We Aren’t Ignorant of Satan’s Devices…Right?

gen315Contrary to popular belief, the Scriptures clearly reveal that the intentions of false teachers may be known to the children of God. Consider the following:

  1. “…from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” – Acts 20:30.

  2. …I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.

  3. …in their greed they will exploit you with false words. – 2nd Pet 2:3.

  4. desiring to be teachers of the law… – 1st Tim 1:7.

  5. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. – 1st Tim 6:3-5.

  6. …they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. – Titus 1:11.

The reasons given here are reducible to two: (i.)proud self-exaltation and (ii.)greed. Scripture tells us that these are the motivations of false teachers, i.e. those who teach false doctrines contrary to the faith once for all delivered unto the saints. If an individual is a false teacher, therefore, he is driven by pride or greed, or both.

False teachers, however, are not merely immorally seeking to dethrone the Triune God in his own house, they are without knowledge. Listen to Paul:

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and knows nothing.

I italicized the words that should strike us immediately, viz. anyone and knows nothing. This is because we often will hear things like:

“…x believes p, and p is not orthodox, but x has a great grasp on q, so we shouldn’t ignore all that he has to say.”

Rather than identifying false teachers as being without understanding of the meaning of Scripture, as Paul tells us to do, we will give them more of  a platform to spread their teaching because they are, we assume, otherwise very knowledgeable regarding the meaning of Scripture. But they understand nothing, the Holy Spirit says.

So is it arrogant to say that false teachers are proud, greedy, and ignorant of the truth of God? Well, no. Scripture says this very clearly. No, what is arrogant to say is that God’s own evaluation of false teachers is somehow inapplicable to those “nice” false teachers who do not step on any toes, until, that is, they have naive Christians by the ear.

The Method: Detecting Snakes in the Garden of God

If you’re up to it, check out the following articles I’ve written on the strategies the enemy of our souls uses.

  1. An Ancient Strategy
  2. Rhetorical Tricks of the Enemy’s Trade [Pt. 1]
  3. Rhetorical Tricks of the Enemy’s Trade [Pt. 2]
  4. Rhetorical Tricks of the Enemy’s Trade [Pt. 3]
  5. A Deceptive Tautology

Sadly, there are some who claim understanding the rhetorical strategies of the enemy is not really part of interacting with false teachers and the arguments they propose. However, there is neither logical nor Scriptural justification for such a belief. Note Paul’s words in Colossians 2:1-4, which I quoted above:

…I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.

Paul clearly states that false teachers use plausible arguments. This teaches us that (a.) false teachers employ arguments strategically (i.e. in order to deceive/delude their hearers), (b.)these arguments are plausible (i.e. deceptively persuasive), and (c.)these arguments are recognizable (how else could Paul identify them?). False teachers are not concerned with the truth, although they will, for the sake of deceiving gullible Christians, claim that they are meek and humble servants of the truth.

In the garden of Eden, the serpent did not immediately proclaim the false Gospel of “You will not surely die” – he began with a question. He presented himself as an honest enquirer who wanted to know what God had actually said.

It wasn’t until after he had entered into dialogue with Eve that he revealed his concealed doctrine. And by that point, it was too late.

The Fact of the Matter

Had Adam attributed motives to the serpent and reported the serpent’s autonomous hissing to God, Eve may not have sinned. By not identifying the serpent as a threat, Adam failed in his duty as prophet, priest, and king. (For more on Adam’s role as prophet, priest, and kind see this article by Herman Hanko). As Christians, and especially as teachers (whether pastors or deacons or apologists), we are also failing to do our job if we do not discern snakes in the garden of God (i.e. the church, see 1st Cor 3:9), report them to our Lord, and remove them.

Soli Deo Gloria.

-h.

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