Wesley used this passage to attack the established church’s ministers or clergy. He accused them of saying one thing and living another way but more than that he accused them of false teaching.
I wonder how he would take the tele-evangelists of our generation or the webcasts etc. It is easier to pick holes in teaching when it is on a screen than when it is in church. I am friends with someone who used to preach but who didn’t believe it was their place to teach. They believed, based on gender, that they were prohibited to teach and yet they still preached. So everything they said was false, right? No they were still used as an instrument by God to preach but their life did not follow their teaching.***
I have a friend who says she is totally submitted to her husband and yet a more hen-pecked husband I have yet to meet. She tells him when to stand and how to stand. What she says is not what she does. She has preached to me from a pulpit in a church about this submission and because I knew her, and knew how she lived her life, it tainted the message I may have heard from someone else.***
I have a preacher friend who has brilliant repartee, wonderful rhetoric, a person who you could listen to all day with their lilting Southern US accent, she waxes lyrically on scripture, there is always a hook that attaches itself to your emotions and a whole swathe of us end up in tears. She is a false prophet, I know it and yet I listen to her because she is my friend and I love her. I listen objectively and with discernment. I know she believes that she has laid out a good argument because we talk about it over lunch. She is well read and academically able but she is a false prophet. She ignores the Old Testament, barely touches Jesus and if I were to call her anything I would say she was a follower of Paul.***
We can be amongst false prophets and we can still take something from their preaching, but we must be careful not to buy into everything they say or do. A friend of mine has issues with her church teaching on two subjects. She struggles so much with this because she has been taught that the pastor is without error ( a bit like the Bible being without error but this is a human) that the pastor cannot be questioned. So if you are hearing what you believe to be false teaching in that church what do you do?
I was a participant in a bible study one day and stated something that I believed to be true. Within a day someone had collared me to say I was wrong and showed me in the Bible where my error lay. I like that kind of church. The kind where if you are in error someone comes alongside and corrects you gently and in love.
False prophets are everywhere and we need the full armour of God to help us discern these woves in sheep’s clothing.