I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. - Romans 16: 17-18 (ESV) As we head further into the end times we see more and more false prophets and teachers infiltrating the modern church. More and more leaders deceived by the purpose driven-seeker friendly theories of church growth that compromise with the world until the leaven is prevalent throughout the church and you can no longer tell the difference between the holy and the carnal. Young brash pastors who have been taught incorrectly that social relevance is more important than doctrinal purity. Older more established pastors who cave into the pressure to compete with the younger generation of church leaders or be relegated to pastoring small congregations without the bells, whistles and cameras. Amidst all of this is the usual cry of "division" should anyone dare question leadership. Listed in the seven things the Lord hates, one of them is someone who sows discord among the brethren, so this topic is very important to God. The truth is however that the issue is how someone is trying to sow discord that matters. Disagreement in and of itself is not wrong and in fact the Bible is pretty clear what we are supposed to do with false teaching: Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. - Ephesians 5: 10-11 (NLT) It doesn't say "Instead walk away." It says instead expose them! So then how can we be sure that someone is exposing deeds of darkness and not sowing discord? The key verses holds the answer. The linchpin is always correct doctrine. We need to watch out for those who cause division or create obstacles that are contrary to correct doctrine. The Bible is always our arbiter of proof. What we see today is that if anyone dares to question doctrine, they are accused of sowing division. That is nonsense. As is the silly notion that we should not name the false teachers by name: Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus. They have left the path of truth, claiming that the resurrection of the dead has already occurred; in this way, they have turned some people away from the faith. - 2Timothy 2: 16-18 (NLT) Not only did the Apostle Paul name Hymenaeus and Philetus by name but he called out their specific doctrinal error. There is a false narrative out there in Christendom that we are all somehow on the same team. We are not. There are those on the narrow road that leads to eternal life and those on the broad path that leads to destruction. There is no third road beloved. While Hymenaeus and Philetus doctrinal error was about the resurrection of the dead today it could just as easily be those that preach the prosperity gospel or those that do not address sin and repentance when dealing with salvation. It is not division to correctly point out doctrinal errors. In fact, according to the key verses it is the false teaching that is causing the actual division. How so? Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. - Philippians 2: 1-5 (NLT) Our unity beloved must be found in Christ. Not in the latest Christian fad. Not in the most profound leadership quote. Not in the Purpose Driven Church. Any teaching that departs from sound doctrine departs for the true unity of the faith in Christ Jesus. That is what divides the Body of Christ - not the person stating correct doctrine. The key verses go further however to admonish those that would teach any departure from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are four points being made about these charlatans. First, they do not serve our Lord Christ. Period. We should not make excuses for them. We should not try to look the other way. We should not say they are harmless. They do not serve our Lord Christ which means by default they serve the spirit of anti-Christ. If someone is not serving God they are serving the world and the lord of this world - Satan. Once again, there is no third choice. Their intentions are irrelevant. The people denied entrance into heaven in Matthew 7 appear to have been sincere in their belief that they spent their lives serving God. But they were sincerely wrong. Secondly, they are serving their own appetites. When looking at the prosperity preachers the appetite is more obvious as they fleece their flocks for personal gain. But realize others who deviate from true doctrine may do so for fame and notoriety or even pride. Some do if for the power. For the sense of playing God. Thirdly, the key verses warn us that they employ smooth talk and flattery in their deception. Just turn on any religious channel these days and that is exactly what you will see. Professionally polished speakers selling a gospel that is man centered. Thousand dollar suits, hundred thousand dollar cars, and million dollar mansions. Preachers like Joel Osteen routinely employ positive self talk, or flattery, in their sermons. Lastly from the key verses we see that these false teachers deceive the hearts of the naive. Those who sit under prosperity preaching spend their time chasing money instead of God. Those who sit under grace alone heresy spend their time completely unprepared for the damage sin will do in their lives. Those who sit under purpose driven teachings end up serving the individual church building instead of the kingdom of God. The truly sad thing for the naive however is how deep the deception may go. The truly deceived heart believes they are saved when they are not. False conversion is the elephant in the church no one wants to talk about but a truly deceived heart is the reason why we are to expose the works of darkness. A false teacher who is dividing the Body of Christ is leading people down the broad path to destruction. It is a big deal. The eternal destination of the souls of men are on the line beloved. Hundreds of thousands of people attend such churches every single week. The American church is rapidly becoming the neediest mission field in the world. When God sought to offer redemption to the evil city of Nineveh through Jonah He asked the wayward prophet rhetorically if He should be concerned about the 120,000 people living there in spiritual darkness? Shouldn't we too be concerned about the millions of people having their hearts deceived unto false salvation, by the flattery and smooth talk of divisive leadership? Don't fall for the false calls of division coming from the very people who are dividing. Examine the doctrine. Your very soul may be at stake. Rev. Anthony.