Wow. Read this article I found this morning posted on Moriel.
Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
“And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’
“The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’
“But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:24-30)
It is incredible that the enemy was provided the opportunity to sow the tares by the sleeping slaves, who in turn ask incredulously, “How did this happen? Could there be something wrong with the seed?” Although Jesus explains exactly what this parable means, many fail to learn one of the main lessons in the fact that the tares are allowed into the church not as the result of the will of God, but the negligence of the church itself. Having fallen asleep on our spiritual watch, Satan has been provided the opportunity to insert false believers into our midst.
I actually heard an extended sermon based on this parable which managed to omit this key fact by skipping past the opening verses and jumping right to Jesus’ words, “Allow both to grow together until the harvest”. Extracting and lifting this line out of the parable so he could twist the context, the speaker asserted that this meant it was by God’s design that good and evil are allowed to grow, side-by-side, co-equal to each other until His appointed time of judgment. Therefore, he further asserted, the application in his opinion was that no matter how bad things are, no matter how bad a ministry or person might be, there is always something “good” to be extracted or learned. His repeated admonishment was that we were not to be distracted by the presence of evil, but to instead look for the good that was in the vicinity of evil. (In seminary terms whereas the proper way to handle Scripture is through “exegesis” which seeks to bring out the intended meaning from the text, this is an example of “eisegesis” where someone introduces their own ideas and transposes them onto the text.)
Having provided this “platform”, he then proceeded to list a host of “good” things he had extracted from a myriad of sources. This exhaustive list of religious organizations included many which I would agree are impeccable in their quality and pedigree, but it also included a great many which were either dubious or outright cults or false religions. The amazing thing was how this speaker knew which ones would be controversial to the audience and often paused on them to reassure us, “Now I know these folks have some problems, and they wouldn’t be my number one recommendation, but if you can look past it, here’s some good that’s come from them.”
At the very least, this man was an example of the sleeping servants in the parable to whom it can be directly attributed that Satan is allowed to enter the church and plant false teaching. Even more so however, he might be an example of a false shepherd who actually allows God’s flock to be spiritually attacked and harmed. What we have to take seriously are the many warnings from Christ and the Apostles that we are supposed to remain vigilant against these false teachers/believers so that neither we nor the church at large will be deceived or go astray because of them.
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:28-31)
It might be inevitable that evil and wickedness will come and attempt to establish itself within our fellowships and organizations, but it is not necessarily a given that they should be accepted or allowed inevitable entrance. It is clear that we have the biblical responsibility to make every good faith effort to detect, warn, and guard against them at every turn.
And yet this attitude of “Eat the meat and spit out the bones” is one of the most prevalent problems in the church today. We see it when someone suggests we implement the “good” parts of the Purpose Driven Church, or apply the “good” approaches to worship employed by the Emergent Church, or make use of the “good” points raised by Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Brian McLaren or a host of others on a list of false teachers too long to mention here. Personally I think because there is little or no emphasis on what it means to serve and worship a “holy” God, the majority no longer understand the biblical teaching that God hates a mixture.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. (2 Peter 2:1)
The image that this phrase is trying to convey is laying truth side-by-side next to error. In other words, truth is used to camouflage error. This situation is explained in the most classical manner by asking the question, “Would you drink a glass of water which only had one drop of poison in it?” This is the problem with false teaching; some truth is present in order to sell the lie. But it all becomes tainted in the end. This is why Paul goes out of his way to state…
For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
So how are we to deal with false teachers and their false teachings? Pick out the “good” from the “bad”? Throughout Scripture we have repeated and plentiful examples of how to deal with such people. They are to be plainly, directly, and even publicly confronted so that there is no doubt as to their true nature. We see this in David’s calling out of Saul, Jeremiah’s dealings with Hananiah, Christ’s interaction with the corrupt religious leaders of the day, and throughout the New Testament epistles wherein the writers actually name the names of false teachers and publicly warn against associating with them.
Yes, it is true that if sin occurs in the course of a personal relationship with a brother or sister in Christ that the biblical process is to go first to them privately and initiate a process of reconciliation. (Mt. 18:15-20) However, this is NOT the process to follow in dealing with false teachers, false prophets, false apostles, false leaders, or false shepherds. Nowhere in Scripture – not even by Christ Himself – are they dealt with in any manner other than openly, directly, and publicly. A good watchman sounds an alarm; he does not first go out to the enemy to see if he can “work it out” with them. A good shepherd defends the flock; he does not attempt to make friends with the wolves and have a sleepover with the sheep.
Now the man in the real-life example I opened this discussion with was, in actuality, a very nice guy. It is not like he showed up in a Halloween costume dressed as the devil with a pitchfork and started screaming and attacking people. He was sincere, educated, articulate, even humble in the outward presentation of himself. (Something Warren, Osteen, McLaren and their ilk all have in common.) But we cannot allow such superficial appearances to cloud our judgment and subsequent course of action, which we always measure against God’s Word and God’s Word alone.
But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. 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. (1 Corinthians 11:12-15)
This is why they are so difficult to spot initially, their appearance and demeanor as tares so closely mimicking the wheat. In the parable, the servants did not even notice the problem until “the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.” Biologists tell us this is the exact nature of this real-life look-alike, that while it grows it looks exactly like wheat until it blossoms and bears fruit, at which time it is plainly obvious which is the wheat and which is the tare. By this we have another clue as to how to recognize those who are actually false: by their fruit.
“For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6:43-45)
There is a word in this politically correct world which has made inroads into our thinking which actually has no biblical standing according to the world’s definition: “tolerate”. Paul uses it in 2 Corinthians 11:19-20 to chastise Christians for tolerating false teachers and their teaching, and Jesus uses it in Revelation 2:20 to admonish Thyatira for tolerating the false teacher Jezebel. Its only “positive” use, if you will, is by Christ to the church in Ephesus:
‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; (Revelation 2:2)
What the world would have us implement is a definition of tolerance that is completely opposite that propounded by God’s Word. In each instance it refers directly to false teachers and the need to be resolutely INtolerant.
I suppose it really does come down to our faith in God’s Word. The only explanation for this repeated behavior to supplement God’s Word and ways with information, approaches, and philosophies poisoned by the influences of the world is a lack of faith in God’s Word to provide the whole answer. This is probably why the charlatans like Warren, Osteen, and McLaren ignore the Word or use the worst imitations of it in order to camouflage their “destructive heresies”. It is a palpable lack of faith in God’s Word which leads to thinking that marketing principles can provide additional insight into how to build a church. It is a lack of faith in God’s Word which leads to thinking that secular music models can become the basis for worship. It is a lack of faith in God’s Word which leads to thinking that we can “borrow” things from cults and false religions with no perceived ill effect.
The Old Testament Law forbade making a garment out of linen mixed with wool (Dt. 22:11), an example of the natural being grafted with the manmade. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough”, (1 Co. 5:6) keeping in mind that leaven is the biblical symbol not only of sin but false teaching. Or my favorite in this category, “Dead flies make the perfumer’s oil stink”. (Ecc. 10:1) God demands a higher standard because of His very nature. “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy”. (Lev. 10:3) How can anything outside of God’s Word even begin to teach the concept of holiness much less provide additional insight into how to attain it?
In fact, when God’s people find themselves in the worst spiritual environments, in those places such as Babylon, the embodiment of the world system which would absorb us completely if it could, the repeated admonition is to leave and come out.
Depart, depart, go out from there,
Touch nothing unclean;
Go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves,
You who carry the vessels of the LORD. (Isaiah 52:11)
We applied healing to Babylon, but she was not healed;
Forsake her and let us each go to his own country,
For her judgment has reached to heaven
And towers up to the very skies. (Jeremiah 51:9)
“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. (2 Corinthians 6:17)
I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; (Revelation 18:4)
This is no longer just about the individual false teachers anymore. I honestly think we have passed the time when it is still possible to debate and perhaps save the movements, organizations, and even denominations we have witnessed poison themselves with their embrace of false teaching and false teachers. I believe the reason one of the strongest movements within Western Evangelical Bible-believing Christianity in the forming of house churches and independent fellowships is that God is literally calling His people out of Babylon. Those still lingering behind seem all too often to be the ones clinging to the notion that they can still glean the “good” from the “bad”. To fight for the unconditional return to the cross and God’s Word and ways is a noble pursuit if that is what God has called you to do. But if someone is staying because there might still be some “good” left among the rubble?
We have been witnessing this boil over in the Calvary Chapel movement of late, one of the longest and strongest results of the last legitimate spiritual revival of more than 40 years ago. Today we can measure each individual Calvary Chapel by its bookstore. Those trying to glean the “good” from the “bad” will host a plethora of materials from indisputable church growth, Ecumenical, Emergent, and even New Age false teachers. Such materials are strikingly absent from the bookstores of those still clinging to the sole authority of God’s Word. We see conflicting signals when some of its churches and leaders publicly stand up to these false influences while others hold conferences inviting them in through the front door or appearing side-by-side with them on television. Will the servants go to sleep and allow the enemy to plant the tares? We have already seen this occur with Methodists, Baptists, Nazarenes, Assemblies of God and a heart-breaking long list of others. If the battle should be lost for the whole, it will be followed by God calling the remnant out of Babylon. Even Calvary Chapel.
It all begins and is held together by God’s Truth and built into a whole by our pursuit of sanctification, the process by which holiness is effected in each believer’s life. And as His watchmen and shepherds on behalf of the entire flock we need to be able to effectively wield His Word. But a real-life shepherd would never consider for a second that the wolf should be “tolerated” and that there might be some “good” that can be extracted from allowing it access to the flock. Neither should we. Even if it means taking the flock to another pasture entirely.
In His Love,