False Teachers Mix Truth with Falsehood

by Wayne Barber

We've been talking about how to live without losing heart. In our last article we began to look at the Apostle Paul, who lived as he taught. He didn't "lose heart," which means to go back to doing things our way and in our own strength. The evidence that he didn't lose heart is clearly seen in his whole manner of life and ministry. For instance, as we saw in our last article, he was grateful for all that God had done and was doing in his life. Gratitude is a sure sign of one who realizes that what he has is not deserved.

There were other indicators that Paul had not lost heart. He was very careful how he fulfilled the ministry God had given him: "but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Cor. 4:2).

His ministry and message were far different from the false legalistic teachers that had deceived Corinth. The word, "renounced," means to speak against; to denounce. He goes on to inform us what he is referring to: "not walking in craftiness"—panourga, cunning; shrewd; crafty, referring to the unscrupulous ways of the false teachers who would stoop to any means to get their message across!

He further clarifies this by saying "or adulterating the word of God." The word "adulterating" is dolo\, to deceive by mixing error with truth. This was a common practice of the false teachers.

I was out in California some time ago and I was getting dressed to go to a meeting.  I had the television on and a preacher was emoting eloquently on the subject of faith. I called my friend in his room to come over and see something. When he came in, I said: "Watch what he is about to do. He is going to preach the truth about faith and then use that very truth to back up the error that he will interject." And did he ever! For twenty minutes he was right on, but then when he had the audience in his hand, he used the precious truth as his proof text for error. Nothing new under the sun, is there? 

Listen to the Apostle Peter as he describes the deceitful methods of a false teacher: "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. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words" (2 Pet. 2:1-3).

The word "false" in "exploit you with false words" is the word from which we get the word "plastic." You can bend plastic when it's hot and make it do whatever you want! Those who do not know sound
doctrine are especially vulnerable to a false teacher. He takes his words and carefully uses them to deceive one's mind. He says what the listeners want to hear, but slips in the error he wants them to believe.  

Paul is not that way! He is concerned about "the manifestation [phanéro\sis, meaning to make something clearly visible for all to see] of truth." Paul's manner of preaching the message of the New Covenant was so open and honest that every man could clearly see what he was saying. He had no hidden agenda. He says: "Commending ourselves to every man's conscience." Paul says that his preaching was honest and truthful and was committed to the verdict of every man's conscience—not to the carnal side of man but to the spiritual discernment of every listener.

And Paul's most important audience was God Himself: "in the sight of God." Paul knew that every time he spoke he was speaking in the presence of God! Christ lived in him!  He was a man who was so overwhelmed that God could and would use him that he never regressed to trusting in his own flesh to do what he now knew that only God could do. He did not lose heart!

 What about you? Are you grateful for God's thinking of you? Are you open and transparent before God and man? Does your life commend your message to others who are desperate to hear? Do you seek to walk in the presence of God, who is your eternal audience? Or have you lost heart and bought into the fleshly means and methods of this world?

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