Saturday, April 12, 2014

Of Wolves In Sheep's Clothing...

Denny Burk posted an interesting topic on his blog entitled,“How to identify false teachers.” I believe these points are right on target. In fact, they all point to the most serious problem in the church today: false teaching. Yet, this was just a common in the early church as it is today. We need to rightly divide the word of God in the days ahead. Yet, it is no mistake that there is already many false teachings and false Christ’s among us today. LDS, JW, Protestantism, and Catholicism all use the name of Jesus, yet there are clear flaws in every one of these religions.   

Denny Burk says...

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus that pastors must not only preach faithfully but also “refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). The idea is very simple. Pastoral ministry is not merely a building up, but also a tearing down. As Paul would say elsewhere, it involves tearing down every speculation and lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). To fail to do this is ministerial malpractice and harmful to God’s people.

There is a clear flaw in this statement alone...Since when is the elders of the early church and the modern hireling of "pastor" interchangeable? The pastoral ministry is not exactly the same as the apostles appointing elders who were qualified (1 Tim 3:1-5; Titus 1:5-9) to “refute those who contradict”. These men were not young men  fresh out of seminary. In fact, Paul warns Timothy that novices are prone to pride (a very serious problem in the pastoral ministry). 
  1 Timothy 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Also, I think it is a stretch to compare the modern pastoral system with apostle appointed elders. It was a church that relied heavily on the power of the Holy Spirit and not on traditions of men. EVERY believer is called to rightly divide the word of God in truth. EVERY believer should test everything to the word of God. This includes testing every word that comes from the pulpit.This includes testing minitries, websites, and blogs...mine included. If I am error, I need to know...I want to know.

Some of these flaws are evident, yet some are so subtle and hidden that very few are able to discern the truth…or rather; they seek to remain blind to the truth. This is not a lack of spiritual discernment among the body as it is a reluctance to exchange spiritual wisdom with traditions of men. Pride in self, and lack of humility usually elevates man above God. If tradition trumps truth, then it is a good bet there are major problems. The fact that there are thousands of congregations in Protestantism alone is a clue that there is division on some level.

Yet, I believe we can narrow this problem down to a few major traditions that have crept into the church unawares. One is the tradition of priests, bishops, and presbyters of the Catholicism running along side the tradition of pastors, ministers, and clergy of the Protestantism. Another is the substitute of God’s word as the standard of everyday living to reliance in human philosophy, scholasticism, and the institution of universities. These two traditions combined over the years. Universities (Oxford, Princeton, Harvard, Yale…) that taught clergy with a reliance to scripture soon faded into apostasy. “Bible” colleges and seminaries replaced these human institutions, only to see over the last century these too are slowly fading into apostasy.

The last and greatest problem is what the church has done to and continues to do with marriage. Traditions of men have greatly influenced marriage. It is no mystery that marriage has always been under attack. It started at the very beginning and continues today. Never mind the push for same-sex marriage.  What about divorce and remarriage?  What is glaringly painful is that most churches in the western world teach that divorce is an option and remarriage is not adultery. This teaching is so widely accepted that the world notices the hypocrisy of a church that pleads for the sanctity of marriage, yet divorces and remarries at the same rate of the unbeliever.How can a pastor claim that marriage is a sacred covenant and the same time recognizes divorce and remarriage?      

1. False teachers contradict sound doctrine.

Consider that most pastors preach false doctrine on what Jesus and Paul wrote concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage. In fact, they use scripture that contradicts other scripture to promote divorce and remarriage. Case in point is saying that Matthew 19:9 and 1 Cor 7:15 allow for divorce and remarriage yet this exegete of scripture would contradict Luke 16:18 and 1 Cor 7:10,11 respectively. It also stands in contrast to Romans 7:2,3 and 1 Cor 7:39. Perhaps the biggest obstacle is comparing divorce and remarriage to what Jesus says about the one flesh marriage covenant…Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 

Scripture points to the permanence of the one-flesh marriage covenant which only ends in death. Unfortunately, the loopholes to divorce and remarriage have expanded over the recent decades from the popular “exception clause” and the abandonment of the unbeliever, to spousal abuse, incompatibility, financial woes, lust, and no-fault divorce. Then there is the redefinition of marriage itself…same-sex marriage comes to mind. This twisting of scripture concerning the permanence of marriage aligns with the first of the characteristics of a false teacher.

2. False teachers promote immoral living.

The second characteristic aligns with men who crept into the church as remarried individuals themselves. Endorsing remarriage and not calling it adultery is akin to the homosexual Christian that believes God allows him or her to remain, as they are…Consider that very few churches bat an eye when it comes to allowing membership for remarried couples. Dare we ask a remarried couple if their divorce from their first covenant spouse was lawful? Should we consider that the “remarriage” is really a marriage? Instead of remaining in singleness to restore a marriage there is a reason to divorce and remarry someone else as if our vows had not power. Never mind that God wants to make us holy as individuals and not happy, and that God designed marriage to make couples holy and not happy. 

I have heard that some call divorce a necessity…Really?!? I thought God hates divorce (Mal 2:13-16) and that the Lord Jesus Christ said that Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts (Matthew 19:8 , Mark 10:5)…Unless of course you can change what Jesus said to mean that you may divorce a hardhearted spouse. Tell me, what blood bought believer divorces and then remarries someone else while they have a living spouse? I truly believe divorce and remarriage have everything to do with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. God wants us to call sin for what it is and forgive, repent, and reconcile within the one-flesh marriage covenant because He gives us no other options. Adultery is immoral living, and remarriage adultery is no exception.

3. False teachers deemphasize sin and judgment.

Then the third characteristic points these first two in perspective. Is remarriage adultery if first covenant spouse is still living? If so, are there consequences if there is no repentance of this sin?

Heb 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

You say, what if she is divorced…That would contradict 1 Cor 7:10,11, would it not?
Here comes the deemphasizing the sin part. First, we hear that divorce is not a sin, and neither is remarriage if a person has grounds to divorce. What are the grounds? Scripture is clear that death is the only grounds to get married again because divorce never ends a marriage.

1 Cor 7:39The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

The Lord Jesus Christ says that whosoever puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever married her that is put away from her husband commits adultery. If we rightly divide the word of truth, remarriage for whatever reason is adultery. This is not a one-time act of adultery; it is the permanence of adultery until the breaking of the union. Deemphasizing that remarriage is not adultery could have very bad consequences. Yet, this is what the majority believes. Thousands believe God blesses their remarriage. They call their divorce a blessing. How can remarriage be the sin of adultery if God blesses the remarriage? How can there be judgment? Consider there are no ramifications, penalties, or convictions for adultery. This not only includes those who perpetrate adultery, it includes those who live in adultery remarriage believing it is anything other than sin.

1 Cor 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

 4. False teachers are motivated by greed or selfish gain.  

Does this come into play in a divorce and remarriage? You bet your bottom dollar it does. Most marriages end over financial woes brought on by couples who live well beyond their means. If a marriage is headed to financial bankruptcy, the grass seems greener on the other side. Many opt out of marriage because their spouse could not keep a job, or one or both spouses shot up the credit cards behind the others spouse’s back. This seems that the couple lived beyond their means and loved the world more than God...  

Combine this with pastors who make a living off the number of congregants in the pews. If they preach the truth about marriage, divorce, and remarriage, they stand to lose over half of those in attendance. This includes the cohabitants that remain single yet fornicate while living together. Remarriage is more revenue, especially if the remarriage ceremony is held in the church building.

 Divorce also brings one or both back to church in order to seek healing. Some churches provide divorce recovery ministries that often bring more hurting people into the pews, yet these ministries provide less than sound doctrine on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Certainly, there is a need for divorce ministries, yet they should focus on singleness and the hope to restore the marriage. Unfortunately, the church provides a haven for the divorcees to search for another divorcee so that they can remarry.

5. False teachers cause division.

The division of divorce is catastrophic. Consider the many divorces and remarriages and the division of children, families, co-workers, and friends. Then consider the division among the body of Christ. There are many who believe in the permanence of marriage, yet will not say a word against divorce and remarriage less they create division. Who causes the division? Those who mishandle, misinterpret, and misquote scripture concerning divorce and remarriage cause division.

6. False teachers resemble the flock.

If the pastors is divorced and remarried themselves, the fruit is plain to see. This says more about the pastor/clergy system and the many problems that plague this “tradition of men.” A pastor believes they are elevated or ordained above the clergy, but the truth be told they have just exited the flock and entered the tradition of men. I will never say there are not godly men in the pastoral ministry; I am saying the pastoral ministry is not the answer to church polity. A simple way to find out if your pastor is a false teacher in this area is to ask them what they believe about marriage, divorce, and remarriage. If you tell them that you believe marriage is a permanent one-flesh covenant until death, and they disagree with you, they need to defend this with adequate scripture that displays the truth and grace of Christ.

That is the problem. No one can provide scripture that SUPPORTS divorce and remarriage because they first must explain why a spouse disregards the scripture to remain in a marriage vow they made before God. Nearly every pastor and biblical scholar will say, “Marriage is a covenant vow and God desires that this union stay together until death.” Yet in the same paragraph, they will say that God provides a way out and a reason to remarry if your spouse breaks his or her covenant. Why even get married or make a vow in marriage if there is reason to believe that death is not the only way to leave, break, or end a marriage?  

 God’s covenant to us intertwines perfectly with the marriage covenant. A pastor who disregards the marriage covenant for the sake of the individual who believes he or she can break their covenant marriage vow is a wolf among sheep and nothing more. They may not realize that they are a wolf because they only teach what they learned in seminary, or what they grew up to believe was true.

 I have been there, done that. I too fell for the lies of divorce and remarriage. I believed a pastor instead of the word of God. What made me see the light? It was the word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. It was my brokenness and repentance of the sin of adultery. We need to abandon traditions for the sake of the Gospel. Humility is the only way God can do His best work in us. Marriage is and always will be God’s design and He alone sets the conditions and standards there of. If we enter into a vow of marriage and we do not keep that vow until death, He will hold us responsible. As for the person or person’s who led us astray…they have followed the traditions of men and loved the world more than they loved God. It is best we not follow their lead.

Perhaps James speaks loudly to the state of the church today…a church that gave into the traditions of men and became friends with the world. Today’s denominations think nothing of mixing culture with worship. It is those among the body who loved tradition more than the word of God and the fear of God is replaced by appealing to men. There is time to repent of false teaching and it starts with the clear teaching of marriage. James uses clear words to those who love the world more than they love God, and these words echo more truth than many will care to recognize.     

James 4 :4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

In Christ's love,


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