Deuteronomy 13: Lessons for Detecting and Dealing with the Counterfeit

If you cling to God’s Word, you will not be led astray1

Introduction: Deuteronomy Chapter 13 is about detecting and dealing with “false prophets.” Yet, in order to know how to detect a false prophet, you must first know what a real prophet does and what it means to speak a “prophesy;” or to bring forth a “prophecy.” Many might assume that a person who “prophesies” is a person who makes claims that God has told him what will happen in the future. Yet, this is only one type of prophet. The act of prophesying is much broader. It can include anyone who speaks the Word over another person, something we are all encouraged to do. To prove this, we examine how the word is used in the dictionary, the Old Testament, and in the New Testament. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “prophesy” has three definitions. It can mean “to speak as if divinely inspired.” It can also mean “to give instruction in religious matters.” Or, it can be the act of making a prediction. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew verb for one who prophesies is “naba” (naw-baw'). It appears 435 times in the Old Testament. It means to “to bubble up, to gush forth, to pour forth.” For example, God advises that in the end times “your sons and your daughters will “naba” or prophesy.” (Joel 2:28). In other words, the Holy Spirit will cause the Word of God will bubble up or gush forth from them. In the New Testament, the Greek verb for one who prophesies is “prof-ate-yoo'-o.” It can mean to “speak forth” as if in a divinely inspired manner. Or, it can be used for one who predicts the future. In Greek, there are two words for God’s Word. The written Word is called the “logos.” (i.e., Jo. 1:1; Lk. 8:11; Phil. 2:16; 2 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 4:12; 1 Pet. 1:23). By contrast, in Greek, the Word that a person speaks when prophesies or “speaking forth” the Word of God to another is called in Greek “the rhema.” (i.e. “If you abide in Me, and My words [my rhema] abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (Jo. 15:7). “And Peter remembered the word [the revealed word or rhema] which Jesus had said, ‘Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Matt. 26:75, see also, Lk. 1:38; 3:2; 5:5; Acts 11:16; Rom. 10:17; Eph. 6:17; 5:25-26). Jesus spoke “the logos” when He quoted Scripture and “the rhema” when He explained or revealed the hidden meanings behind the Scriptures.

What a true prophet does. A true prophet “speaks forth” the written Word or “the logos” of God to others. Or, the prophet speaks for the revealed Word as interpreted by the Holy Spirit, “the rhema,” to others. The words of a true prophet are typically meant to encourage, restore, or uplift another (1 Thess. 5:11; Eph. 4:29; Jude 1:20). The Holy Spirit prompts a true prophet to remember a verse and speak the Word over another person in need of God’s comfort, correction, or direction (Jo. 14:26). If the spoken “rhema” or word of a true prophet involves a matter of guidance, it is typically confirmed by two or more witnesses (2 Cor. 13:1). A true prophet is something that every believer is encouraged to be. The more Scripture that you know and memorize, the more the Holy Spirit has to work with if He intends to use you as a prophet. According to Paul, being a prophet is a greater gift than speaking in tongues: “I speak in tongues more than you all; but I would rather have you to prophesy.” (1 Cor. 14:4-5). Paul was not speaking of predicting the future. Instead, he was speaking of someone who uses God’s Word to restore, uplift, and encourage. If you learn the Word, you can fulfill this higher calling in life.

What a false prophet does. A false prophet does the exact opposite of a Spirit-led prophet. He or she speaks out of the flesh. Many times his or her motive is also to bring attention to his or her own life and ministry. Instead of restoring, correcting, or uplifting, he or she rips down or slanders another. He or she encourages another to live according to the flesh. Or, such a person incites rebellion against the Word. Finally, that person can also make false future predictions.

Summary on dealing with the counterfeit: One of the greatest tests a believer will face is to distinguish the genuine from the counterfeit. From this Chapter, God gives us seven lessons for detecting and dealing with the counterfeit. First, as a famous Chinese philosopher once wrote, you must “know your enemy.” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War). The Bible gives many accounts establishing that the devil has real powers of deception. Second, God reveals that He allows for the counterfeit to exist to test our hearts. From verses throughout Scripture, He also reveals seven tests for distinguishing the real from the counterfeit. Third, He reveals that only obedience to Him can protect your heart from the counterfeit. Fourth, He reveals that Satan’s purpose in using the counterfeit is to place you back into the bondage of sin. Fifth, part of being obedient and protecting your heart includes severing ties with those who teach rebellion against the teachings of the Bible. Sixth, another part of being obedient and protecting your heart is severing ties with communities of believers or churches who rebel against the teachings in the Bible. Finally, to protect your heart, do not incorporate any foreign beliefs or doctrines of mankind that are contrary to the teachings of the Bible into your worship or walk with God.

1. The Devil has Real Powers to Deceive. Dt. 13:1-3(a).

  • Don’t be swayed by every miracle you see. Moses warns that the devil has real powers to deceive: “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams;’” (Dt. 13:1-3(a)). The Bible records many examples where the devil used real powers to deceive. For example, Satan was able to disguise himself in the form of a snake (Gen. 3:1). He helped Pharaoh’s magicians turn their staffs into snakes (Ex. 7:8-11). He also helped the magicians turn water into blood (Ex. 7:22). He also helped the magicians cause frogs to come up onto the land (Ex. 7:22). When Jesus was in the wilderness, the devil also had the power to show Jesus in an instant the kingdoms of the world (Matt. 4:8). Satan also was able to enter into Judas Iscariot (Lk. 22:3). He also temporarily took control of Peter (Matt. 16:23). If you lie or deceive, Jesus also reveals that Satan temporarily enters you to become your father (Jo. 8:44). Thus, the devil has real power to deceive.

Let God’s Word guide and protect you from false prophets2

  • God’s power is stronger than the demonic forces of this world. If Satan was the source of Pharaoh’s power, God showed through His deliverance of the Jews with His mighty miracles and plagues that He is far mightier than Satan (Ex. 7:5; 7:17; 8:10; 9:14, 16; 10:2; 12:12). The Holy Spirit inside of you is also stronger than Satan (1 Jo. 4:4).

  • The devil will sway even the elect with false signs during the end times. Another famous philosopher once wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana, Reason in Common Sense). The Bible warns that our ignorance of the devil’s powers to deceive will cause even the elect to be led astray during the end times: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.” (Matt. 24:24). “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.” (Mk. 13:22). “[T]hat is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” (2 Thess. 2:9-10). “[F]or they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.” (Rev. 16:14). “And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” (Rev. 13:2-4). “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” (Matt. 24:9-12). Why would God allow the devil to have the power to deceive Adam and Eve, Judas, the elect, and others? God reveals the answers to these questions in Deuteronomy 13:3.

2. God’s Seven Tests for Counterfeit Prophets. Dt. 13:3(b).

  • God tests you to see if you will fall for the counterfeit around you. God allows the devil to have the power of deception to test your heart and your love for God: “for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Dt. 13:3). Just as God tests you, you must test every spirit around you. “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.” (1 Jo. 4:1). What are the tests? Across the Bible, God reveals seven tests.

(1) A false prophet encourages you to pursue other gods. First, as outlined above, you must not follow any person who tells you to follow after other gods: “‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’” (Dt. 13:2). A “god” can be anything that is the focus of your life. Thus, a false prophet is anyone who encourages you to pursue these things of the flesh. This can include drug dealers, internet pornography providers, strip clubs, prostitutes, pornography magazine publishers, certain types of advertisers, worldly actors, wayward friends, hazing events, or even family members. You also can be a false prophet if you cause others to stumble. Have you surrounded yourself with people who encourage you to pursue worldly things? Have you repented for any time that you have caused others to stumble in their walk?

(2) A false prophet preaches based upon human traditions that typically ignore sin and are contrary to God’s Word. Second, a false prophet teaches things based upon human traditions that are contrary to what appears in the Bible: “And He said to them, ‘rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men”, ‘neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men,’” (Mk. 7:6-8). “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. 1:8-9). “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the LORD.’” (Jer. 23:16). Many of these false prophesies ignore sin: “Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; and they have not exposed your iniquity so as to restore you from captivity, But they have seen for you false and misleading oracles.” (Lam. 2:14). “They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, saying, ‘peace, peace,’ but there is no peace.” (Jer. 8:11; 14:13). “They keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The LORD has said, “You will have peace”’; and as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say, “Calamity will not come upon you.”’” (Jer. 23:17; Is. 30:10). “Then the LORD said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.”’ (Jer. 14:14; 20:6; 28:15; 29:8). “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,” (2 Tim. 4:3). “While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.” (1 Thess. 5:3). The Bible has many provisions that are contrary to the traditions of men. Human traditions that are contrary to the Bible include abortion, divorce, sex outside of marriage, same sex marriage, materialism, lust, greed, and hedonism. Have you accepted any of these worldly beliefs?

(3) A false prophet causes dissension unrelated to keeping God’s Word. Third, a false prophet causes dissension that is unrelated to correcting or restoring a wayward person or a church: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” (Rom 16.17). A person has a Biblical right to privately comfort a brother, a sister, or a church leader in rebellion against God’s Word (Matt. 18:15). This can cause dissention that is permitted by God because it is designed to restore a person or a church to a proper walk with God. Yet, a person who causes dissension for any other reason is a false prophet. This can include gossip, slander, putting someone down, or hurting another person. Do you enjoy listening to others spread gossip or spreading it yourself? Are you causing dissention by ripping people down? Conversely, if a brother, a sister, or a leader is sinning, do you turn the other way because you feel that it is not your business?

(4) A false prophet pursues after his or her own lust and interests. Fourth, even if a person shows outward acts of piety or righteousness, the person is a false prophet if he or she is inwardly motivated by self-interest. “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15). “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. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 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.” (2 Peter 2:1-3). “They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;” . . . 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” (2 Pet. 2:13-15, 19). “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, . . .” (Jer. 23:26). Every person has evil desires in their heart (Jer. 17:9). Thus, you can be manipulated by Satan to become a false prophet if you are not humble and constantly repenting of your sins. A true prophet speaks only out of love: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Cor. 13:1). Thus, you must always stop before speaking and make sure that you are motivated by love before speaking. Are you secretly leading a double life of the flesh? If so, repent of your sins (1 Jo. 1:9). Then preach the Word motivated by love and not self-interest.

(5) A false prophet denies that Christ is the son of God. John also warns: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 Jo. 4:2-6). Muhammad started a religion that is now one of the largest in the world. He has called Christ a prophet. Yet, he denies that Christ was God’s son. Although it may be offensive to others, what does that make Muhammad? Are you willing to speak the truth even if you are ridiculed? (Ro. 1:16).

(6) A false prophet offers alternatives for salvation. Jesus warned that “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” (Matt. 24:5). Jesus is the only way to God (Jo. 14:6). If a religious teacher claims that you will get to heaven through your good works, Christ’s death on the cross was unnecessary (Gal. 2:21).

(7) A false prophet makes predictions that do not come true. Moses also warned that “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Dt. 18:22). “The prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, then that prophet will be known as one whom the LORD has truly sent.” (Jer. 28:9; 5:30-31). “So when it comes to pass-- as surely it will-- then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst.” (Ezek. 33:33). Leaders of the Jehovah Witnesses and other groups have falsely predicted the end of the world on specific days. Because their prophecies did not come true, you can and should disregard their teachings.

3. Spirit-Led Obedience to God Will Guard Your Heart from the Counterfeit. Dt. 13:4.

  • Don’t be led astray by those who offer a different path. Because you cannot trust the miracles that you may see before you, the only way to protect your heart from the counterfeit is to be obedient to the Word: “You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.” (Dt. 13:4). It is the Word that allows you to test every spirit (2 Tim. 3:16). It was the Word that allowed the Bereans to verify Paul’s claims that Jesus was in fact the Messiah (Acts 17:11). Are you regularly reading the Word to keep the path for your feet lit? (Ps. 119:105). Are you searching the Scriptures to test what others claim?

Place your trust in God’s Word to discern the truth3

  • Don’t reject all prophetic utterances. Obedience in testing every spirit also requires that you not reject every Spirit. If you do this, you close the door for the Holy Spirit to speak to you “do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;” (1 Thess. 5:20-21). “By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;” (Eph. 3:4-5). If the Bereans had rejected all prophetic utterances, they would have never learned that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 17:11). Likewise, if David had rejected all prophetic utterances, he would not have been convicted of sins when the prophet Nathan confronted him over sleeping with Bathsheba and killing her husband (2 Sam. 12:1-7). If you reject all prophetic utterances without testing them against the Word of God, you have limited the Holy Spirit’s ability to speak with you.

  • Obedience also requires that you prophesy to edify the Church. Speaking the Word of God over another to bless, correct, restore, or uplift them is one of the highest callings. It is what a real prophet does. Any member of the Church can be called to do it: “One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Cor. 14:4). “I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.” (1 Cor. 14:5). Are you speaking the Word of God over others to bless, correct, restore, and uplift them?

4. The Devil Uses the Counterfeit to Incite Rebellion and Bondage. Dt. 13:5.

  • A false prophet who incites rebellion is guilty of death under God’s Law. A person who encourages others to rebel against the teachings of the Bible faces the ultimate eternal penalty if he or she fails to repent: “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.” (Dt. 13:5). Because God does not want to be misrepresented, a prophet who presumes to speak in God’s name when not commanded to do so “shall die.” (Dt. 18:20). “Then Elijah said to them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.’ So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.” (1 Kgs. 18:40). An angel, for example, almost killed Balaam because he planned to prophesize a curse on the Jews when God had blessed them (Nu. 22:32-33). Any person who teaches a lifestyle contrary to God’s Word is a false prophet preaching rebellion. A person who curses others is also a false prophet. If you have cursed others out of anger or if you have encouraged others to get drunk or high on drugs or engage in sex outside of marriage, have you repented?

  • Satan seeks to place people into bondage to sin. Satan uses false prophets to place people into bondage and cause them to turn away from God. He seeks to make us slaves to the flesh. Ultimately, this can become a form of idolatry. According to the Apostle Paul, you are slaves to whatever you serve: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Ro. 6:16; Gal. 4:7-9). Satan has placed your flesh at war with God’s Spirit. “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity . . .” (Gal. 5:19; 1 Tim. 1:10). In the end, you must pick which you will serve: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matt. 6:24). If you choose the flesh, you are at war with the Spirit, “[T]he mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God . . . and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:7-8). Which master are you serving?

5. Cut All Ties With Individuals Who Incite Rebellion Against God’s Law. Dt. 13:6-10.

  • Don’t pick rebellious family or friends over God. Moses warned that your walk with God is so important that you must sever a relationship with a family member or friend if that person induces you to rebel against God’s teachings: “If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10 So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Dt. 13:6-10). If the person who incites rebellion against God fails to repent, he or she will face the ultimate punishment at the Great White Hall Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Your walk with God is more important than your family. A spouse, for example, might elect to stop going to church if the other spouse stops going. For this reason, Jesus warned: “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;” (Matt. 10:35; Lk. 12:53). Does your relationship with God take precedence over your family? Or, have you placed your family or friends on a pedestal above all else?

  • God’s death penalty will deter when properly followed. Moses’ warnings about false prophets also contains valuable insight regarding the deterrent value of the death penalty: “Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you.” (Dt. 13:11). When applied in the manner that God intended, the death penalty deters crime. Thus, the Church should not stand against capital punishment.

6. Cut All Ties With Churches Who Rebel Against God’s Law. Dt. 13:12-15.

  • Don’t pick rebellious churches over God. Your relationship with God also takes precedence over your church, which Moses refers to as “cities:” “If you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that 13 some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom you have not known), 14 then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. If it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword.” (Dt. 13:12-15). The Jews later followed these words in killing the priests of Baal: “And all the people went to the house of Baal and tore it down, and they broke in pieces his altars and his images, and killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars.” (2 Chr. 23:17). Today, we are not called upon to judge churches or cities. That is God’s role alone. He judges any church or community which chooses the values of the world over His Word: “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.” (2 Pet. 2:21). He judged the nations with the Flood. He judged Sodom and Gomorrah. He judged the nation of Egypt with plagues. He also judged the nation of Israel when it rebelled, letting it wander for an extra 38 years in the wilderness. Hundreds of years later, they rebelled again. He then judged them again by sending them into exile. If your church chooses public opinion over His Word on matters of morality and the definition of marriage, God’s words provide clear guidance. You must break your ties with the church. Would you be willing to leave a wayward church even if it meant losing your close friends there?

7. Don’t Incorporate Foreign Teachings With God’s Word. Dt. 13:16-18.

  • Don’t mix the teachings of God with the teachings of the world. In addition to breaking ties with wayward churches or communities, you are also warned not to incorporate false teaching or the things or the world into your own walk: “Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt. 17 Nothing from that which is put under the ban shall cling to your hand, in order that the Lord may turn from His burning anger and show mercy to you, and have compassion on you and make you increase, just as He has sworn to your fathers, 18if you will listen to the voice of the Lord your God, keeping all His commandments which I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.” (Dt. 16-18). Because God did not want the Jews entangled by the false doctrines of the world, He repeatedly told them to “smash” the sacred pillars in the Promised Land to the pagan gods (Ex. 34:13; Dt. 7:5-6; 12:1-3). You also were meant to be God’s salt and His instrument against sin in the world around you (Matt. 5:13). This means that you were meant to be an irritant in the open wounds of sin in the world. But if you adopt the teachings of the world or tolerate sin around you so as not to offend, you have lost your saltiness: “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (Matt. 5:13). Have you kept your heart set apart from the false prophets and teachings of the world?

God’s Word, not public opinion, is the standard for right and wrong4