It sounded like something you would hear during the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys—false teachers were trying to infiltrate a young church. But this isn’t something that happened hundreds of years ago. No, this is something that happened recently, right where I was just a few weeks ago. Here is what I wrote at the time:
This week I am writing you from Tanzania, East Africa. I’m here with a small team checking on the progress of the church we helped start a year ago. We are also training church leaders. The reports of the church’s progress have been good, but once we arrived back in Tanzania we heard some troubling news. A cult led by a man who claims to be “father-god” had come to our adopted village and was trying to win the hearts of the people by giving out free clothes.
“What will this do to these young believers,” I pondered as our 4-wheel drive vehicle made its way over the rough terrain that led to the church’s property. As we made our way inside the grass and branch structure that is serving as the temporary building, I was anxious to hear about this from the pastor and church leaders.
Soon a man stood up and began to talk about the situation. We knew him from our very first visit to the village. He was the chairman (mayor) and an early convert to Christ. He had also become a leader in the church, along with his wife, who our earlier teams had spent time discipling. The chairman told us that after a few days this false prophet asked for land to build a church.
“I told him ‘bye-bye’ there is no place for you here,” said the chairman.
With that the other leaders who were gathered with us laughed and clapped—and I breathed a sigh of relief! It was so good to know that even though these were new believers, they had recognized false teaching and were not allowing it to have any place in their community.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Although this verse deals with false prophets—like the one that showed up here in Tanzania—there is a larger sense that we also need to grasp. False teachings and false philosophies are things that all of us could get caught up with if we are not careful. We may recognize as dangerous someone who shows up at our front door calling himself father-god, but we may not be so quick to see deceptive ideas and subtle half-truths.
So this week I am reminded of the importance of running all of my thoughts and ideas through God’s filter to ensure that what I am pondering really is truth. Not my version of reality. Not the influences of a secular culture. Not even the words of believers who are well meaning. Jesus said that if we know the truth the truth will set us free. I don’t want to be in bondage to lies—I want to be set free by truth! My prayer is that you too will seek truth today and every day.
Frank Banfill is an international speaker and leadership developer who seeks to help individuals and ministries realize their full potential in Christ. Please forward this to your family & friends. To get Frank’s devotionals delivered free to your inbox, or to request reprint rights, visit www.FranksBibleBlog.com.