“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”
We have a big problem in Christianity today and it’s just what the prophets and apostles in the Bible said would happen. We are surrounded on every side, within and without, by false preachers and teachers. Some of them are easy to identify — some are difficult — but identify we must because that’s what God told us to do.
How do I know that to be true? Because I’ve read A Layman’s Guide To False Preachers and Teachers. If you haven’t read the first part of our special series, please click here to read it.
[You’ll find a copy of A Layman’s Guide To False Preachers and Teachers in your Bible.]
The problem (some might call it a ‘crisis’) of false preachers and teachers wandering around inside churches, conferences and denominations as if they owned the place has truly gotten out of hand. Many church and denominational leaders who care about the problem don’t know what to do, so some do nothing. Others appear on stage or in videos with false preachers and teachers thinking they may be able to make a difference by sharing the truth of God’s Word in the hearing of these people and their audiences. Others don’t seem to care at all. Once orthodox preachers and teachers have changed their stripes to fit in with the new wave of Neo-orthodox, liberal, progressive, emergent and post-truth theology sweeping modern churches and denominations.
That’s a terrible way of shepherding God’s people. Unfortunately, it’s what more and more shepherds are doing every year. The problem is — it doesn’t work that way. That’s not how Jesus Christ builds His Church. That’s not how He blesses leaders or members in His Church. If we want to obey Christ, bring glory to God and receive God’s blessings in our churches, we must make big changes — starting now.
#1 – false preachers and teachers are ungodly and dangerous to your spiritual health
Turning to our Layman’s Guide To False Preachers and Teachers we read this –
“For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to 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. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” Acts 20:25-31
Old Testament ‘Ungodly’
Keep in mind that our focus for this first part of the study is that false preachers and teachers are both ‘ungodly’ and ‘dangerous’ to the health of God’s people. Let’s begin in the Old Testament.
“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3
We are introduced to the “ungodly” at the beginning of the Hebrew Psalms – “Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly.” The Hebrew word translated ‘ungodly’ is rəšā‘îm. It means “evil, wicked, criminal, guilty.”
“The narrow meaning of rasha‘ lies in the concept of ‘wrongdoing’ or ‘being in the wrong.’ It is a legal term. The person who has sinned against the law is guilty.” W.E. Vine, Vine’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible, 1940
The idea of the word ‘counsel’ (ba‘ăṣaṯ ) is receiving ‘advice’ from someone. It’s interesting that the first Psalm of the Hebrew people would have emphasized the importance of the people of God (‘blessed’) having nothing to do with the ‘ungodly’ and especially not walking (hālaḵ – “come and go”) in their counsel (advice).
Why would the psalmist (King David) have focused on the counsel’ of the ungodly? Because their counsel will be ‘ungodly’!
It’s interesting to see how David began by pointing to the ‘walk’, the ‘stand,’ and the ‘sit’ of the blessed man, followed by his ‘delight’ (ḥep̄-ṣōw – pleasure) in God’s Law and to ‘meditate’ (yeh-geh – to meditate, muse, moan, utter, speak) in God’s Law.
David explained the process of how godly people can become influenced by ungodly people.
- They begin by ‘walking’ with the ungodly
- and listening to their ungodly counsel
- That can lead to ‘standing’ in the path of sinners
The word ‘stand’ in Hebrew is ‘āmāḏ and means ‘to take one’s stand.’ After listening to the counsel of the ungodly and taking their stand with sinners, it’s a quick step to “sitting in the seat of the scornful.” The word ‘sits’ is yā-šāḇ and means “abide, remain, dwell.” It’s the idea of being comfortable in the seated position with a view toward permanent seating. The word ‘seat’ is ūḇəmōwōšaḇ and means “assembly, dwelling place.” The word ‘scornful’ is lêṣîm and means “mocker, have in derision.”
The reason David warned the godly against ‘walking’ with the ungodly and listening to their counsel was because he knew that could lead to the godly sinning with sinners and mocking with mockers.
That full process of not walking in the counsel of the ungodly, not standing in the path of sinners, not sitting in the seat of the scornful, delighting in the Law of the Lord and meditating in the Law of the Lord will lead a blessed man to be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. That man will, like the tree, bring forth fruit in its season, will not wither and whatever he does will prosper.
From this we learn that there is a danger to listening to the counsel of ungodly false preachers and teachers –
“The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Psalm 1:4-6
If you listen to and follow the counsel (advice) of ungodly preachers and teachers, there is a good chance you will take your stand with them, dwell with them and end up like them – chaff which the wind drives away.
The idea of not standing in the judgment is powerful and should be a strong warning to anyone who would walk in the counsel of ungodly preachers and teachers –
“Not, before a human tribunal: nor merely in the last judgement, (as the Targum and many interpreters understand it): but in every act of judgement by which Jehovah separates between the righteous and the wicked, and vindicates His righteous government of the world.” Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
“Properly, shall not rise. Probably like our phrase, ‘shall not hold up his head.’ Will be self-convicted, and shrink away before God’s unerring scrutiny, like the man without a wedding garment in our Lord’s parable (Matthew 22:12).” Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
Another way of stating this is if you live your life (come and go) according to the counsel of the ungodly (false preachers and teachers), their advice will mess up your life! The day will come when you won’t be able to raise up your head when you face judgment in this life and the life to come. That is one of the dangers of following after false preachers and teachers.
We will continue looking at the dangers of false preachers and teachers in the Old Testament in the next part of our special series, A Layman’s Guide To False Preachers and Teachers.
We have been publishing articles and eBooks about false preachers and teachers for many years. Here are some you may find helpful:
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.