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Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things.
2 Samuel 7:28
The term confidence man or con man was coined in the 1800s, a time one historian described as the “Golden Age of Schemes.” A.V. Lamartine perpetrated a strange con: he’d check into a hotel room and then pretend to ingest poison to commit suicide. After giving him medical treatment, kindhearted strangers would raise funds to help him on his way; it appears he made a living by “attempting suicide” for several years.
Hucksters, false prophets, and con artists today send emails from supposed Nigerian princes or promise health and wealth with one more donation. As Peter notes, false teachers infiltrated Israel and will try to distract and destroy the church (v. 1; see Jer. 23:16).
Notice the red flags of false teaching. First, they question the nature of God. Is He the sovereign Lord? Are His power and love the bedrock of our faith? Or do we need to do something to help Him out? Perhaps we need access to a magic formula or someone else to connect us with God. These “destructive heresies” attempt to undermine our confidence in the truth that the Lord is sovereign, He is trustworthy, and His promises are good.
Second, false teaching rejects the truth about how we should live (v. 2). As we’ve seen, the life of a Christian should demonstrate the saving power of God through goodness and self-control, not a life of depraved passions. The unbridled pursuit of human pleasure contradicts the truth of God’s Spirit in our lives.
Finally, false teachers are motivated by greed (v. 3). Rather than encourage and exhort God’s people, they exploit them. Instead of proclaiming the truth of Scripture, they make up feel-good stories. Their focus is on how to line their own pockets, not on how to bring spiritual profit to the church.
Apply the Word
The motives of false teachers are pride, lust, and greed. We should prayerfully assess the ministry of anyone who claims to be a Christian leader by whether their teaching promotes these sins that oppose God or promotes faith, hope, and love
(1 Cor. 13:13). Ask for discernment to avoid the traps of false teaching and strength to stand for truth.
Pray with Us
Please uphold in prayer Steven Mogck, executive VP and chief operating officer at Moody, that as part of the leadership team he would follow God’s guidance with wisdom and discernment, focused on God’s purposes for Moody’s ministries.