Friday, October 30, 2015

Is it Always a Sin to Not Tell the Truth?

Today I would like to address the question whether it is always a sin to not tell the truth or to withhold information. Secondly, are there ever times when it is not a sin to lie or deceive? I will address this second question first.

Biblical Examples of Deception
There are some biblical examples of deception and lying that were not openly condemned.  In fact, some of them even appear to have God’s approval on them. Some examples of such instances include the following:

Samuel plainly withheld information and deceived Saul’s men (1 Sam 16:1-5). Michal helped David escape from Saul and used a deceptive decoy, as well as a lie to cover for him. (1 Sam 19:11-17). David told Jonathan to lie to King Saul (1 Sam 20:5-7). David lied to Ahimelek the priest (1 Sam 21:2,8). David pretended to be insane in front of Achish, King of Gath (1 Sam 21:13). Abraham lied to Pharaoh (Gen 12:13; for wider context see verses 10-20). Abraham lied to Abimelek king of Gerar (Gen 20:2; for wider context see entire chapter). Isaac lied to Abimelek king of Gerar (Gen 26:7; for wider context see verses 6-11). Jacob deceived his father and received the blessing (Gen 27:1-38). Joseph hid his identity from his brothers, and told numerous lies to them (Gen 42:7,12,14-16,18-20; 43:27,29-30; 44:4-5,15,17). Moses did not tell Pharaoh it was a permanent exodus (Exo 5:3). Rahab lied to protect the Israelite spies (Jos 2:4-5; Heb 11:31). Joshua used a deceptive military tactic to ambush and destroy the city of Ai (Josh 8:1-29). The prophet Jeremiah lied to the officials who came to him and asked him why he was speaking with King Zedekiah. He gave them the false alibi that the king had ordered him to use, in order to protect his life (Jer 38:24-27). Nevertheless, just because someone in the Bible did something, it does not give us the right to do the same thing.

Lying is a Sin
In ancient times, it was not a crime to tell a lie in order to save a life.  A man named Diphilus or Diphilon (possibly Philo), once said, “I hold it right to tell a lie for safety: nothing should be avoided to save life.” An unbeliever may say that, but a Christian cannot act that way and save his soul, even though he may save his own life. The Ten Commandments are clear that lying is wrong (Ex 20:16). We must not make lies our refuge and hide ourselves under falsehood (Isaiah 28:15,17). “No lie is of the truth” (1 Jn 2:21). God is the God of Truth (Is 65:16). He cannot lie (Tit 1:2). Jesus is the Truth (Jn 14:6), and He never once lied, not even to save His life. It was declared of the 144,000 worshipers in Revelation that "No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless." (Rev 14:5). The Spirit is the Truth (1 Jn 5:6). The Scriptures are "the Word of Truth" (Psa. 119:43; 2Co. 6:7; Col. 1:5; 2Ti. 2:15; Jas. 1:18). God hates a lying tongue (Prov 6:17). He hates liars (Prov 12:22). He will stop the tongue of liars (Ps 63:11). We are not to lie to each other or deceive one another (Lev 19:11; Col 3:9), but to lay aside all falsehood and speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15,25). No one who practices deceit will dwell in the Lord's house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in His presence (Ps 101:7). All liars have their part in hell (Rev 21:8,27; 22:14-15).

The devil is a liar and the father of lies. Jesus said, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44-45). The devil does not hold to the truth. So we must not speak his native language and carry out his desires.

Withholding Truth
Now what about omitting certain truth in order to save a life? Is that a sin? Jesus taught us, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Mat 7:6). There are two things he referred to here. One is that which is holy and the other is our pearls. We are not to give that which is holy to dogs or throw our pearls before swine.

The meaning of this is clear. Dogs are unclean animals and will not treat with reverence anything holy. So in the natural realm, if you give what is holy to dogs, they will trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces. Also in the natural realm, if you throw your pearls before swine, which are also unclean animals, they will quickly realize it is not something they can chew, enjoy the taste of, or fill their bellies with. They too, will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Neither the dogs nor the pigs can appreciate the great value of such things. The interpretation of this is that these are people who do not really want to know the truth, but simply want to use what you say against you. The Lord wants us to avoid such an outcome, not wanting us to be torn to pieces by dogs or pigs, because He cares about us.

To the Jews, Gentiles were considered dogs. And they did not eat pigs, which were detestable to them. The dogs and pigs that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7 stand for unclean people who do not have regard for the holy and precious things of God. If we share such things with them in answer to their questions, or in an effort to force such things on them to make them understand, they will only use them against us or attack us with them.

There are various applications of this teaching. One application is regarding Truth. Jesus illustrated this in His own life. There were times when He withheld the plain Truth from people. For example, when the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him and demanded to know by what authority He was doing these things, like cleansing the temple, and who gave Him this authority. Jesus first asked them a question to prove whether they were sincere or whether they were actually pigs and dogs seeking a way to tear Him to pieces. He said to them, "I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. "The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?" And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Then why did you not believe him?' "But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet." And answering Jesus, they said, "We do not know." He also said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Mat 21:23-27).  You see, the Lord tested them first to see if they were sincere or pigs, and then He withheld Truth from them (also see Jer 6:27, NIV).

The Lord also withheld information from people at other times. He always spoke in parables to the masses. In fact, He did not speak to them without a parable. “He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything." (Mk 4:34; cf., Mat 13:34-35). The reason He did not explain the parables to the masses was so that they would not be able to turn to God insincerely and be forgiven, if God was not drawing them to Christ.  “He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” (Mk 4:11-12).

Jesus did not tell people He was born in Bethlehem. Therefore, His critics did not know He was the Christ, since they assumed He was born in Nazareth. They scoffed saying, “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?" (Joh 7:42).

Jesus told people not to tell anyone He was the Christ. “Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.” (Mat 16:20).

The Lord did not tell everything He knew, in the various situations He encountered, but only spoke what the Father gave Him to say. He said, “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.” (Jn 12:49; cf., Jn 5:19; 8:28)

The Lord kept silent when questioned by certain people. “The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, ‘Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?’ But He kept silent and did not answer.” (Mar 14:60-61a). He was also silent before Herod. “Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing.” (Luk 23:8-9)

Another application of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:6 is with regard to holy and precious people. When He spoke of what is holy and of pearls, these may also apply to people who are holy and precious. The saints are holy people. So if someone comes to us demanding to know where such people are located, and we determine that the inquirer is a dog or pig, we are not under any obligation to disclose that information. We are not required to speak that particular truth to them. In fact, we must not speak it, according to Jesus. Aren’t people precious to God just as much as any sacred truth? If the person inquiring only wants to do harm to them, it would be wrong to tell them where those people are located.

There are many examples in history of godly people hiding innocent people who were in danger. Corrie Ten Boom comes to mind immediately. She and her family hid the Jews in their home and helped them escape the Nazis who wanted to kill them. Dietrich Bonhoeffer also helped Jews escape Germany to freedom. But there are also biblical examples. Obadiah hid a hundred prophets of the Lord from Jezebel in caves, and provided them with bread and water (1 King 18:4,13). Jezebel was destroying the prophets of the Lord, and because Obadiah greatly feared the Lord, he helped those prophets by hiding them from the evil queen Jezebel and her evil husband Ahab. What Obadiah did was an act of righteousness, not a sin. He did not give the holy prophets to dogs or throw these precious pearls before swine.

The Scripture commands us: "Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, 'See, we did not know this,' Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?" (Pro 24:11-12)

So we are not under any obligation to say everything we know or tell people all the Truth we possess. We must first determine if the person is sincere or whether he is a dog or pig. If he or she is a dog or pig, meaning they are evil or vile, then we must not give such a person what is holy or throw our pearls before such a one. Otherwise they will trample that which is sacred or those precious pearls under their feet, and turn and tear us to pieces.

More Examples of Casting Pearls

Here are some more examples of not giving what is sacred to dogs or casting pearls before swine. The Magi did not go back to Herod and tell him the location of baby Jesus (Mat 2:12). The baby was holy, His life was precious, and Herod was a dog or swine. He only wanted to know where Jesus was so he could kill Him.

Another example is refusing to associate with immoral people who call themselves brethren. “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked person from among you.’” (1 Cor 10:10-14). (For more on this topic, see Purge the Evil from Among You).

The immoral person who claims to be a Christian is essentially a dog or swine. “Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.’" (1 Pe 2:22). Therefore, we must not associate with such a person, or in any way give such a person what is sacred or cast our pearls before them.

When Peter escaped from jail, he told the brethren to be silent, so as not to disclose his location (Act 12:17). Again, Peter was a saint (holy one), his life was precious, and his location was a pearl not to be thrown before swine.

Paul was lowered in a basket from a window in a wall, in order to escape from the governor. “In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.” (2 Cor 11:32-33). Is it wrong to lower a person covertly in a basket through a window in a wall, rather than have them go publicly through the gates and inform the guards who are looking for him that he is leaving the city? The governor of Damascus was a dog or swine, and Paul was holy. The brethren secretly helped Paul escape without the knowledge of the guards at the city gates, in order to save his life. 

Jesus initially refused to deliver the daughter of the Syro-Phoenecian woman from demons. “The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord, help me!’ she said. He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’” (Mt 15:25-26).  The woman was not a Jew and the Father sent Jesus to the lost sheep of Israel. So he called her a dog. His statement was a test to prove whether she genuinely believed in Him, and when He saw that she did, He delivered her daughter.  Had it not been for her sincere faith, He would not have done so, because healing is sacred and is considered the children’s bread.

So we should be wise as serpents when dealing with people. We should seek to find out, for example, by questioning them, whether they truly want to know or just want to use our words against us, slander us, hurt us, or falsely accuse us.  Once you discover a person is a dog/swine, you should be careful not to give them what is sacred or cast your pearls before them.  It is in everyone's best interest. If you do cast your pearls, knowing they are swine, then 1) it will only increase their damnation, and 2) it will only bring hurt upon your own head, and we are not to seek out persecution, but flee from it, and 3) it will grieve the heart of our Father, God, since it is His pearls they are trampling, and His child they are tearing to pieces.  So for the best interests of the Father, of you, and of the swine, we refrain from casting the pearls.  This is why the Lord spoke in parables, too.

We as disciples are commanded to preach the gospel to sinners (Mt 28:18-20), not to plainly teach them all of the sacred truths of Scripture. And ministers are supposed to preach and teach the whole counsel of God to the saints (Ac 20:27).

Lying to Save Yourself
There are some instances in Scripture where certain people lied or deceived for the sake of self-preservation. Some examples are Samuel, David, Abraham, Isaac, and Jeremiah. God overlooked the times when people didn’t know any better, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Ac 17:30). This is one of those things that changed under the Lordship of Christ. There were many other such things where the Lord said, “You have heard that the ancients were told,” and then in contrast to what they had heard in the past, He would declare the new and higher standard He now requires. Just look at the Sermon on the Mount for many examples, in which the Lord taught the higher, spiritual meaning of the Law (Mt 5:21-22,27-28,31-35).

Indeed, we have heard that the ancients lied or deceived to save their own lives. But now Jesus says to us that the only way to save your life is to lose it. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mk 8:35; cf. Lk 9:24; Mt 16:25). 

Therefore, it is a sin to lie in order to save your own life or for any selfish reason. That is what the apostle Peter did when he denied knowing Christ, and that was considered a sin (Luke 22:54-62).

Other Situations When It’s Appropriate to Withhold Truth
There are some situations when it is not a sin to withhold the truth. You must still be truthful, but must speak the truth in love.  You must also withhold information that would endanger another person’s life. You must never do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life (Lev 19:16).

The Lord Jesus is our perfect example. He did no violence and no deceit was found in His mouth (Is 53:9; 1 Pe 2:22). Yet He sometimes withheld the truth in order to test people. There are many such examples of this in the Bible. When He was about to multiply the loaves, He asked Philip where they would be able to buy bread for the large crowd to eat. “This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” (Joh 6:6).  The Greek word for “test” in this verse may also mean to “scrutinize, discipline, examine, prove, or try.”  He did something similar on the other occasions when He fed the multitudes, initially instructing His disciples to give them something to eat (Mt 14:16; Mk 6:37; Lk 9:13).

Another incident was when He approached the two men on the road to Emmaus, and prevented them from recognizing Him. As they were discussing all the things that had happened to Him regarding His passion, crucifixion, and empty tomb, He asked them "What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?" (Luk 24:17a). When they asked Him if He was the only one in Jerusalem who was unaware of the latest events that had just occurred, He replied as if He didn’t know what they meant, by saying, “What things?’ (Lk 24:19). Then He proceeded to explain to them all the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with Moses and with all the prophets. And when they approached the village where they were going, He acted as though He were going farther. (Luk 24:28). But in fact, He intended to go inside with them, recline at the table, break bread together, and reveal His identity to them before disappearing in front of their eyes.

Therefore, based on the Lord’s own example, it is sometimes appropriate to withhold truth in order to test, scrutinize, discipline, examine, prove, or try people. The Lord's example also confirms that withholding truth is not considered lying. And since He sometimes withheld truth from certain people, we may conclude that it is not a sin to withhold truth in order to save lives. In fact, it may be necessary to do so.

A Truthful Witness Saves Lives
Some people believe that it is sometimes necessary to lie in order to save lives. However, the Scripture says, "A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful." (Pro 14:25, NIV). So according to God's Word, it's not the liar who saves lives, but the truthful witness who does so. The Young's Literal Translation has it like this: "A true witness is delivering souls, And a deceitful one breatheth out lies." (Pro 14:25, YLT). So this proves that it is not necessary to lie in order to save lives.

The Holy Spirit Will Teach You What to Say
At this point, you may be wondering how you would handle a difficult situation, in which you may be brought before authorities for the sake of righteousness, and the time comes to defend yourself or other innocent people. Jesus taught us, "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." (Luk 12:11-12). Therefore, give no thought beforehand what you will say. Then when that moment comes and the Holy Spirit teaches you what to say, you will not be guilty of sin, as long as you say what He tells you to say.

Buy the Truth and Sell it Not
The Scripture also teaches us to “Buy the truth and sell it not.” (Pr 23:23). This means that we must get truth at any cost.  Since God and His Word are the source of Truth, then we must seek it from Him through prayer and reading His Word. On the other hand we must never sell it for any price.  We must never agree to give truth in exchange for money. One example is when a person will preach for a fee or sell their sermons on CD, DVD, or in books. Another example is giving prophecies for a price.

Likewise, we must never withhold truth for the sake of money. For example, if a pastor neglects to preach the whole counsel of God, and refrains from unpopular topics like righteousness and holiness, because he does not want to offend people or lose members and their money, that is selling the truth. It is a serious sin. Another application is that we must not lie in exchange for a bribe or any payment or blackmail. The Roman guards who watched over the Lord’s tomb did this. The Jewish leaders paid them to tell a lie (Mt 28:11-14).  We must not lie in exchange for money, such as when an employer requires an employee to lie, mislead, exaggerate, or deceive customers in any way. No amount of money they could pay you is worth losing your own soul.

Biblical Examples of Sinful Lying
After Cain murdered his brother, he lied to God: “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Gen 4:9)

Sarah lied to the Lord, too. “Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, I did not laugh. But he said, yes, you did laugh.” (Genesis 18:15). Even something as simple as saying she didn’t laugh is considered a lie in God’s sight.

Joseph’s brethren lied to their father, after they sold their brother into Egypt: “Then they got Joseph's robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood.” (Gen. 37:31).

The Gibeonites sinfully deceived the Israelites that they came from far away, so that the Israelites would make a peace treaty with them. But in fact they were near neighbors (Josh 9).

Perhaps the most shocking example if that of Ananias and Saphira, who were immediately struck dead by God for lying to Him (Acts 5:1-11).

Putting it All Together
So I hope this has helped to show what the Bible says about lying and deception, how it is clearly a sin, but that there are instances where it is appropriate and even virtuous to withhold information, and not tell everything you know, or to hide innocent people for their protection. I also hope it has helped to explain what it means to give dogs what is sacred or cast our pearls to swine, and why we must not do so.

The ninth commandment does not require us to give full and exhaustive answers to any and every question we may be asked, especially when asked by someone who is evil or seeking to do violence to another human being other than oneself. We must not say or do anything that endangers our neighbor’s life. The ninth commandment is not intended to aid and abet evil. “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" (Gal 5:14).

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's Note: I recommend you read the following articles: Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, What is Truth?, Hiding Place, The Cost of Discipleship, Purge the Evil from Among You, The Sale of Christian Music and Art -- A Robbers' Den?, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Is Obedience Optional?, Restored Truth, Aim for Perfection, and The Straight and Narrow Path. You may access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Exposing Heresy

I recently received reproof from a pastor who read my article, called Exposing the JMS Cult. He said that we should not expose false teachers, since it is not a good use of our time, and there are too many cults in the world. Not only was he refusing to assist me in exposing this dangerous cult, by neglecting to warn others, but he was presuming to bring correction and teach me why I myself should not be doing so. He obviously disapproved of what I had done. If one were to listen to him and believe him, they would probably conclude that it was wrong for me to write such an article. However, let’s look at what the Bible says about exposing cults, false teachers, and false prophets.

Contend for the Faith
First of all Jude wrote, "Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God's holy people." (Jud 1:3).

It was initially Jude’s intention of writing to the Church about salvation, but instead he felt compelled to urge them to contend for the faith. He was urging them to strive for the faith, to use earnest efforts to defend and preserve it. He was speaking about contending for the faith against certain ungodly persons, who had crept into the Church unnoticed, and introduced destructive heresies. That was important enough for Jude to change the topic of his letter. Contending for the faith was more necessary at that time than learning more about salvation.

Publicly Reprove Sinning Elders
Secondly, the apostle Paul instructed Timothy, "But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning." (1 Tim 5:20). This is a very clear instruction from the Holy Spirit to reprove sinning elders before everyone. The reason for such public reproof is so that others may take warning. Other elders will be more careful not to make the same mistake, knowing they will be publicly reproved. And other disciples will be warned not to follow such an elder. If such people are not reproved, or if the reproof is private, rather than public, then others would not be able to take warning.

Expel the Wicked Person
Thirdly, when there is sin in the camp, we are supposed to purge ourselves from evil. Paul said, "God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked person from among you.'" (1 Cor 5:13). He was specifically referring to a man in the Corinthian church who was calling himself a brother in Christ, and yet was committing sexual immorality. We are not to tolerate sin in the Church, such as false teaching, but to judge those inside the Church and expel them.

Mute Dogs That Cannot Bark
If all shepherds of the Lord’s flock chose to ignore false teachers, wolves would overrun the church. We would all pay no attention to them and let them devour the sheep, while we look the other way.

Paul warned the Ephesian elders against wolves during his final visit with them saying, "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock." (Ac 20:29).  The savage wolves would only come after Paul left, since he would never tolerate them like so many people do today. These men are leading people down to hell, and some pastors prefer to stand by idly. That reminds me of dogs that don't bark.

Isaiah prophesied, "Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep." (Is 56:10).

I think one of the reasons the Church has gone astray, and so many Christians have been deceived by cults, is because the shepherds fail to warn the flock. Imagine a shepherd who is supposed to be tending the sheep, and when wolves come into the flock, he leaves them alone, doesn’t chase them off, and doesn’t warn the sheep of their presence. The wolves would take the liberty to carry off sheep any time they were hungry, and eventually the whole flock would be destroyed. What kind of shepherd would that be, who did not fight against the wolves to protect the flock? But that is what shepherds are like when they neglect to warn the flock about false teachers. If people knew that aggressive groups like the Mormons (Latter Day Saints) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are cults, and that they are teaching falsely, then fewer people would be deceived by them.

Refute Those Who Contradict Sound Doctrine
In Paul's epistle to Titus, he gave the qualifications for an elder, one of which was that an elder must be one who is "holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict." (Tit 1:9). He made it absolutely clear that an elder must refute those who contradict sound doctrine! Any elder or pastor that does not do so is not fit for service.

Deceivers Must Be Silenced
In that same passage, Paul said, "For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain." (Tit 1:10-11). He warned Titus that there are many deceivers, who must be silenced. Any elder or pastor who refuses to silence deceivers is neglecting his duty.

Expose Them
Again, Paul warned, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” (Eph 5:11). He did not simply say to avoid deeds of darkness, but to also expose them. Therefore, it is a sin to fail to expose sin.

The early church definitely exposed false teachings. One particular example was the first Church Council in Jerusalem, in which they exposed the heresy of Judaizing, or requiring Gentiles to adopt Jewish customs when they turned to Christ (Ac 15).

Paul devoted one of his epistles to exposing such things and said, “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!”  (Gal 1:6-9)

Rescue Those Staggering to Slaughter
Even godless people can see the harm that destructive cults are doing. For example, there is even an atheist I know, who can see the dangerous nature of the JMS Cult, and he is helping people escape from it. Meanwhile, there is Christian pastors I know who says we should not bother to expose this cult or any cult, for that matter. He says it is “not our job” to do so. I think that it is a judgment against the Church when even the atheist can see the harmful nature of the cults, but the very shepherds of God’s flock refuse to do so.

The Scripture says, “Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, ‘See, we did not know this,’ Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?” (Pro 24:11-12)

Other Scriptures
There are many other Scriptures that instruct us to identify and expose false teachers, rather than ignore them.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1Jn 4:1)

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

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.” (2Jn 1:10-11). For this reason, I will not even allow a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon into my home, when they come to my door.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” (Eph 5:6-13)

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.” (2Pe 2:1)

“And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2Pe 2:3)

“These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” (2Pe 2:17-19)

“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.” (2Pe 3:17)

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2Co 11:13-15)

“Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2Ti 3:5)

If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” (1Ti 6:3-5)

The Lord warns shepherds who do not attend to His sheep, for He says in His Word, "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!" declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: "You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds," declares the LORD. (Jer 23:1-2)

“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.” (2Th 3:6)

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2Th 3:14-15)

But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting.” (2Co 11:12)

"If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Mat 18:15-17)

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2Ti 4:2)

Putting it All Together
The Scriptures are clear that we must refute, reprove, rebuke, expose, expel, avoid, and keep away from false teachers. They must be silenced. We must beware of such men and guard against them. We must not receive them, welcome them, or be partakers with them. We must rescue those people that they are deceiving, who are being taken away to death, who are staggering to slaughter. In fact, we are to stay away from every brother, who does not live according to the pattern of teaching we have received from the apostles. We must take special note of that person and not associate with him. That includes keeping away from any pastor that disapproves of exposing false teachers and their cults.

I do not spend all my time, or even most of my time, hunting down every single heresy and exposing it. But when I come into contact with it directly, because I encounter someone teaching falsely or encounter a destructive cult that is affecting the flock I care for, or is affecting me, then I address it. I maintain that, according to Scripture, we should certainly contend for the faith and expose false teachers, especially when we have occasion to do so.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's Note: I recommend you read the following articles: Purge the Evil from Among You, Testing the Spirits of False Prophets, Unbiblical Practices of the Catholic Church, What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?, Pagan Symbols of the Popes, Pope Frances Supports Homosexuality, Messages from the Lord for Catholics Worshipping Idols, and The Rise of Antichrists. You may access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

Are We Really Little gods?

Many of the word of faith, prosperity preachers teach that we are little gods.  This includes Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Morris Cerillo, Benny Hinn, Paula White, Creflo Dollar, and Joyce Meyer. 

In case you don't believe me, I will quote a few of them verbatim, and then we'll search the Scriptures together to see if these things are really so.

What the "little gods" Teach
Kenneth Copeland says "...And I say this with all respect so that it don't upset you too bad, but I say it anyway. When I read in the Bible where He says I AM, I just smile and say, 'Yes, I AM too.'" (Believer's Voice of Victory Broadcast, 7/9/1987). 

"Earl Paulk states "Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, so God has little gods .... Until we comprehend that we are little gods and we begin to act like little gods, we cannot manifest the Kingdom of God.' (Earl Paulk, Satan unmasked 1984 pp.96-97)

Copeland states "You are not a spiritual schizophrenic -- half-God and half-Satan -- you are all-God" (Now We Are in Christ Jesus (Fort Worth: KCP Publications, 1980), pp.16-17).

Copleand states" Am I a god? Man was created in the god class, was not created in the animal class, it was the god class. He has a uniqueness about him that even angels do not have...Now Peter said by exceeding great and precious promises, you become partakers of the divine nature. Alright, are we gods? We are a class of gods." (Praise the Lord, TBN, 2/5/1986). 

Benny Hinn said, "God came from heaven, became a man, made man into little gods, went back to heaven as a man. He faces the Father as a man. I face devils as the son of God. Quit your nonsense! What else are you? If you say, I am, you’re saying I’m a part of Him, right? Is he God? Are you His offspring? Are you His children? You can’t be human! You can’t! You can’t! God didn’t give birth to flesh…You said, ‘Well, that’s heresy.’ No, that’s your crazy brain saying that." (Benny Hinn, Our Position in Christ #2—The Word Made Flesh  Orlando Christian Center, 1991).

Kenneth Hagin says that you are Christ.   “The believer is called Christ...That's who we are; we're Christ" (Zoe: The God-Kind of Life, 1989. pp. 35-36, 41)

Paul Crouch says, “I am a little god!  Critic, be gone!” (Paul Crouch, Praise the Lord program - TBN July 7, 1986).   There is an obvious arrogance and pride about these statements.

Morris Cerillo says “the whole purpose of God was to reproduce Himself. …you’re not looking at Morris Cerillo, you’re looking at God, you’re looking at Jesus” (The End Time Manifestation of the Sons of God, Audio Tape 1, Sides 1 &;2).

Hinn states “Are you ready for some real revelation are god” (“Our Position In Christ”, tape # AO31190-1).  Hinn also said, "I'm gonna say something.  I don't care whether you like it or not." Then he pointed at the camera and said, "You ever attack me, your children will pay for it." ("Word of Faith Teachers: Origins & Errors of Their Teaching" by Keith Thompson).

I said, "You are Gods"
One of the passages they use is John 10, where Jesus quotes Psalm 82.

The psalmist wrote: I said, "You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High. "Nevertheless you will die like men And fall like any one of the princes." Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who possesses all the nations." (Psa 82:6-8)

Jesus used those verses from Psalm 82 to show the Jews who opposed Him that even God called the judges of old "gods" in Scripture.

Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'? "If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? (Joh 10:34-36)

Jesus used this to show that if God called mortal men who die "gods", then they should not have a problem with Him saying He is God's Son.  And Jesus did say we are also sons and daughters of God.  But Jesus did not say we were "gods".  And even if you feel you can deduce from various verses in the Bible that we are so-called "gods", you will not find Jesus teaching this to His disciples, or any of the apostles teaching it.  It leads to error and confusion, as well as division in the Body of Christ, as I see it. 

It is important to note that the judges whom God called "gods" in Psalm 82 were not redeemed Christians.  They were actually judging unjustly and showing partiality to the wicked, which angered God (Ps 82:2).  If you are going to use this passage to refer to Christians, then I guess you would also have to apply it to all humans, including those who are not Christians.  And this is exactly what the New Age movement and Eastern religions do, as well as witches like Margot Adler..  They say that we are all gods. What the prosperity preachers are teaching is no different than what these non-Christian religions believe.

The point of Psalm 82 was that God is the Judge among the judges, and they will all die like mortal men.  But He will arise and judge the earth, for it is He who possesses all the nations! (Psa 82:8) And though the judges may have godlike powers to determine whether men are allowed to live or die, if they themselves are acting unjustly, then they will receive their just penalty in the final judgment. For it is appointed to all men once to die and then face the judgment (Heb 9:27).

You have made him a little lower than God
The advocates of the "little gods" doctrine also use Psalm 8:4-5 to support their position, which says: "What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,” (Psa 8:4-6).  They believe this passage refers to mankind.

However, in order to properly understand the meaning of Psalm 8:4-6, we must interpret it the way the inspired apostle did in his letter to the Hebrews, when he said, “For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying, ‘What is man, that you remember him? Or the son of man, that you are concerned about him? You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, and have appointed him over the works of your hands; you have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him. But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” (Heb 2:5-10)

The apostle makes it clear that the psalmist was speaking prophetically about Jesus Christ. He says, “We do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus.”  For a little while, God made Him a little lower than the angels.  Yet now He has crowned Jesus with glory and honor, appointed Him over the works of His hands, and put all things in subjection under His feet.  To interpret this passage differently than the apostle to the Hebrews is to interpret it incorrectly. 

And even though God put all things in subjection under the feet of Jesus Himself, as this verse says, appointing Him over the works of His hands, let us keep in mind the following three things. 

We do not yet see all things subjected to Him
First, in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him.  Since we do not yet see all things subject to Him, even though the Father has already subjected all things to Him, we should realize that the same is true of us.  David said, “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’” (Psa 110:1)

The apostle Peter saw Jesus' exaltation as a fulfillment of Psalm 110:1. Peter said, "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."' (Act 2:33-35; cf., Act 5:31)

Paul said, “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet…When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” (1Co 15:25, 28)

The apostle wrote to the Hebrews: “But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.” (Heb 10:12-13).  So we see that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, still waiting for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet.  If that is true of Jesus, then it is also true of us.

Perfected through Sufferings
Secondly, the Scripture says, “It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the Author of their salvation through sufferings.” (Heb 2:10)  Yet the preachers who teach that we are gods do not teach that we must be perfected through sufferings, as the apostles taught in Scripture.  They speak only of blessings and not about the need to suffer. Also see my article, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer.

Jesus Never said the Exact three words, "I am God"
Thirdly, although Jesus is God and was fully God when He walked the earth as a fully human man, he never said the exact three words, "I am God," as the prosperity preachers like to say about themselves. In fact, He even rarely called Himself “the Son of God” (Joh 5:25; 10:36; 11:4).  It’s true that satan, the demons, and His enemies called Him the Son of God (Mt 4:3,6; 8:29; 26:63; 27:40, 43; Lk 4:3, 9, 41; 22:70; Joh 19:7), His apostles called Him the Son of God (Mk 1:1; Lk 3:38; Joh 1:34, 49; 11:27), and the angel Gabriel called Him the Son of God (Lk 1:35).  For that is who He is!
But Jesus mostly referred to Himself humbly as “the Son of Man” (Mat. 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8,32,40; 13:37,41; 16:13,27,28; 17:9,12,22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18,28; 24:27,30,37,39,44; 25:31; 26:2,24,45,64; Mark 2:10,28; 8:31,38; 9:9,12,31; 10:33,45; 13:26; 14:21,41,62; Luke 5:24; 6:5,22; 7:34; 9:22,26,44,56,58; 11:30; 12:8,10,40; 17:22,24,26,30; 18:8,31; 19:10; 21:27,36; 22:22,48,69; 24:7; John 1:51; 3:13,14; 5:27; 6:27,53,62; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23,34; 13:31). Also see my article, The Son of Man.

He also forbid the demons from saying He was the Son of God (Luke 4:35, 41), and He forbid His disciples from doing so until after He had risen from the dead (Matthew 16:15,16,20; see also Mark 3:11,12; 8:29,30).  He did the same with those He healed (Matthew Matthew 8:3,4; 12:15,16; Mark 5:42,43).

Author Richard Bailey points out why Jesus did not openly and clearly reveal His true and full identity.  He gives these four reasons:

1. Because Jesus knew that His identity is beyond human understanding, and is revealed only to believers who are enabled by God to search for this truth (Matthew 16:15-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:7-14; John 6:37,44,65; 14:21-23)

2. Because He did not want people to be distracted from His basic purpose and message (Matthew 20:28; Luke 19:10; Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Timothy 2:5)

3. Because Jesus knew many people have so hardened their hearts and surrendered to satan, that they could not recognize who He really is and why He came (Matthew 13:10-11,13-15; John 1:10,11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 2:7,8).

I would add that He did not cast His pearls to the swine, and taught His disciple not to do so either. "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." (Mat 7:6)

4. God’s word is filled with statements about God’s secret wisdom understood only by those to whom God reveals it (Job 28:11; Proverbs 25:2; Isaiah 45:15; 48:6; Jeremiah 33:3; Daniel 2:22; John 6:45; 1 Corinthians 2:1-8; Colossians 2:2,3; 4:3; see also 1:26,27)

Although Jesus existed in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped (Php 2:6).  He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  That was the example He gave us to follow. If He never said, “I am God,” then why should any man say, “I am God” or “I am a little god”?  Why not keep that to yourself, if you believe it?

We Are Servants of God
Likewise, the apostles always referred to themselves very humbly as servants (Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:10; Php. 2:7; Col. 1:7; 4:7; 1Ti. 4:6; 2Ti. 2:24; Tit. 1:1; Jas. 1:1; 2Pe. 1:1; Jude 1:1).  In spite of all the miracles the Lord did through Peter and Paul, and in spite of the fact that James and Jude were half-brothers of Jesus, they all referred to themselves as servants, not gods or Christs.  Neither Peter, nor Paul, nor John, nor James, nor Jude ever said we are gods or that they themselves were gods.  In fact, when the people tried to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas as if they were gods, the apostles tore their clothes and did everything they could to stop them. (Act 14:14-18).  When Cornelius bowed down in the presence of Peter, the apostle raised him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am just a man." (Act 10:26).

Jesus taught, "But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Mat 23:11; cf., Mk 10:34; Lk 22:26).  He said, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."  (Mk 9:35).  Yet by calling themselves gods, these prosperity preachers claim to be first or great. Also see my article, Having a Servant's Heart.

No One is Good Except God
Actually Jesus said no one is good except God, so we should not even call any man good.  Let alone call any man god.

"And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.'" (Mar 10:18).  Likewise, the Christian should say in this same Spirit of the Lord, "Why do you call me a god? No one is a god except God alone?"

Beware of Pride and Selfishness
When God created man in His image, He did not say, “Let us make gods in our image.”  He said, “Let us make man in our image.” (Gen 1:26).  Let’s keep it that way and not change it to suit our own selfish egos.

The devil tries to tempt man to do what God has forbidden.  And pride is one of his greatest temptations.  Calling oneself god or Christ is the epitome of pride.  Yet Jesus said, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man." (Mar 7:20-23). Pride is an evil thing that proceeds from within and defiles the man. 

Likewise, the apostles are in agreement. John said, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1Jn 2:16). James also said, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (Jas 4:6).  And Peter said, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1Pe 5:5).  There is nothing humble about saying you are a god. God will oppose anyone who speaks like this, and it is one of the marks of false teachers. Jude wrote, "They boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage." (Jude 1:16b, NIV). Man will have to give an account for every idle word he has spoken (Mt 12:36).

In Mt 6:1-6, and 16-18, Jesus taught us the importance of not drawing attention to our own spirituality. That would be boasting.  Just as we must not tell people when or how much we pray, when or how much we give to the needy, nor when or how much we fast, we must not tell people we are gods.  It exalts self, and this is displeasing to the Lord.

Even if you say, "Well, I give 97% of my income to the poor. But that doesn't make me special.  I'm no better than the next guy." Or "I pray four hours a day, but I know that this does not make me any better than you.  It doesn't make me extraordinary. I am still just a mortal man."

You may think you are able to say "I am a god" without being prideful.  But you are setting an example for your hearers to follow.  Then when they come to Christ, they will go around saying, "I am a god."  And they may become puffed up with pride and fall into the trap of the devil..

"Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?" (1Co 5:6)

That's why it is best to follow the example of Jesus and the apostles and not even allow a little yeast in our lives.  Speak of yourself in the most humble terms possible.

We would do well to heed the wise advice of Solomon, who wrote: "Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, 'Come up here,' than for him to humiliate you before his nobles."

You Shall Have No Other gods Before Me
There is a good reason why the first commandment says, "Then God spoke all these words, saying, 'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.'"  (Exo 20:1-3)

When anyone claims to be a god (even with a little "g"), they are in violation of the first commandment, as I read it. God said, "...No other gods..."

The Jews would certainly not be impressed by anyone's claim to be a god, since they and we know there is only one God.  "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" (Deu 6:4).  Jesus affirmed this in Mark 12:29.  And so did the apostle Paul, when he said, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph 4:4-6).  It only breeds confusion and is not the true gospel for a Christian to say, "I am a god" or "we are gods."

"You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me." (Isa 43:10)

"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. 'Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place. 'Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.'" (Isa 44:6-8)

"I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me;" (Isa 45:5)

"Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me." (Isa 45:21)

Rather than falsely claiming that you are a god, there are other biblical expressions you can use that are accurate, such as "all who are led by the Spirit are sons of God." (Rom 8:14).  Or "we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1Pe 2:9)

Let's hold fast to what the apostles said, and not stray from the gospel they preached.

The Man of Lawlessness Displaying Himself as Being God
Millions of people are being deceived by these false teachings.  It's an end time deception.   I don't think any believer would come to the conclusion from Scripture alone that they are a god, unless they heard it from someone who teaches this.

It is all in preparation for when the anti Christ sets himself up in God's temple and says, "I am god."  This will not even shock the Christians, since millions of them have fallen for the lie that we are gods.

The apostle Paul said, "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [the coming of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God." (2Th 2:3-4)

Since the believer is the temple of God (1 Co 3:16; 6:19), then it is blasphemous to sit in that temple and display yourself as being God or a god.  That would be a precursor of what the man of sin is going to do.  There is a big difference between being the temple of God, in which God dwells, and being God.

This blasphemy that the man of sin will commit will not be one of a kind.  Jesus said, "Watch out that you are not deceived. Many will come in My name, claiming, 'I am He.'...Do not follow them." (Lk 21:8) Isn't that clear enough for us to know we should not follow anyone claiming to be God or to be Christ?

Putting it All Together
Let’s beware of this heresy and stay clear of it.  These "little god" preachers have chosen their destiny by speaking like this, and unless they repent, their souls are in grave danger. They are leading many astray with this teaching, and their version of the prosperity gospel.

If you are caught up in this, I urge you to prayerfully consider what I have just told you.  Repent and ask the Lord to forgive you for your part in it, whatever that may have been.  Then apologize to those whom you have taught or said this to (that you are a god), and ask their forgiveness.  Explain to them that it is false and not in line with Scripture.  Make everything right, and clear yourself completely of this matter. 

I once read a poster that said, “Fact number one: There is one God.  Fact number two: You are not Him.”  This sums it up succinctly.

Let us say with Peter, “I am just a man.”  Let us say with the apostles, “I am a bond-servant of the Lord.”  Let us say with Mary, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord” (Luk 1:38). Let us say with the psalmist, “The LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psa 100:3; cf., Ps 95:7).

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Image of T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer from Apprising Ministries.

1. Why did Jesus not openly reveal his full identity? by Richard Bailey of Answering Islam.
2. Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes teaching word faith “little gods” doctrine by Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries.
3. The Little god/Men article is credited for the quotes of these "little god" teachers.  This does not constitute endorsement of “Let us Reason Ministries.”

Author's note I also recommend reading What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?, Exposing Heresy, The Son of Man, Having a Servant's Heart, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer, The Rise of Antichrists, The Dangers of Disobedience, and Sin and Consequence. You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.