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. . .  Acts 4:12  . . .

The Expansion of Apostasy

Part 6 – How To Deal With Apostates

Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 10/19/03

We began this series by looking at the definition of Apostasy. Apostasy is defined as the deliberate renunciation and abandonment of the Christian faith. We saw that apostasy began shortly after the founding of the New Testament Church. In Acts 20:29-30 Paul warned of coming apostates after his departure – "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." In fact, apostates were corrupting the Word of God in Paul’s Day. 2 Corinthians 2:17 says, "For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ."

Next, we looked that the Four Dimensions of Apostasy. These are four key ways which apostasy makes inroads into the professing Church. They are…

  1. The Rejection of God’s Authority as illustrated in "the gainsaying of Core." (Jude 11)
  2. The Rejection of God’s Grace as illustrated "the way of Cain." (Jude 11)
  3. The Rejection of God’s Standards as illustrated by "the error of Balaam for reward." (Jude 11)
  4. The Rejection of God’s True Church as illustrated by Jezebel (Revelation 2:20-23).

This is the sixth and last message in the Apostasy series. The title is How To Deal With Apostates.

  • Know Their Tactics & Motivation

Turn with me to 2 Peter 2:1-3 "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."

  • Tactic #1 – Stealth Infiltration

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you…" Verse 1

The Greek word underlying the phrase false prophets is qeudoprofhthv pseudoprophetes (5578). The word "pseudo" means false. So what you have here is a preacher who is an imposter, and a pretender. Then there are the false teachers or qeudodidaskalov pseudodidaskalos (psyoo-do-did-as’-kal-os; 5572). They are both propagators of erroneous Christian teaching. However, they are real good impersonators. Their tactic is to infiltrate into Christian homes and Christian Churches secretly and little by little spread their error. Jude points this out in verse 4 -- "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." Jude 1:4. Turn you attention to the phrase "crept in unawares." It is one word in the Greek -- pareisdunw pareisduno (par-ice-doo’-no; 3921), which means to settle in alongside unnoticed; lodge stealthily; to enter secretly.

So what is the point? False teachers and preachers do not wear signs that say, "BEWARE: I AM A FALSE TEACHER & I AM HERE TO DECIEVE YOU. They come in among us and present themselves as holy, knowledgeable, righteous, humble, and self-denying men that people might be off guard and receive their lies. Outwardly they feign godliness.

  • Tactic #2 – Gradual Deception

"…who privily shall bring in damnable heresies…" Verse 1b

What does it mean to "privily bring in" damnable heresies?" The phrase privily bring in comes from the Greek word pareisagw pareisago (par-ice-ag’-o; 3919) which means to introduce or bring in secretly or craftily. Little by little they worm their ways into the confidence of people. Then, gradually they present their spurious (fake or counterfeit) teachings under erroneous pretences and appearances of truth, using the hidden things of dishonesty, handling the Word of God deceitfully, and coloring things with false gloss and feigned words. Paul warned the Ephesian believers about this tactic. Ephesians 4:14 "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"

  • Motivation #1

"Through covetousness…" Verse 3a

This verse reveals the primary character flaw of wolves in sheep’s clothing, false teachers or apostates. They are motivated by covetousness! Dr. John Gill gives us some insight into this. He notes –

"A prevailing vice among false teachers [is] they have no other end in view than themselves; either to gain popular applause and vain glory, which they are always covetous of; or to amass riches to themselves, after which they have an insatiable desire.

Let me simplify what old Dr. Gill was saying. False teachers focus on themselves. They yearn for public attention, recognition and power. They will go to great lengths, and develop intricate schemes to get money.

  • Tactic #3 – Relentless Rationalizations In Support of Their Spurious Teachings

"Through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you:" Verse 3b

How do apostates deceive people? They use feigned words. The word feigned is a translation of the Greek word plastov plastos (plas-tos’; 4112) from where we get our word plastic. Apostate teachers twist words like plastic for the purpose of promoting their own agendas and manipulating people. People are merely pawns to be used to advance an apostates own selfish agenda. And, the words don’t quit! They keep chipping away with their rationalizations. However Proverbs 10:19 warns "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise." Because they are so good at twisting words, it makes it very difficult to expose their errors.

I am reminded what the Apostle Paul had to say about these divisive individuals. "For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple (trusting)." Romans 16:18

Our Response To Apostates

Romans 16:17 "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

2 Thessalonians 3:6 "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, (deviating from the prescribed order or rule) and not after the tradition (precepts; teachings) which he received of us."

1 Timothy 6:4-5 "He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."

Titus 3:10-11 "A man that is an heretic (one who causes divisions) after the first and second admonition reject (shun; avoid); 11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted (twisted, corrupt), and sinneth, being condemned of himself."

2 John 1:9-11 "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. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

It is clear that once an apostate false teacher is uncovered fellowship is to cease.

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