Summary: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. - Revelation 2:14 Solomon the wisest man on the earth said there is ..
There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. - Revelation 2:14
Solomon the wisest man on the earth said there is nothing new under the sun. And so it is that there are no new false heresies but a redoing of what has already been a problem for God's people in history. Deviation from the truth path of the Lord has happened willfully since the days of Cain. Cain choose his own way instead of offering the sacrifice prescribed by the Lord. Balaam the son of Beor was one that feel into the sin of religious avarice and greed. The Apostle Peter says that Balaam " loved the wages of wickedness" (2 Peter 2:15). Jude speaks of those who have " rushed for profit into Balaam’s error" (Jude 1:11). The love of money was something the New Testament is very clear on, especially for those who are God's leaders. When someone is an Overseer or Deacon there are strict commands for them not to be greedy for gain (1 Timothy 3). Our Lord taught that we all need to be aware of the dangers of loving money more then God himself. But those who are leaders in the Church must be beyond reproach in this area, as an example to the rest of the flock of God. The Apostle Timothy also warned of the love of money when he spoke of those teaching "godliness is a means to financial gain" (1 Timothy 6:5). There were those in the Church in Pergamum who were teaching things just like Balaam of old. The danger is always from within the Church, Balaam was a false prophet accepted amongst the people of Israel as these teachers also were active in the body life of Pergamum.
Josephus, the jewish historian, speaks of Balaam as the best prophet of his time, but with a disposition ill adapted to resist temptation. Whether that is true or not we cannot verify but this does show us that false teachers in the body of Christ can be very popular displaying even their greed for monetary gain without shame. Balaam was deceived in thinking he was serving the Lord, though he was essentially a prophet for hire. He served outside of the general accepted practices of prophets in that day and likewise false teachers of the Balaam type in our day establish their own Churches with little or no accountability at all. The Didache, an early Church document states about traveling prophets and apostles, "If he asks for money, he is a false prophet. But whoever says in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, you shall not listen to him." In another place it also says if they stay 3 days in one place they are to be considered false also. Essentially those who were trying to live off the people and seeking money were exposed with their wrong motives. These teachers like Balaam encourage people into idol worship and sensual pleasures. Their message is not one of self-denial and keeping one's life free from idols (1 John 5:21). We can listen to and heed the exhortation the Apostle Paul gives Timothy, "But you, man of God, flee from all this (1 Timothy 6:11). Flee body of Christ from such Balaam's in our day.