It happened, again. I had to block and delete someone from my Facebook.
This time it was different.
This wasn’t just some random internet debate with some stranger 531 miles away.
This was a local guy with whom I have ministered alongside of in the past. I had to call him out as being a false prophet and a false teacher.
It’s one thing to call out pastors, preachers, and teachers on TV who have big ministries (and who we have no real personal connection with us), as being false prophets, false teachers, or wolves in sheep’s clothing. But when it’s someone local, someone whom you’ve ministered alongside of before, someone whom you share friends with, and someone whom you can easily bump into at your local Walmart, calling them out takes things to a whole different level! Sadly, most Christians are scared to go there.
So in this blog I’m going where nobody else is going. I’m talking about something that nobody else is talking about. Reading this is going to make you a little bit uncomfortable because it’s going to challenge you.
It’s easy to go after the big bad wolves. They are out there in the public eye in front of TV cameras for all the world to see. They have books, DVDs, CDs, etc. They appear in magazines. They have radio shows and podcasts. They don’t really try to hide. They actually want to be seen.
Meanwhile, it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine (Song of Sol. 2:15). Or, should I say in this case, it’s the little wolves!
While the big, bad wolves are getting all of the attention, the little wolves are able to sneak in under the radar and have their way at the local level. They are teaching and preaching the exact same things as the big bad wolves. In some cases, they are taking their heresies a step further than their bigger brothers! (For instance: Did you know that God himself tithes? That’s what one local pastor of a church that we recently visited preached from the pulpit.)
The little wolves can get away with it much easier than the big wolves can. There are several reasons why:
- The spotlight isn’t on them like it is the big, bad wolves.
- Their message rarely leaves the four walls of their church building, unlike the big, bad wolves who usually have large multi-media ministries. (In other words: Nobody outside of the church really knows what the little wolves are preaching.).
- Because they are little they are often not seen as any kind of threat.
- Most think their bark is worse than their bite, not realizing that the littlest of wolves can take out the weakest of sheep.
What’s even more concerning is that shepherds, by and large, don’t even try to protect God’s sheep from these little wolves. While some go after the big, bad wolves, the little local ones are largely ignored. They have free reign to roam and go after God’s sheep.
There are many reasons for that as well:
- Most pastors/preachers/teachers won’t speak out against another ministry for fear of backlash against their own.
- Most ministers fear being seen as someone who’s causing division or sewing discord.
- Local clergy may some how be connected to the little wolf though a network of friends or associates and they are afraid of making things awkward for everybody.
- They are afraid that somehow they are going to ruin their witness, or somehow damage the Gospel message if they speak out.
- They are scared that by calling someone out as a false teacher/false prophet that they will somehow fail to bring glory to God and, instead, bring shame and dishonor to either Christ Jesus or the church.
- Most ministers are afraid of being perceived as being angry, jealous, bitter, conceited, ugly, negative, holier-than-thou, etc.
- They are afraid that they might make enemies—they want everyone to love them.
- They don’t want to be accused of trying to steal from another’s flock
- Confrontation makes people uncomfortable. Pastors are afraid of attendance dropping and/or giving will go down.
- They are afraid to speak out because they realize that anything they say or do may cause them to be unemployed the following Sunday. It’s better to play it safe than be sorry.
As you can see, the spirit of fear sews shut the mouths of many ministers for many different reasons. While their mouths are sewn shut, the little wolves go about preaching a false gospel, making false converts who become false disciples, who go out and preach a false gospel, who make more false converts, who make even more false disciples. Fear sews the mouths of shepherds shut so that they can’t warn the sheep or other shepherds of the wolves in the midst of God’s flock, who, at their own will, carry sheep off and devour them.
Ephesians 5:11 says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
If you are reading this and you are a pastor, listen up! You have a responsibility as a shepherd to expose every unfruitful work of the enemy no matter what it may or may not cost you. If you know of someone who teaches, preaches, or prophesies falsely and you do not warn everyone around you about them, than you are taking part in their unfruitful works of darkness. Because of your own fears and insecurities you are letting people be dragged to hell.
This is why James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” As a matter of fact, James goes on to say in Chapter 4, verse 17, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
And judgment is coming, man or woman of God! 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
Ladies and gentlemen, we are too close to the end to be playing church! Christ Jesus is set to return anytime now. Some of you don’t want to believe that. Some of you don’t believe it. I, however, do. And I know that some of you out there reading this do, too.
God has entrusted us as leaders, shepherds, pastors, elders, and deacons to care for his flock. Caring for the flock is so much more than just leading them and teaching them. It is also protecting them and warning them whenever there’s danger.
And it’s not just you’re immediate flock that you’re responsible for, we are responsible, together, for all of God’s sheep, not just some of them. So if you see a little wolf creep in, trying to make off with some of God’s sheep, then you have a responsibility to warn the others and you have a responsibility to go after that wolf, even if it’s someone local! – DO NOT BE AFRAID!
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I like the basic message here, and in fact I’m in the middle of a very difficult issue in my own church where I’ve had to call out some teaching that is clearly not of God. But I see too much of the opposite, as well. Where is the line between true false teaching and teaching that simply does not align with my preferences, denominational doctrines, or experience? There is too little calling out of real error and far too much calling out of people who have differing interpretations that we consider wrong. That is my fear, not so much those you’ve listed. The cost of causing disunity in the body is huge–I never want to risk it if there is the possibility that I am wrong. And I know my preferences can blind me into being wrong. That line is pretty difficult to find with certainty sometimes.
Great question, Jill!
For me it begins with I John 4:1-3. “1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.”
In verse 2 & 3 the word used for “confess” is the Greek word “homologeō,” which means, “to profess.” Now, every false prophet or false teacher that I have seen absolutely professes/confesses that Jesus historically existed here on the earth. I really don’t think that this is what John is saying here.
The reason why is the word “homologeō” also means, “to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with.” In other words the homologeō of the false prophet/false teacher doesn’t say the same thing as the homologeō of another. So, what we have here is two different homologeōs! One that says “Christ has come in the flesh” & another that doesn’t.”
Now, like I said, I don’t believe that John is just talking about the historical existence of Jesus. The Key to this is the sentence, “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.”
This one sentence, “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh,” is the Gospel summed up. That is the Good News!
Things like baptism (forward, backward, sprinkle, dunk), speaking in tongues, women preachers, long haired men, short haired women, tattoos, eating shell fish, hymns vs contemporary, etc.do not change or alter our homologeō that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” It does not change the Gospel.
When the homologeō of a false prophet/false teacher changes that or perverts the Gospel/”Jesus Christ has some in the flesh” into something that it’s not, then we need to be bold, be brave, speak up & call them out!
“…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” – Revelation 19:10
Good point. “Little wolves” are what I’ve been calling church termites. You can’t see them, but they’re grinding our churches to shreds. Thanks for going where no one is going.
You’re welcome, Rock!
This is something that needs to be talked about. This is something that needs to be addressed.
We see the few big wolves on TV & we pretend like that’s it. All the while it’s the little wolves who are doing most of the damage. The big wolves are only the tip of the iceberg.
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