Ephesians 6 describes the armor of God which believers are to put on and wear into spiritual battle. This is a look at how members in the Emergent Church (E.C.) movement are being prepared for battle.
Believers are equipped with the belt of truth. (Ephesians 6:14)
Emergent church goers don't wear a belt of truth. Their leaders can barely bring themselves to say the word "truth". E. C. leader Tony Jones said, "Emergent doesn't have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, 'What's this dinner party's position on absolute truth?' No, you don't, because it's a nonsensical question." Next time you see a police officer or soldier prepared for battle, take a good look at his or her belt and it will be obvious to you just how critically important this item is for the warrior. Emergent church leaders go against God's Word and tell their followers the belt of truth is irrelevant. Therefore, members are not issued a belt of truth and go into spiritual battle struggling to keep their pants up.
Believers are equipped with the breastplate of righteousness. (Ephesians 6:14)
Emergent church goers receive no such breastplate. In fact, rejection of moral certainty is at the core of the Emergent church movement and is taught by it's leaders. Consider the statement by E. C. leader Tony Jones, "I think the Bible is a f - - - ing scary book (pardon my French, but that's the only way I know how to convey how strongly I feel about this)." Please, be careful to note the quotation marks. You see, when righteousness is rejected, pastors like Tony Jones don't have a problem using the "F" word. This results in their followers going into spiritual battle without the protection of a breastplate.
The feet of believers are fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)
Emergent church leaders will have no peace to offer. In spite of the fact that God's Word clearly teaches there will never be true peace apart from Jesus Christ and the one true God, Rick Warren, the face of the E. C. movement, seeks world peace for Christians with all other religions and worshippers of false gods. Anyone who has ever read the Old Testament knows how much peace exists between our One True God and the false demonic gods of this world. Jesus Christ will return to utterly destroy the false gods of this world and their followers. Peace will exist only when there are no false gods. Essentially, E. C. followers go into battle barefoot, with nothing on their feet.
Believers are issued a shield of faith. (Ephesians 6:16)
Emergent Church leaders, by their own admission, have no statement of faith or doctrinal statement. Their followers have no shield to take into battle against Satan and his forces. They are defenseless.
Every believer is issued a helmet of salvation. (Ephesians 6:17)
It is critically important for combatants to protect their heads in battle. By now it should be obvious to readers that E. C. officers are not adequately preparing their misguided followers for battle. Without the helmet of salvation, these spiritually disoriented fools soon suffer spiritually fatal head wounds and become casualties of spiritual warfare. Their leaders teach everyone goes to heaven. When asked by Larry King if Jews, Muslims, or others who don't accept Christ will go to heaven, emergent church guru, Joel Osteen stated, "You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know... I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know." This is a false doctrine taught by a false teacher. His followers go into battle with no protection for the head.
Believers are issued the most perfect weapon for any battle - the sword of the Spirit or the Word of God! Those who are trained in this weapon are used by God to deal serious blows in the realms of spiritual warfare. (Ephesians 6:17)
Emergent church followers are not trained in the use of this weapon of spiritual warfare. In fact, their leaders discourage the use of this instrument of warfare saying it is defective, ineffective, and outdated. Brian McLaren, a forerunner in the establishment of the E. C. movement stated, "The Bible is not considered accurate, absolute, authoritative, or authoritarian source but a book to be experienced, and one experience can be as valid as any other can... No doctrines are to be absolute and truth or doctrine must be considered only with personal experiences, traditions, historical leaders, etc. The Bible is not an answer book." Mr. McLaren's followers are issued heresy of the highest order to take into spiritual battle. Carrying this weapon into the battle makes them an enemy of God.
The problem is more than emergent church goers not being equipped by God the Father for the spiritual battle at hand. The tragedy is, for the most part, they are enemies of the One True God. They are doing the work of what Ephesians 6 describes as "the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." The heresy and false doctrines they yield are issued by none other than Satan himself. Satan uses the false teachers of the emergent church movement to issue instruments of warfare in the form of false doctrines. If you are a member of one of these heretical churches, it is time to seek an immediate discharge.
This is a short study about Jesus as a boy. More specifically, how Jesus learned doctrine as he was growing. The Old Testament book of Isaiah, written approximately 700 years before the birth of Christ, was a look forward to the coming Messiah. But before you read what Isaiah says about the child Jesus, let me remind you what Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” A Key word here is “advanced”. Jesus “advanced” from one point to another. The boy Jesus was growing in knowledge of scripture and growing spiritually. It is true that the boy Jesus was 100% deity. He was part of the Trinity, and it is also true that He was 100% human at the same time. (This is a doctrinal principle known as the hypostatic union which you can read about on your own. Let me know if you need some resources). The point here is that the boy Jesus, in His humanity, was learning and adding to His knowledge of scripture. By the time He was twelve, Jesus was debating the Rabbis in the Temple and correcting their false doctrines (Luke 2:41-52).
Clearly Jesus, in His deity, was completely capable of debating the Rabbis and shedding light on their false teaching. But know this, Jesus, in His humanity, was equally capable of debating the Rabbis and shedding light on their false teaching. Now let's look to Isaiah 50 to see who was teaching and preparing the boy Jesus to debate Rabbis. Read Isaiah 50:2-3, “Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? When I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stink, because there is no water, and die for thirst. I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.”
Verses two and three are speaking about God the Father. Who is capable of drying up the sea with a “rebuke”? The Lord God is the omnipotent One speaking in verses two and three. No one other than the Lord God has the power to “clothe the heavens with blackness.” Verses two and three are speaking about God the Father.
Now read the next two verses. Isaiah 50: 4–5, “The Lord Jehovah hath given me the tongue of them that are taught, that I may know how to sustain with words him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as they that are taught. The Lord Jehovah hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away backward.” From these verses we learn God the Father wakens someone “morning by morning” to teach Him. The next two verses reveal who is “wakeneth morning by morning” to be taught. Clearly, it is Jesus being taught by His Heavenly Father.
“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord Jehovah will help me; therefore have I not been confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” Did God the Father give His back to the “smiters”? No! Did the Holy Spirit? No! Jesus is the one person of the Trinity to suffer at the hands of others as described in these verses. See Matthew 26:67. This passage reveals it was Jesus who was “wakeneth morning by morning” by His Father to be taught the mind of the Father.
The question to ask is what was God teaching Jesus every morning when He woke Him? God the Father was teaching the boy Jesus divine viewpoint. He was teaching Him to think the way the Father thinks and the result was that Jesus “advanced” and grew spiritually. Note this, He was teaching Him what He teaches you and me in the Bible! As believers, we can learn the mind of God from the Bible. He will teach us His perfect divine viewpoint if we let Him. Look back at Isaiah 50:5b which says, “and I was not rebellious, neither turned away backward.” Did Jesus resist as the Father was teaching Him. Did Jesus complain, turn His back, and go the other direction? Of course He did not. Believers like to talk about being “Christlike”. How Christlike are you? Are you “advancing” and maturing spiritually with a daily dose of Bible doctrine or are you rebellious? Do you allow the Father to teach you every day from the Word or would that be too boring? Study, study, study the Word of God.
Scripture teaches believers to increase in knowledge of God’s Word. As believers we are to grow spiritually by means of greater wisdom and understanding of Bible doctrine. This is not a welcome idea for those who do not want to put in the study time that is required, and this group tends to default to the idea that it is bad thing to increase knowledge. But God’s Word is perfectly clear on this subject, but it requires some study. There are literally hundreds of verses on the importance of knowledge. These two from Proverbs are clear enough:
“The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; And the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15)
“The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge; But the mouth of fools feedeth on folly.” (Proverbs 15:14)
It’s true, knowledge can definitely cause one to become haughty and puffed up with pride and arrogance (1 Corinthians 8:1), but the solution is not to remain ignorant of God’s Word lest you sin. This is an asinine assertion (another way of saying faulty human viewpoint thinking). Only faulty human viewpoint could come to the conclusion that too much knowledge causes one to be haughty, so the solution is to remain ignorant of the Word. God’s Word explains how believers are to increase in knowledge without it becoming sinful, but how would a believer know this if they hold to a false doctrine which teaches gaining in knowledge should not be pursued – this is the makings of a spiritual death spiral. Here is how God wants the believer to use knowledge.
“Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in your virtue knowledge; and in your knowledge self-control; and in your'self-control patience; and in your patience godliness; and in your godliness brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)
Believers are to increase in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of Scripture as taught in so many other passages, but maintain self-control without becoming puffed up with arrogance, pride, or a haughty spirit. That is sound Bible doctrine. To teach anything contrary to this passage of God’s Word is yet another, masterful creation of Satan. God’s perfect divine viewpoint is clear. Throughout the scriptures believers are instructed to learn and apply Bible doctrine. Believers are to increase in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of God’s Word and with this knowledge the believer is able to live a spiritually productive life to the glory of God. Without knowledge, well, this is what scripture teaches about a lack of knowledge.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6)
This verse is straight out of the Bible, God’s Word. When you read this verse you are reading God’s perfect divine viewpoint regarding the subject of knowledge and the ramifications of “lack of knowledge”. Absolutely reject any faulty human viewpoint which goes against God’s viewpoint. Study, study, study the Word of God.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)
There is an anti-abortion argument that goes something like this:
If NASA announced they had discovered a living, single celled organism on a distant planet, the lead story on every news channel and front page of every newspaper in the World would be "life found on distant planet". Billions have already been spent in search of such an organism, but Imagine the amount of funding that would be spent to secure and protect this organism. It would be staggering. Now ask yourself, what is NASA's definition of "life"? What is the governments definition of "life"? What is God's definition of "life"? What is your definition of "life"?
A baby growing in a mother's womb is multi-celled, and the cells are continually dividing and growing in number! What if NASA discovered such a being on another distant planet? How are people able to define this being as life on a distant planet, but not in a mother's womb? What is the source of such incongruent logic? The answer is simple - faulty human viewpoint reasoning.
God alone is capable of perfect divine viewpoint. He thinks without error. His thinking is perfectly congruent in every application, in every matter. Obviously, mankind is not able to make this claim. Mankind operates out of faulty human viewpoint reasoning which results in situations like the one described above. But, there is hope (I guess). Believers are capable of adopting God's perfect divine viewpoint, and applying it to any situation including the abortion issue. Unfortunately, law makers and elected officials are generally not believers, and those who are, do not understand how to learn and apply God's divine viewpoint. The result, is government making asinine laws (see Roe v Wade) based on faulty human viewpoint reasoning.
As believers, we are instructed in Romans 12:2 "do not be conformed to this world". Believers should not operate out of faulty human viewpoint reasoning. The next phrase tells us how, "but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." The moment a person becomes a believer a transformation should begin. Few believers actively pursue a transformation. The believer should begin to replace the learned, faulty human viewpoint reasoning with God's viewpoint which, as Paul writes, "is good and acceptable and perfect." God's viewpoint does not come to the believer by means of osmosis. This transformation will not happen listening to a 20 minute sermonette once a week. It requires serious, in depth, study of God's Word. The scriptures provide believers with God's perfect divine viewpoint. Serious students of the Word of God are being transformed. Believer-politicians who are serious students of the Word of God are being transformed (if there is one). Imagine an America where believer-politicians are establishing law based on God's perfect divine viewpoint. Consider this when you go to the polls and elect believer politicians who are being transformed. But maybe more importantly, consider this as you make decisions for yourself throughout the day. Consider where you are at in your transformation process and how it effects your family.
No one knows the scripture as well as Satan and no one can use scripture to confuse unbelievers like his majesty the Devil. And the one doctrine that Satan wants to confuse people about is God's grace system of salvation. Therefore, God's grace system of salvation is often challenged by those who prefer to earn their own way to heaven rather than accept the free gift from God.
The complete scriptures teach we are saved by God's grace through faith. The book of Romans details grace and faith as the means to salvation apart from our own works and good deeds. In other words, salvation cannot be earned.
"And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." Romans 11:6We are saved by grace, but grace is no longer grace if you attempt to add your own works and good deeds. Why? Salvation is something God does for you and me. Salvation is never achieved by anyone.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is
the gift of God;
not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10We are saved "not of ourselves... not as a result of works" but note that we were "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand". So once a person is saved by grace through faith, then and only then will a believer produce divine good works. But these divine good works are never used to achieve or maintain salvation.Now, back to Satan's attempts to confuse unbelievers about salvation. If he hasn't managed to confuse you in regards to grace and faith, two of his favorite verses to confuse unbelievers about salvation are taken from James 2.
The last thing Satan wants you to do is to read the entire chapter of James two. To read and understand the entire second chapter leads to salvation by grace through faith which results in divine good works performed by believers. Satan's worst nightmare! So let's look at Satan's method. Read James 2:17 and James 2:24 by themselves just like Satan wants unbelievers to do.
"Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself." James 2:17
"You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." James 2:24
See what Satan has done. When read by themselves, James 2:17 and 2:24 appear to conflict with all the other passages which clearly teach salvation is by grace through faith. But God's holy Word is perfect and there are no two passages or verses that conflict. If they appear to conflict to us, it is because we don't understand one or more of the passages. The following exposition is from a previous blog:
"Now back to James 2:24. How does James 2:24 fit with the whole of the bible? A few verses earlier we read, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point,
he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10) This earlier verse in James is consistent with the other verses and passages considered above. The Mosaic Law was given to the Jews to prove that they could not live a perfect life, and because of sin they would need a savior. A works system of salvation is doomed to fail. Our good works cannot save and as James points out in verse 10 it just takes one stumble to become guilty. And we are all guilty and need a savior. So not only does James 2:24 seem to contradict the rest of the bible, it would also seem to conflict with a verse found in the same chapter. To reconcile the issue, the believer must consider the entire passage and when finished there is no conflict at all.
The second chapter of James opens with “My brethren, hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” In the next two verses the writer gives an example of two men who walk into a synagogue and are judged by others according to their clothing. In James 2:4 the writer begins to address the specific issue of believers judging other believers. “Do ye not make distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” Therefore, we see that this second chapter in James speaks to believers judging other believers. The next several include a reminder that we should love one another, not judge, and to judge is in fact sin. This leads to James 2:10, see above, the reminder that it only takes one stumble, one sin to result in the need for a savior.
So the first half of the second chapter of James is related to believers judging other believers, and the way believers judge other believers is based on outward appearance (verses 2 and 3). Believers mistakenly judge other believers based on tangible things that can be seen. A believer will have the tendency to judge other believers based on things the others are seen doing. Things like “works” and “deeds.” We know from Hebrews 4:12 that God judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. It is man that judges by “works” and “deeds,” and the second half of this chapter in James speaks to works as they relate to faith judged by man. “Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself.” (James 2:17) Believers, limited in their ability to judge other believers, will judge based on the outward appearance of “works” and “deeds.” As believers, we are not capable of judging the thoughts and intentions of believers. Verse 18 states, “Yea, a man will say
, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I by my works will show thee my faith.” I underlined three words, “man will say
.” According to this passage it is man that judges another man’s faith by tangible “works” and “deeds.” If you want to know how God judges believers you will need to go to the other passages considered above.
Continuing in chapter two with the theme of man judging man, picking up at verse twenty-one, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the alter? Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect; and the scripture was fulfilled with saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness
; and he was called the friend of God.” Please note as underlined above that when it comes to the scriptures we know that Abraham was saved because he “believed.” Righteousness credited to Abraham is apparent to every other believer because of his obedience to God (works and deeds). Abraham was saved by faith, just as you and I are saved by faith alone."Satan scores a victory when he is able to confuse one unbeliever with verses read in isolation of the complete scriptures. Satan fails when believers like Abraham prove their faith to others with divine good works.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) Most believers are familiar with this verse and they know when we confess our sins God forgives our sins. Now read Isaiah 43:25. "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." Because of what Christ did on the cross, God blotts out our confessed sins and He forgets them. They didn't happen. That's how good Christ is. When we brew, stew, ruminate, and fret over already confessed sins that God has blotted out, we are operating as though Christ isn't good enough to take care of our sin problems. When you think about it like this, who is better at taking care of your sins, you? Of course your methods for dealing with sin are not as sufficient as God's plan - so stop operating as though it is. Confess known sins (once) and get back in the battle. Spiritual warfare is real and He wants you in the battle. When you are on the sideline worrying about already forgotten sins, you have become a casualty of the war.
Believers often ask themselves, "What would Jesus do?" In many cases we can look to the scriptures and see exactly how Jesus would handle a particular situation. Surely pastors ask themselves this same question when it comes to how they will present the scriptures to a congregation. Every Sunday there are pastors who are concerned sound doctrine will offend those in the congregation. They worry that to teach hard lessons will offend some to the point where they will not return. Pastors go to great lengths to water down the word or they avoid certain doctrines all together. More and more of these pastors are avoiding the hard message and avoiding bible doctrines which offend the listener. Now read John 6:60-71 and ask yourself, "what would Jesus do?" Jesus had been teaching some of his followers and in verse 60 we read, "Many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" Jesus in His diety knew that "many" of the followers would struggle with the message He was presenting. In the next verse we read, "Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, 'Does this offend you?" Note He does NOT ask, "Do I offend you?" He asks if "this", the message, is offensive. In His diety Jesus knew these followers were offended by the message. He knew many would not be happy with what they were hearing, and He knew exactly what was going to happen next. In verse 66 we read, "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." Make sure you understand "many" were so offended they stopped following Jesus, and Jesus knew this was going to happen. It is not stated in this passage, but I think we can assume when the majority of the disciples left, a majority of the funding for Jesus earthly ministry dried up as well. The 12 that stayed heard the message and would respond positively. They needed to hear the truth. They needed to hear the "hard teaching" that is sound doctrine. Think about what these 12 disciples go on to do? Or 11 disciples if you exclude Judas. What would they have done had Jesus chosen to avoid or chosen to water down the message so as not to offend? A major problem in the church today is pastors who avoid teaching doctrine because they do not want to offend. They do not want to offend anyone, and they rationalize this away by telling themselves "I could lose members." Sunday messages have become so watered down that believers who need the hard teaching are instead hearing the milk of God's Word intended for baby believers. Believers who would normally respond positively to the "hard teaching" of the Word are not hearing it on Sunday mornings and they are suffering because of this. Teaching sound Bible doctrine is more important than membership numbers. If you are offended by this post, I would just ask that you read John 6 one more time and ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?"
I recently had a conversation with a couple who is looking for a new church? Many believers will at one time or another find themselves looking for a local church to call home, and when they do they will take several things into consideration; denomination, doctrinal statement, location, service times, programs being offered, credentials of the pastor, and numbers. There is much that could be written about each of these factors and much that could be written regarding how to know which church God has for you, but my thoughts at this point are about the numbers. It is no surprise that more and more believers are choosing a church based on membership numbers. Mega churches are just that, mega churches with tens of thousands of members. At the core of the thought process for those who base their decision on numbers is the idea "how could so many be wrong"? The choice to attend a church with high membership numbers seems safe. Following the crowd seems safe to these believers.
I am resisting the urge to launch into a look at the doctrinal considerations that should serve as primary factors when deciding on a church. For now, let's consider the numbers. What does the bible have to say about numbers as they relate to following the will of God? Does the majority generally operate within the will of God? When it comes to salvation we cannot say that the majority has it right. Read the words of Jesus.
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
Look at the numbers in this passage. "Many" are headed to destruction and "few" are those who choose wisely. Is this a situation in which you want to go with the numbers and follow the crowd? Is there safety in numbers? No, there is destruction for the vast majority.
Now you may be saying, "but mega churches are made up of believers." Maybe, maybe not, but again, staying away from the doctinal issues what about the numbers? Is there a guarantee of safty in numbers of believers? Read the words of Jesus just a few verses later in Matthew 7.
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" (Matthew 7:21-23)
When considered together, these two passages are nothing short of alarming. From verses 13-14 we learn that "few" avoid destruction and from verses 21-23 we learn that "many" who worshiped the Lord are doomed to hell. Dare I say that "many" people who believed in the Lord are doomed to hell. Obviously something went wrong with their doctrine for them to believe in the Lord, worship the Lord, and then not enter the eternal kingdom of God. Are we assured of safey in numbers of believers? Can "many" believers be wrong? I'm not suggesting that those who attend mega churches are doomed to hell. The point is, don't base your decision regarding which church to attend on numbers. This decision must be made under direction of the Holy Spirit who will guide you to a church that teaches sound doctrine.
One last look at the numbers and in this case let us consider lower numbers. What about those smaller churches that do not have the high membership numbers? Is lower membership numbers a reflection of poor teaching and false doctrine? Could the Lord be leading you to a smaller church? Read this verse from Luke.
"For the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great." (Luke 9:48b)
Does this sound like a popular, mega church goer? The "least" is called "the one who is great" and "great" is not a reference to numbers. "Great" is a reference to the believer who stays true to sound doctrine and glorifies God. The "least" among us are those who are barely noticeable. The "least" are the humble. You will hardly know they are there as they give the Lord all the glory and seek none for themselves. George Whitefield said, "Let my name die everywhere, let even my friends forget me, if by that means the cause of the blessed Jesus may be promoted." That is humility. That is greatness. That has nothing to do with numbers.
The Pharisees were an important group of Jews during the time of Jesus. They devoted themselves to the study of the written law, the oral law, and the books of the prophets. But they had become corrupt with false doctrines and worse still had become puffed up with pride in what they thought to be sound doctrine. But Jesus made it clear their knowledge, teaching, and doctrine was corrupt and their pride was nothing less than sin.
Jesus warned, “watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” (Matthew 16:6) He reiterated the exact same warning just a few verses later in verse 11, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” Note that Jesus did not simply warn His followers to beware of the Pharisees themselves, He warned of the “leaven” the Pharisees were teaching. This is no small distinction. Jesus warned of the “leaven of the Pharisees.” The “leaven of the Pharisees” refers to the false teachings and false doctrines of the Pharisees which was far more dangerous than the Pharisees themselves. In verse 12, it is made clear to all to beware of “the teaching of the Pharisees.”
The reason Jesus issued such firm warnings about the teachings of the Pharisees is simple; false doctrines lead people away from the saving grace of God. This is exactly what was happening as a result of the false teachings of the Pharisees. (Matthew 23:13)
There are plenty of false doctrines being taught by modern day Pharisees. These false teachers like the Pharisees of old, see themselves as knowledgeable and are equally puffed up with pride.
“BUT FALSE PROPHETS ALSE AROSE AMONG THE PEOPLE, JUST AS THERE WILL ALSO BE FALSE TEACHERS AMONG YOU, WHO WILL SECRETLY INTRODUCE DESTRUCTIVE HERESIES, EVEN DENYING THE MASTER WHO BROUGHT THEM, BRINGING SWIFT DESTRUCTION UPON THEMSELVES. AND MANY WILL FOLLOW THEIR SENSUALITY, AND BECAUSE OF THEM THE WAY OF THE TRUTH WILL BE MALIGNED; AND IN THEIR GREED THEY WILL EXPLOIT YOU WITH FALSE WORDS; THEIR JUDGMENT FROM LONG AGO IS NOT IDLE, AND THEIR DESTRUCTION IS NOT ASLEEP.” (2 PETER 2:1-3)
It is naïve to assume there are no false teachers, especially after the Word of God tells us there will be. It would be equally naïve to deny the consequences of false teaching. The believer’s protection against false doctrine is sound doctrine which can only come from the Word of God. Sound doctrine is the surest safeguard against false teachings. Believers have to study and know how to handle the Word of Truth.
“DO YOUR BEST TO PRESENT YOURSELF TO GOD AS ONE APPROVED, A WORKER WHO HAS NO NEED TO ASHAMED, RIGHTLY HANDLING THE WORD OF TRUTH.” (2 TIMOTHY 2:15)
“HOLDING FAST THE FAITHFUL WORD WHICH IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TEACHING, SO THAT HE WILL BE ABLE BOTH TO EXHORT IN SOUND DOCTRINE AND TO REFUTE THOSE WHO CONTRADICT.” (TITUS 1:9)
Believers are commanded to hold fast the faithful word, “exhort in sound doctrine,” and “refute those who contradict.” Satan does not want believers to be obedient to these commands, because it results in the spread of sound doctrine and the saving work of Christ Jesus. Therefore, these are often neglected commands as believers fear offending one another. We are all too willing to watch other believers hold to false doctrines out of fear of offending them if we “exhort” and “refute” as commanded. When we choose NOT to “exhort” and “refute” as commanded, we choose to be a barrier to the spread of sound doctrine and saving grace.
“SO THEN, BRETHREN, STAND FIRM AND HOLD TO THE TRADITIONS WHICH YOU WERE TAUGHT, WHETHER BY WORD OF MOUTH OR BY LETTER FROM US.” (2 THESSALONIANS 2:15)
Systematic study of the Word of God and a daily intake of sound doctrine will absolutely thwart Satan’s plans. Satan has taken this simple lesson to be on guard against false teachings and tweaked it as only he can do. Satan’s false teaching has morphed into one that keeps believers out of the Word of God. His message; knowledge causes one to be puffed up with pride so knowledge must be bad. Believers will buy into Satan’s lies and accuse other believers, who “exhort” and “refute” with sound doctrine, of being “puffed up.” Is knowledge bad? Are all believers with knowledge of sound doctrine puffed up with pride when they exhort and refute? Not according to Scripture. Does it make sense to call these obedient believers who exhort in sound doctrine “Pharisees” as I have heard on several occasions? Who is the modern day Pharisee? A) the believer who systematically studies the Word of God, warns others of false doctrines (leaven), and uses sound doctrine to exhort and refute others who hold to false doctrines. All of which is Scriptural, or B) those who discourage believers from studying the Word of God, discourage believers from increasing in the knowledge of the Word, and accuse those who are obedient of being “puffed up” - all of which leads others away from the saving grace of God.
The Bereans of Acts 17:11 are held out as examples for the rest of us to emulate because they studied. When they heard a teaching they compared what they heard to the Scriptures. By doing so they were able to identify false teachers (Pharisees). They had a clear advantage over other believers who lacked sound doctrine because they “examined” the Scriptures. Reject every attempt by Satan to convince you that knowledge is dangerous. I exhort and encourage all believers to study, study, study Bible doctrine and value knowledge of the Scriptures.
“TEACH ME GOOD DISCERNMENT AND KNOWLEDGE, FOR I BELIEVE IN YOUR COMMANDMENTS.” (PSALM 119:66)
“FOR THIS REASON ALSO, SINCE THE DAY WE HEARD OF IT, WE HAVE NOT CEASED TO PRAY FOR YOU AND TO ASK THAT YOU MAY BE FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL IN ALL SPIRITUAL WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING.” (COLOSSIANS 1:9)
If you are still not convinced of the importance of knowledge of the Word of God, read the book of Proverbs.
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and to the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12
We were created to glorify God and bring resolution to spiritual warfare. God equips believers with a powerful weapon - His Word. The Word of God is "piercing" and "dividing" and it is "sharper than any twoedged sword." It is the perfect weapon for believers to take to battle. Unfortunately, too many believers are not trained on the weapon. But what is most alarming to me are those believers, often pastors, who take this perfect weapon for spiritual warfare, a sword that is sharper than any other two edge sword, and they grind the edge off so that no one has their feelings hurt or is offended. Their messages on Sunday mornings are as dull and you would never know they were in a battle. Expect the Word to divide and if you are yeilding it correctly it will divide all the apostacy out of your church.
Many other believers have their swords sheathed and they are not in the battle. Read Ephesians 6:10-17. We were created to glorify God and bring resolution to spiritual warfare. Put on the armor, gather your weapon, and get in the battle!