Chapter 14

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The False Prophet

 

Who is the second beast in Revelation 13:11?

 

He is called the false prophet and is described as having “two horns like a lamb” and speaking “as a dragon” (Rev. 13:11; 19:20). Throughout the Book of Revelation, Christ is portrayed as the Lamb. No doubt the false prophet will come as a lamb in the name of Christ to deceive the masses, but when he speaks, we will know by his words that he is sent by Satan, the dragon.

He exercises “all the power of the first beast” and causes “the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast” (Rev. 13:12). More than likely, he will be a leader in the apostate world church, Babylon, since he has much influence on the masses and works hand in hand with the beast.

Moreover, by the power of unclean demonic spirits, he will do “great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men” (Rev. 13:13; 16:13,14). He will deceive “them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them . . . that they should make an image to the beast” (Rev. 13:14).

The false prophet will also have “power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak” and he will “cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (Rev. 13:15). Together with the beast, his aim will be the destruction of those who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12).

In addition, he will cause “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that, no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Rev. 13:16; 19:20). Christians will resist this pressure even though it will cost many of them their lives (Rev. 15:2).

Finally, he will be instrumental in deceiving and gathering the kings of the earth to the battle of Armageddon in which he will be defeated by our Lord Jesus Christ and be cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 16:13,14; 19:19,20).

 

What are the marks of false prophets?

 

Since the rise of false prophets is a clear sign of the end–time, the Church should know what marks them. False prophets, however, are not easily detected because they’re deceitful workers sent by Satan who have transformed themselves into “apostles of Christ” and “ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:13–15). Usually, they preach just enough gospel to convince most of their hearers that they love the truth. They are influenced by evil spirits and often practice divination and sorcery in the guise of Christianity and spiritual gifts (1 Kings 22:21,22; Jer. 14:14; Ezek. 22:28; Acts 13:6; Rev. 16:13,14; 18:23). Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15). If false prophets are cleverly disguised, how can we know them? Jesus continued, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit” (Matt. 7:16,17).

 

We can detect false prophets by the following traits:

They exalt themselves. They love the praise of men more than the praise of God. Jesus said, “All their works they do for to be seen of men” (Matt. 23:5). They love the seats of honor and being called by flattering titles (Matt. 23:6,7). The man of sin will exalt “himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped” (2 Thess. 2:4). On the other hand, Jesus, our example, is meek and lowly of heart (Matt. 11:29). John wrote, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). See also Luke 16:15; John 5:44; 2 Cor.11:20; 1 Tim. 6:3,4; Pro. 25:27; Jer. 45:5.

They love money. Jesus rebuked religious leaders who “devour widow’s houses” and “are full of extortion and excess” (Matt. 23:14,25). In addition, Peter warned of false prophets and false teachers who “through covetousness . . . with feigned words make merchandise of you” (2 Pet. 2:3). See also Isa. 56:11; Jer. 5:26–31; 8:10; Ezek. 13:19; 22:25; 33:31; Micah 3:11; Acts 20:29–35; Titus 1:11; Jude 1:11.

They work lying signs and miracles. True miracles from God confirm His Word and draw people to Christ, but false miracles from Satan exalt man and deceive the masses. A true servant will give God all the glory for His works and keep himself free from the love of money and the praise of men. He will also emphasize the Word of God and holy living, not miracles. But a false prophet will capitalize on miracles to deceive, to glorify self, and to get rich. See Matt. 24:24; 2 Thess. 2:9–12; Rev. 13:14; 18:23.

They pretend to be sent by God but speak lies. God says, “Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord” (Jer. 23:31,32).

The New Testament warns about false prophets and false teachers who “bring in damnable heresies” (2 Pet. 2:1) and who speak “lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2). Only as we know the truth are we able to detect and to confound the lies of false prophets. See also Titus 1:10–14; Jude 1:3,4.

They cry “peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 8:11). “They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, no evil shall come upon you” (Jer. 23:17). They’ll deceive many by saying, “The world is not going to be destroyed in a sudden onslaught of bloodletting and catastrophe as today’s doom–criers predict. Glorious days lie ahead—a golden age of prosperity and peace.” Beware! “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh. . . .” (1 Thess. 5:3). See also Jer. 6:14; Ezek. 13:10.

They prophesy in the name of the Lord prophecies that do not come to pass. “And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:21,22). Deuteronomy 13:1,2 further warns that if whatever a prophet says comes to pass, but his life influences us away from God, then we are not to follow him. See also Jer. 23:16,26; Ezek. 13:1–16.

They do not follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles. “There shall be false teachers among you. . . . that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness” (2 Pet. 2:1,10).

Paul cautioned, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things)” (Phil. 3:17–19).

They practice phariseeism. Pharisaical leaders are spiritually blind (Matt. 15:14). The Bible describes them as being unrepentant (Matt. 21:31,32); self–righteous (Luke 18:9–12); covetous, proud, and hateful (Luke 16:14); easily offended by the truth (Matt. 15:12); outwardly moral and inwardly wicked (Matt. 23:27); unconcerned for the salvation of sinners (Luke 7:39); oppressive (Matt. 23:4); envious (Acts 17:5); inconsistent (Matt. 23:24); cruel in persecuting (Matt. 23:34); unforgiving toward others (John 8:3–11); crafty (Luke 20:20–26); critical of others (Luke 15:2); and lacking in love and mercy (Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42).

They also love the praise of men (Matt. 23:6,7; John 12:42,43); do not enter the kingdom and hinder those who would go in (Matt. 23:13); lay heavy burdens that are too grievous to be borne on men’s shoulders (Matt. 23:4); and pray and fast to be seen of others (Matt. 6:5,16).

Jesus warned that Pharisees “compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, [they] make him twofold more the child of hell than [themselves]” (Matt. 23:15).

They hold to the traditions of men. Following those who hold to the traditions of men will spoil our faith, trouble us, remove us from Christ, pervert the gospel of Christ, and lead us into the ditch—hell: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). Paul wrote to the saints at Galatia, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him [the Lord Jesus] that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. . . . For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of men, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:6–8,10–12). With reference to those who were steeped in traditionalism, Jesus said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matt. 15:13,14).

In summary, false prophets:

 

1. Exalt themselves

2. Love money

3. Work lying signs and wonders

4. Pretend to be sent by God but speak lies

5. Cry “peace, peace; when there is no peace: (Jer. 8:11)

6. Prophesy in the name of the Lord prophecies that do not come to pass

7. Do not follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles

8. Practice phariseeism

9. Hold to the traditions of men

 

What else does the Bible say about the harmful effects of holding to the traditions of men?

 

 

By traditions of men, we mean those doctrines or teachings that are not consistent with the overall teaching of the Word of God. Instead of stressing the importance of God’s Word, many today emphasize that we should hold to the traditions of the historic church. This emphasis, instead of giving priority to God’s written Word, is leaven that gradually works to deceive many into accepting false religion, which prepares the way for the Antichrist and the false prophet.

By holding to the traditions of men, we also “transgress [go contrary to, violate] the commandment of God” (Matt. 15:3). The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” Jesus answered, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (Matt. 15:2,3). Although it seemed innocent enough, and practical, Jesus and His disciples refused to succumb to this tradition. Since it was not a command of God, they knew it should not have been imposed on others.

Moreover, they saw in the lives of the Pharisees the evil effects of keeping this tradition, such as spiritual pride, self–righteousness, and a critical spirit. These effects, in turn, resulted in the Pharisees’ transgressing some definite commands of God. By their spiritual pride, they transgressed the command, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord” (James 4:10). By their self–righteousness, they transgressed the command, “Purify your hearts” (James 4:8). Jesus plainly declared, “Not that which goeth into the mouth [the germs from unwashed hands] defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth [that which is in the heart: evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies] this defileth a man” (Matt. 15:11,18,19). “Cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matt. 23:26). In addition, by criticizing the disciples for not complying with their tradition of the washing of hands, the Pharisees transgressed God’s Word, which tells us “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common [or unclean]” (Acts 10:28; 11:9).

By holding to the traditions of men, not only do we transgress the commandment of God, but we lay it aside, make it void, reject it, turn from it, and add to it. As long as the Pharisees were walking “according to the tradition of the elders” and imposing their tradition on others, they were “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” not the commandments of God (Mark 7:5,7). Jesus strongly rebuked them. Notice what He said they were doing to His precious Word: “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men” (7:8); “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition” ( 7:13); and “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (7:9).

Paul warned that the commandments of men turn us from the truth: “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:14).

Moreover, we add to God’s Word when we keep our traditions. We minimize the importance of the Bible because we infer that it is incomplete and therefore insufficient to guide us in the right way—thus, we must add our traditions. Serious consequences await those who add or take away from God’s Word: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto himthe plagues that are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18). “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:19). “Every word of God is pure. . . . Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou shalt be found a liar” (Pro. 30:5,6).

By holding to the traditions of men, we become hypocritical and our worship to God is in vain. Jesus reproved the Pharisees, saying, “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:7–9).

If we also teach as doctrines the commands of men, all our worship and service to God will be in vain. On the Day of the Lord, we will find ourselves shut out of the kingdom of God and frantically crying, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? . . . and in thy name done many wonderful works?”—only to hear Him answer, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22,23).

By holding to the traditions of men, we seek to please men, not the Lord Jesus. Paul denounced the tradition of his fathers and testified, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). See also Gal. 1:14; Col. 2:8.

By holding to the traditions of men, we miss God’s true blessings. The Pharisees had no idea of the blessings they missed by holding to their traditions—experiencing salvation and deliverance from sin (Luke 7:30–32; John 9:41); knowing the wisdom and greatness of Christ (Matt. 12:38–42); being filled with the Holy Spirit (Mark 2:22); having spiritual, material, and physical needs met (Luke 4:18–30); rejoicing and praising God (Luke 19:37–40); experiencing heart purity (Luke 11:39); and entering into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20; 21:43). These blessings and many more can be ours when we hold to the pure Word of God.

By holding to the traditions of men, we experience spiritual death, not spiritual life. No matter how rigidly we keep the traditions of men, they cannot give us spiritual life or true holiness. Tradition produces “vain conversation,” an empty, self–deceiving manner of life that often is accompanied by a critical spirit (1 Pet. 1:18; Mark 7:2,3). Such deception spawns a cold, legalistic form of following man–made rules without the love and grace of God flowing from the heart. The result is spiritual death.

When we obey truth, however, the precious blood of Christ, the Spirit, and the incorruptible seed of “the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever,” work together to produce a born–again experience that purifies the heart and fills it with God’s unfeigned love (1 Pet. 1:18–23). The result is spiritual life.

Why is it harmful to hold to the traditions of men? Let’s summarize the damage we may incur.

 

1. We spoil our faith.

2. We are removed from Christ.

3. We pervert His gospel and hold to “another gospel.”

4. We are led into deception and false religion.

5. We become self–righteous and “transgress the commandment of God.”

6. We lay aside God’s Word, make it void, reject it, turn from it, and add to it.

7. We become hypocritical and worship God in vain.

8. We become men pleasers.

9. We miss God’s true blessings.

10. We experience spiritual death, not life.

 

Clearly, then, we cannot keep the traditions of men and the Word of God—we must choose one or the other. Therefore, we must determine by prayer and diligent Bible study if we are holding to the traditions of men, and, if so, be willing to change and obey God’s Word anew.

 

To what does the Bible liken false prophets?

 

To “foxes” (Ezek. 13:4); to “ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15); to “serpents” and “vipers” (Matt. 23:33); to “liars” (Rev. 2:2); to “a fool” (Hosea 9:7); to “a snare” (Hosea 9:8); to “dumb dogs” that “cannot bark” (Isa. 56:10); to “greedy dogs which can never have enough” (Isa. 56:11); to “shepherds that cannot understand” and who “look to their own way, every one for his gain” (Isa. 56:11); to a “child of the devil” and an “enemy of all righteousness” (Acts 13:10); to “natural brute beasts” (2 Pet. 2:12); to “spots” and “blemishes” (2 Pet. 2:13); to “cursed children” (2 Pet. 2:14); to “wells without water [and] clouds that are carried with a tempest” (2 Pet. 2:17); to “trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots”; to “raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame”; and to “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 1:12,13).

 

What influence do false prophets have on the Church and the nation?

 

False prophets deceive by “good words and fair speeches” (Rom. 16:18)—“Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).

False prophets turn people away from the truth. “And they [false teachers] shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:4). “And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergus Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:6–10). See also Titus 1:14.

False prophets subvert the faith of many. “And their word will eat as doth a canker [gangrene]. . . . and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:17,18). “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers. . . . who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Titus 1:10,11).

False prophets bring believers into bondage. “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Gal. 2:4). “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2 Pet. 2:18,19).

False prophets influence believers toward sin and hypocrisy. “And many shall follow their pernicious [lascivious or unclean] ways” (2 Pet. 2:2). According to this chapter, these lascivious ways include acting in “covetousness” (v. 3,14); walking “after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness” (v. 10); despising “government” (v. 10); being “presumptuous” and “selfwilled” (v.10); “not afraid to speak evil of dignities” (v. 10); speaking “evil of the things that they understand not” (v. 12); counting “it pleasure to riot in the day time” (v. 13); “sporting themselves with their own deceivings” (v. 13); “having eyes full of adultery . . . that cannot cease from sin” (v. 14); “beguiling unstable souls” (v. 14); forsaking “the right way” and going “astray” (v. 15); “following the way of Balaam [covetousness]” (v. 15); speaking “great swelling words of vanity” (v. 18); alluring “through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness [immorality]” (v. 18); and being “servants of corruption” (v. 19). See also 2 Pet. 2:20–22; Luke 12:1; Matt. 16:12; 23:13,15; 1 Cor. 15:33.

False prophets resist those whom God sends. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! . . . Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city” (Matt. 23:29,33,34). See also 2 Tim. 4:14,15; 2 John 1:9,10.

False prophets hinder true spiritual prayer and worship. “And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (Matt. 21:15,16).

False prophets persecute the saints. “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now” (Gal. 4:29).

False prophets cause the way of truth to be spoken of as evil. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you. . . . And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Pet. 2:1,2).

The influence of false prophets causes wickedness to fill the land. “I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. . . . from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. . . . For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? . . . 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. 23:14,15,18,22).

When there is “no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish” (Hos. 4:1–3).

False prophets will destroy the flock. “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed” (Isa. 9:16).

Their influence of sin will cause many to partake of their plagues. “And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins” (Num. 16:26). See also Ezra 9:14; Jer. 5:26–31; Rev. 18:4,5.

False prophets hinder souls from entering the kingdom of heaven. Jesus warned, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matt. 23:13).

Jesus also observed, “Strait [difficult with many obstacles] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14). He then named one great obstacle in verse 15—false prophets! And He faithfully warns all who will hear, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

 

What can we do about false prophets and the apostate church?

 

To be specific, the Bible tells believers not to fellowship with:

Those who transgress and abide not in the doctrine of Christ—“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 1:9–11). “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness. . . . from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:3,5).

Those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine—The apostle Paul warned the Church at Rome to “avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).

The foolish—“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge” (Pro. 14:7). See also Pro. 9:6.

Those who work the unfruitful works of darkness—“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11).

Brothers who walk disorderly—“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly. . . . For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. . . . And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thess. 3:6,11,14).

Those who profess that they know God but work abominations—“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16). “Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? Wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?” (Ezra 9:14).

Abominations include stealing, murder, committing adultery, swearing falsely, burning incense unto Baal, walking after other gods (Jer. 7:9); practicing sodomy (Lev. 18:22,23), idolatry (Deut. 7:25; 1 Pet. 4:3), or witchcraft (Deut. 18:9–12); a woman wearing that which pertains unto a man, and visa–versa (Deut. 22:5); using false weights (Deut. 25:13,16); sowing discord (Pro. 6:19); lying (Pro. 12:22); offering wicked sacrifices (Pro. 15:8); justifying the wicked and condemning the just (Pro. 17:15). Those who work abominations are destined for the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).

Those who name the name of Christ but do not depart from sin—“Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. . . . If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:19,21).

Those who are scornful—“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psa. 1:1). See also Pro. 22:10.

Those who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof— They are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:2–5).

Those who are called brothers but are fornicators, covetous, idolaters, etc.—“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat” (1 Cor. 5:11). Since the Bible warns that “a little leaven leavened the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6), we should avoid all false prophets, false religions, and false doctrines. Just a little bad influence can spread. This would also mean avoiding their meetings, their programs, and their literature.

On the other hand, we should seek fellowship with God–fearing believers (Mal. 3:16–18). David said, “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts” (Psa. 119:63). Scripture urges, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:24,25).

Obedience to the above scriptures will help us to be strong in the Lord and to stand in the evil days ahead when all the world is being deceived by the Antichrist and the false prophet.

Objection Answered

 

Isn’t it a noble thing to keep the time–honored traditions of our church or denomination?

 

Someone has said, “Antiquity is no certain rule of verity. It matters not how old an idea may be, how widely it may be believed, how earnestly propagated, how fervently held—if it is not true, it is false.”

God’s Word is eternal and true—“Thy word is truth” (John 17:17); “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psa. 119:89); “The word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet. 1:25). Therefore, why should we hold to the traditions of men?

The Lord commanded, “Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezek. 20:18,19) and “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). See also Jer. 9:12–16.

Make no mistake about it, there can be no salvation as long as we knowingly resist the truth and hold to the traditions of men. Our Lord could not save the Pharisees as long as they held to their traditions; the same holds true for us. When Paul was converted, he denounced the traditions of men. Likewise, to be saved, we must be redeemed from “the tradition of [our] fathers” and be “born again” by obeying “the truth through the Spirit” (1 Pet. 1:18,22,23).

To save souls, God uses the instrument of His Word, not the traditions of men: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23). “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth” (James 1:18). “Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).
 
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