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Not only do false teachers have Bible knowledge, they have a stage in which they seem to repent and grow as a result of what they know. There is a process in becoming a false teacher. There is a progression that leads to someone becoming a false teacher. If we understand how false teachers develop it will enable us to identify and guard ourselves against them.
....In the first two stages of false teachers they may seem to be normal, or perhaps ever super charged people in the church. They are growing in knowledge and it appears that God is transforming them. However, we need to be careful and not let down our guard; People can play games and sometimes they can play games for a very long time. And they may become a SS teacher, a deacon, an elder a pastor; They may become a nationally or internationally recognized preacher. But eventually, false teachers will make known their true colors be known. This is the third stage we see.
3. False Teachers turn away from truth returning to their true nature
1. 21 they turned away from the truth, the way of righteousness
2. 20 they are entangled again in their sin
i. maybe the same sin
ii. maybe a different sin
1. but it will be the same proud, immoral, greedy and self serving motivation.
iii. They may retain an appearance of righteousness publicly
iv. They find a niche that makes them seem righteous to their followers:
1. maybe in legalism – keeping rules not required by God.
2. maybe in liberal inclusiveness – no rules, accept and love all
3. maybe in supposed unique insight, direct communication with God,
4. maybe in claims of supernatural power of God working in them.
v. They are often private, aloof and guarded about their private life with few, if any people, being allowed to really know them.
1. Modern media provides a great means of visibility of false teachers while at the same time providing and shroud of secrecy for them.
3. They become overcome by their sin 19-20
i. Although they promise freedom, they are enslaved themselves
ii. Their own desires, by their choosing, rule and dominate their lives
4. We are all warned about this
i. Romans 6:16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
1. This is speaking to Christians – after salvation we have the freedom to present ourselves to God or to present ourselves to serve our own desires.
2. Galatians tells us to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires so that we might walk by the spirit and experience the fruit of the Spirit.
3. If we choose to sin, to satisfy our desires contrary to the truth, the Spirit of God within us convicts us of sin and brings us to repentance.
4. False teachers freely give themselves over to their sin without feeling the guilt of shame that the HS brings.
ii. Philippians 3:18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ,19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
5. When we have been close to someone and then see them fall away from the Lord, we sometimes are devastated. We wonder what happened to them. How could this person who claimed to know Jesus and had the fruit of following Jesus fall totally away? Did they lose their salvation? And if so, can I?
Those are good questions. And this text deals tells us that . . . they did not lose their salvation, they simply never had it.
6. False teachers return to their true nature. 22
i. They have not lost their salvation - they never had it.
ii. They are not acting contrary to their Christian faith – do not have faith.
iii. They are just doing what they do by nature
1. Ephesians 2:1-3 describes a person prior to salvation
1. READ Ephesians 2:1-3
2. They are given over to the desires of the flesh/deeds of flesh
2. they have just discovered that the cloak of the Christian faith serves them well as a means, a shield, a cloak to take advantage of people and satisfy their own desires.
iv. 22 dogs are dogs and do dog things – it is their nature
v. 22 pigs are pigs and do pig things – it is their nature
vi. 22 false teachers are not Christians and they do non-christian things
T.S. When it becomes apparent that someone is a false teacher, especially if we know them and care about them, we will try to help them return to the way of the truth. But we will find that our efforts are large unproductive. This is because
4. False Teachers have a degree of immunity to true repentance
1. their last state has become worse than the first
i. their first state – given over to sin in ignorance of the truth
ii. their last state – given over to sin in Knowledge of the truth
1. perhaps even in defiance of the truth and rebellion against the truth
iii. they have become those who leverage the truth to satisfy themselves, to serve themselves by deceiving and taking advantage of others.
2. Now they are in a state of awareness, so they are immune to hearing the truth.
i. You cannot bring the truth to them with the expectation that they will repent . . . . they already know it – it does not move them.
3. False teachers have started down the path of Christian faith and growth and fell by the wayside.
i. Remember 2 Peter 1:5-11: READ and point out where the false teachers started down the path but deviated.
1. These qualities are not theirs; they are not increasing 8
2. Now they are unfruitful in the knowledge they have 8
3. they are shortsighted
4. they have forgotten that purification of sins is needed.
5. 10 they are always stumbling
6. 11 they do not have faith in Jesus – what is needed to enter the kingdom of heaven.
4. It is not that had regenerating faith, that they were born again . . . no! They never have been saved.
In this context, the false teacher is not one who unwittingly teaches something that if false. The false teacher is cunning and malicious, although perhaps likable, unbeliever who presents himself as a servant of God for the sake of sheering the people of God.
So we see that there are times when false teachers may appear to be true teachers of the word. Later they may show by their life that they are not true teachers. However, sometimes false teachers effectively hide their lives from us; we never see the true person, only the stage person; only the public persona. Even when they stray morally, they may appear to be doctrinally true.
For us to be on guard we have to be immersed in the truth of the Word of God. Our confidence cannot be in people, in organizations but in God. The only way for us to protect ourselves from false teachers is to know the Lord, know his word and faithfully follow him.