As a former occult practitioner, my answer to whether Christians should celebrate Halloween is that if Christians saw the real faces behind Halloween, they would be horrified. Witchcraft is as the sin of rebellion (1 Samuel 15:23), and the decorations of gore and evil should not be associated with light and purity (2 Corinthians 6:14). Whatever my viewpoints are, I know many Christians exercise “Christian liberty” with this holiday, so I’ll let this controversy brew without further input from me (for this year anyway).
Horror movies exploit fear to create more fear. But fear of what? The evil characters in these movies can only destroy the body; the bigger horror is the evil characters in the pulpit that lead many to eternal damnation. Millions of people are deceived by the disguises donned by false teachers, because these teachers are not outfitted in obvious, evil costumes. These false teachers are dressed to con and deceive. Moreover, the false teachers who are obvious in their heresies are doubly useful to the enemy – not only do they have their naive followers, but the following is commonly heard: “Oh, Heidi Baker/Juanita Bynum/Gloria Copeland is a false teacher for sure but not Beth Moore/Priscilla Shirer/Christine Caine.” It’s easy to assume that outlandish performances in the pulpit would only sound the discernment alarm; however, the performances of a Todd Bentley or a John Crowder further mask the stealthiness of a Christine Caine or a Rachel Held Evans, for example. And how dare anyone mention Peter Popoff and Beth Moore in the same sentence! Shock! Gasp! Yet, despite outward appearances, all false teachers have many things in common, including their delight in deception (2 Peter 2:13).
It is because of this horrifying level of deceit that I apply my Halloween reasoning – if Christians saw the real faces behind false teachers, they would (should, surely) quickly repent and turn away from these teachers. So, let’s unmask these liars and discover how these whitewashed tombs deceive their victims and hold them captive. Let’s not end up like the victims in a B-rated horror movie: Those who run around in confusion, their arms flailing in every direction, and who ultimately (and predictably) meet their respective ends by stumbling into a dark alley, when they should have stuck to the well-lit streets. Let us set our feet upon solid ground, and let the light of Scripture guide our way.
False Teachers Operate in Secrecy and Disguise
There are numerous Biblical references to the deception and trickery that false teachers use. Satan, who is their father (John 8:44), is crafty and cunning; he does not appear in slasher-film garb nor is he dressed up as a villain or archenemy. Being what he is, he appears as an angel of light. Satan doesn’t spew venom or curses from the pulpit; he preaches happiness, false unity, tolerance, and love. Sadly, this is how Christians, who should be as wise as serpents, become the victims of wolves. These Christian victims may have their Little-Red-Riding-Hood moments of “Pastor, what big teeth you have”, but in the end, many people are destroyed.
These verses warn of deception (italics are mine):
- How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? (Jeremiah 23:26)
- Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15)
- They disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
- See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit (Colossians 2:8)
- Deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
- Who will secretly bring in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1)
- So as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24)
- By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive (Romans 16:17)
- For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist (2 John 1:7)
- For certain people have crept in unnoticed (Jude 1:4).
Not only do we need to be aware of the deceptions within the visible church, we also need to be aware of the deceit of our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). It is the deceit of the heart that lead Christians to believe that Joyce Meyer has been a blessing in their lives, and it’s the same deceit that prompts people to recite prosperity affirmations in the vain hope of receiving wealth. A hint of pride and false humility hides in the heart when a person declares, “I don’t judge anyone!” Scripture commands us to judge righteously and not by appearance (John 7:24). False teachers are quick to publish photos of their missionary work; unfortunately, those photos lead the undiscerning folk to think that they’re seeing good fruit. It’s not good fruit; it’s a deception. Unbelievers give to charity as well. False teachers have an appearance of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5).
Identifying Marks of the Disguise
A trap that all false teachers use is to teach half-truths mixed with lies. For instance, many Christians think that because Scripture is referenced in the channeled book Jesus Calling, that it must be biblically sound. I have heard the same defense from followers of Joyce Meyer. These teachers add to and take away from Scripture to justify their counterfeit Jesus and different gospel.
False teachers rarely mention sin or repentance, and when they do, their assertions are unbiblical, such as Joseph Prince’s comments regarding repentance and confession:
The above quotes demonstrate 1 Timothy 6:4: “Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words”.
Scripture instructs us to teach the whole counsel of God, and that includes sin and repentance (Acts 20:27). Joel Osteen disagrees:
The remarks in the video are typical of false teachers who focus on happiness and success instead of godly living. They offer formulas and “breakthroughs” – prescriptions that do nothing to remedy our wretched state of sinfulness. False teachers promote a love for this world, a love that feeds the carnal mind. These teachers promise freedom, but they are slaves to corruption (2 Peter 2:19).
Another doctrine of demons that is gaining popularity in the modern evangelical church is mysticism. Christians are instructed to perform dangerous things, and many of them are obeying. This quote is from the Twitter feed of Jesus Calling:
— Jesus Calling (@Jesus_Calling) October 24, 2015
2. False teachers deceive through smiles, flattery, and an appearance of knowledge
In the Osteen video above, he appears to have the fruit of love, peace, and gentleness – who would have guessed that he is actually ruled by Satan? Osteen is very slick through his use of flattery – what person (Christian or not) wouldn’t want to believe that he or she is destined for greatness and highly favored? However, Scripture warns that by smooth talk and flattery these teachers deceive the hearts of the naive (Romans 16:18).
Another form of deceit is the popularity of these false teachers. Undiscerning Christians believe that these celebrities must be biblically sound because they have large followings; however, Scripture states that these teachers have forsaken the right road and have followed the way of Balaam, who had attempted to curse Israel for the rewards of wealth and popularity (2 Peter 2:15). It is assumed that these celebrities and teachers have great knowledge because they have written (and keep writing!) best-selling books and/or because they have doctorates. Despite these successes, Scripture says that these teachers are ever learning, but they are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). Scripture also states
- They are ignorant, unstable, and twist Scripture, which will lead to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16)
- They understand nothing (1 Timothy 6:4)
- They have corrupt, darkened, and debased minds (2 Timothy 3:8; Ephesians 4:18; Romans 1:28)
- They cannot understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14)
- They do not know what they are talking about even though they speak confidently (1 Timothy 1:7)
- They are hypocrites and liars and their consciences are dead (1 Timothy 4:2).
Despite their best-selling books and sold-out conferences, false teachers cannot understand truth! The naive think they are learning something profound and wise from these deceivers, but their teachings are nonsense. Consider these quotes from Joyce Meyer:
The quotes above reflect Jude’s warning that false teachers are like clouds without water – they promise much but deliver nothing. Besides the obvious unscriptural assertions and the horrendous lack of logic, Meyer is correct about one thing – there is a battle for the mind, since that is how the Word of God is absorbed. Satan loves it when the modern church interprets truth as the world and experience-based pagans do. The father of lies is the true author of Meyer’s book, and his royalty payments are souls. Chilling.
Behind these masks of smiles, flattery, and knowledge hides arrogance – these teachers would have to be arrogant to exchange the Words of God for their own words (Jude 16). They are filled with their own self-importance, and they do not hold themselves accountable to anyone since they reject authority (Colossians 2:18; Jude 8).
The arrogance of Benny Hinn’s desire to kill those who question his teachings, Steven Furtick’s Hater video, and Joyce Meyer’s declaration that she is not a sinner are well known. Let’s veer from the usual list of suspects and see what’s happening in the lesser-known circles. Meet Jory Micah. According to her website, Micah is in the process of writing a book; she was named one of the top 10 female bloggers in Beyond Evangelical – the personal blog of Frank Viola. Not surprisingly, Viola is a false teacher. On her website, Micah says that she had a dream from the Lord and “if you are a woman who has felt limited or oppressed by the Christian Church in any way, YOU were in my dream and there is freedom for you.” Her mission is to
Help women shake off the chains of limitations and the shackles of oppression that the Christian Church has wrapped around them in the name of the Bible and stale religion. (Her) goal is to see women universally embraced as church leaders – elders, lead-pastors, evangelists, Bible teachers, apostles, worship leaders, and every leadership position that both lay women and ordained ministers can dream up with God.”
The errors within the above quote are outside the scope of this article. However, for the record, Micah and I did converse regarding the unbiblical role of women pastors; sadly, she would not listen to what is plainly written in Scripture – that women pastors are unbiblical. According to her website, anyone who disagrees with her is a hater. (And probably a big meanie too!) Micah is obviously a bright young woman, and from all appearances, she could easily become the next Rachel Held Evans or Christine Caine. As the Meyers and Caines of the women-led pulpits age, there are many young women being trained to assume their positions.
Micah admits she was warned; however, arrogance ruled:
3. False teachers are motivated by greed.
Skip to 2:06 to view Leroy Thompson parading through money:
That video speaks for itself.
Many Christians are too focused on the twisted Scripture verses of the prosperity gospel to notice that the Bible clearly warns that false teachers are motivated by greed. These teachers prey on their victims through the same corruption that has led them to the pulpit to begin with – greed! These teachers deceive by evil and carnal means, so it follows that their motivation is also carnal. Paul Washer says, “False teachers are God’s judgment on people who don’t want God, but in the name of religion plan on getting everything their carnal heart desires.” Terrifying thought.
Here are some warnings about the greed of false teachers:
- In their greed they will exploit you with false words (2 Peter 2:3a)
- Having itching ears, many people will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
- They use godliness as a means of gain (1 Timothy 6:5)
- They are shepherds feeding themselves, and they live to satisfy their desires (Jude 12; Jude 16)
- Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction (1 Timothy 6:9).
Guard Your Hearts and Minds
Stay away from these masked bandits! Christians are commanded to avoid these liars who do the work of Satan. Some appropriate verses:
- Have nothing to do with them (Ephesians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:14)
- If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works (2 John 1:10-11)
- Don’t let them take you captive or cause you to lose your own stability because false teachers have turned people away from the faith (Colossians 2:8; 2 Peter 3:17; 1 Timothy 4:1).
It would be pure terror to share in the fate of false teachers as listed here:
- They perish in their rebellion (Jude 11)
- They are not approved of by God (2 Timothy 2:15)
- They are accursed (Galatians 1:8-9)
- They were designated for condemnation long ago (2 Peter 2:3; Jude 4)
- Jesus will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me” (Matthew 7:21-23)
- God will add the plagues of the Bible to them (Revelation 22:18)
- They will receive a greater damnation because they once knew the truth but departed into apostasy (Hebrews 10:26; Jude 11).
Jude, a half-brother of Jesus, lived at a time when Christianity was under attack by apostates, and in the book of Jude, he called the Church to contend for the truth. Therefore, I believe it is fitting to close with his instructions and subsequent praise to God:
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 17-25).
Soli Deo Gloria
Please note that false prophecies are also an indication of a false teacher, which I have warned about here.
I’m exercising my Christian liberty to hand out a costume award: