The Purpose of False Prophets and Wolves
1st Baptist Church,
Des Moines, NM
Good morning! We’re back again for the final of a series in “False Prophets and Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing”. I started out this series by examining “What is a Christian” and then we moved into false prophets and teachers. My main text for this series has been:
1 John 4:1-3 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This text clearly tells us to test the spirits and states that there are many false prophets in the world. As we saw from Acts 20:28, Galatians 1, 2 Peter 2, Jude, and Revelation 2, these false prophets and teachers are in the churches as well. We looked at some of the characteristics of false prophets and the Bible gives us many. If you’ve missed any of these messages, visit our church website at www.fbcdesmoines.org or call us at 575.278.2421 and we’d be happy to send you a CD of these message. Today, I’d like to finish up this series by looking at the purpose of false teachers. After all,
Proverbs 16:4 The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.
What purpose, then, do these false teachers serve and what should we do when we encounter them? Before we go any further, may God bless this message and may it glorify His grace and mercy, through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Amen.
Let’s start with this text:
Matthew 13:24-30 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; (25) but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. (26) But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. (27) So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' (28) He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' (29) But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. (30) Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn." ' "
Note several things about this text:
While men slept, the enemy came
This tells us that the devil disguises his actions. He comes in when we’re unaware and plants his people
He plants them among the wheat.
The servants of the owner of the field noticed the tares and said “Sir…do you want us to go and gather them up?”
Note the owner’s reply:
“No, lest while you gather the tares you also uproot the wheat. Let both grow together until the time of harvest and at the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
In this reply, note these things:
It was not the responsibility of the servants to separate the tares from the wheat.
Separation will be done at the time of harvest
Separation will be done by the owner’s reapers.
Now, Jesus explains this parable just a littler further in the chapter and from it we learn:
Matthew 13:36-43 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." (37) He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. (38) The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. (39) The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. (40) Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. (41) The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, (42) and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (43) Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Note carefully here that Jesus says “the field is the world….” The field is not the church. As we’ll see later, this is an important point. We see that it is not our responsibility to separate the tares from the wheat but to “let both grow together until the time of harvest.” At this time, the angels will reap the tares from the wheat. Note the reason for this waiting- “..lest while you gather the tares you also uproot the wheat.” Which of us can truly tell exactly which of the plants are tares and which are wheat? As Martin Luther noted in his sermon on this passage, if we uproot the tares now and cast them away, they have no hope of ever being converted and saved. And as Luther also noted, there is another reason for letting the tares remain. We find that reason in:
1 Corinthians 11:18-19 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. (19) For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.
Here we see there are factions within the church. Paul tells us that the purpose of these factions is so “that those who are approved may be recognized among you.” What he’s telling us here is that presence of the factions makes the true believers stand-out. After all, according to Galatians 5:22-23 are not the fruits of the Spirit “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”.? How will Christians show longsuffering unless they are called to suffer? How will they show true love except to love those who do not love them? (see Matthew 5:46). How will they show self-control unless their patience is tested? Therefore, the presence of the factions allows those who are approved to shine all the more clearly. In this, they serve God’s purpose.
In the world, we’re to let the tares grow up with the wheat. But what about inside the church? Let’s look at two more passages, one from 2 Timothy and 1 from Titus. These are Paul’s instructions to 2 pastors.
2 Timothy 2:14-26 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. (15) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (16) But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. (17) And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, (18) who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. (19) Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." (20) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. (21) Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. (22) Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (23) But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. (24) And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, (25) in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, (26) and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
Note the instructions here:
Do not strive about words to no profit…Don’t argue just for the sake of arguing
You, Timothy, rightly divide the word of truth.
We’re to focus on the Word of God rather than get dragged off in useless striving. We see this again in the instructions:
Shun babblings, they increase ungodliness
Examples of this babbling- “the resurrection is past.” This is false doctrine.
God’s foundation stands. He is still in control.
Our role is to depart from iniquity
Our role is to be obedient
Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes because of the strife they generate.
According to Jude 1:19, false teachers teach divisive things
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel
Gentle to all
Able to teach
It’s not that we’re never to correct, it’s that we’re to do it gently
This means teaching the teachable (see Acts 18:25-28)
In humility, correcting
Our faith and knowledge are from God
But we are to correct those who are correctable.
According to 1 Cor 6:9-11, some of us were like them
Perhaps God will grant them repentance.
They are currently in the snare of the devil
Doing his will.
A similar passage:
Titus 3:9-11 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. (10) Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, (11) knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.
Here we have some specific instructions- reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition. Turning back to Timothy, we find further information about Hymenaeus:
1 Timothy 1:18-20 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, (19) having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, (20) of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Let’s look at one more passage:
1 Corinthians 5:4-5 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, (5) deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
In these passages, we see some of the differences in the way we’re to treat the tares in the world versus the way we treat false prophets and teachers within the church. We let the tares grow in the world, but when false teachers and prophets arise within the church (which they will, according to Acts 20:28-29), we first admonish and attempt to correct them. We have been given the characteristics of false teachers and prophets and warned to watch for them. If they refuse correction, but attempt to divide the flock or draw followers to themselves, we cast them out. We give them back to the world from whence they came. This is evident from:
1 John 2:18-19 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. (19) They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
This wraps up our study for this week. We have looked at characteristic of Christians and then characteristics of those posing as Christians. We’ve seen what to do with those posing as Christians when they’re in the world, and what to do with those who comes as wolves in sheep’s clothing. As always, the Bible gives us instruction in the things we need to know. Let us, as Paul urges Timothy, “rightly divide the word of truth” and apply these teaching wisely. We will do this through the grace and wisdom of the Holy Spirit acting in our lives to the glory of God the father, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
False Prophets (4)- Identifying them