“I saw that the prophets of Samaria were terribly evil,for they prophesied in the name of Baaland led my people of Israel into sin. But now I see that the prophets of Jerusalem are even worse!They commit adultery and love dishonesty.They encourage those who are doing evilso that no one turns away from their sins.These prophets are as wickedas the people of Sodom and Gomorrah once were.” - Jeremiah 23: 13-14 (NLT) The New Testament is replete with warnings from God concerning false prophets and teachers which will become more and more prevalent as we plunge further into the end times. As this present darkness grows darker with each day it becomes more and more important that we consult the entire Word of God to ensure that we are on the narrow path that leads to eternal life. As we examine the key verses spoken by the Prophet Jeremiah we see that God differentiates between two types of false teachers and this distinction exists today as well. The first type of false teacher is found in verse 13 and God refers to these as the prophets of Samaria. While God represents them as the lesser of the two evils, God still refers to them as "terribly evil." I think this is the first point for us today to consider. There seems to be a disturbing trend to diminish evil operating within the church today. People turn their heads to look the other way and avoid confrontation. We have heard the false calls for unity or how we are "all on the same team." Beloved we are not. The team whose head is Jesus Christ does not accept any evil, no matter how "mild" it may appear. I think sometimes we can lose sight of the fact that something is evil because we feel justified in that it is the lesser. What sorrow for those who saythat evil is good and good is evil,that dark is light and light is dark,that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. - Isaiah 5: 20 (NLT) There really is no third choice. The world sells people on the notion of shades of gray so that they can feel better about their sin. The reality is that things are black and white. Things are light and dark. Can you picture yourself standing before Christ and trying to explain your sin by saying it wasn't as bad as someone else? Or that it was only a "little evil!" So who were these evil prophets of Samaria? They prophesied in the name of Baal and led the people of God into sin. So this type of false prophet leads people to worship other gods. We see this in the church today as waves of prosperity preachers lead the people of God away from the real God to chase the false gods of this world. The gods of mammon, success, and celebrity. The Oxygen Network has announced that this fall they will present a new reality television show highlighting the lavish lifestyles of six prosperity preachers. The "Preachers of L.A." will only appear to bring the Gospel to television. The focus is placed on the lifestyles these six men lead. Luxury cars and fancy homes. One of the preachers in question has already admitted to fathering a child with his girlfriend following the divorce from his wife. The leading of God's people away to worship false gods is still considered the lesser of two evils. The greater evil according to the key verses is found within the evil prophets of Jerusalem. God makes several points about such prophets and the first is that they commit adultery. Why does God single out this sin so prominently? Because it is of such dire importance to God! Adultery is not just a matter of sexual sin. It is the breaking of a covenant agreement made between you and God! When God wanted to highlight the sins of Israel in following after other gods He used adultery as the example. I think sometimes in this society which downplays adultery that we lose sight of the fact that we are committing spiritual adultery as well. The world celebrates adultery. There are websites that sell discreet services to assist people in committing adultery. The bond of marriage has been cheapened not only by the world but by a church that simply holds the same disregard. He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. - Proverbs 6: 32 (ESV) Recently, there were three mega church pastors, all within the Orlando Florida area, who fell from adultery sin within a six month period alone! If that is the care regarding adultery in the pulpit, one can imagine what is going on in the pews. Divorce and adultery are simply rampant in the church today - the one place it should not be. The second trait amongst the evil prophets of Jerusalem we see in the key verses is that they love dishonesty. It is not just that they are dishonest. It is that they love dishonesty. Here is a contrast: No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,and this is what he requires of you:to do what is right, to love mercy,and to walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6: 8 (NLT) This is what the Lord requires of us beloved; all of us. For those in leadership, even more is required! Yet instead of loving mercy, these false prophets love dishonesty. They present portions of the Gospel to sound right but omit other portions. They preach grace alone not caring that they are responsible for encouraging sin in the people of God. They steer clear of topics they have deemed might offend the unsaved. The purpose driven heresy actually no longer refers to people as unsaved. They are now considered "unchurched." You can be churched to the point that you grow steeples and still end up going to hell. They avoid speaking about the blood, the cross, sin and repentance. Joel Osteen once said that his gifting is not to bring the do's and don't's of Christianity. Then you do not have a pastoral gifting sir. Perhaps the most telling of the traits of the false prophets of Jerusalem God saves for last. They actually encourage those that are doing evil to the point that no one actually turns from their sins! Wait a minute preacher! You don't mean to say this is actually happening in churches today! Yes I am saying that. The seeker friendly movement encompasses probably 80% of churches in this country. The stated goals are not salvations but to draw as many people into church as possible. To do so the Gospel is watered down with sugar added to the point the we have diabetic Christians choking to death on a gospel that cannot save anyone. When someone new comes to church today they are in desperate need of what? Self-esteem? Financial ponzi-schemes? More self awareness? To tithe? No beloved they are in need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” - Romans 1: 16-17 (NLT) Without the true Gospel of Jesus Christ there is no power of God at work, period. That Gospel message is about how God makes us right in His sight through the work of His Son on the cross. Yet that desperate person walks into a church and gets what? Entertainment disguised as worship. Motivational self help theory instead of the Gospel. And an altar call designed to increase the number of members in the church instead of increasing the number of citizens in heaven. Their altar call is a quick and dirty, this will only take five minutes of your time, microwaved, spoon fed, fill in the blanks salvation. The sinners prayer, which was already poor theology at best, is now marginalized to the point where sin and repentance are either glossed over or omitted completely. They repeat this powerless prayer offered up by this powerless prophet and are then arrogantly "welcomed into the family of God." The reality however is that they are not really in the family of God because they never repented of their sin. They came into church a sinner and their sin was actually encouraged. They are led to believe they can have their sin and play church too. The end result is no one turns away from their sins. That is how the evil prophets of Jerusalem operate within the church today. Probably unwittingly. They were taught this model remember and the majority of people play church the exact same way. Sinners are looked upon as prey. Consumers for the product they are selling. The problem is that somewhere along the way we changed the product from Jesus Christ to church membership. Do not take this lightly beloved because the key verses end with God saying that these false prophets are as wicked as the people of Sodom and Gommorah once were. It is serious business to God because He does not wish to see any perish and the last thing He wants is the church leading the procession down the broad path to destruction. We need to stop marginalizing sin and evil. Spiritual adultery is very real. Stay faithful my friends. Rev. Anthony.