Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church
The Four Most Dangerous Mistakes any Christian Can Make


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The First Most Dangerous Mistake Any Christian Can Make ...Believe that WE, Or OUR Pastor/Denomination/Spiritual Leader, Cannot be Fooled

Carol Brooks

Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:21).

Also See
Why Christians Are Deceived
That deception is so rampant in the church can be primarily attributed to just one underlying fact - the vast majority of Christians today are Biblically illiterate.

The Four Most Dangerous Mistakes Any Christian Can Make
1) Believe that we, or our pastor/denomination/spiritual leader cannot be fooled, 2) Attribute every personal testimony and “sign” as being of or from God, 3) Take Bible verses out of context and 4) believe that we, as Christians, are not to judge anything or any one. Not necessarily in that order.

 Fraternizing With The Enemy
Few seem to realize that the Christians are commanded to separate themselves from those who teach and practice false doctrine

True and False Unity
Although doctrine has often been allowed to divide people in disgraceful ways, division is not something that can be avoided. You could scour the Scriptures for the next ten years without finding a single word about being united at the expense of truth. Ignoring important areas in which we differ is simply a papering over of the rot in the walls



Part I - We Are Wise In Our Own Eyes
Introduction - We Don't Really Believe What The Bible Says,
Think We Cannot Be Fooled,
And Rely On Others To Decide What We Should Believe

Part II - The Two Main Reasons Heresy Has Crept Into The Church
Biblical Illiteracy - Knowing What The Bible Teaches Takes Work
Deviation From The New Testament Pattern for Church Meetings

Addendum I - Completely False 'Proof-Texts'.
Addendum II - The Many Scriptural Warning About False Teachers

Part I - We Are Wise In Our Own Eyes

Introduction - We Don't Really Believe What The Bible Says,
We say we believe that our Bible is the inerrant word of God. We say that we read His word and implicitly believe what it says.

The truth is that we do not.

The truth is, that for the most part these are mere words, and we believe none of these things.  Because if we did actually take the Word of God seriously, we would stop glossing over passages like this one.

    But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

Paul used the word some. Jesus however, went a lot further and told us that many would be led astray, and few would find the narrow road.

    "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:10-13)

    "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Since one has to be on the right path before one can be led astray, Jesus had to be speaking about believers. Yet, these words do not see to give us any pause for thought. How often do we look around and wonder who the "many" being led astray are?

Do we not have the sense to wonder how it is possible that only a few find the way when Christianity is apparently booming with dozens of mega-churches, countless Christian institutions, and literally thousands of 'Christian' books being published ever year and an equal number of 'Christian' articles available online. To say nothing of fact that the vast majority of Christians are churchgoers and may regularly watch 'Christian' TV.

What can account for the discrepancy between what appears to be a relatively stable/spiritually prosperous church, and what the Bible says about many falling away. Did Jesus and Paul have absolutely no idea what they were talking about, or has the situation done this marvelous turn around since they spoke which, by the way, would make both of them false prophets.

Or is the problem that it is us who are are wise in our own eyes and clever in our own sight - something that Isaiah warned about. (5:21). In other words,

Think We Cannot Be Fooled,
In spite of the fact that deception is one of the major themes of the New Testament, with the words deceit, deceitful, deceitfully, deceitfulness, and deceive, used over and over again, most Christians seem to labour under the misconception that delusion is what the guy in the Pentecostal church down the road is under.

    To Deceive means to cause someone to believe what is not true; To lead another into error, danger, or a disadvantageous position. Deception is a misrepresentation of the truth, regardless of whether the person doing the misleading is himself deluded.

In other words when it comes to Christianity, deception means that the deceived person wholeheartedly believes that the path they are on is the right one, the beliefs they hold are Biblical, and the practices they indulge in are supported by Scripture. As the author of Proverbs said...

    There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.  (Proverbs 14:12 NASB)

What is rarely realized is that deception can only occur is it looks like the real thing. To paraphrase the words of apologist Craig Hawkins... for counterfeiters to successfully pass off fake one-hundred-dollar bills, they cannot print out pictures of Donald Duck on purple paper. They have to duplicate genuine hundred dollar bills as closely as possible. Even the magicians in Pharaoh's court could, up to a point, imitate the God enabled miracles performed by Moses. (Exodus 7 - 8).

The disciples were dedicated to the Messiah and had forsaken all to follow Him. They were hand picked by the Messiah to found and lead His new church and had been under His personal care and guidance for some time. They also had little in common with, or sympathy for, the Pharisees and Sadducees. Yet, in Matthew 16:6, our Lord warned them to "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees".

This should only underscore the fact that no one, not even the leaders of the church, are immune to being influenced by false doctrine.

And Rely On Others To Decide What We Should Believe
When non-Christians hold to the beliefs they may have held from their childhood, we urge them to examine the evidence for themselves. Yet Christians rarely seem to take their own advice and look to others to tell them what the Bible says.

More often than not, they are unwilling to even consider the possibility that some of the doctrines they have unquestioningly accepted may not conform to what the Bible teaches - this in spite of the fact that both Peter and Paul were very emphatic about the fact that wolves would come from the flock itself (Emphasis added)

    "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. (Acts 20:29-30 NASB)

    But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. (2 Peter 2:1 NASB)

Yet, most Christians today, totally ignoring the implications of Paul's warning in Acts 20 29-30, seem to think that heresy is something that largely happens outside the church. While the founders of cults such as the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses started out in traditional church settings, they eventually separated themselves from the church, and are therefore more easily recognizable.

However, when Peter said false teachers will "secretly introduce destructive heresies", he was obviously speaking of heresies being introduced INTO the church....

"Rigorous Intellectual Skills" - Seriously?
Not too long ago I read a statement that I will never ever forget. It was made by Melinda Penner, executive director of Stand to Reason. She wrote,

    "Doctrinal development requires rigorous intellectual skills and sound philosophic categories to accurately apply God's revelation" [16]

And, the man in the pew, having been well indoctrinated into believing that those with "rigorous intellectual skills" have to know what they are talking about, accepts and believes what they say as coming from the mouth of God Himself.

However, as far as I can tell, most of these supposed truths were decided somewhere back along the line, often many hundreds of years ago. They have then been passed down as Gospel truth from one generation to the next ad infinitum - in one or the other seminary/church/Bible study, with the same proof texts offered and accepted . This, I suspect, has largely been the case since the original apostles died.

The end result being that when people go to their Bibles, they do so with preconceived idea already firmly in place.

The late Dave Hunt once said...

    If by reading I cannot discern "the intended meaning of the Holy Bible," then who can? Was it written only for some elite? Must we trust a pastor, priest, denomination? The Roman Catholic pope and magisterium? How could I or you or anyone else today know to whom to look for the correct interpretation of the Bible? If you are suggesting that no one can know, then God has given us a worthless book. [15]

At some point in time, we really need to stop accepting theories and explanations from others and do our own research. Modern software programs have made it relatively easy to examine Hebrew and Greek words and, more importantly, by tracing every occurrence of the word see how they are used in the Scriptures. There is no question that the study can, and does, get a little complicated and time consuming. But when eternity is in the balance...

In the modern church, asking a person to read the actual text, and not allow anyone to tell them what they think the text means, seems to be quite a novel concept in Christianity.


Are we just so used to having the Bible interpreted for us that we are too lazy, or too gullible to go look for ourselves? Or have we been so indoctrinated that when we read the verses in question, we read into them what we have been led to believe they say / have always been told what their meaning is. Or do we, as a matter of course, just believe the man behind the pulpit, the one with a string of letters behind his name, or the one who's words happened to find themselves in print (After all, he must know what he is talking about).

It is not surprising that, over and over again, Jesus called us sheep.

 Sadly, those that disagree with orthodox church doctrine are immediately dismissed as heretics. Yet, in the final analysis, doctrine cannot be based on

     what this or that church father believed and taught, or what conclusions various councils came to,

     what seminaries and Bible schools teach,

     what 'orthodox' church doctrine states

     what the official position is of any given denomination is

     what conclusions modern scholars and theologians come to - regardless of how highly thought of they may be.

And we certainly cannot trust what Catholic mystics, deeply immersed in Greek philosophy, teach See Contemplative Spirituality

By this, I certainly do not mean that we cannot learn from those who may have devoted much of their lives to the study of the Scriptures, and may have great insight into God's word - I certainly have. What I am saying is we have to know that what we are being told agrees what the Bible teaches. Every single word that proceeds from the mouth and pen of man has to be carefully checked against the standard that the Almighty Himself has given us.

And note that a few out of context "proof texts don't count. It is well to remember that false teachers will glibly rattle off Scriptural passages that appear to support their teachings. However, the man in the pew needs to be aware that these verses are usually taken way out of context and do not say what is claimed. In fact, it is not at all rare to find that the verse in question, if read in context, will say exactly the opposite. 

See Context is Crucial
No Biblical author simply strung together a number of lofty sounding phrases disconnected from one another. Since each verse is an integral part of a particular point the author was trying to make, no one should read, much less base their beliefs on stand alone verses. The reader can only be accurately informed by God's Word the way it is written -  in its context. Understanding what the author meant comes not only from the words he wrote, but also by what the overall message of the chapter is intended to convey.

Also note that the Bible vigorously censures teachers of false doctrine.

    Reject a factious man (A heretic) after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)

    "But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8- 9) 

If even an angel from heaven is to be accursed for preaching a different gospel, how much more so the charming charismatic person up on a stage, flashing his brilliant (and endearing) smile, all the while preaching a message that the Bible never heard of, much less endorsed.

Regardless of how eminent the theologian, if his words do not agree with the Scriptures, then they are to be discarded forthwith... without delay or hesitation.

No, I take that back.

Considering that all too many of the issues are a matter of life and death, false doctrines are not just to be simply rejected but must be actively opposed.

Part II - The Two Main Reasons Heresy Has Crept Into The Church

Biblical Illiteracy
In today's Biblically illiterate Christian world, many Christians think that doctrine is not important. Our entertainment oriented, anti-intellectual, often superficial culture wants everything including religion, in pre-digested, convenient little packages. Wishy-washy sermons, often devoid of Biblical truth or in complete conflict with Biblical teachings, are heard from pulpits around the world. Because hype, hoopla, and heightened emotions are seen as the work of the Holy Spirit, we are giving less and less heed to in-depth Biblical study and understanding, which leads to right doctrine.

And please remember that I am not referring to Bible studies conducted by someone in authority in the church because this could very well  mean that the study could be guided in the direction of whatever that particular church believes. It is not that difficult to manipulate group discussions.

If you have not studied the Scriptures for yourself, how will you know that something is very wrong if your church veers off course and starts teaching false doctrine? Where will you stand if your pastor decides that his church needs to join the 21st century and become a seeker-sensitive, or purpose driven church. Will you, along with many others in the congregation be persuaded to go along with his ideas. After all, he does quote best selling authors in his arguments for the changes.

Considering the astronomical stakes, are you willing to risk that your are being "tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming"? (Ephesians 4:14 NASB)

However, the problem is, you cannot know what is Biblically unsound unless you know what is Biblically sound. In other words, you have to know what the Scriptures teach... you have to know doctrine. There is simply no other way. See Theology and Doctrine

Knowing What The Bible Teaches Takes Work
The problem is that there is no magic wand which automatically causes a believer to know what the Bible says. It takes not days or weeks, but years to come to a more complete understanding of the Holy Scriptures which, like an onion, have layers upon layers of depth. Consider this advice from the book of Proverbs...

    My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the Lord And discover the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)

Wisdom is attained by giving heed to God's words, and treasuring His commandments, by seeking and searching.

But all that sounds like work... hard work. And Christians are not usually so inclined. Why would anyone start an in-depth study of a particular subject in the Word of God, when they can access to the convenience of a 20 minute "sound bite". Why study, when the preacher can deliver in just a few minutes every week. After all, wasn't that what he went to seminary or Bible school for? Isn't that what he is being paid to do? So, the man in the pew sits back and passively absorbs all the flotsam and jetsam that so often floats down... whether in the form of sermons from the pulpit, or the latest hot shot book that is all the rage for a season.

And consider this. It would take a lifetime to uncover the riches and layers of the Bible alone, yet men seem to have the time to attend to the voluminous writings of an ancient Catholic philosopher (Augustine) who believed in a purgatory, masses, prayers for the dead, the intercession of saints and martyrs in our favor and the innocence of Mary... In short all the superstitious baggage of the Catholic church. 

How come?

Deviation From The New Testament Pattern for Church Meetings
Contemporary churches have deviated so far from the pattern established in the New Testament, they have literally paved the way for the preachers of false doctrines.

In the early church the preacher nor his sermon was the center of the assembly. The meeting were never dominated by one man, but led in 'an orderly fashion' by the Holy Spirit, who was free to move through the gathering as He saw fit in. Questions and discussions were a healthy part of the meeting (I Corinthians 14:27-40), and if a person received an insight while another was speaking, the person would stop and listen to the recipient of the insight. Consider how the phrase 'one another' is used in the NT.

    Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

    Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

    But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13 NASB)

    and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (Hebrews 10:24)

    As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Present-day churches, which have become nurseries for overgrown spiritual babes, have long forgotten this pattern. How many churches do you know that trust the leadership of the Holy Spirit to direct and shape their services. If truth be told, the Holy Spirit could be taken out of the average church and 99% of the program would not be affected in any way.

We, like the Israelites of old, clamor for a king to rule over us (1 Samuel 8:19), and rely on a go-between to tell us what God has said. This has made it very easy for heresies to creep in. For Details See Section The Pattern Of The New Testament Church

Addendum I - Completely False 'Proof-Texts'.
Note: it is totally pointless to even read any of these articles unless you are prepared to set aside your denominational presuppositions and other biases, and rely strictly on what the Word says, something that seems to be easier said than done for most Christians.

     Filthy Rags: Isaiah 64:6 has long been used as a proof-text for two totally distinct yet equally unfounded beliefs. See Filthy Rags

     None That Seeketh: Romans 3:11-18 is often quoted to bolster the claims of universal depravity - but one really need to examine the source of Paul's quotes. See None That Seeketh?

     Original Sin and Epigenetics: It has long been assumed, by those that believe in Original Sin, that Adam's transgression was transferred to all future generations, tainting even the unborn. However, there is a distinct possibility that Adam's sin did something that affected his descendants to the point they were no longer "in His image"? ...A something that has to be put right before a person can be considered once more a "son of God", eligible for the Kingdom of Heaven. See Original Sin Or Epigenetics - What exactly was it that Adam passed down to his descendants?

     The Trinity: The doctrine of the trinity is one of mainstream Christianity's most universally accepted and hallowed doctrines held sacrosanct by Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox believers alike. Most people believe this largely based on the fact that the Holy Spirit is referred to as 'He' or "Him" in the New Testament. The problem is that doctrinal bias, not grammatical accuracy, is responsible for referring to the Holy Spirit with masculine rather than neuter pronouns when both are equally legitimate. In other words, there is no grammatical foundation for the orthodox view of the Trinity. See The Trinity - Part IV. Note this is a six part article.

     Hell: Unfortunately, most Christians believe that an everlasting nightmare is a core doctrine of the church. It is not. It took the Christian community hundreds of years to come up with a consensus on the issue. Besides which, in order to support what they think is right, various translations have rendered several Hebrew and Greek word according to their own preconceived ideas. See What and Where is Hell?

     Heaven: And while you are about it, you may as well read What and Where is Heaven? Christians who believe they will spend an eternity in "heaven", seem to have little or no idea where this heaven is, what it will look like, or what they will do there. Either they have vague, half formed ideas about some ethereal place 'out there' or resort to pious phrases that amount to little more than spiritual gobbledy gook. If this is the best we can do then it is little wonder that non Christians are not in the slightest bit interested in our "heaven", and Christians themselves so rarely seem to look forward to the coming of the kingdom of God. Luckily the Bible isn't at all silent on where "heaven" is and, even more importantly, what it will be like. Actually, the Bible's description of the coming kingdom is far, far, more practical, and a lot less pious sounding than that of our theologians. See What and Where is Heaven?

Addendum II - The Many Warning About False Teachers.

     Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:15)

     And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray (Matthew 24:11)

     And He said, "See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not go after them. (Luke 21:8)

     "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:29-31)

     Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Romans 16:17-18)

     I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:6-9)

     Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:6)

     See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

     As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith... For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertion (1 Timothy 1:3-4, 6-7)

     But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, (1 Timothy 4:1)

     But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful ... But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3: 1-2, 13)

     For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

     Reject a factious man (A heretic) after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)

     You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, (2 Peter 3:17)

     Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. (Jude 1:3)


    Index To The Four Most Dangerous Mistakes Any Christian Can Make