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identifying, taking aim at deceivers.

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Scoping, Identifying & Taking Aim at Deceivers:
Knowing How and When to Mark

A Must-Read for all who desire more discernment to escape the evil one in this late hour. This is an excerpt from the book entitled Deceivers & False Prophets Among Us .

“Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Romans 16:17

Identifying and marking “them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine” of the LORD, is to be a regular part of the Christian life. In an hour when the proliferation of false teaching is mutating at an increasingly exponential rate, those who love the LORD must examine and test everything against the final authority of the recorded oracles of God (Acts 17:11). The following warning enlightens us to understand this:

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8

Would the all-knowing God have put such a warning in His Word if being spoiled were not possible? People can be spoiled (derailed, made shipwreck of) through false doctrines and philosophies, which, without fail, elevate men and demote Christ (Col. 2:8-9; 18-19).

These derailment elements are designed to steal glory from Christ. If we love Him, we are to “hear God’s words” and “hate every false way.” (Jn. 8:47; Ps. 119:104, 128; Amos 5:14-15)

Let’s break this extremely important Bible text down:

“Mark them” - Beloved, we are mandated to simply and truly hearken to this divinely given instruction, to personally own this truth and walk in it, to be possessed with the protective love of our holy and “Great Shepherd of the sheep.” (Heb. 13:20) One of the ways the “Great Shepherd” protects the sheep of His pasture, is by His other sheep, scoping out and marking the wolves whose venomous lies would devour.

“Mark them” – the Greek word here for “mark” is skopeo, which means “to scope out; to take aim at, consider, watch.”

Believers are here mandated to wisely scope out closely, observe and scrutinize all teachings and spiritual leaders under the lamp of God’s holy Word. We are to closely discern between true and false doctrines and leaders and sound the alarm on that which is found to be inconsistent with holy Writ. This is to be done especially when dealing with foundational, essential truths (which are a salvation issue).

“Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” Psalms 119:128

Looking closely at leaders from a Bible perspective is a mandate. Such only becomes a negative when done out of a critical spirit instead of out of love and obedience to the LORD and for the keeping of the way of the LORD in ourselves and others (1 Tim. 4:6, 16). Disciples are to examine every teaching, philosophy, and notion encountered in the light of His holy oracles. In such, the disciple is to identify deceivers, false teachings and practices and “mark them,” that is, watch out for and take aim at them, while warning others. The Holy Spirit also says we are to “avoid them.” (Rom. 16:17)

“At the end of his letter, Paul gives a strong warning to the church in Rome to be alert to all those who do inestimable damage to the church by corrupting and extorting the ‘doctrine’ (teaching) of Paul and the other apostles. They are to ‘mark’ the proponents of false doctrine and ‘avoid them' and their ministry. Those marked may have been antinomians (i.e., against the law), who taught that because salvation is by grace, saving faith does not necessarily include obedience to Christ Jesus (cf. 6:1-2; 2 Cor. 4:2; 11:3; Eph. 4:14; Rev. 2:4-5).

They believed that a person could live in sin and reject God’s moral law, and yet possess eternal salvation. These false teachers were eloquent orators, speaking with comforting words and flattering speeches (cf. Jude 16), but deceiving simple Christians.” (p. 1759)

This commentator denotes a specific teaching, all too alive and well in the modern church, that is to be marked and avoided along with those who propagate it.

It is a sinful tolerance [1] that refuses to castigate a false church system that leads millions to eternal destruction with its perverted gospel. [2] That honours its head as a great evangelist at the same time that he is condemning evangelicals as wolves.
Sometimes we are too blinded by friendship to stand against wrong. When a Christian spoke out against E. J. Carnell’s book ‘The Case For Orthodoxy’ because it argued against the inspiration of the Scriptures, a friend of the author said ‘Well you do not know him personally as I do. He is a gracious gentleman, a godly man’.

Jay Adams was right when he said ‘In some circles, the fear of controversy is so great that preachers and congregations following after them will settle for peace at any cost - even the cost of the truth - God’s truth.

What we really need is to contend earnestly for the faith in a day when it is being attacked, diluted and denied.
Disciples of Christ are held accountable for progressively learning and proclaiming the whole will and counsel of God, which includes warning others of false teachings and those responsible for them (see also Isa. 58:1; Ezek. 33:7-9; 34:1-10; Acts 20:26-32; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 2:17-18).

Christ’s true representatives are known by their purity of character and doctrine (Tit. 1:5-9; 2:6-8).

Friend of Christ, are you beginning to see this truth and understand the reason our LORD instituted such?

“Mark (scope out, take aim at and watch) them which cause divisions and offences contrary (against; opposed) to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Romans 16:17

Christians are held accountable for proclaiming the whole counsel of God and warning others of false teachings and those responsible for them.

Dark Works are to be Exposed

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (EXPOSE) them.” Ephesians 5:11

When false teaching is discovered, it is to be exposed. At times, when a false prophet or teacher is detected, if unrepentant, they are also to be exposed.

Discernment Hint: If someone continues to teach false doctrine, they simply have not repented and are to be exposed and marked for their rebellion. God counts heretics to be rebels whom He told us to “reject.” (Tit. 3:10).

Sinning elders are to be openly rebuked in order that all may learn and more fervently fear God:

“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” 1 Timothy 5:20

It is a sin to condone and not expose deadly falsehoods propagated by leaders “who privily (secretly) shall bring in damnable heresies.” (2 Pet. 2:1) The divine purpose here is to identify and announce those who are marked for destruction so they don’t bring others with them.

Here in 2 Peter, the Holy Spirit speaks of “false teachers” and “false prophets” who teach "damnable heresies" - which means lies that damn their listeners to hell (2 Pet. 2:1-3).

The LORD has identified those who teach falsehoods as Satan’s ministers - “such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:12-15) In this passage, we are told that Satan’s “ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

Let us no more deny Christ the LORD by hiding Satan’s prophets and teachers. Why would any child of God want to jeopardize the souls of those around them? How can we so misunderstand the LORD by thinking that silence in this matter is loving? At times, silence can be hatred instead of love.

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” Proverbs 24:10-12

For the sake of the offending party and those under his influence, there are instances where open rebuke is called for instead of love that is hidden and withheld.

“Open rebuke is better than secret love.” Proverbs 27:5

Who is to be marked?

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9

Those who teach “any other gospel” are “accursed” of God and to be marked. The term “ANY other gospel” is incriminating, and cuts closer into the core of Christian leadership than many may want to acknowledge. Yet, any other gospel than that given by Christ and His apostles is false and identifies the one who espouses and teaches it as a deceiver.

Beware of “Fair Speeches”

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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.” Romans 16:17-18

The apostle Paul tells people here to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine” of the LORD which is found in the Holy Scriptures.

Carefully note the phrase “fair speeches” which is defined as “fine style of utterance, giving the appearance of reasonableness.” So, the Scripture here informs us that such beguilers will “deceive the hearts of the simple” by “fair speeches.” This is the very way so many are being led astray in this late hour. The message and manner of these men have the appearance of godliness, and might even include a few tears, but their hidden motives center around their own agenda and not the LORD’s. This alone makes one a false prophet.

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Beloved, let us see the big picture of eternity in this. - “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom (forever with Jesus) which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fireA tell-tale sign: If we can peacefully receive the expose’ of one of these ministers we have grown to like, we know that the LORD has delivered us from spiritual adultery. Perhaps if we get upset and come to the defense of these mere men while excusing their deadly errors, we have not yet laid down our idolatry of these men.

Like Paul, the apostle of Christ, true disciples of Jesus who serve in leadership go through painstaking measures to root and ground their audiences in Christ alone and not themselves – “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified…That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:1-5)

The Savior is calling His remnant to relinquish all idols of the heart and place our affections upon Him alone who is our life and salvation.

In the ultimate end, many who tickle ears and move hearts and have spent lots of God’s monies to establish themselves, are discovered to be those who bellow out empty words from hollow hearts, void of the fruit of authentic Christ-likeness. These men are what Jude identified as “clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.” (Jude 12) All this is being perpetrated while these people are drowning in the wealth they reap from God’s people, most of whom have no clue as to the disingenuous nature of this type of deceiver. These men, multitudes of whom operate in our midst, “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Rom. 16:18)

Is Silence Really Golden?

Refusing to sound the alarm by speaking out and warning others of Satan’s lies is paramount to being in league with the evil one! In such a case, does not Satan say, “Silence is Golden”?

Such unjust silence endangers the souls of others and will be brought to light in the Judgment.

On numerous occasions, Jesus audibly verbalized His righteous anger toward the Pharisees of His day and so are we called to do at times.

We should ask ourselves: Are we reasoning or seeking to simply obey what God told us to do? Who are we trying to please?

Those who expose false teaching and ministers do the work of God.

“Behavior unchallenged is behavior condoned.” Unknown

Love that emanates from the LORD speaks the truth (Prov. 12:17; 16:6; Eph. 4:15).

The defense of the New Testament, apostolic faith, once given to the saints, will bring division and persecutions (2 Cor. 11:12-15; Gal. 1:9; Phil. 1:15-17). The enemy does not like his strongholds being plundered by the cannons of divine truth spoken by the LORD’s saints.

When discernment and separation are enacted, a sharp sword of division seems to unfailingly separate the remnant from the tares (those who do not love the truth). The tares are those who live to gratify the fleshly lusts in the guise of being a real Christian (Rom. 6).

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

The returning LORD Himself is our reward, comfort, and consolation (Rev. 22:12; 2 Cor. 1:3-7).

The LORD dislikes when men are not strong in His truth and don’t stand for it and defend it:

“They are not valiant for the truth upon the earth.” Jeremiah 9:3

“…if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38

He actually equips and anoints men to preach and defend His truth – and sometimes this is in a violent fashion.

“But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” Micah 3:8

Gospel workers are to be ever ready to “…reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” with “the Word.” (2 Tim. 4:2)

Naming Names? Is that Biblical?

Have you ever personally counted the people the apostle Paul marked by name in the book of 2 Timothy? Try it. Read 2 Timothy (4 chapters) and keep a count of the deceivers Paul identifies and names. You will find 8 men named by name as deceivers in 2 Timothy alone.

“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly (selfish interests), and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Philippians 3:17-21

Saints, are we so naive as to believe that in our day there are no “enemies of the cross of Christ”? Not only are there Christ’s enemies in our day, the Bible foretold that just before the return of our LORD there would come a great falling away at the hands of these end-time predators who operate in the church world, many who are very famous ministers (2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Tim. 4; 2 Tim. 3-4; 1 Jn. 4:1-6).

There are some essential truths embedded and revealed here in this Bible text that are very important to know concerning these “enemies of the cross of Christ.” Let’s look at some:

They are many (plentiful) not a few - “For many walk...”
Paul repeatedly warned of deceivers - “I have told you often...”
Paul warned with tears - “...now tell you even weeping...”
These men pose as His servants but are actually His enemies - “they are the enemies of the cross of Christ”
These men are going to hell unless they repent - “Whose end is destruction...”
They serve themselves in ministry while supposedly representing Christ - “whose God is their belly (selfish interests)...”
They revel in things they should be ashamed of - “whose glory is in their shame...”
They speak affectionately of movies and other secular interests and tend to things of this fleeting world - “who mind earthly things...”
These “ENEMIES of the cross of Christ” must be marked by the LORD’s remnant no matter what the cost (Rom. 16:17-18). We are mandated to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine” of Christ in order to protect the sheep of the LORD’s pasture.
Have you ever personally counted the people the apostle Paul marked in the book of 2 Timothy? Try it. Read 2 Timothy (4 chapters) and keep a count of the deceivers Paul identifies by name. You will find several men named by name as deceivers in 2 Timothy alone. When the Holy Spirit moved upon Paul to foretell that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived,” he also led him to name some of those “enemies of the cross” in his and previous days (Phil. 3:17-20). The naming of these men is for an eternal memorial of the just wrath of the Almighty upon those who defame His holy name through deception and false teaching (2 Pet. 2, 3; Jude). When reading the Old Testament especially, we see a Redeemer who will destroy the enemies of His people - because He loves His people (Isa. 49:25; 54:17, etc.). This is the protective love of the LORD. Here is the list of the 8 evil doers the great apostle was inspired to justifiably identify by name in 2 Timothy:

1) Phygellus 1:15
2) Hermogenes 1:15
3) Hymenaeus 2:17
4) Philetus 2:17
5) Jannes 3:8
6) Jambres 3:8
7) Demas 4:10 (apostate)
8) Alexander the coppersmith 4:14
It is interesting to observe here that in the same letter Paul names these names of beguilers, he also states:

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8

We readily gather here that naming names is an integral part of real New Testament ministry and those who obey can like this apostle of Jesus, be confident that they have completely fulfilled the will of God – “I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown.” In this text, the Holy Ghost says that the LORD is a “righteous judge.” I believe that those who mark deceivers in obedience to divine mandate, are going to be rewarded eternally for such obedience.

We see clearly here that fighting the good fight and finishing our course involves and includes marking deceivers.
Very well done Brother

Luke 9:23 And Jesus said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?"

Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."