Everything that Glitters…
“Everything that glitters isn’t gold.” No one understood the gravity of this saying better than gold prospectors during the California Gold Rush. A prospector’s ability to distinguish between real gold and fool’s gold was the difference between a grand payday or shattered dreams. Those who were serious about striking it rich studied the physical properties of both fool’s gold and real gold. They learned how to perform a streak test. They were aware of the differences in color between the two minerals as well as the differences in the shape and densities of the metals.
Serious prospectors needed to be able to differentiate between fool’s gold and real gold not only for financial reasons, but also for legal reasons. Passing pyrite off as real gold could land you in a heap of trouble!
True or False?
Christians today have a similar problem. There are false teachers and true teachers of the gospel, yet many in the Body of Christ cannot distinguish between the two. Because we have placed more authority and value in what a man says over what God says (see my previous post More Biblical Truth in 2017), we lack discernment. God has not left us unprepared in discerning the real from the fraudulent. He also provides us with a streak test by which we can identify false teachers.
The book of Jude specifically addresses the internal battle first-century Christians had to wage against false teachers in the church. Jude warns the church to contend for the faith by fighting against the corrupting influence of these teachers and rescuing those who are stumbling.
“And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgement. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” Jude 1:22.
The Fate of False Teachers
What is especially sad are the lives that are ruined by false teaching. There are people who want to be free from the bondage of sin and deliverance from the harmful lifestyles that they are living. They turn to these false teachers for hope and to hear the Gospel, but instead receive a false Gospel littered with half-truths and bereft of the Holy Spirit’s power which could set them free.
2 Peter 2:19-21, “They [false teachers] promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you. And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life.”
Apostle Peter also goes into great detail identifying what to look out for when it comes to wolves in sheep’s clothing who ‘teach clever heresies and even deny the Master who bought them’ (2 Peter 2:1). The terrible fact is that false teachers are deceived and on a path that leads to their destruction, but their deception will lead many others down the same path.
2 Peter 2:2, “Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.”
Looking in the Mirror
Why does there seem to be a proliferation of false teachers today? Some of the blame lies at our feet. It’s easier to follow a false teacher than it is to follow Christ. It’s easier to read books that encourage us to have our best lives now rather than read the Bible that challenges us to repent of our sins. False teachers cater to the evil in our own hearts and validate our desire to live in any way that we see fit. They constantly affirm our desire for God to conform to us rather than us conform to God.
2 Timothy 3:1-7, ” This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
We must stop lying to ourselves about our selfishness and the evil in our hearts. We must stop trying to justify our amoral lifestyles. Instead we must allow God to expose us–to expose the sin that festers within us to his light and allow him cleanse us. Not one time, but continuously. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joint and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Although God’s word is like a sword, it brings healing rather than harm. If we determine to live in God’s truth, we won’t be able to stomach the lies spewed by false teachers. They will no longer have a platform in our churches and will instead be forced to go out to the world where their true allegiance lies.