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2 13-25 Identifying False Religions

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                                                  liberty bible church          12/9/07 a.M.

By Tom Zobrist

“Identifying False Religions”

John 2:13-25


Illus. of Red Riding Hood wing clip. One of the biggest mistakes in the church today is the assumption that everyone who names the name of Jesus is actually a believer. What’s worse than that, is the current trend of tolerance that has expanded the way to Heaven to include all religions, with the only prerequisite being sincerity. In our world of ever-expanding religion and theology, we need to be more discerning than ever in identifying false religions and false teachers. We get a glimpse of how to begin to do this from our Lord today when He confronts those that would take advantage of the Truth to promote their own selfish, evil agendas.  

OPEN to passage.                                       

Prop. In this passage, we learn from Jesus how to identify and drive away false religious leaders.   

Open in PRAYER.

PREVIEW the passage. Once again, we are the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He has selected His disciples, performed His first miracle and now is in Jerusalem for the first time in His ministry. He is there to worship God and to serve the people and in the process He comes across some problems in the Temple and it is here that we begin to see some of the traits of the false teachers. And we also see how Jesus deals with them. So, how do we identify false religious leaders and their religions? First…

 i. false religions make finances a priority vs. 13-16

Illus. of a quote from a heresy in the church website…"Christianity began as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When it went to Athens, it became a philosophy. When it went to Rome, it became an organization. When it went to Europe, it became a culture. When it came to America, it became a business." L. Ron Hubbard (Founder of Scientology) once said "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." While our modern day evangelists have not started their own religion, they have unquestionably improved on Hubbard’s idea. Capitalizing on Christianity has proved to be far more lucrative than starting a new religion. The website then goes on to chronicle the salaries, homes, cars, private jets, etc. of some of the more well-known Christian leaders in our world, and some of them you would consider evangelical. It’s frightening how they can justify some of these high dollar items. False religions make fiancés a priority. It was the same in Jesus’ day. How do they get away with it?

a. They take advantage of genuine worshipers

V 13    1. Being faithful and setting a good example, Jesus goes to the festival of Passover in Jerusalem. He had this example set for Him as a boy and He continues to be faithful, as were many thousands of others. They were remembering God’s gracious deliverance from their bondage in Egypt.

V 14    2. This would have been taking place in the Temple courts or the court of the Gentiles which surrounded the Holy Place. People had to have sacrifices and this would have been a convenient way for them to fulfill God’s requirements. Why travel with an animal when you can get one there. Illus. of how churches today try to be convenient for people. Worship is not always about convenience. God wants us to go out of our way. When the nation came out of Egypt, they worshipped God on the mountain. Later, they had to travel, with sacrifices. But, now it was convenient with the animals right there. This practice became big business and no doubt abuses were prevalent. Wherever there is money to be made, there will be corruption. Money changers charges high rates to exchange foreign currency so Temple taxes could be paid in the proper coinage. What would gentle Jesus do? This is where many become uncomfortable. John records this incident early in His ministry. The synoptics record it at the end. There were probably two incidents, the latter leading to His crucifixion. Anyway…

b. What does God think about this excessive profiteering?   

V 15a   1. This wasn’t an impulsive act of anger. This is righteous anger that took the time to make a whip to start a stampede.

V 15b  2. Where’s the love? This is God’s love in action. Malachi prophesied that this would happen. Cf. Mal. 3:1-3 He is purifying the worship of His people.

V 16    3. This wasn’t even that bad. The second cleansing was even more violent. Cf. Mark 11:15-19 Here’s how it might have looked. Illus. of clip from “Jesus” film. This is how God in righteous anger can purge sin. 


ii. false religious leaders fail to understand God’s word vs. 17-25

Illus. of the elders theme for next year is “Contending For The Truth.” I’m amazed at how often not just the world, but Christians fail to understand the plain truth of God’s Word. This is mostly because they are either untaught or they are poorly taught and they are being taken advantage of. A lack of understanding the word may indicate that we are dealing with false religions and their leaders.

a. true believers get it

V 17    1. The disciples get it. They began to believe at the wedding in Cana and their belief is proven here. How?

            2. They compare what is going on with the rest of the Word of God. Illus. of it’s fine to get people’s opinions, but make sure that they are grounded in the Word. Too often opinions are based on feelings, not Biblical fact. The disciples remember the words of the Psalmist. Cf. Ps. 69:9-12 The Righteous One would pay a price for His zeal. Eventually His life would be given. 

b. false religious leaders are in the spiritual fog

V 18    1. They are responding to His actions here. What gave Him the authority to challenge what we have done for years. Illus. of “we’ve always done it that way.” The Jews liked signs. Cf. 1 Cor. 1:22

V 19    2. Rather than a sign, He gives one of His puzzling sayings. He wants them to think of its significance. He knew they wouldn’t understand yet anyway. The disciples would understand only when looking back after the resurrection.

V 20    3. Like Nicodemus who we will see, they took what He said literally and missed the point. The Temple was a magnificent structure. How could He do such a thing?

V 21    4. Of course Jesus was raised after three days. The lesson is that God does not dwell in buildings any longer. That started with Jesus. He was God incarnate and now all believers have God in them by the Spirit. We are God’s temples.

V 22    5. After the resurrection, it was all clear to the believers, and they remembered the Scriptures that prophesied His death and resurrection, and they remembered the words of Jesus. But, the false religious leaders never got it. They lied about the disappearance of Jesus from the tomb.

c. Jesus knows the true from the false

V 23    1. John does not tell us what the signs were, probably healings. The fact that they believed only indicates that they believed He could heal. It doesn’t mean they believed in Him as the Messiah. As a matter of fact, what we see next indicates that they did not believe in Him.

V 24-   2. Jesus knew that temporary belief based on signs was not true faith. Illus. of many believe when they have

       25      something to gain. True belief goes outside of ourselves. Many of these abandoned Jesus when He did not become the political leader they desired. Jesus knew their hearts and He knows ours. That becomes evident in the next two chapters when He deals with Nicodemus and the woman at the well.



1.      We need to be careful not to follow a false Gospel. Many of those exposed in the website I mentioned earlier justify their wealth as blessings from God. They teach that those truly save will be financially blessed. That’s part of a false Gospel. GOSPEL

2.      Be careful not to be taken advantage of. Investigate the finances of every ministry before supporting it. Salaries, benefits, etc. are published and can be reviewed. I wouldn’t support any ministry whose leaders have excessive salaries. (several hundred thousand dollars with corporate jets, Lexus cars, million dollar homes etc.

3.      Ask Jesus to purge your heart as He did the Temple. The cleansing will clear the way for the Truth.

4.      Know the truth so that we can know the error. So many are successful because so many don’t know the truth. The best defense against error is a knowledge and practice of the truth.


Illus. of Marilyn Hickey Ministries travel brochure which asks if you would “Love to mix travel with ministry?” Then list four points under the heading “Are YOU ready to”. Point 1 says “Enjoy 5-star hotels in Jakarta and Bali”. Point 4 says “Distribute tracts, food, and clothing to the needy in the slums of Jakarta?” Huh?

There are false religions in the world and in the church. We need to promote the true and then the false will be exposed. God knows and so should we who they are. Avoid them, preach the Word, and watch God bless. It won’t be with money, but it will be much more eternal.


“Identifying False Religions”

John 2:13-25


In this passage, we learn from Jesus how to identify and drive away false religious leaders.  

 i. false religions make                  a priority vs. 13-16

a. They take advantage of…

b. What does God think about this excessive profiteering?  

                Cf. Mal. 3:1-3; Mark 11:15-19

ii. false religious leaders                                       God’s word vs. 17-25

a. true believers get it

                Cf. Ps. 69:9-12

b. false religious leaders are in the…

                Cf. 1 Cor. 1:22

c. Jesus knows the…


How does this affect us?





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