“So skilled is error at imitating truth” said A.W. Tozer, “that the two are constantly being mistaken for each other.” Such an observation succinctly describes Christendom in these last days. Sure, there have always been tares among the wheat, and goats among the sheep. There have always been prowling wolves who don the garments of the shepherd’s cloak. But in these last days, the lines of spirituality and doctrine are blurred as never before. Perhaps the greatest tragedy in the church is not error; it is that so few people recognize it.
William Howells said, “Parts and parcels of truth are the most envenomed shafts which fly from the bow of Satan.” The malignant fruit in the modern church grows in the Satanic soil of deception and destruction. Even as the serpent of old crept his way into the Garden of God, these men find ways to infiltrate the church. False teachers and preachers are simply doing the work of their evil employer – to corrupt the souls of men. They have always done this, but they are less recognizable in these days of spiritual ambiguity. Scores of people are taking their bait, having no understanding of the damnable results.
When the apostle Paul penned down his pastoral instruction to Titus, he mentioned a group of men who “must be stopped.” Quite literally, they are to be silenced, muzzled, called out, and rebuked. Had Paul delivered his epistle in our contemporary settings, he would have been ridiculed and scorned for being intolerant. I assure you, Paul was not influenced by political correctness. He was not concerned about opinion polls. Can you imagine Paul saying, “Well, we really don’t won’t to offend anyone.” “Just let them do their thing, and we will do ours.” Paul was so adamant about defending truth that he called out Peter face to face. No, I don’t think Paul would have been afraid to name names.
In his letter to Titus, he described such false teachers and preachers. Paul gave five distinct characteristics of those men who must be stopped (Titus 1:10-12):
1. They are Many.
“For there are many unruly…” Paul was not talking about the apostate politician or the Hollywood reprobate. He was talking about those in the church. The word “unruly” means disobedient, contrary, or out of line. Literally, these men oppose the order of God’s House and they are everywhere.
2. They are Mouthy.
“For there are many unruly and vain talkers…” They speak vain, empty, and shallow words. They try to manipulate and capture the attention of men through fanciful articulation, but they have no substance. Almost always these men speak without a Bible in proximity. If the Word is with them, it is always out of context. These men have itched the ears of God’s people for decades.
3. They are Mischievous.
“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers…” The word “deceive” stems from two Greek words: one, to capture or infiltrate the mind, and two, to promote error. Therefore, these men are brainwashers. They have the unique ability to corrupt, deceive, and use trickery to manipulate thoughts and ideas. Again, this is the same tactic used by Satan in the garden.
4. They are Malicious.
“…(they) are liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.” These are sensual savages who live like animals in the kingdom of God. They are liars, they are lascivious, and they are lazy. Their intent is to always stray men away from the gospel of grace. They propagate a message that diminishes the sufficiency of Christ. They delude the cross, the blood, the atonement, the resurrection, and the deity of Jesus.
5. They are Money Hungry.
“…teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” Their motivation is one of greed and gluttony. They are not genuine shepherds. They are thieves, robbers, strangers, and hirelings. They in no wise will give their lives for the sheep. Instead, they rob, they steal, and they plunder the promises of God away from His people. Their reward is not in heaven, neither are their souls.
Men of God, we must refuse to listen to the deafening applause of compromise. We must lift our voice, proclaim the Word of God, and with resolute spirit drown out the diabolical message of such charlatans. The only way these men can be stopped is if the true preacher of God’s Word keeps going! Silence their voice by lifting up yours.