Apostate preachers are men who have known the way of truth but then departed “from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2). Such men contradict New Testament teaching and “consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ” but become “destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:3-6). They make shipwreck of their faith, err “concerning the faith,” blaspheme the truth while proclaiming new knowledge “falsely so called,” and do the Lord’s cause “much evil” (1 Tim. 1:19-20; 6:20-21 f; 2 Tim. 4:14). As America suffered betrayal at the hands of Benedict Arnold, the kingdom of Christ has suffered at the hands of Judas, Hymenaeus, Alexander, Philetus, Demas and all false teachers even unto this day.
The teaching of apostate preachers is destructive and deadly to all who hear it (2 Tim. 2:17). These ministers of Satan and enemies of Christ deceive multitudes by professing godliness and pretending to preach the gospel of Christ (2 Cor. 11: 13-15 f; Phil. 3:18). How can we recognize these men who enroll in the Dishonorable Hall of Faltered Faith?
1. Their “glory is in their shame” as they “call evil good, and good evil” to make their apostasy appealing (Phil. 3:19 f; Isa. 5:20). They are “not at all ashamed, neither could they blush” for the abomination of deserting “the old paths” of truth (Jer. 6:15-16).
2. They often defend the fraudulent “miracles” and theories of a direct operation of the Holy Spirit which are popular in our time. This causes them to deny and to pervert God’s promise that all true miracles would cease when New Testament revelation was completed at the end of the first century (1 Cor. 13:8-13). Such men soon interpret their emotions rather than Scripture alone as the Spirit’s word (1 Pet. 4:11).
3. Denominations and sects are accepted and approved. “The Spirit” is said to “move” in them all, contradicting the Spirit’s clear statement that “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33). The prayer of Christ for unity based upon truth is exchanged for a mess of modern ecumenical pottage (Jn. 17:17-21). The “one body” becomes many divided churches; the “one Spirit,” many diverse voices; and the “one faith,” many different creeds. What a mockery of Ephesians 4!
4. Instrumental music is worship is embraced by making flimsy arguments which were exposed and destroyed years ago. “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” The gospel still teaches saints to worship by “singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). The man does not live who can find authority from Christ for mechanical instruments in worship.
5. Recreation and carnality in the name of religion are promoted – including church socials and meals, contests, prizes, parties, ball teams, entertaining movies, gyms, arts and crafts, secular education, day care centers, politics, and constant emphasis on money, money, money! This is endorsed by men who once preached that God’s kingdom is spiritual and eternal, not a social club (Rom. 14:17 f; 1 Cor. 11:17-34).
6. Apostates end up accepting the heresy that alien sinners are forgiven before water baptism. Apostates must swallow such theories as salvation by faith alone, by raising a hand, by signing a card, by saying a prayer, by “feeling” the Spirit, and the like. Verses like Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:26-27, and 1 Peter 3:21 are forsaken.
7. Much is said about “the end time” by miserably mangling Old Testament prophecies of the kingdom (actually fulfilled in the church; Acts 2:16-47), Jesus’ prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem in Matthew 24, and John’s vision of the suffering of the early church in Revelation (1: 1-3). Some even dabble in date setting. Fascination with perverted theories of “the end time” is an old mark of apostasy (2 Tim. 2:18).
8. Urging straightforward rather than devious conduct, Solomon said, “Debate thy cause with thy neighbor,” but apostates fear open discussion and resort to potshots and misrepresentation from afar (Prov. 25:9). Christ and the apostles debated often because truth has nothing to fear or hide (Matt. 21-22 f; Acts 17:17). Apostates have many excuses for not following this honorable example of Christ in controversy.
9. Apostates teach for doctrine the commandments and doctrines of men, and equate such to the commandments and doctrines of Christ and His apostles (Mt 15:7-9). They frequently add to or take from God’s Word without hesitation in order to prove their man made doctrine (1 Cor 4:6 ff; Gal 1:6-9; 1 Pet 4:11; Rev 22:18,19).
10. Apostates often sit in high places of authority in the churches of Christ. Some are elders, some are deacons, and some are teachers and preachers. They have gained your respect over many years, while leading all who will hear them further and further from the truth (2 Cor 11:14,15). We should always remember that the truth can only set us free as long as we “continue” in the Word of God (Jn 8:31,32).