BAD ACTORS IN THE PULPIT
Shakespeare observed that "All the world is a stage, and all the men and women in it, merely players."
Since the time of the apostle Paul, men and angels have been watching the on-going drama of Christianity.Through the centuries, kings and peasants in every hamlet and city of the world have carefully observed the lives of Christians. They have seen that some Christians are merely actors hiding behind a pious mask.
In Paul's day, stage actors would put on large masks so they could pretend to be someone they were not.These players were called hypocrites. The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek word Hupokrisis which means play acting.
Today, the world's spotlight is being focused upon the bad actors in the pulpit. Their scandalous behavior has brought reproach and embarrassment to Christians everywhere. Friends, let us be on guard because the scriptures warn that the lies of hypocrites will cause some to fall away from the faith. In 1Tim 4:2, We read Paul's warning:
"...The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own consciences with a branding iron." NAS
Notice, the masked liars of this prophecy were once of the faith but departed from it -- and yet they were still teachers.
Friends, we need to face the facts: On center stage, today, there are impostors who are teaching God's people. They are hiding behind masks of virtue, they have all kinds of religious trappings, and they speak many words of scripture **-but they teach that we can willfully disobey God's Ten Commandment law and still be saved.** They cause many to die in their sins and lose their souls.
SOME OF SATAN'S MOST ADEPT SERVANTS HAVE LEADING ROLES IN TODAY'S CHURCH. It is sobering to think of the soul-destroying consequences of this situation. And when we consider how many of our family, friends and even ourselves are in danger, we see the urgency to test the genuineness of every teacher.
Whenever a teacher claims he is God's prophet or we start hearing buzz-words like "the anointing is here" or "I feel the anointing", this should be our cue to start testing -and fast! The charlatans use this kind of hocus-pocus to intimidate us and paralyze our brains.
Then, we begin to hear people making ridiculous statements like this: "We are not to touch God's anointed --even though they commit sin." This kind of irresponsible use of scripture, only serves to shield these spiritual quacks.
Here are two Bible tests that will expose false teachers:
l. If they are committing sin you can be sure they have not been sent by God. The apostle John gives us this test:
"He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 1 John 2:4
2. They are false if they do not tell people they MUST stop committing willful sin. The prophet Jeremiah gives us this test:
"I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they SHOULD HAVE TURNED THEM FROM THEIR EVIL WAY, and from the evil of their doings." Jer 23:21-22
Those two scriptural guidelines for testing preachers will quickly eliminate most of the imposters. God's true servants are working under His authority and God's instruction to us is to "prove all things" --that includes both the prophet and his message:
"Despise not prophesying. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thess 5:20-21.
Considering that God is sovereign, have you ever wondered why the hypocrites are given a platform from which to propagate their lies when their deceptions undermine God's authority and their lives bring reproach to the cause of Christ? This is "The Mystery of Iniquity." Though we cannot fully understand all of this, we can find some answers to this perplexing question from the scriptures.
False prophets (even if their signs and wonders come to pass) are a test to see if we will obey God. For example:
"If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, LET US GO AFTER OTHER GODS, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [We "go after other gods" by breaking God's law]
Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth [tests] you, to know whether YE LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD with all your heart and with all your soul. [The love of God is to keep his commandments. 1 John 5:3 ]
Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him." Deut 13:1-4.
By considering these things, we can easily see that God is using false teachers to test our faithfulness. Will we obey God's law? Or will we fall for the deception of these vipers with the holy mask? The original serpent's message has never changed, he is still tempting believers to sin with the words: "Ye shall not surely die".
Friends, "let us count it all joy" when our faith and endurance are tested by the false prophets. They are simply another test that we must pass in the school of faith as we grow to the perfection that God requires for eternal life. James spoke of this testing, when he said:
"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who LOVE Him." James 1:12 NAS
Again, we see the word LOVE...and remember...love means obedience to the commandments of God, just as Jesus said:
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that LOVETH me." John 14:21
Friends, We are approaching the grand finale of this earthly drama when Christ returns to judge all men. The hypocrites will have their part in the lake that burns with fire but those who love God will live forever with their Lord.
Harold and Donna Kupp