look a certain kind of civil, but then after a while there's still death in you.
This is a classic story Jesus told in Matthew, chapter 12. It's a very confusing story. I'll tell it to you very quickly. There was a man with an unclean spirit, and it goes out of the man. It passes through, it says in the Scripture, waterless places, seeking rest, and it does not find it. So then it says, "Hey, I'm going to go back to the house I was in," and it'll take other spirits more wicked than itself, and they will go and live there…now seven of them, not just one…and it says, in that case, the last state of that man will be worse than the first.
Jesus told that story to the Pharisees. He said, "Look, you guys are no longer involved with child sacrifice, idolatry, and pagan practices, but you've reduced who I am and what a relationship with me looks like to external religious performance, but you have no love for God. You don't look like you're sick, you don't look like you need a messiah, but you need a messiah.
The reason the prostitutes and the mad men are following me is they know they need a messiah. You don't look like you do. People think you're righteous, but you're filled with pharisaical self-righteousness, piousness, and arrogance, and you are in a worse-case place, worse now than you were before, because it looks like you're spiritual, but you're not."
Here's the truth about false teachers. Because they're not sheep, they don't really get dirty and then get washed up. They don't make a false teaching and repent. They are false teachers. They will go back to their own corrupt desires, and they will never repent. They return to filth. They are pigs back to mud and dogs back to vomit. That's verse 22.
This has been a nasty message, so let me lighten it up. This here is a skateboard, and this is what kids used to get around on. It was fun. It would get you some places every now and then, but it was kind of hard. You had to stay on a little bit. The skateboard came and went when a thing called a Razor showed up. When kids got Razors, they would take that and say, "I'll go visit my buddy's house," because they could get on that little Razor and zip around.
They would just pound that thing and go on. Razors were kind of fun, and then they went, "Okay, let's go back to the skateboard idea, and let's just get rid of the Razor." Then they came up with this thing called the RipStik. Now the RipStik was happening, because it was a skateboard you never had to get off. You could just give that little Elvis leg, and you could go all the way out there and hang out with your buddies and have a lot of fun with that thing.
The problem with that is you'd have a hard time getting up a hill, so out in California and other places they came up with a longboard. Now the longboard could really make it happen. You'd get on that sucker and you could hum. Just one little stroke and you're gone. So longboards were awesome, and you didn't go back to a skateboard if you had a longboard. But to heck with the longboard. I don't know if you know this, but we're back to the future. We now have the hoverboard.
That longboard and that Razor are rusty. This bad boy right here is no longer used around the Wagner household, because my son wasted 300-something bucks on that thing. He said, "Dad, will you get me a hoverboard?" I go, "Absolutely not. You're a kid. Walk. Use your legs." But he saved his money, he bought that thing, and now I can't get him on a skateboard.
This is his buddy, who got one first, which is what made Camp want to get one. I can't get these two knuckleheads to walk anywhere. These are going to be the two most atrophied 12-year-old athletes in America. Camp, when I want you to do the dishes now, what do you do the dishes on? That. Hey, this is too much information. He uses that thing as a squatty potty. He's never off it.
When you're on a hoverboard, when you're walking differently, when you experience that, you don't go back to a little Penny board skateboard. There's a really interesting word in Scripture. It talks about to walk in the light. That means just your daily getting along, every little step. When you start to move with Jesus and see what real blessing and prosperity looks like, not tied to health or financial circumstances…
You're generous, but not so you can get something, but so you can see others get what you have, which is the gospel. You devote yourself daily, pursue people relationally, admonish faithfully, live authentically, counsel biblically, and engage missionally, because there is nothing like it. It changes people's eternities, and it has changed your now. For false teachers that isn't enough, because they love them some them. Not us if we know Jesus. We love our good, good Father.
Father, I thank you for the chance to say who you are in song and be reminded, as we sing a few words, that we are always better off following you and seeking you than we are serving and seeking ourselves. So, Lord, we pray for false teachers. We pray that when we are caught ourselves in false teaching that we would repent and return to you, that we would not return and live in filth because we love us and love our sin and love what gain could look like to us but that we love you.
There's a reason we gather in this room. It is to teach us and remind us of things that your men have preserved for us by the anointing and power of your Spirit through the giving of your Word and that we might celebrate again who you are so that we would love you. So we sing this short chorus together, that we would walk with our good, good Father, who is morally excellent, and we would add to that knowledge, and to that knowledge self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and the love of our good Father, amen.