“Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.”Philippians 1:15-17, NASB1995
It’s the message that is fruitful, not always the messenger. A bad tree cannot produce good fruit.
““Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will [k]know them by their fruits. [l]Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will [m]know them by their fruits.”Matthew 7:15-20, NASB 1995
If there is any good seed of the gospel sown, it is because God’s Word went forth, and God’s Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11).
Regardless if a teacher occasionally proclaims orthodox statements of faith upheld by historical Christianity, God does not approve of messengers who practice self-seeking and envy. In fact, He calls this behavior evil:
But God will always approve of the message of Christ that is proclaimed, even if done with impure and selfish motives. To put it simply, in His sovereignty, God may use these wicked men as a mouth piece for the gospel from time to time to bring His elect to saving faith.
“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,”Philippians 1:18, NASB1995
But this doesn’t mean these vessels are honorable men. If they sometimes get the essentials of the faith right, God is orchestrating this for the sake of upholding the message, not the messenger.
God can use a mouthpiece of Satan whenever He so chooses. But this is when we must strengthen our discernment to know when someone teaches falsely, not just about the essentials of the faith, but the whole counsel of God’s Word. The Bible is more than merely “the essentials of the faith.” In it contains all truth and life! And one who maligns God’s Word by twisting the Holy scriptures, must be marked and avoided, even if they sometimes say right and true things from time to time!
The enemy masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Don’t you think that his messengers would wrap up their doctrines of demons in some truth?
Yes, we should hold fast to what is good, but that does not mean we purposely ingest poison to get to the little morsel of life-saving, life-giving sustenance that is presented to us by impure, envious, evil, and selfish men. These men are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and their god is their belly!
Flee from wolves, don’t try to pet them!
But if you do get close enough to be caught in the jaws of these ravenous creatures, we can praise God that since the Holy Spirit is strong enough to save you, He is strong enough to rescue you out of deception!
Cling to Christ, His finished work on the cross, and the gift of His Holy written Word that is a lamp unto your feet, a light unto your path, and the more sure prophetic Word! May the light of the Word of Christ shine brightly in our hearts, exposing our own wicked motives in which would do well to turn and repent. And may the lamp of God’s Word expose the schemes of the evil one, the great Deceiver, so that many would be saved from deception and snatched from the flames!