Prayers of Intercession continued...
The sheep of God’s pasture must also be protected from corrupt doctrine and corrupt teachers, who have been present since the beginning of the church, attempting to pervert the truth, and dilute the word of God.
I often envision pastors nowadays with a staff in one hand, and a sword in the other, because not only are they responsible for the spiritual wellbeing of the sheep, not only will they give account for that which they feed the people of God, they must also protect them from the wolves, the deceivers, and the soothsayers, who worm their way into the household of faith, then summarily wreak havoc, tearing apart in an instant, what took decades to build up.
Knowing the harm a false teacher can cause within a church, I have the utmost respect for pastors who nearly interrogate me before they let me stand behind their pulpit, asking what I believe, why I believe it, and what my stance is on certain key doctrinal issues. I do not begrudge such men, because I know that in their heart they are only looking out for those whom God has entrusted into their care, and even though some might come off as suspicious or skeptical of me, by the end of our conversations they know where I stand, and realizing that we are of the same spirit, allow me to speak to their flock.
In such instances it is better to be overly cautious, than not cautious enough, because the Bible warns us repeatedly of those who would tear the household of faith asunder.
2 Peter 2:1-3, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”
If we understand this scripture passage in its entirety, then identifying the false teachers among us, who secretly bring in destructive heresies, becomes an easy task. For me, the key to identifying who these false teachers are, other than the obvious red flag of denying the Lord who bought them, is their exploitation of God’s people by covetousness and deceptive words.
Covetousness is defined as a discontent with what we have and an intense desire for something else, something we believe will make us happy, or fulfill us in some way.
So another way of reading the aforementioned scripture passage, is ‘false teachers will exploit us, by stirring in us a desire for something we do not yet possess, and a discontentment with what God has already given us.’
These individuals have been around long enough, that by now you’ve surely heard such immortal pearls as ‘if you aren’t rich, you aren’t happy, and God wants you to be happy doesn’t He?’ or, ‘if you don’t believe money brings happiness, you haven’t had enough yet.’
The essence of what such messages are attempting to convey is that what God’s already given you isn’t enough, and not only should you desire for more, you should expect more because you are entitled to more.
The warnings of Peter have come to pass, and the false teachers have been bringing in destructive heresies for years on end. The tragedy isn’t that destructive heresies exist, because to some extent they’ve always existed. The tragedy is that more and more sheep are flocking to these destructive heresies, ignoring and discounting the word of God because the deceptive words of the deceivers are more palatable to the flesh.
We have redefined the role of shepherd, or overseer of God’s sheep to the point that they are expected to be more entertainer than shepherd, more farceur than one who is accountable before God for leading His sheep to green and wholesome pastures.
Jesus never played the entertainer, He never warmed to the role of farceur, and if we desire to be like Jesus we must be sober minded, teaching the people of God the ways of God, and not attempting to do something the world is far better at doing. If men desire to be entertained, there are other venues. If they desire to laugh, there are other places they can go, wherein they will be made to chuckle and chortle. The house of God ought not to be a place for entertainment; it ought to be a place of worship, where the children of God gather together for the purpose of praising His holy name, and being taught His word and statutes.
Galatians 1:10, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Paul makes a distinction here that many choose to overlook, because it is uncomfortable and it challenges their predisposition to be people pleasers. What Paul is saying in actuality, is that one can either be a pleaser of men, or a servant of Christ, but he cannot be both simultaneously. Each servant must choose whether they seek to please men, or be servants of Christ, since it is impossible to do both.
When we are servants of Christ, we are often called upon to deliver harsh truths that don’t go over so well in our pampered and overly sensitive society. As servants of Christ, it is inevitable that we will be called upon to bring offense to the flesh, and the desires of the flesh, because flesh will always be in diametrical opposition to the spiritual man.
The question remains, do we seek to please men, or be servants of Christ?
The answer to this question will inevitably determine what sort of overseers or shepherds we will be.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.