Are you disturbed by the prevalence of so many false teachers in our day? Listen to the radio, watch the television preachers, listen to those who preach in buses, go to most of the churches in this city and all over the world… it is deplorable and disgusting that many of those of those who speak in the name of God are false! One can very easily conclude that there is no one preaching the truths of the Bible! Do not be tempted to go the Elijah way and conclude that you are the only one who has not bowed to Baal. God has promised us that He has many who are His and this is the reason why are we are to ask this evening, what is our role in combating the false teaching of our day? Have ever wondered if there is anything you could do to deal with the false teachers and teachings of our day? What is the remedy and strategy given in the Bible as the manner of combating false teachers and their false teachings?
One of the basic reason why the church has to have godly leaders on the eldership, who are sound doctrine and so hold firm to the trustworthy Word as taught, is so that they may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it. The elders have to be able and willing to combat false teachers and their wicked teachings, if they will be faithful stewards of the church of God. No one should aspire to the office of the elder, if he does not have the spine or the guts to do this murky work. While you are appointing the elders to the church we have to be sure that he is a man who is able and committed to this task. You notice that there are many false teachers. Therefore, there must be many more elders who bring sound teaching to deal both with the errant and their errors.
The passage before us seeks to expose these false teachers – their identity and character as well as the influence they have on people. It also exposes the basic tenets of false teachings and its foundations are shaken. And finally we are given the manner in which we are to deal with these menace. Clearly, the Lord has not tell us to remain idle or silent on the ground that everyone has a right to express himself, has He? He has given us this word so that we may not only know who are false teachers and what falsehood they propagate, but He has given us clear instructions on how we are to deal with these liars, before He ultimately deals with them.
Their character (v.10,12):Paul describes them as insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers. This means that they are rebellious, they refuse to submit to the trustworthy word. They instead talk empty words, they are full of big and astounding promises which come to nothing, they are full of fruitless teachings. Unproductive talking so that even if you sit down with them, you rise up with nothing of substance that you can remember although you might have spent your full day! Even worse that empty talking, they deceive. They lie and cheat and con people! This is verified by their own poet whom they had given the title of a prophet and so Paul calls him a prophet as they did.
He said that that always liars! Their lies were every time they opened up their vile mouths. They make big claims for themselves, as being apostles and prophets. They claim big titles for themselves such as reverends and bishops and dress, and dress in a way that will deceive people. Furthermore, they were lazy-gluttons! What a contradictory character of people who want to eat and yet not work! Such must not eat as God has said he who does not work must not eat.
Their identity (v.10, 14): These people belong to the circumcision party. So the false teachers were Jewish, not the Judaizers who were arguing that circumcision was necessary for salvation (Acts 15:1) because these were sincere. These were people bent on deceiving others, by teaching Jewish myths and endless genealogies (1Tim 1:4). This helps us to know their identity as Jews.
Their motivation (v.11):Their basic motivation to the work they do is not to preach Christ or the gospel. These people are motivated by shameful gain. The basic reason for so many false teachers is not to honor Christ, it is not win souls to Christ, it is not because they would like to see sinners converted by Christ, by His gospel and conveyed to His kingdom of light. That is far from the truth. The truth is that they want to draw as many as possible to themselves, so that they can have them give as much as possible in order to enrich themselves. Why do they many of them preach error, it is to provide for themselves a quick means to gain.
True, there are many who are sincerely deceived, and we know that the Lord will deliver them. But there are many more who are doing it as a profession in order to make money. The effect of this is that they are upsetting many families. Many families have been torn apart by the greed of these false teachers. Be on your guard for people who have unending demands for money. Watch out for those who flash their M-pesa lines bank accounts so that you can send them money. Do not even listen to them, otherwise they may make a wonderful promise that you will struggle to resist, and then you will be in their hook!
Their end (v.16): Since they are neither subject to the Chief-Shepherd nor to His Word, they are false or foreign to His church, impostors who are leopards in sheep’s-clothing. Therefore they have to be unclothed! Their lies and deception has to be exposed, you have to know them and we are supposed to do everything to unveil their identity as deceivers who must not speak in the name of the Lord. Thankfully, the Lord has promised in His word, “they will not get far, for their folly will be plain to all…” (2Tim. 3:9).Clearly, they are unfit for any good work andtheir teachings are futile (1Tim 1:6). Do you notice many of the churches that have come up they have no confession of faith, they do not follow a traditionally accepted doctrine – their pastors invent their doctrines in the pulpit! Beware!
This passage seeks to help us expose the errors of false teaching by giving us threefold test to the teachings we here.
a) Theyemphasize the commands of people (v.14)
First of these people have many commands that appear to be from the Bible. But they are not. Secondly, their commands are from human origin – following traditions of men. They tell their hearers, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” and all these in reference to thing that all perish as they are used like food, clothing, places etc. according to human precepts and teachings. (Col. 2:21-22). The point is that these are commands of people and not of God. They emphasize blessings that their hearers could get from preachers (themselves as the ‘servants’ or ‘men of God’) if you could meet some conditions that they set and with the same breath, threaten with curses if you do not follow the recipe that they provide! Is this familiar?
You notice that in devoting themselves to commands, myths and superstitions construed by people, in effect, they turn away from the truth. People who are ever talking about what so and so said, whether from a vision or dream or revelation, reject the word of God of God. First because the place words of men at the same level with the Word of God and also because their attention is to the words of men rather than God.
b) They have false understanding of purity (v. 15)
These people who have much to say from men invent their own form of godliness. The reason is because both their minds (what they know and believe) and consciences (what they will and are able to do) are defiled, or corrupted and so unfit or unacceptable.Their understanding of holiness is not the biblical one, although they might talk about holiness as if they know what they are talking about. God’s word says, “These have indeed the appearance of wisdom in promoting self made religion and asceticism and severity of the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Col. 2::23)
Because they are defiled, nothing is pure to them, they think that the problem is what they eat or touch or handle. They look at food, places and things as agents of sin. The truth is that what defiles a person comes from the heart: things like evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy slander, pride, foolishness – all these are from within and defile a person (Mark 7:21-22) – sin is internal, in the heart and this is the problem. What defiles a person is not external. Since they have an erroneous understanding of sin they fail to have the right understanding of holiness and purity.
c) The profess to know God, but deny Him by their actions (v.16)
All false teachers do not do what they teach – they are hypocrites. They even act contrary to their own consciences and knowledge. They live a lie because they do not have the light of dawn, of the word and the testimony. Their lives are characterized by this violent division of creed and conduct – what they say is not what they are, their words and deeds do not march – they profess God in word but deny Him in deed. Their faith is a dead faith since good works does not accompany it.
John Stott provides a very good conclusion regarding false teachers and their disciples. He says that we have to ask three questions about it.
· First, is its origin divine or human, tradition or revelation?
· Secondly, is its essence inward or outward, spiritual or ritual?
· Thirdly, is its result a transformed life or merely a formal creed?
True religion is divine in its origin, spiritual in its essence and moral in its effect.
There are two ways prescribed here of how we are to deal with the false teachers. In both ways, their erroneous teaching has to be impacted. You cannot divide the false teachers and their false teachings and so whatever you have to do has to impact both. Undoubtedly, Christian leaders must not tolerate such.
a) They must be silenced (v. 11)
With such dangerous men purporting to speak for God, in His name, using His word, enriching themselves to the detriment of whole families being destroyed, we have to get together to do what we must do to stop them. The way to stop them is silence them. Their mouths have to be muzzled. A gag is what will help the situation because laissez-fare will not do. There is a need for the church to have leaders who will rise up to stop them from continuing to do what they are doing. By teaching things they ought no to teach, there are ruining the households. When they demand money from people, there families who go angry and yet others end up in great debts. But it is even worse than that because, eternal destiny of people is affected by teaching them things that do not bring any eternal profit but bring eternal ruin to people. This is the reason why we cannot remain unmoved.
The basic way provided in the passage on how to silence them is by having elders who hold firm to the trustworthy word and so are able to rebuke those who contradict them. Truthful teaching has to be preached far and wide. Elders who are able have to deal with the false teachers. In church history we know of such godly men like Augustine of Hippo who dealt with the false teaching of Arius in the 4th century, Asahel Nettleton who dealt with Charles Finney in the 18th Century, etc. we are to be concerned to publish the truth far and wide, by raising faithful men who are to take the gospel farther. This is our aim in the Pastors’ Theological Course. It is our prayer that the Lord may be pleased to bring more to be taught, and add more teachers to instruct the students in sound teaching. The church has to be very quick and active in raising preachers.
But the passage does not tell us exactly how to stop them although the rest of the Scripture has something to say about it. In 3:10, Paul instructs Titus, “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once, and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.The first thing to with those in error is to warn them and admonish them so that they may be won over by truth. If he refuses, he must be sharply reprimanded and told to desist and if he persists then he has to be disciplined by the church and be handed over to Satan (1Tim. 1:20).
I am persuaded that the best manner to deal with the prevailing false teaching is by being more vocal in making the true gospel known in this city and beyond. I have been praying that the Lord may make it possible for us to get into the media by having our own radio broadcasting station, so that we could propagate the truths of the Word of God far and wide.
b) They must be rebuked sharply (v. 13)
False teachers have to be rebuked sharply or decisively by the elders, when the Lord provides the opportunity. A sharp rebuke is the dose recommended by the Lord for false teachers. Such a rebuke will get through them. We must not give them an opportunity or tolerate them at all. How can they become what they are not if no one is going to withstand them to the face and tell them that they actions are unacceptable? This is done out of concern for them and their hearers. They have to change in respect to the truth, they have to stop saying and teaching what they are teaching and we must do all we can to admonish them who come our way. One day I was in a bust where a man was preaching false teaching and afterwards he came to sit by where I was and I got the chance to tell him that if he wants to preach, then he has to use the Bible and not his own imaginations! Though he did not like it, I told him.
v We must not give up the false teachers as no one is beyond the reach of the grace of God – there is hope for them because God is very gracious and patient with people. Paul told Timothy that the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2Tim. 2:24-26).It is my prayer that the Lord may help us all to be exactly like this so that the Lord may bring even false teachers under the authority of His Word, and under the lordship of Christ.
v This evening we rejoice that the Lord has granted us a church that is committed to the Word of God. This is not something that we should take for granted there are many people who are looking for a church that is founded on the Word of God. The many people who have come to this church from other churches are a witness to what they have gone through.
v Please pray for us in the eldership that the Lord may help us to remain faithful to the word of God – first of all to preach nothing but the truth of the Word of God to you. secondly, that we may be ever willing to rebuke and silence those who contradict the word of truth. And thirdly, to be able to identify and raise faithful men who are able to pass the truths of the word of God to others so that there will be continuity and propagation of the truths of the word in this city, in this country and beyond.
v Let us be willing to give ourselves fully to combat the false teachers and their teachings by investing our time and resources towards the propagation of the knowledge of the truth that accords to godliness. Prayerfully consider what we as a church should do to combat the false teachers and teachings and be supportive. Meanwhile, our commitment is to the gospel and the preaching of truth because the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2Cor. 10:4-6)