Summary: This sermon deals with the reality of false teachers and how to safeguard ourselves from them.
A. How many of you remember the game show called “Truth or Consequences?
1. Truth or Consequences was an American quiz show, originally hosted on radio by Ralph Edwards from 1940 to 1957, and later on television by Edwards himself, and later by Bob Barker. (This picture shows Edwards and Barker)
2. The show ran on CBS, NBC and also in syndication through 1988.
3. The idea of the show was to mix the original quiz element of game shows with wacky stunts.
4. On the show, people had to answer a trivia question correctly (usually an off-the-wall question that no one would be able to answer correctly) before "Beulah the Buzzer" was sounded.
5. If the contestant could not complete the "Truth" portion, there would be "Consequences," usually some kind of a zany and embarrassing stunt.
6. "Truth or Consequences" is the only game show with an entire town named after it. After a request from Ralph Edwards in 1950, Hot Springs, New Mexico volunteered to be renamed in honor of the show.
7. In return, the show’s 10th anniversary special was taped there.
8. Every year on the first weekend in May, the "Truth or Consequences Fiesta" draws thousands of people to that little town in New Mexico.
B. “Truth or Consequences” may be lots of fun as a game show, but it is a serious matter when it comes to knowing and obeying God.
1. So many people today believe that it makes no difference what you believe, just as long as you are sincere.
2. But I doubt whether the people who hold such a belief have ever really thought it through.
3. Why in the world would “sincerity” be a magic ingredient to make something true?
4. It takes far more than sincerity to make something true, right?
5. Imagine a nurse in a hospital who gives a medication to a patient, and the patient becomes violently ill.
a. The nurse sincerely gave the wrong medication to the patient. The nurses sincerity didn’t make it the right medication.
6. Here’s another example: if a person wants to drive from Syracuse to Florida, no amount of sincerity will get him or her there if they are on a highway leading to Los Angeles!
7. Sincere faith in a lie will always cause serious consequences.
8. Sincere faith in the truth is never misplaced.
9. So, what a man or woman believes does make a difference!
C. So far in this letter of 1 John that we have been studying, John has been warning his beloved children about the conflicts that they will face.
1. There is the conflict of light and darkness – we must walk in the light, not just claim to walk in the light while continuing to walk in darkness.
2. There is the conflict between loving God and loving the world – we must live in the world, but not love the world. We must love God and our brothers and sisters.
3. In today’s text, John is going to address a third conflict: the conflict between truth and error.
4. It is not enough for a believer to walk in the light and to walk in love (both of these are good), we must also walk in truth.
D. The formation of cults and heretical movements among churches has plagued Christianity from its earliest days.
1. Throughout the NT we are warned that false teachers would come.
2. Look at what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:1-3, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.”
3. There have always been and always will be people who love popularity, power, and wealth to the degree that they have no qualms about manipulating others.
4. Religion is as vulnerable to exploitation by evil people as is governments, businesses and families.
E. Knowing all this, the elderly apostle John warns his children.
1. He tells them that we are living in “the last hour” of history. What is the “last hour?”
2. It is the indeterminate time between Christ’s death and resurrection and His return. This is history’s final hour.
3. Someone has said that if John thought that he was living in the last hour, then we must be in the last minutes or seconds.
F. Satan knows that he has been defeated and that the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ will spell his final and complete destruction.
1. Therefore, the last-hour is a time of desperation for him.