The text of Ephesians 5:11 is unmistakable, “Do not participate in the useless deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.”
Ephesians 5:11 is not alone in this concern, as 2 John 11 goes further, instructing us not to even greet false teachers or “we participate in their evil deeds.”
Essentially, Christians should not participate in or endorse false teachings but instead must expose them to the light of truth. Even if your church seems fundamentally sound, that doesn’t mean that error isn’t creeping in through the back doors.
I understand that judging and correcting others may seem unloving. But confronting false prophets is the very act of love because it helps protect others from being led astray and guides them toward the truth of God’s word. Unfortunately, many are unaware, including leaders tasked with guarding the flock.
- Here Voddie Bucham discusses the issues surrounding confronting false teachers
It is troubling that we have purported false teachers and prophets in the church in the first place!
But God said that would happen.
In 2 Timothy 3:1-8, Paul warns, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such people as these. Among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected regarding the faith.”
Unfortunately, you cannot assume that your church has not been bombarded with false teachers and doctrinal errors. Of course, as a believer, you are indwelled with the Holy Spirit; accordingly, this post will offer support that can assist you in discerning the truth.
So beware, there are considerable back doors to perversely influencing the local church!
How do false teachers penetrate the church?
The Women’s Ministries
Some of the most common women’s bible study books are from the Lifeway Bible Study Series, which consistently supports false teachers such as Priscilla Shirer, Jackie Hill Perry, Christine Caine, and many more. Lifeway Bible study materials are big business and universally accepted. But remember, popularity does not necessarily equate to biblical accuracy. Often, it may mean the opposite.
Here’s a short review on Lifeway in which the author summarized Lifeway’s typical Bible Study book as “…clearly intended for seeker-friendly churches with milk-dependent congregants.”
Susan Heck, who has memorized the entire New Testament, discusses the problems of female false teachers and the commonality of this crisis.
- She recommends that in determining a church’s soundness, you ascertain – “What are the women studying?”
Some churches support and encourage popular Christian conventions, like Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, and the “If Gathering.” Many of these popular venues are full of false prophets.
- Read Pastor Josh Buice’s critique of Beth Moore here.
- God speaks to Beth as she aligns with Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer and holds “binding” prayers.
Michelle Lesley has reviewed several Christian teachers, and I highly recommend that you check her site when investigating a new teacher or Christian study book author. Understand that Lesley’s analysis of these teachers is by their own words and actions contrasted against the Bible and the criteria set out below, and she recommends against any teacher or ministry who violates one or more of these biblical tenets.
- A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly live in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).
- The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly partner with or frequently appear with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.
- The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly teach false doctrine.
Michelle Lesley’s review of Joyce Meyers is available here.
The Men’s Bible Studies
It is rare to have a men’s Bible study that actually, what? Studies the Bible! The vast majority of the Bible groups explore a book written about the Bible. Or worse yet, a book that’s written about men but with Bible quotes.
- By the way, most men’s groups would be better off studying the Bible.
Here’s a short list of books to avoid:
Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, and The Purpose Driven Chruch. Two books that are entirely off-base and non-biblical but very often appear as the reading materials of men’s Bible studies. Latest statistics show that over 50 million Purpose Driven Life books have sold. A review of Purpose Driven Life by David Cloud concludes, “Beware of “The Purpose Driven Life.” It is not faithful to Scripture, and if followed, it will lead you away from God’s will.”
Another, almost anything by Tim Keller, like the Prodigal God. With over two million copies sold, Keller redefines nearly everything, including sin and salvation. You can read a review of Prodigal God here.
With over 400,000 copies sold, John Eldredge’s Wild At Heart is an effort to develop an entire ministry around a single popular book. Derel Wingerd, in his review, concludes, “Books like Wild at Heart—books that humanize God and glorify man, that teach a generation of Christian men already weakened by humanistic philosophy and biblical ignorance to look anywhere other than the pages of the Bible for guidance—have a seductive appeal to the flesh.”
Be mindful, time after time, some men’s Bible study will be pushing one of the above false teaching books without a second thought as to biblical accuracy. Why? Because it’s popular, everyone else is doing so. In fact, you may well become very unpopular even for suggesting one of these books is pushing false teachings. In fact, when I once objected, I had one study group leader state that anyone could say something critical about a study book. I responded, “Correct,” and sometimes they’re right.
Do not be deceived. Stand up for the truth!
The Worship (Music) Ministry
It has become commonly accepted that music is synonymous with Worship. Although worship is much more than music and should include Bible reading and prayer, in addition to wrongly supporting some hideous false churches and propagating lyrical doctrinal errors, so much of today’s church music has become theatrical with light shows and even smoke machines.
More alarming yet, these songs are usually performance-based songs versus participatory songs. There’s a big difference in a church’s stoic response to a song like Same God by Bethel, and Awsome God, in which the assembly spontaneously starts to sing with the very intro even before the leader can begin singing the song.
More and more churches are waking up to the problems of supporting Hillsong, Bethel, Elevation, and Jesus Culture music. But many persist.
- Pastor David Henneke’s sermon – Why our church no longer plays Bethel or Hillsong Music.
- “Now that I know, we need to make a change.”
- Redeeming Truth – Why we won’t sing Bethel music in our church.
- Again Ephesians 5 “False doctrine in music should be rejected.”
- Why your church shouldn’t play Bethel music.
- “Their Music is used as a hook to pull unsuspecting people to their false churches.”
- Stop Singing Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture, and Elevation.
- “The biggest reason you should stop singing songs from Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture, and Elevation is that their music embodies a false theology of worship.”
Why is this happening?
Is it a lack of discernment?
1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 “Do not despise prophecies, but examine all things; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.”
The Bereans in Acts 17:11 were commended – “Now these were more noble-minded…they received the word…examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”
Discernment requires prayer and contemplation of the Scripture.
It may be that some church leaders are unaware of who these false teachers are. Maybe they’re too concerned with church growth, finances, or building projects. Leaders need to be discerning.
Unfortunately, too many are not remotely sensitive enough.
Is it a failure of leadership?
1 Peter 5:2 instructs elders to “shepherd the flock of God among you, overseeing not under compulsion, but willingly, according to God; and not for dishonest gain, but with eagerness….”
According to Titus 1:9, elders “exhort in sound doctrine and to reprove those who contradict.” Both are leadership duties.
What type of heart should the elders have? Proverbs 19:20 advises, “Listen to counsel and receive discipline, that you may be wise at the end of your days.”
Unfortunately, many are not listening.
Is your church having an issue with Ephesians 5:11?
You should be asking, “Why?”
If at all possible, encourage your church leaders to confront this issue. You may need to seek wiser leadership if you can’t convince them to become more discerning.
It’s not enough to recognize the intrusion of error and look the other way; the Scripture commands that you “expose them.”
Reread Ephesians 5:11, “Do not participate in the useless deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.”