A Christian is a person who has, by faith, received and fully trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior who died on the cross to pay the penalty of their sin. The Holy Spirit lives in all who believe. Now, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9), and this person, then, is not a Christian. No one who embraces the beliefs of a false religion or a cult is a Christian because they reject Jesus as God, the Savior. If our lives do not reflect the nature of God, the chances are that we are a hypocrite or not a Christian at all. Spewing hate for one another and crying out “death to the unborn,” and then flipping the switch with the “holier than thou” look, claiming to be followers of God is both ungodly and disgusting. God of the scriptures has plenty to say about the liar, the hypocrite, and the deceiver. What these people don’t know is that God looks on the heart and not words. He is holy and just and will hold everyone accountable for how they lived their lives.
“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17).
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26).
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21)
What about pastors in churches who are far more passionate about filling the pews of their corporate churches than they are in preaching the truth so that people would become disciples of Christ and not disciples of their pastor? They are the ones who will preach what will make people feel good rather than the truth of the Bible that convicts us of sin and leads us to accept the forgiveness of our sins through Christ. They write books, get themselves on television and the internet, and at times, you might think that they are claiming to be God Himself.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’ “(Matthew 7:21-23).
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).
What about false teachers? What about the over 6000 cult leaders in the United States? They claim to have the inside track to the truth. They reject Jesus as being God, and among other things, they reject the Bible in favor of their own religious books. Thousands of people, who are seeking truth, are drawn into these groups at an alarming rate. What is the fate of these charlatans?
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;” (1 John 4:1-2)
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” (Matthew 7:15-16)
How do we, as Christians, guard against the influence of false teachers? When choosing a church, one should carefully read the doctrinal statement and talk with people that attend the church to see if the sermons are biblically based. With less than 2% of Christians who know why they believe in Jesus, most of those who identify as Christian are easily misled. With the church’s failure to ground students in the biblical worldview, the younger generation does not know how to defend their belief in Jesus or how to live in a hostile culture. We, as Christians, have our work cut out for us. Paul’s advice to Timothy is timely for all of us today.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1-5).