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Beware The Dangerous, Evil, Deceitful People: 2 Timothy 3:5-9

Updated on September 18, 2013
The Doctor Will See You Now
The Doctor Will See You Now

By Harold Markham

In 1981 an Orange County man known to many as Dr. Barnes was found guilty of manslaughter in connection with the death of a diabetic patient whom he misdiagnosed. This is not at all surprising because Dr. Barnes was not a real doctor. Even though his pretense caused death, Barnes would not stop playing the doctor. Barnes has been in prison four times. Each time he left prison, he went right back to impersonating Dr. Barnes. In 2000 he escaped from federal custody during a prison transfer. Guess what? He went right to work at Family Medical Center in Los Angeles. He purchased a new car. He examined, treated, and wrote numerous prescriptions for patients at the clinic. Eventually Barnes was caught, again.In June 2009 he started serving another 10-year sentence.

Who would want to have “Doctor” Barnes treat them medically? If one would not entrust his physical health to a criminal imposter, why would he entrust the shepherding of his soul to a religious fraud? Just like Barnes there are many men who dress up and act like spiritual leaders, prescribing heresy, fleecing the sheep of their resources, and leading unsuspecting souls to Hell-- all in the name of God.

Consider the plethora of counterfeits.

Cults like:

  • Jehovah Witnesses
  • Mormonism
  • Scientology

False religions like:

  • Islam
  • Buddhism
  • Confucianism

Errant Evangelicalism:

  • Attractional Gospel proponents (Rick Warren and Bill Hybel).
  • Health & Wealth Gospel Preachers (Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, T.D. Jakes)
  • FamousFrauds (Todd Bentley)
  • Extremely Phoney (Patricia King, Joshua Mills)

Evil Emergent Mystic Marxist Universalists:

  • Tony Jones argues for per-marital sex with multiple partners
  • Tony Campolo defends homosexuality and wider mercy
  • Rob Bell denies hell and promotes universalism

In addition to all of these there is the Gnostic Resurgence, Pagan Revival, Paranormal Pursuits and Modern Animism.Mankind is literal under siege by false religion.

syn·cre·tism: the combination of different forms of belief or practice.
syn·cre·tism: the combination of different forms of belief or practice.

Ever since Cain attempted to worship God in his own way, the cry for syncretism has echoed round the world and lodged deeply into our culture in this perilous, dangerous, difficult season. Even though it looks like there are many ways, many paths, and many beliefs,there are only two, Ever since man’s fall there have been only two religions. One comes in myriad of colorful wrappers, flavors and marketing—but don’t be fooled by non generic packaging or the cover—the contents are exactly the same. This is the religion of human achievement.where a man must do something in order to meet the demands the systems puts forth. The other religion is plain and only comes in the old original wrapper. This is the religion of divine accomplishment. Man is incapable of appeasing God because sin is an eternal stain against God's eternal holy being. Only God Himself can meet his perfect righteous demands. He satisfied His own demand in the person and work of Christ. So it boils down to human achievement vs. divine accomplishment: do vs.done. In our society today many are attracted to the flashy wrappers of false religions. They like the idea of doing some task to offset the evil they have done, yet this is only a false hope that will damn for eternity Nothing can undo the past. Justice must be served. All the bright and shinny wrappers contain lies, death and yet pretend preachers prey upon desperate men. Their actions are like the fake Dr, Barnes' treating terminal disease patients knowing full well he was killing the patient because of his lack of qualifications. The danger of pretend preachers, false prophets, and phony pastors is very real.

Beware the religious leaders of the last days!


There are three reasons.

I. Because Many Deceitfully Disguise Themselves (v. 5).

having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.2 Timothy 3:5 (ESV)

The word appearance comes from the Greek word morphsis, which refers to outward shape and appearance. Like the unbelieving scribes and Pharisees, lovers of self are concerned only about the outward form.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence." (Matthew 23:25, ESV)

Jesus said they were "white washed tombs" clean on the outside but full of dead men’s bones. Fake and phony shepherds masquerade as Christian leaders. They claim to be servants of God and teachers of His Word, but they are really servants of Satan. False teachers hold to a form of godliness, that is, an outline of Christianity without substance. This makes them all the more dangerous, because immature members in the church will accept their phony, paganized Christianity as the true faith. Today many such teachers exist. men who deny sin, teach a false conversion, or some other man centered perversion of truth.

This is nothing new. It happened in ancient Israel. Ezekiel warned against such evil priests, whose "heart is set on their gain” (Ezekiel. 33:31).

Paul wrote to Titus and said, :"They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work." (Titus 1:16, ESV)

Our Adversary, the Devil uses partial truth or a truth out of context to his advantage. That should not come as a surprise as we see him doing in the wilderness temptations of Christ (Matt. 4:6).

Satan’s most dangerous attacks against God’s people come from within the church by means of false preachers and teachers who pretend to speak for God. At times they use the Scripture out of context. Other times they add to the truth claiming words of wisdom, revelation, or special insight from God. The deception of such false leaders is seen in their denying the true, gracious, life-giving power of the true Gospel. They appeal to carnal men with carnal means. God becomes a means to an end, rather than the end. They elevate man and downplay the power and work of God, For example, \when the7th day Adventist says we are saved by grace and maintain salvation by keeping the law—it is heresy and a misunderstanding of the grace. Grace saves! Grace is unmerited favor. We don’t earn grace by keeping the law. Dear Reader, we should love the law of God, love His morality, love His high and holy way, but all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

"For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20, ESV)

I realize that many people in our circles at times misunderstand grace and mandate law keeping as a means to acquire grace. At times it can be presented in persuasive ways. However, but Law is an empty, worthless, damning message that keeps its adherents out of the kingdom. It is form without substance- all showdown and outline with no reality.

True believers are given an imperative to avoid such men! The idea is to make yourself turn away. Regardless of how convincing, how deep a relationship, how dear a friend, how sincere a they may seem; we are to make ourselves avoid such Gospel perverts.

When the kids were little we would visit expensive pottery shops in Europe. Each time we were there we would hold their little hands to keep them away from disaster! This is how we are to take charge of ourselves and avoid not just breaking china, but false teachers! We should avoid and keep on avoiding such men, whenever, wherever, and however they may confront us.

Their heresy may be sacramentalism—that grace is imparted to us each time we do one of their prescribed good works, Their heresy may rationalism, ecumenism, subjectivism, experientialism, mysticism, seeker senesetive pragmatism, or any of the countless others that are birthed almost daily in our post, post modern culture! Whatever it is-- avoid it and the ones who promote it.

How do I know if a Bible teacher is a deceiver?

John MacArthur suggests these 3 ways to evaluate whether a preacher is from God.

The first thing to measure is his creed. Are the specific beliefs and ideas he propounds. In Scripture? Does he use the whole of Scripture for the basis for everything he believes and does? Or does he use certain Bible passages selectively to bolster heretical ideas? This is what is called.prooftexting. A passage of Scripture is hijacked from it’s context to make it say what he wants it to say. If a teacher's creed does not measure up to Scripture, or if he belittles the importance of doctrine, nothing else about him matters, because he obviously does not speak for God and has not been sent by Him.

“I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.(Jeremiah 23:21)

A second guideline is his personal character and its reflection in his lifestyle. Even if a person’s professed doctrine is orthodox, ungodly living betrays a godless heart. Godly belief always produces godly living. Not Perfectionism; Paul was the chief of sinners, Romans 7 is in the present indicative—in other words Paul sinned. However, real faith brings a new heart and we are his workmanship (the Greek word poema) artistic creations created unto good works. It is what God has ordain. If there are no good works rest assured there is no engine of faith operating in the life. A lot of pastors and teachers fail to meet the qualifications that God has established in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

A third measure of a godly leader is his converts, his most ardent followers. If his devotees are weak, confused, or unconcerned about doctrine, and if their living does not reflect biblical standards, the leader himself almost certainly is not godly, because godly leaders will not claim or be satisfied with ungodly converts. Christ honoring, Scripture- loving teachers and preachers will produce Christ-honoring, Scripture loving converts. Chameleon Christians will produce converts in their own image. There is no one more like the teacher than his disciple.

Beware of the false teachers of the last days!

II. Because They Prey Upon the Weak (vv. 6-7).

For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:6-7 (ESV)

This particular characteristic does not apply to all false teachers but is a subset of the, This type of false teacher is likely to spring up within the group. found among them. They creep stealthily undetected.

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 4 (ESV)

Paul warned this church of the savage wolves that would infiltrate the flock.

National geographic had a special about the Yellowstone wolves. The targeted the weak, sickly, old, unlucky one that took a wrong turn. A favorite target of these particular false teachers is weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions.

In the wolf video I watched the elk were running in snow and made it hard for them to be mobile. As such they became targets for the wolves.The false teacher’s targets are deep into sins and ungodly impulses have weighed [them] down emotionally and spiritually. The weak women Paul describes here are especially vulnerable to being religiously seduced by false teachers. . Just as Eve was the first target, as the weaker vessel—the fragile fine china of the human race (1 Peter 3:7) false teachers target women.Many times their husbands are passive and refuse to lead their wives—just like Adam did. It is here that that legalistic practices become very attractive because legalism is detected by others through outward performance. Many are glad to find a way that promises to make them right with God simply by adhering to certain outward forms and conforming to certain behavioral standards. That is much easier than dealing with heart issues.These poor victims bounce from one false teacher or group to another, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Ignorance of Scripture and sinful living make them utterly undiscerning and defenseless against unbiblical and ungodly teaching. When rules, facts, precepts and laws fail them, they bounce to liberty, license and everything except the truth.It is the knowledge of the truth that God wants all of His children to have and for which our Lord interceded on our behalf:

“Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth” (John 17:17)

III. Because Many Oppose the Truth (vv.8-9).

Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. 2 Timothy 3:8-9 (ESV)

Although Jannes and Jambres are not mentioned in Exodus or anywhere else in the Old Testament, Jewish tradition says that they are the magicians in the pharaoh’s court who duplicated many of the miracles the Lord performed through Moses.Tradition also holds that they pretended to convert to Judaism in order to thwart Moses’ divine assignment to free Israel from Egypt. It also tells how they led in making and worshiping the golden calf while Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the Law from God, and that they were executed by the Levites along with the other idolaters (See Ex. 32). That is consistent with Paul’s warning about false leaders who corrupt the church from within. Just as those two men opposed God's Word and led ancient Israel into error, so false teachers oppose the truth of the Gospel.

Two additional statements about false teachers appear in verse 8 : They are corrupt in mind. J.B. Phillips translates it as “Their minds are distorted." In other words the avenue through which the truth could reach the will had ceased to function. Their minds are broken. as such they are disqualified/rejected/worthless concerning the faith. The term for “disqualified” is used in the New Testament to describe metals that did not pass the test of purity and were discarded.The word also was used of counterfeits.These men were corrupted/rejected as regards the faith. Paul was speaking of individuals within the church who claimed to be Christians but failed the tests of true conversion.

Paul’s description of the false teachers in this passage confronts us with truth that will affect the way we live:

  1. What we are is seen in what we do. Even though we can adjust our behavior temporarily to correspond to what is socially acceptable or in our self-interest, we will eventually show our character by what we do. Each of us realize the truth of this. This is why the Gospel is so precious to us. It is the saving work of Chirst that molds and alters our character by the Spirit’s work and the Word of God. If we have a new nature than one day we will be like Him. He will perfect the good work He has started. Our sins are paid for and love for the Savior can motive us.
  2. Self-love is the basic shortcoming mentioned in the list of vices in 3:2–5. This vice leads to action in vv. 6–9 that is deceitful, determined to dominate, stubborn, and rejected by God. The best term to describe self-centered action is Paul’s term “folly” (v. 9). Only God, who enables us to love him, can keep our lives from being filled with folly.
  3. The church is in spiritual warfare, a warfare that will intensify as Christ’s second coming draws nearer. we should expect a battle for truth. We must be doctrinally discerning, testing every message that claims to be Christian against God’s Word, as did the God-fearing Jews of Berea, who “received the word with great eagerness,” but carefully examined “the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things” that Paul and Silas preached “were so” (Acts 17:11).
  4. Heresy, apostasy, self-will, and their accompanying moral decadence are engulfing the church the way cancer cells that attack the body. These evils multiply rapidly and choke out and destroy normal healthy cells. Much like white blood cells in the blood, which will not attack cancerous cells because they are identified with the body, many naïve and careless church leaders take no action against corruption in the church simply because the corruption hides behind the guise of orthodoxy. But beloved, we must be in submission to the healthy word of the Scripture and committed to the teaching and preaching of the word

Beware the religious leaders of the dangerous season.


They Deceitfully Disguise Themselves (v. 5).

They Prey Upon the Weak (vv.6-7).

They Oppose the Truth(vv.8-9).

About The Author

Harold Markham is the host of the ER Podcast. He studied to be a pastor and holds degrees in Bible, pulpit speech as well as a Masters in Biblical studies. Click here for more articles by Harold Markham.


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