- Religion and Philosophy
Why are so many Christians falling for false teachings in today’s churches?
One question that has entered my mind very often is why are so many Christians falling for false doctrine in today’s church? Many times I have sat in churches listening to distorted messages coming from the pulpit and have never returned. However, what I found more disturbing was watching Christians blindly following false doctrines and being easily deceived by people claiming to be servants of God.
Everywhere you look, the Word of God is being continually distorted and false teachings have infiltrated our churches so much that it has divided the body of Christ. Many Christians that have fallen for the lies and were misled are leaving the church confused, discouraged, and betrayed not knowing who or what to believe anymore.
Why are people falling for these false teachings? Because they are not reading or understanding their Bibles! When it comes to knowing our Bible, not many know what is in the Bible or have a clear understanding of what it is saying. One reason may be because there are too many interpretations and arguments about what the Word of God says. Another reason may be that we put too much trust on who is delivering the message without reading it for ourselves.
I do not mean reading it here and there and when you do not understand a passage, you move on instead of meditating on the Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to be your teacher. I mean reading the Bible from cover to cover and understand what it says.
We rely on our pastors and spiritual leaders to “feed” us the Word, and trust them blindly to do so but in reality, many have a different agenda and God is not in it, so people are being deceived. That is why it is important to read and study the Holy Scriptures, to understand the Word of God and keep it stored in your heart so that you would not be deceived. You will then be able to discern if what is coming out their mouths is in alignment with God’s Word, if it is not, then it is false teaching. Do not just rely on what your spiritual leaders or anyone (including myself) is telling you, read it for yourselves.
In talking to people here and there, I realize that many people are in the same position; they have not read their Bibles cover to cover. Some have been born again Christians for many years yet they have not read their Bibles entirely. If you do not read the Word of God you will not know God. You will also lack the knowledge of the Word and become vulnerable to the lies being preached today. But most importantly you will lack the close relationship with Him that He so greatly desires.
How do you develop a close relationship with God? You develop a close relationship with God as you would with your husband, wife, child, mother, father, brother, sister or any loved one. You develop a bond with them, talk to them every day, confide in them, trust in them, are loyal to them, take comfort in them, and learn their nature. In the same way you bond with God and you will know His nature and will for mankind.
I remember being in that same position a while back. I did not read the Bible in context; I read the Bible in verses and was lead by the mood I was in. If I felt rejected and lonely, I would search the Psalms. If I felt that I needed wisdom or guidance, I would read Proverbs and so forth. You can say that I’ve read the Bible by verse like many people. I would pick a few favorite verses to help me through whatever I was going through and memorized them, and then would recite them whenever I felt I needed them. If you’d ask me specific questions about the Bible, sometimes I could not quite answer them because I had not read the Bible in its entirety.
Now I know what is in the Bible, mind you I still have to go back and re-look for certain answers only because the human mind can only store so much information. But now that I know what is in the Bible and understand it, I know for certain when something I’m hearing is not from God. Even if my memory fails, my spirit knows.
So what happens when you do not know the Word of God? As I said earlier, you become easily deceived. Since the majority of Christians trust and love their spiritual leaders many become “indoctrinated” and follow blindly without questioning the validity of their teachings. We must be like the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily for the truth (Acts 17:11).
Many Christians assume because their spiritual leaders went to Bible College, have a theology degree, and are ordained they are delivering the truth when in fact many are not. Christians are lacking discernment and do not test the spirits as the Word of God tells us to do (1 John 4:1-3) because a false teacher will never teach them to search for the truth for themselves.
Earlier in my walk with Christ, I also fell for many of the lies being taught today. However, as I began to question what I was hearing from my spiritual leaders and poured myself into the scriptures, I became painfully aware that I was being deceived. I remember asking myself, “Why would so many people fall for the false teachings of some of these spiritual leaders (me included), and why are there so many of these false teachers in our churches today going undetected?”
In search for this answer, I came across a very interesting article where the writer describes the similarity between poison, lies and false teachers. The writer, which I cannot recall the name or the website, used the following analogy. He describes that in the movies, in order to poison someone, the killer would not give the victim poison straight out, that would be too obvious and easily detected by the investigating authorities. Instead, the killer would introduce a bit of the poison with a good tasting drink like juice, that way it went undetected by the victim and was un-traceable.
In the same way, lies are introduced into the church. To introduce false teachings straight out into the message would be too obvious. The false teacher would instead mix a bit of the lies together with the truth of God’s words to make it un-detectable. They already have your love and trust, the rest is easy.
I thought back trying to remember when I first began to realize I was being deceived and it began when I felt it in my spirit that something was very wrong… it is called discernment, as I mentioned earlier. If we have the Holy Spirit in us, who is our teacher and our guide, we also have this gift. Merriam-Webster describes discernment as “a power to see what is not evident to the average mind.” That’s when I made the decision to open my Bible, not just to read by verses but in context, to learn it, to understand it, and to study it.
As the Lord lifted the veil from my eyes that was blinding me, I remember feeling angry and frustrated because many of the wrong things being taught became very clear. In horror I realized that God’s sheep were being led astray and straight into hell if they did not turn themselves around; hell is not just for the unsaved but for everyone who rejects truth.
There’s no excuse for this lack of knowledge. It is not like we did not know, Jesus warned us about this in Luke 21:8. Let me give you just a few examples of things that should send up a red flag when you hear them:
Is the term “give a financial seed” scriptural?
How often have you heard a preacher or spiritual leader say “Give a financial seed?” In the Bible, the word “seed” refers to the agricultural seed as in “seed-bearing plants” during the creation of the world, as found in the book of Genesis and contained within the other books of the Bible. The word “seed” also refers to the Word of God; it refers to faith, as mentioned in the books of Matthew, Luke, John, and other books of the Bible. And, it refers to a spiritual seed (1 Cor 9:11). You will only find the words “financial seed” in the distorted teachings of merchant preachers or prosperity teachers, NOT the Bible.
Can you lose your salvation?
How about this? Have you been told that “You can lose your salvation?” First hand, let me say that saying a prayer does not save you, for by grace we are saved through faith and not by uttering a prayer or by any righteous deeds.
Now back to losing your salvation. The Bible tells us "For many are invited, but few are chosen" (Mat 22:14), and if we were predestined and chosen by grace (Eph 1:4-6), the foreordained, called, justified and glorified through Jesus (Rom 8:29-30), we will have our names written in the Lambs' Book of Life (Rev 21:27) and will enter Gods’ Holy City-- the New Jerusalem. However, we were given free will and we can choose to turn from or fall away from God.
Then when we sin and turn our backs on God, do we lose our salvation? Being saved does not mean that you will not make mistakes; we all stumble many times but we should also learn from our mistakes and not make them again.
No born again Christian wants to sin once they truly accept the Lord Jesus into their lives, but because of our sinful nature we do. If you do commit a sin against God or against man and repent from the heart for what you did wrong, God is a loving and merciful Father, and because of what Jesus did on the cross for humanity, He will forgive you your sins and forget them (Ps 103:11-13). On the other hand, if you declare with your mouth that you believe in Jesus but continue in the things of the flesh, then I would question your salvation because even Satan believes in Jesus.
Is tithing unscriptural under the New Covenant?
Here’s another red flag, and the most controversial and lengthiest of my examples, only because many Christians have left the church and their faith because of this. How about the beaten worn-out sermons about tithing? The much treaded Malachi 3:8-10.
When it comes to tithing, I am not only making reference here to false teachers. There are many God-fearing and God-loving preachers that teach about tithing, and I have also come to question why do they teach this. I have come to the conclusion this is the way they were taught by their mentors, their own pastors, and even in theology school. I understand they have to maintain the church and pay bills; however, the old tithing law of the Old Covenant should not be used. The tithing law is not scriptural under the New Covenant.
This teaching has created many problems in churches today. Many Christians, who are already struggling, are placed under a large financial burden when they are asked to tithe, give offerings, supply the food pantry, provide back-to-school supplies for children, donate to repair the roof, the A/C, or any other cause. If they are not able to tithe and contribute financially, they leave the church feeling guilty and condemned.
Then there are many unscrupulous preachers out there that use the old law of tithing for their own gain. These predators pray on the vulnerable, the ignorant, and weak, and their methods of coercion is frightening. They like to play with people's minds and plant guilt and fear in their followers by telling them that they are ”under the blessing” if they tithe and if they do not, they “are robbing God” and are under a “curse.”
I’m not saying not to support your church or any of the good causes for the community. If you give, do it joyfully and without condemnation, because the Bible says about giving (not tithing) “ Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). If it is in your heart to give then give, but do not allow anyone to plant guilt in you if you do not.
Many of these preachers in their defense will quote 1 Corinthians 9:9 but if you read the whole chapter in context and not just the verse, you will find that Paul was talking about eating and drinking, taking on a wife, and forgo working for a living— not tithing.
I agree that the church can ask for contributions, donations and offerings to run the church and compensate the pastors for teaching the gospel. Paul addresses the rights of an apostle in the same chapter, 1 Corinthians 9, but for the sake of preaching the Gospel and not to create a burden on the church, Paul never exercised that right. He sought after a much higher reward; he asked “What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it” (1 Cor 9:18). But coercion by misusing the Word of God should not be tolerated.
The old tithing law has permeated modern day churches. For the exception of a few, all churches teach about tithing. Many use Malachi 3 as a measure of your faith, and many use it to inflict fear and guilt on the people and coerce them to tithe. However, if you read Malachi 3, the issue is not about money. To find out who God is speaking to, you will have to read Malachi 1 and 2. Then you will find that God is rebuking the priests for their disobedience and because they were dishonoring Him by not keeping the covenant. The priests were grumbling and robbing God and offering Him blind, sick and crippled animals. God admonishes them and tells them to bring the food into the storehouse. Again, Malachi 3 is not about money.
We are no longer under the Law of Moses
So, I must warn you that this teaching places God’s children under the Mosaic Law… again (Gal 3:10), for the Jews and Gentiles alike. Paul made it clear that we are no longer under the law anymore but under grace (Rom 6:14); Jesus fulfilled all 613 laws to its entirety when He died on the cross for the sins of mankind. This does not mean that we break God's commandments and kill, bear false witness, steal, etc. Even in the New Testament, the Bible tells us that we should not do so.
It is simple to understand why the old laws were done away with, the old law was not working; people were not keeping the laws that the Lord put forth. Furthermore, the law justified mankind by works; it made them clean outwardly. In order to resolve this problem, Jesus was chosen by God the Father as the new “high priest forever” after the order of Melchizedek, no longer in the order of Aaron (the Levites) (Gen 14:18-20; Ps 110:4; Heb 5; Heb 7:1-28).
Who is this Melchizedek? Melchizedek was the high priest and the King of Salem (Jerusalem) and he stood for the new covenant established through Jesus (Read Hebrews, chapter 7). Reading about this king, only mentioned a few times in the Bible, will clear many questions about the old and new covenant and the old covenant law, which included tithing (Heb 7:11-28).
Therefore, the old covenant is no longer in effect because there was a change in priesthood, from the Levite priests to Jesus, and Hebrews 7:12 clearly stated it “ For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law . ”
If God’s children continue to believe in these teachings, we are reverting to the old laws and the works of the flesh, and then we are no longer under grace and are not justified by faith. As Paul states, " I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain " (Gal 2:21).
The tithing arguments used are not accurate
Many Christians are beginning to challenge their spiritual leaders on this doctrine. I have seen many leaders in fear of losing their authority, credibility, and money coming in to the church, argue by telling the church things, such as:
1. Cain tithed
2. Tithing was around before the law because Abram gave a tenth to Melchizedek
3. Jacob tithed
4. Jesus approved tithing when He talked to the Pharisees and teachers of the law
Second, Abram (Abraham) gave a tenth of the "spoils" of the war one time as was the custom at the time (Gen 14; Heb 7). Abram did so voluntarily, as a tribute to the high priest and King of Salem. There is no mention in the Bible that Abram tithed anywhere else in the scriptures.
If there was an omission in the Bible that Abram continued to give a tenth, it does not mean that we are to assume he did. We are not to add or take away from God's word, it is written "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar" (Prov 30:5-6). This warning is also found in Rev 22:18-20.
And this is exactly what many of our spiritual leaders are doing by teaching their churches that although it is not mentioned in the Bible that Abram continued to tithe, we have to assume he did. I think this falls under "adding" to the Word of God.
Third, Jacob made a conditional vow to (voluntarily) give God a tenth, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth" (Gen 28:20-22). This tenth was not a requirement placed on him or any of his descendants up until the “law” was given.
Lastly, Jesus was trying to make a point here and it was not about tithing. He wanted to point out that although they (the teachers of the law and the Pharisees) were giving a tenth of their spices under the “law” (because they were still under the law), they failed to practice the most important thing “justice, mercy and faithfulness.” What they did, they did not do for the love of God but for themselves to show-off and brag (Mat 23:23; Luke 11:42). They were justified by works (the law) not by faith (grace).
Jesus was still under the law when He spoke to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Once Jesus died on the cross, the Law was fulfilled (Gal 4:4-5). Once He fulfilled the Law, the debt was paid for and no longer due by God’s children. He became sin, a curse for us, and He freed us from sin and the “curse of the law.”
Now, there is one law that will combine all the laws and commandments of God and Galatians 5:13-14 expresses it “ For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” In other words, if you have love, you would be keeping all of God’s commandments.
Heated debates have risen between those who tithe and those who do not tithe, and the ones who do not tithe have been accused of taking only certain parts of the Bible and throwing away the rest. If that is the case, the opposite is true as well. Some are conveniently taking parts of the Old Testament laws of tithing and discarding the other 612 laws to go with it.
What is important here is it does not matter what percentage you give, but with the heart that you give. God only cares about the condition of your heart when you give (faith & love), not in your outward giving (works), that is the point Jesus was trying to make when he rebuked the teachers of the law and the Pharisees.
If churches have a financial need, I feel preachers should not use the old law of tithing and try to brow beat us into submission with every tithe passage from the Old Testament, including Malachi 3:8-10. They should begin to ask for contributions, donations, gifts, or offerings and maybe people would be more willing to give because they are giving from their hearts and not from guilt or fear that God will curse them as some have suggested.
We are free from the curse of the law, free to praise and worship Him every day, free to give with no unit of measure, and free to love and adore Him in spirit and in truth because we are not bound by any religion, rule or law, and we need to thank Jesus for that freedom. If we could all go back to the ways of the early church making Disciples of Christ and helping the poor and the orphans instead of erecting buildings with all their expenses, we would probably not have much of the problems we have in churches today.
The study of the Old and New Testament is extensive and I cannot go into every detail with explanations. Furthermore, it would defeat the purpose of my intent here, which is for you to read and study the Bible on your own and get the answers, not from me or anyone else, but straight from God.
In conclusion, I pray that everyone who reads this will be inspired and encouraged to read and understand their Bibles and look more closely at what they are being taught. I know that many who will read this will not agree with some of the things I have said but I did not write this to go into a debate with anyone about tithing or any of their beliefs, but as a warning of the deception behind the teachings in many of today’s churches.
Be blessed in the name of Jesus.
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