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1723. How To Spot a False Teacher

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
March 6, 2024 6:00 pm

1723. How To Spot a False Teacher

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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March 6, 2024 6:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit continues a discipleship series entitled “Truth and Love” from 1 John.

The post 1723. How To Spot a False Teacher appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.


Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. His intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything so he established daily chapel services.

Today, that tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from the University Chapel platform. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit is continuing a study series entitled Truth and Love. Let's listen to today's message from 1 John 4, 1 through 6. The title of the message is How to Spot a False Teacher.

Well, I'm going to ask you to take your Bibles please and turn with me to 1 John chapter 4 this morning, 1 John chapter 4. Think of these words, spies, intrigue, deceit, undercover, double agents, espionage. Well, these are the kind of words that make up for a very exciting movie, but these are also words that speak of a shocking reality. You may not know this, but it is estimated that there are more spies in Washington, D.C. today than ever before in history. It is estimated that there are 10,000 spies right now in Washington, D.C.

Think about that. That is if you look at the population for every 72 people, at least one of them is a spy in Washington, D.C. It's kind of crazy if you think about it, but we also know that their impact can be very, very devastating. We're studying this semester from 1 John chapter 4 on the theme of truth and love, and in the first six verses of chapter 4, John is addressing from the standpoint of truth the reality of false teachers. These are those who have come into the church secretly, like secret agents, and deceitfully coming to corrupt and to devastate the people of God. Therefore, out of a concern for God's people, out of love, John seeks to expose false teachers. My message this morning is entitled, How to Spot a False Teacher, and John really gives that to us here as we begin reading in verse 1. He said, Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. And this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.

They are of the world. Therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God, and he that knoweth God heareth us. He that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the Spirit of truth and the Spirit of error. If you'll notice the first word in verse 2, it says, and hereby.

Literally it can be translated, here is how you know. What is he doing? He's telling us how to spot a false teacher. And as we go back in understanding the purpose of 1 John that we've taken time to talk about, John was concerned about the fact that they were risen up in the church false teachers. They had left the church, gone out, started their own ministries, and they were having a great effect in their day. Of such a nature that was even confusing the people of God, and so he writes the book to confirm in the hearts of the people of God that they really were God's people, and that John truly was an apostle, and that these are false teachers.

So the question is, how do you spot a false teacher? Well, John is using here a very interesting writing technique. We call these bookends because he is focusing on this issue. The first bookend is found in chapter in verse 2, the first part when he says, Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. If you look at the end of verse 6, it says, Hereby know we the Spirit of error and the Spirit of truth. So what we find is between these two bookends, John is giving us two all-inclusive, comprehensive tests to be able to discern between truth and error. So how can we be discerning? What are those tests?

Here they are. Number one, test one is, what are they, that is the false teachers, what are they saying about Jesus Christ? Look at what he says here in verse 2, Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus is come in the flesh is of God. The word confession is what we're doing in the affirmation of our creed every day, is an outward expression of our inward faith. It is an open, forthright declaration of your belief. True believers are willing to speak the truth and be declarative. If he does not confess then that Jesus has come in the flesh, then it can be said conclusively he's not from God. Notice what he says, And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.

So we can say it this way, it's a cut and dry black and white matter. So what is the meaning then when he says Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, and that's what a true believer confesses. Three things. Number one, it means that Jesus Christ came into the world as was planned by God. It's like planning an event with a special invited guest.

A date is set, invitations are sent out like a wedding. So Jesus is coming into the world was the fulfillment of a planned event. And we know this because the whole Old Testament was written to explain that planned event.

Think about it. The whole Old Testament is a series of promises of prophecies and of pictures that the Old Testament foretells of a coming special one, a chosen one, a Messiah who is coming as planned. We know that John the Baptist was the announcer of Jesus's coming. He said, prepare ye the way of the Lord that is get ready for the one who is coming is coming according to God's plan. We know Paul writes this in Galatians four verse four when he says, but when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his son made of a woman. So Jesus's coming in the flesh means that he came into the world as was eternally planned by God. This was God's purpose. Then secondly, it means that when Jesus Christ came, he became something different from what he was before he came.

It's almost a little bit of a play on words. Jesus existed before he existed. He preexisted. He existed in an eternal state. But when Jesus came into the world, he came into, you could say it this way, a union between what Jesus was in his preexisting state as divine and at the same time, he came into a human state.

John describes it this way. He said in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. And then he says in John 1 14 and the word was made flesh. In other words, the divine one became a human one.

What do we call this? We confess it in our creed, the incarnation and virgin birth of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. So the word preexisted as God and became a man in the incarnation.

This is what Isaiah prophesied in chapter seven and verse four. He said, behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and she shall call and shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted means God with us. So when we preach about Christ in his confession, we're talking about the preexisting son who became a human who took on human flesh through an incarnation. That is, he became one of us.

And then the third thing I want to say is this. It means that when Jesus came into the world as a human being, Jesus is still a human being. Go back and look at what it says in your text.

It says that it speaks about the fact that he is come into the world or is come in the flesh is of God. The word come is not in an heiress tense. That is something that takes place at a point in time. It's not in the present tense. It's actually in the perfect tense.

What does that mean? It's referring to a past event that has continuing results for today. In other words, when Jesus came into the world at his birth, he became a human being. He came in the flesh. And because it's in the perfect tense, it means he is still in the flesh.

Jesus is still a human being, divine and human, in the flesh. And how we know that? We know that because of his resurrection. He resurrected from the dead. We know that because of his ascension.

He went into heaven. We know that according to the Old Testament that he actually sat down at the Father's right hand, and he is now living, ever living to make intercession. So his resurrection, his ascension, and his intercession. It means that Jesus Christ is our representative, the God-man, our mediator, and he is in heaven right now interceding and praying in our behalf.

So what's John's point? He says every spirit that confesses this, that is preaches this, is of God. And he's talking about two things here as he's describing the false teacher.

He's talking about the content of the message, and he is talking about the intent of the messenger. When we talk about the content of the message, we're talking about what he preaches about. Somebody that's from God, how do you know he's from God? What does he preach about? He preaches about Jesus. Jesus is God incarnate. Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life as a human being. Jesus became our atoning sacrifice through his bloody death on the cross. Jesus bodily rose from the grave, triumphing over sin and death. Jesus became our mediator, our high priest.

This is at the very heart and core of our faith. This is not a side issue. This is not a secondary issue.

This is the main issue. So in discerning truth in error, you have to listen to what the teacher is saying about Jesus. What does he believe? And contrast that, for example, to the Jewish claim about Jesus. What do they claim? They claim that Jesus was a human, but he was not divine, and he was not the Messiah. What does the Islamic faith claim? They claim that Jesus was a prophet.

Fact is, they would say he was the greatest of all prophets, but he is not divine. What does the Jehovah's Witness claim? That Jesus is Michael, the highest archangel in human form, and he's not the son of God. What do the Mormons claim? They claim that Jesus and Satan were spirit brothers and sons of God. What does the Catholic church claim?

They claim that Mary is a mediator and a co-redeemer with Jesus. And I want to say there is only one redeemer. Only one. Only one perfect human being who was perfectly divine, who lived a perfect sinless life, who died on the cross and shed his blood so that you and I could be saved. There is only one redeemer.

He holds no equals with him. So when we confess that he came in the flesh, we are acknowledging the union of the divine and the human in the person of Jesus. So that's the content of the message. But also we have to understand the intent of the message. In other words, what is the focus of his message? So in discerning truth from error, you must not only listen to what the teacher is saying about Jesus, you have to also listen to what he is emphasizing about Jesus.

So here's the question. Is the core of his message, is his core message being constantly proclaimed? In other words, is it just something he does rarely and preaches about other stuff? Does he consistently teach the major themes about Jesus?

Do you hear about his deity, his incarnation, the sinfulness and depravity of man, the nature of the atonement of Jesus, the necessity of the new birth, the call to repentance and faith? A false teacher may deny these truths, but more likely a false teacher is more subtle and therefore more dangerous. Since they are within the confessing church, they don't really deny these truths because if you just blatantly denied them, you'd be thrown out. Instead, they de-emphasize or they neglect these core truths. They relegate, they marginalize these truths to a secondary level of importance instead of being the heart and the core of the message.

Does that make sense? In other words, instead of preaching the main things, they set those aside and they preach other things. I want to read to you a quote from a very, very well-known preacher. I'll tell you his name at the end of this. And I want you to listen to what he says. He said, one of the challenging things about the Christmas season and one of the challenging things about the Christmas story is in fact the Christmas story. He said the Christmas story as it relates to the birth of Jesus because there is so much miraculous, there's so much amazing, and there's so much that's unbelievable about it and a whole lot of people just don't believe. And I understand that.

He goes on and continues. He says maybe the thought is that they had to come up with some myth about the birth of Jesus to give him street cred later on. It's interesting because Matthew gives us a version of the birth of Jesus. Luke does, but Mark and John don't even mention it. And a lot of people have made a lot of that. And you have heard me say some version of this a million times, but if somebody can predict their own death and resurrection, I'm not all that concerned about how they got into the world because the whole resurrection thing is so amazing.

And in fact, you should know this. Christianity does not hinge on the truth or even the stories about the birth of Jesus. It hinges on the resurrection of Jesus. Now how many of you would say that sounds funny to me? Raise your hand. It should sound funny to all of you.

How many of you say it sounds really wrong to you? Raise your hand. Yeah, that's even better. Because let me tell you something. If there was no virgin birth of the Son of God, then God did not come to planet Earth. Because there are plenty of people in the Bible who died and rose from the dead, but they were not the divine Son of God.

You ever heard of a guy named Lazarus? The resurrection from the dead is a part of the whole Gospel story, but you can't deny the virgin birth. This was from a preacher in Atlanta, Georgia named Andy Stanley. Now, I'm not calling him out.

I'm just saying this is what he said. John declares that these teachers are energized by a different spirit. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ has come to the flesh is not of God. And this is that spirit of antichrist where you have heard that it should come and even now already is in the world. You know, John is so cut and dry.

It's just like real straightforward. And John warns us about a spirit that stands in hostile opposition to Jesus called the antichrist. The antichrist is a literal figure whose coming was prophesied throughout the New Testament. This was a part of the regular teaching of the early church. However, before the literal coming of the antichrist, his spirit will be active and influential in the world through false teachers.

And even now already is it in the world, he says. So this is a warning of huge proportions, because it tells of an active presence of an evil going on in the church through what is being said. So all of us must be discerning. We know the truth, we understand the truth, and we can tell if the truth is being preached.

But then there's a second test, and let me quickly go to that. And that is not only are what they sang about Jesus, but number two, who is listening to them? Look at verse five of chapter four. He says, they, the false prophets are of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and the world hears them. John's second test is what crowd does the prophet attract? In other words, who is listening to whom?

You remember? That the believers in the church were confused because people had left and they'd gone out preaching this message and they had stayed in the church and they really weren't listening to the others, but they were listening to John the apostle and what they were teaching. John is obviously a true apostle. His message appeals to the hearts of those who've been born again.

Because those who have the new life are going to be drawn to and satisfied with the word of God in anything that is Christ-centric. John's message attracts those who've been redeemed. However, the world is attracted to the message of the false teachers. So what is their message? Well, John declares that the false teacher derives his message from the world. That is, the teaching of a false prophet finds his origin in the philosophy and the language of the contemporary world. His message is formulated and manipulated to fit the world's way of thinking. You can say it's modernized.

It doesn't mean that spiritual truth is not included, but it is crafted in such a way that the focus is not towards the glory of God but towards the selfless interest of fallen people. Here are titles of books written by Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now. Man, I'd love to have my best life now. Believe me. He says, become a better you. I mean, who doesn't want to become a better you? I would like to be a better Steve.

I mean, really, I would. To the careful listener, it becomes clear that the message is not intended to expose the depravity of man's nature or slay the pride and self-righteousness of men. Jesus is not being exalted as the Lamb of God who suffered a bloody death penalty to atone for our sins.

That's not the message. Absent from the sermons are things like you have to be born again or except you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Instead, the message appeals to the carnal appetites of the world and allows people to live comfortably in their unregenerate state. Everybody is looking for a religion where they can live in sin and go to heaven. In the end, the gospel is twisted and distorted in such a way that people are not hearing the true salvation message at all.

They're not getting pure water. One writer, F.F. Bruce said, there's no form of worldliness so hostile and harmful to Christianity as the kind of restatement of the gospel. Instead of stating it as it is, it's sort of restated. So why is the world attracted to this kind of ministry? Because they speak their language.

Look at verse five. They are the world, therefore speak they of the world and the world hears them. Oftentimes these ministries grow and expand quickly because these teachers have a powerful influence over the minds of people.

Their success is measured by worldly standards, visible standards. Sadly, naive disciples are drawn into these kinds of ministries because of a spiritual shallowness. They don't know God's word very well and a lack of discernment. Now this is not to say that the gospel doesn't draw large crowds. Jesus did. John the Baptist did. In times of revival, people are brought to personal faith in Jesus through the fervent preaching of the cross and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God moves.

He works. However, this kind of ministry is not likely to find the kind of popularity in the contemporary world as the false teachers receive. And considering this, as we finish, John encourages believers by saying that they've overcome the world. Why did he write this? He wrote this for the people of God. The people of God who were truly born again, they really did follow John. They really did believe the doctrines of biblical Christianity.

And what does he say? He says, you are of God, little children, and you have overcome them because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. When you put your faith in the true gospel, this is when you overcome false teaching. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.

If you can say it this way, being converted is the experience of victory. The victory has ongoing ramifications as you sit under the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the word of God being taught, you're able to overcome false teachers. As you test and discern the spirit of truth from the spirit of error, you overcome false teachers. An overcoming faith continues to overcome by faith. And so John writes the people of his day as they're surrounded by false teachers.

And he tells them, you have overcome through your confession of faith in Jesus Christ. And therefore he is encouraging us and warming our hearts that we really are his children. So be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Think about it, a cobra and a dove.

They're kind of different, aren't they? But we should be wise and we should be humble and be thankful that God has allowed us to come into the truth. Father, thank you for your word. Thank you for the things that we're learning in chapel. Help us to grow in grace in Jesus' name.

Amen. You've been listening to a sermon from the book of 1 John by Dr. Steve Pettit. If you would like more information about how the biblical principles of creation, fall and redemption are applied in Christian education, we would like to make you aware of the textbook division of Bob Jones University called BJU Press. BJU Press produces textbooks and educational materials for preschool through 12th grade. And the textbooks are filled with biblical worldview integration, not just in the Bible course textbooks, but in all academic subjects. As stated on their website, we shape each subject according to the lens of scripture. Each discipline takes on a new meaning when we apply the themes of creation, fall and redemption. If you would like more information about BJU Press for both Christian schools and home schools, go to slash about where you can find out more about how biblical worldview, academic rigor and critical thinking is integrated into all of their textbooks and classroom material. Once again, that's slash about. Thanks again for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in 1 John on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-06 22:52:33 / 2024-03-06 23:01:52 / 9

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