WHY & HOW SHOULD WE RECOGNIZE ERROR?

Some time ago I wrote and published the following:

PSEUDO (pseud) False, deceptive, sham. (Webster) “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. But there were pseudo prophets also among the people, even as there shall be pseudo teachers among you.” (2 Peter 1:21 – 2:1) “And many will follow their destructive ways because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (Verse 2) Jesus warned, “Beware of pseudo prophets in sheep’s clothing. Inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” (Jesus – Mat. 7:15) He also said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name? And then I will declare to them. I never knew you. Depart from me you who practice lawlessness.” (Mat. 7:23)

The apostle Paul wrote,“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and pseudo wonders. And with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:9-12) “Those who despised Moses’ law died without mercy . . “ “Of how much sorer punishment shall we be thought worthy . .” (Heb. 10:28-29)

Pseudo doctrines are produced by pseudo prophets. They claim divine authorization as part of their disguise. How do we tell the difference? Should we want to know?

In reply a close friend sent me the following:

Thanks! — the answer to “pseudo” is “Truth” that is capital T Truth–God’s Truth.

John 8:31-32  Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, {then} you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

If I know the truth, i.e., water is clear . . . then, I am not going to be deceived into believing grape koolaid is water. It is not necessary for me to know or understand or identify all the things that might masquerade as water, it is vital that I know the truth of the characteristics of water–that is what protects me from being deceived and empowers me to refuse to accept pseudo water. It’s the same thing with the Living Water, Jesus: abide in My Word AND you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free! You do not learn truth by studying “untruth,” you learn Truth by studying Truth; you do not avoid being deceived by false prophets by studying false prophets, you avoid being deceived by false prophets by abiding in God’s Word and learning Truth.

To this I replied with the following:

Sounds logical. . . except for one thing. It misses the whole point of the Biblical warnings, the “sheep’s clothing” part. The point of what Jesus said in Matthew 7 is the craftiness with which Satan comes to deceive us. He does not come to us clearly identified, dressed in red and carrying a pitch fork. He comes dressed in a suit and tie and carrying a Bible and spouting scripture. Even when he approached Jesus Himself he quoted scripture. If the differences between Satan’s teachings and God’s truth were lying on the surface you would be right on how to recognize them. But they are not. God wants us to know they aren’t open and obvious and that is why His word tells us this. That was what Jesus addressed concerning false prophets. They come to us in sheep’s clothing. If Satan poisons your water he will not use a bright blue poison the color of grape cool aid. He will try to hide the fact that it is polluted.

This is exactly the principle that tripped up church of Christ leaders on the Divorce – remarriage subject. They were very sure they KNEW the word and obviously I was a false teacher. Only when they were willing look more fully at what I was saying and recognize the falseness of some human theories did many of them see the truth. They had to go deeper into God’sword and compare what it said with what tradition said to see how it differed with them. There are two halves to God’s arrangement for our doctrinal protection. 1. We have to look fully at what a teacher we think”pseudo” is saying to be sure we see it correctly, and 2. We have to look fully at what the word says. Only then are we protected. What if this man we think “pseudo” is right and we are wrong?

Ironically, this very example is given in the Bible. In 1 Tim. 4:1-3 the “forbidding to marry” teaching is said to happen when men depart from the faith and “give heed to doctrines of demons.” This can happen to people who mean well. An objective mind is the key. Jesus called it “The honest and good heart.”

“But I fear, lest by any means as Satan deceived Eve with his craftiness, even so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3) Eve knew what God had said, “Do not eat the fruit of that certain tree.” But she did not study carefully enough about what Satan was saying. It appealed to her so she accepted it. Paul said he was afraid this same thing might happen to us. Therefore  shouldn’t we be concerned about that?

There are urgent reasons why God’s word includes warnings about false teachers and even gives the details of how they operate. Jesus said they disguise themselves as one of the sheep. Paul said that Satan transforms himself as an angel of light. “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness.”(2 Cor. 11:14-15) We are all subject to deception. The council of men is that knowing truth is sufficient to protect us and we do not need to know much about false teachings. But the Bible says we protect ourselves against that by knowing Satan’s devices. ““Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Cor. 2:11) The obvious implication is that if we are ignorant of his devices he can take advantage of us.

So the WHY of the matter, why we need to recognize error, is that Satan’s deception is designed to cost us our souls for eternity. The HOW of the matter, how we tell the difference, is by knowing Satan’s devices, seeing how they differ from God’s word. and seeing how he operates. Of course Satan wants us not to accept and practice this. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why that is.

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