Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
June 24, 1998
Last Updated :
February 25, 2012
Unintentional Doctrinal Error, Apollos Aquila And Priscilla, Correcting Doctrinal Error In A Spirit Of Humility, Knowledge Puffeth Up But Charity Edifieth, Beware Of The Praise Of Men Wresting Or Distorting The Scriptures, Spiritual Discernment, Pride And Hypocrisy Of The Scribes And Pharisees, Impossible To Keep The Entire Mosaic Law, Dangerous Websites Which Mix Christianity New Age Beliefs UFOlogy And Oriental Religions, Test The Spirits, Some Of Satan's Different Titles In God's Word, Devilish Deception Spreads Through The World Wide Web, Don't Desire To Be A Teacher, Teaching God's Word Is A Very Serious Responsibility, Turned From The Truth Through Fables False Doctrines And Traditions Of Men, Deceiving And Being Deceived, Wolves In Sheep's Clothing, Ask God For Wisdom And Spiritual Discernment, Renew Your Mind And Put On The Mind Of Christ, Discerning People's Motivations, Attack And Divide, Divide And Conquer, Devil's Tactics Are Nothing New, We Are Not Ignorant Of Satan's Devices, Stop And Pray, The Lord Will Raise Up A Standard Against The Enemy, Closing Remarks
One thing we all need to realize is that sometimes particular doctrines are taught incorrectly, just because the individual who is teaching them simply lacks a more complete and clearer understanding of the Scriptures. In other words, there may be no real malice or evil intention on their part whatsoever. In the Book of Acts, we discover that this was the case with an enthusiastic Disciple by the name of Apollos. It's clear that Apollos obviously loved the Lord, and that he was a diligent student of God's Word. However, he still lacked understanding in certain doctrinal matters; and so as the following verses reveal, Aquila and Priscilla instructed him more fully:
"And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly."
Acts 18:24-26, KJV
Please notice that Aquila and Priscilla "took [Apollos] unto them". In other words, they didn't blast him publicly before his listeners, and thus destroy their confidence in Apollos. Rather, apparently, they took him aside -- and possibly even invited him to their home -- where they could teach him more fully the Gospel of Christ, in a spirit of humility, so that Apollos could become an even more effective witness for the Lord. In thinking about how this Christian couple took him to the side, and then humbly instructed him regarding the full Gospel of Christ, I am reminded of the following verse that is found in Peter's first Epistle:
"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."
1 Peter 5:5, KJV
In other words, Aquila and Priscilla were not motivated by a foolish, pretentious desire to demonstrate their superior knowledge of God's Word before a crowd, and thus humiliate Apollos. It is so sad today that there are many teachers and preachers, -- both online, and in the real world -- who seem to enjoy doing exactly that. They just love the big crowds, and receiving the praises of men, just like the Scribes and the Pharisees of old. Consider the following verses which reveal the danger of desiring the praises of men, and being spiritually corrupted due to possessing too much knowledge:
"But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
Matthew 23:5-12, KJV
"And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation."
Mark 12:38-40, KJV
"Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
John 12:42-43, KJV
"But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
Romans 2:29, KJV
". . . we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know."
1 Corinthians 8:1b-2, KJV
"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."
1 Corinthians 13:2, KJV
"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness . . . Therefore let no man glory in men . . . And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"
1 Corinthians 3:18-19, 21a, 4:6-7, KJV
While the previous situation regarding Apollos and Aquila and Priscilla was an innocuous incident, at the same time, we also need to recognize that another tactic which is sometimes used by the enemy of our souls is to purposely twist -- or distort -- the meaning of certain Scriptures, so that they will seem to support some dangerous, false doctrine. In other words, it is an intentional act that is committed in order to knowingly and purposely confuse God's sheep and to lead them astray. The Apostle Peter warns us of this very danger when he writes the following concerning those people who twisted the meaning of the Epistles of the Apostle Paul; although in this case, it appears that it wasn't done out of malevolence, but rather out of ignorance of the Scriptures:
"As also in all his [Paul's] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
2 Peter 3:16, KJV
Notice that Peter states that the reason why these people did this, was because they were "unlearned and unstable". Stated another way, they were not firmly grounded in the Scriptures. They were complete novices insofar as understanding the Word of God was concerned. In short, they didn't really know what they were talking about. Perhaps because of their pride, they were trying to present themselves as great teachers, when in fact they were no such thing whatsoever.
In discussing Grace versus Law, the Apostle Paul exposed this same sin in the Law-bound Jews who didn't possess an ounce of the true Spirit of God. As a result, they likewise lacked real Spiritual Discernment. If they had possessed discernment, then they would have recognized Christ for who He is, and accepted Him as their Messiah. Furthermore, they would have also been preaching a true religion of Grace and Faith, and not one of Works and keeping the Law.
In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul not only exposes the sin of pride which was so rooted in his Jewish brethren -- such as his fellow Pharisees -- but he also reveals the degree of their hypocrisy by informing them that while they preach to and teach others regarding the mandates of the Mosaic Law, at the same time, they turn around and break those very same laws themselves, as we see by the following verses:
"Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?"
Romans 2:17-23, KJV
Of course, as we learn in the Gospels, years earlier, Jesus likewise exposed the hypocrisy of the self-righteous Scribes and the Pharisees who said, but did not, when He stated the following in Matthew chapter twenty-three:
". . . The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not."
Matthew 23:2-3, KJV
The Apostle James sums up the situation quite well when he writes the following in his Epistle:
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
James 2:10, KJV
So much for trying to establish our own righteousness through keeping the entire Mosaic Law. We simply cannot do it. It is totally impossible; so thank God that we have Jesus!
Returning to our discussion regarding wresting, or twisting, the meaning of the Scriptures, as I briefly mentioned in part three, today we find the very same thing happening. While each one of us must believe according to our personal degree of faith, over the years I have encountered some websites which really leave me wondering about the spiritual condition of the webmasters in question. Some of these individuals take a few verses from the Bible -- if any at all -- and then arrive at some very strange conclusions; which in my view, are quite divorced from Scriptural Truth. As I note in other articles, quite often, these websites promote a dangerously deceptive mixture of Christian beliefs, New Age psychobabble, UFOlogy and oriental religions.
For anyone who possesses any degree of Spiritual Discernment, and who has a basic understanding of Christian doctrines, it becomes evident that some of these webmasters don't know what they are talking about. As we saw earlier, they are babes in Christ, and babes in their understanding of God's Word. In spite of this fact, in their pride, they endeavor to convince us that they are mature, responsible teachers, and they try to project a level of spirituality which they truly do not possess, at least not godly spirituality. While they claim to be enlightened -- and so-called "lightworkers" -- the truth of the matter is that they walk in spiritual darkness.
But what is worse is the fact that some of these webmasters become terribly deceived by lying spirits which impersonate so-called "alien beings". I discuss one such individual in the four-part series "Comet Elenin, Hercolubus, Nibiru, and Planet X". Such people need to learn to try -- that is, to test -- the spirits, in order to determine if they are truly of God, or if they really proceed from Satan the deceiver. The Bible informs us that this deceiver is actually a false angel of light, the father of lies, the false god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the accuser of the Saints and the spirit of antichrist. Furthermore, because he convinces people to not believe in Jesus -- which means that they cannot obtain Salvation and Eternal Life -- he is also a murderer as well. Consider the following verses:
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1, KJV
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:13-15, KJV
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
John 8:44, KJV
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV
"Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:"
Ephesians 2:2, KJV
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."
Revelation 12:10, KJV
"And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."
1 John 4:3, KJV
Regardless of whether or not the deception of such misguided webmasters is intentional, the real danger lies in the fact that due to the global nature of the Internet and the World Wide Web, their delusion spreads to other people who visit their websites. If such people are also babes in Christ who don't know how to discern the truth from the lie, they too can become deceived. These New Age teachers remind me of a few other remarks which were written by the Apostle Paul concerning those people who tried to teach the Law:
"Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;"
1 Timothy 1:4-8, KJV
"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."
Hebrews 5:12, KJV
So here again we see examples of individuals who desire to be teachers of God's Word, who are not the least bit qualified to do so. As we saw earlier, such people wrest -- or distort the meaning of -- the Scriptures to their own destruction. In his Epistle, the Apostle James admonishes us that we should not even desire to be teachers, unless the Lord places us into such a position by His own design. Why? Because to the teacher belongs the greater condemnation. In the following verse, the word "masters" is derived from the Greek word "didaskalos". Pronounced did-as'-kal-os, it is normally translated as our English word "teachers":
"My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."
James 3:1, KJV
In other words, if we preach the Truth, all will be well. However, if we are teaching false doctrine, we will be held accountable for every idle word that we speak. This is not something which should be taken lightly by anyone, myself included. This is in fact one of the reasons why I have made it a regular habit to update my articles whenever the Lord reveals something new to me from His Word. I want to strive to always preach the Truth to the best of my ability. In the following verses, my understanding is that the word "idle" means a lazy word, because it is spoken without first making a careful examination of the Scriptures, as the Apostle Paul admonishes us to do. Thus we see that teaching the Word of God is indeed a very serious responsibility:
"But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
Matthew 12:36, KJV
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."
Romans 14:12-13, KJV
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV
Please notice Paul's warning concerning placing a stumbling block in our brother's way. As I explained earlier in this series, this is precisely what some of these false shepherds and misguided teachers are doing. They are in fact placing a doctrinal stumbling block in the way of their followers and website visitors, which is resulting in some of them falling away from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is precisely what the crafty Jewish Elders of old did when they crept into the Early Church. If you doubt that this is so, then consider carefully the words of the Apostle Paul in the following verse:
"Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth."
Titus 1:14, KJV
While that is a rather short verse, it is nevertheless very powerful; because it fully exposes the intention of the false brethren who infiltrated the First Century Church. Their goal was to "turn from the truth"! Through a variety of tactics, which included Jewish fables, commandments and traditions of men and false doctrines, they insulated people from the truth and freedom that is found in Jesus Christ alone. And what of our current time? Has Satan really changed his tactics? No, not really. Consider the following verses:
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
2 Timothy 4:3, KJV
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
2 Peter 2:1, KJV
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
2 Timothy 3:13, KJV
If there are any Scriptures in the Bible which describe our current time, surely it is the above. As I point out in an article of the same name, surely we are living in an age of deception, and an age of delusion. Any Christian who cannot see this happening in the world today needs a very serious wake-up call! Perhaps this series will serve as a wake-up call for you personally.
Concerning this subtle infiltration of our modern Christian fellowships, let me again remind you that the enemy does not always creep in through a false minister, priest, pastor or teacher. He can also secretly slip into your midst through one or more "sheep" who are found within your own flock; so beware! Jesus and other writers of the New Testament warned us that these treacherous souls would indeed appear as sheep in our midst; even though they are in fact ravening wolves who just want to spiritually devour the flock of the Lord, as we see by the following verses:
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
Matthew 7:15, KJV
"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
Matthew 10:16, KJV
"Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves."
Luke 10:3, KJV
"For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."
Acts 20:29, KJV
In order for you to be a faithful shepherd of the Lord's flock -- whether it is in a church, in a home fellowship, on a mailing list, on a message forum, on Facebook or on some other social network, on a blog, or anywhere else -- it is vital that you ask the Lord to give you genuine Spiritual Insight, Spiritual Discernment and Wisdom so that you can detect these wolves. This is one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which is freely available to those who ask for it. Please consider the following verses:
"To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:"
1 Corinthians 12:10, KJV
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
Luke 11:13, KJV
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
James 1:5, KJV
You must learn to see and judge situations with the eyes of the Spirit, according to His Word, and not with your natural reasoning; otherwise, you are bound to make some serious mistakes which may affect your flock in a negative way. You must learn to put on the mind of Christ through the spiritual transformation and renewing of your own mind, as we see by the following verses:
"For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."
1 Corinthians 2:16, KJV
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Romans 12:2, KJV
If you are in tune to God's Spirit, you will be able to tell in a very short amount of time whether a person is asking a question because they are motivated by a sincere desire to learn, or whether they are simply seeking to draw you into a useless debate in order to waste your time. If it is actually the latter, then I encourage you again to consider reading my article entitled "Should Christians Engage In Doctrinal Debates?".
Some people will also ask questions, not because they really desire an answer, but simply because they are trying to find a reason to judge and criticize you; and in so doing, justify their position in their own eyes. Then there are those wolves and troublemakers who will craft their questions in such a way so as to cast doubt and cause division amongst the Lord's flock. In short, Satan's emissaries may say something one way, while they really mean something entirely different. They may use different tactics to attack you and your flock, but their primary motivation is basically the same: Attack and divide, divide and conquer, and destroy the Work of the Lord.
The Devil's tactics are nothing new. The Jews of old used these very same tactics against Jesus throughout His Earthly Ministry. They thought that they were so crafty, but Jesus outsmarted them every time. The Apostle John in particular seemed to have the Gift of Discernment. He knew how to see behind the words and into the hearts of men. Notice how he phrases the following verses.
"This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not."
John 8:6, KJV
"This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein."
John 12:6, KJV
In conclusion then, if we are in tune with God's Spirit, and knowledgeable of His Word, we will be able to recognize when the enemy attempts to invade our fellowship, wherever it may happen to be. With the Lord's help, rather than being caught off guard, we will easily identify Satan's evil tactics; and we will be able to put a stop to them before they harm the Lord's precious sheep; for as the Apostle Paul wrote in his second Epistle to the Corinthians:
"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
2 Corinthians 2:11, KJV
As I point out in "The Battle is Not Yours Alone!", if you do happen to find yourself in the midst of battle, and if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the situation, all you have to do is stop and pray, and call upon the Lord for His assistance. If you do, He will gladly send you all of the spiritual help that you could possibly need; for as we are told in His Word:
". . . When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him."
Isaiah 59:19b, KJV
With that inspiring verse, I am going to bring another series to its conclusion. As a final note, please remember that our battle is a war of thoughts and words, and it is fought every single day in our very minds and hearts. It is my prayer that this series has opened your eyes to the true nature of our spiritual warfare, and that you will now be able to identify some of our enemy's tactics. May God bless you as you continue to fight the good fight of faith everyday!