The danger posed by apostates and false teachers has always been present. In fact, all throughout church history, we see the church having to deal with those who have turned away from the faith and those who have come into the church bringing with them various false teachings. However the modern church seems to have forgotten this very real danger. Many "christians" today will support any ministry that is lead by a popular preacher no matter how questionable that person's theology. The modern church suffers from a serious lack of discernment. That lack of discernment is rooted in Biblical ignorance. The Word of God warns us to "test the spirits" (1Jn 4:1) and this is done by the Word of God (1Jn 4:5-6). We need to learn to look past the flashy church building, the fancy suit, the large crowds, and big publishing deals. We need to examine a preacher's teachings. The danger posed by false teachers and apostates is great but it is also very subtle. Rarely do false teachers bust down the front door and announce "I'm here and I'm ready to mislead you". No, they don't normally work that way. False teachers and apostates enter the church through different means. I want to look at several verses of Scripture, but I want to start with Paul's warning to the elders in the church at Ephesus: "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will com in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert..." -Acts 20:28-31 Notice that Paul warns them of two groups: Apostates who are already in the church and false teachers who want to gain entrance into the church. The first group Paul deals with are those who want to come into the church and teach false doctrine. As stated above, these folks are usually very subtle in their approach. Jude warned us about this when he said that these people have "crept in unnoticed" (vs4). Nobody saw them come in, they came in secretly. Once in the church, these false teachers mislead and exploit believers (2Pet 2:2-3). They take advantage of Biblically ignorant, spiritually weak believers who can be easily mislead. Sadly there are many, many Christians today in that category. They are ready for any new teaching as long as it is pragmatic and makes them feel good. They don't want to examine teachings carefully and defend the truth, after all that is what people did in the dark ages and look what happened then. These folks want to feel good, they want something that they believe is useful and pragmatic. These people downplay the importance of true doctrine and even, in the extreme, don't want to hear true doctrine. Rather they want to hear things that make them feel good and they will only listen to those teachers who tell them what they want to hear (2Tim 4:1-5). The second group Paul warns about are apostates. These are false teachers who are already in the church. Why? Because they, at one time, professed to be believers. However they have denied the truth and now teach heresy. These people mislead people inside the church by introducing "destructive heresies" (2Pet 2:1). Like the false teachers these people do their work "secretly". They pretend that they are still following Christ, and their error is mixed with just enough truth to make it acceptable to those pragmatic folks who don't carefully examine doctrines. In this post I have divided false teachers and apostates into two different groups. Really, such a division is just for organizations sake. The truth is that both groups do the same thing. The only difference is that one group is trying to get into the church while the other group is already on the inside. Either way these people are dangerous and we must seek to protect the church, our families, and ourselves from these folk's destructive errors. The only way to do this is to be prayerful students of the Word of God. We must examine everything, and I mean everything, carefully in light of God's Word. We dare not accept something just because it is popular, cool, trendy, or very pragmatic.