The desire by some to rule over others has always been a problem, particularly when it comes to religions, which is worse because they do it in the name of a god. The apostle Paul held authority over many prior to his conversion to Christianity, and he was a staunch persecutor of early Jewish believers:
3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. (Acts 22)
He could have continued in that vein, but his destiny lay elsewhere after meeting Jesus face to face and being taught first-hand what His Good News (i.e., Gospel) was all about:
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1)
Thus, the following stanza of verses by Paul is quite insightful:
10 For there are many1 unruly and vain talkers2 and deceivers,3 specially they of the circumcision [religionists]:
11 Whose mouths must be stopped,4 who subvert whole houses,5 teaching things which they ought not,6 for filthy lucre’s sake.7
12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply,8 that they may be sound in the faith;9
14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables,10 and commandments of men,11 that turn from the truth.12
15 Unto the pure all things are pure:13 but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure;14 but even their mind and conscience is defiled.15
16 They profess that they know God;16 but in works they deny him,17 being abominable, and disobedient, and unto EVERY GOOD WORK REPROBATE. (Titus 1)
It is particularly troubling after one studies the teachings of Jesus alone and compares them with what the apostles added afterward to know His teachings have for the most part never been implemented; not even to this day.
The presence of false teachers and false prophets has always been a BIG (i.e., many) problems. Even the prophecies refer to them in the context of “many”:
11 And MANY false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24)
1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because MANY false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4)
Note in the following prophecy the reason why false teachers and prophets come:
1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
3 And through COVETOUSNESS shall they with feigned words make MERCHANDISE of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2 Peter 2)
2) Vain Talkers
Most deception does not come by way of truth cutting words, but rather, through flattery appealing to the listener’s vanity.
To speak to sway the hearer with flatteries is very dishonest and yet an oft-used approach for those wanting to exploit or “make merchandise” of their audience:
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4)
4) Must Be Stopped
For the love of others (and the truth being “evil spoken of”), the deceivers must be stopped. We cannot stand idly by and do nothing:
16 Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19 NLT)
5) Subvert Whole Families
As often is the case, when one family member has been swayed, the others may follow:
7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! (Matthew 18)
6) Teaching Things They Ought Not
Anything that would lead a person from truth or God will ultimately lead to “ungoldliness” (adultery, promiscuity, gluttony, greed, etc. as witnessed in many churches today):
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
16 But shun profane and VAIN BABBLINGS: for they will INCREASE UNTO MORE UNGODLINESS.
17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: (2 Timothy 2)
7) Filthy Lucre (Money)
As has already been pointed out, money is the motivating force behind most corrupters of truth and peddlers of paths of a different kind; anything to reach into the pockets of others.
8) Rebuke Sharply
There is no time to waste when souls are in the balance; The truth must be defended at all costs.
9) That They Might Be Sound in the Faith
To change is hard, particularly if the path or framework a person is working in allows for ignoring the true God and indulging in godless acts. However, it is better, upon rebuking the offender sharply that they forsake their godless ways and frameworks and stay out of an eternal hell no matter how dear to us our godless patterns, appetites, or habits are:
9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Matthew 18)
10) Don’t Give Heed to Fables (lies)
If the historical record and the testimonies of the living tell us: a. God is real, b. Heaven and Hell are real, and c. there’s a judgment, it’s better not to give heed to those who mock the truth and claim they are nothing but fables:
2 …the way of truth shall be evil spoken of (2 Peter 2)
11) Commandments of Men
When a wannabe religionist comes along, they will introduce new doctrines and teachings which are just the “commandments of men.” As detailed in my book Babylon – Then and Now, current churches are not following the teachings of Jesus; they are not even following the later teachings of the apostles—they are literally following the “commandments of men.”
22 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. (Deuteronomy 18)
12) That Turned From the Truth
People generally turn from the truth (e.g., their conscience, words of truth, testimonies of truth, scriptures) when either they have been deceived, or are looking for an alternate route due to anger or a moral failing:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; BECAUSE THEY RECEIVED NOT THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED. (2 Thessalonians 2)
13) To the Pure, Things are Pure
This is now being referred to in psychological terms as projection:
Psychological projection is a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. (Wikipedia – Psychological Projection)
In other words, back when Jesus taught Paul that Jewish laws were no longer to be followed since He fulfilled their original purpose, some Jewish converts (such as Peter) still clung to some of them (e.g., circumcision) because they had not received the fullness of the atonement of Jesus.
28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2)
14) To the Defiled Nothing is Pure
A fair percent of Christians are operating under the false framework that since the fall of Adam, all humans, regardless of age, are marred by sin, and this is why they continue to baptize children (including infants), and predominantly preach we are in a “fallen world,” and ALL have fallen short of the glory of God. True, in large part, but not entirely. With so much to preach from, why do they continue to preach that same ole song? Probably, because they are projecting their unworthiness, for a simple confession of Christ is a step in the right direction, not the final stage of fulfilling the mandate Jesus gave of becoming born again:
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3)
Until a professing Christian goes through the process of becoming born again and a manifested Christian, they will never truly feel clean on the inside and therefore never be able to see the earth in a positive light like Paul said: to the pure ALL THINGS ARE PURE:
1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6)
This is also the reason there are so many splinter groups within Christianity and so much deception:
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one TEACH YOU AGAIN which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is UNSKILFUL in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who BY REASON OF USE HAVE THEIR SENSES EXERCISED TO DISCERN BOTH GOOD AND EVIL. (Hebrews 5)
15) Mind and Conscience is Defiled
Our minds and consciences are connected; together, they make up the soul:
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their CONSCIENCE SEARED WITH A HOT IRON;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
7 But REFUSE profane and old wives’ FABLES, and exercise thyself RATHER UNTO GODLINESS. (1 Timothy 4)
16) They profess that they know God
Religionists profess that they know God, that’s what they are doing when they say: “listen to me” and “follow me.”
17) In Works They Deny Him
In works they deny Him means, God is one, and every time a professing Christian (or any faith) claims to be of or from God and then starts a group or church that divides a community (“a different church on every corner” scenario) that becomes proof they do not know God at all. For we are all part of one human family and everyone is connected to God, which means we are all connected.
So too do the fruits of our lifestyle show whether we know God. Do we take no thought as to what we eat or drink (or are we coffee drinking, cigar smoking, alcoholic ministers?), or the impact our eating and drinking habits have on the environment. Do we represent life and health, or death and dying? Do we respect all of God’s creatures or just the ones we don’t eat or wear?
These are some of the fruits that a so-called professor of religion or follower of God can be measured with.