Appearances Can Be Deceiving


Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish…. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:47-50

By all external standards, FBI agent Robert Hanssen was a committed law enforcement officer, a devoted husband and father, and a devout Catholic who attended mass every day at 6:30 a.m. He was promoted through the ranks of the counterintelligence departments of the agency, at one time in charge of the division detecting possible double agents. But for 22 years of his time in the FBI, Hanssen secretly worked as a spy for the Soviet Union. He betrayed sensitive information not for political reasons, but just for the money.

The FBI knew there was a mole, but it was not until 2001 that they connected the dots, put Hanssen under surveillance, and arrested him as he placed secret documents under a wooden bridge in a park. His words to the arresting agents were: “What took you so long?”

It is very unsettling to realize that it is hard to know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in the world in which we live. We never really know what is going on in the hearts of other people. Some live double lives. We may have a hard time knowing whom we can trust. Appearances can be deceiving.

Jesus told us it would be so. Like a fisherman’s net that gathers good fish and useless fish only to be sorted out at the end, we all live today in mixed and confusing communities. It is not obvious who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. This is true in the world, and even in the church. We can be assured that at the end of time, when God’s reign is fully and finally in place, all will be sorted out. In the meantime we have to be patient, discerning, and careful— especially when it comes to trusting teachers and leaders. Some people will say they belong to the kingdom of God, all the while they are concealing a contrary life.

Mel Lawrenz

PONDER: How can we be wise and discerning but not cynical and suspicious of other people?

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Day21_RyleOver 100 years ago, Bishop J. C. Ryle identified eight symptoms of false teaching. They still apply today…

  1. There is an undeniable zeal in some teachers of error— their “earnestness” makes many people think they must be right.
  2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge—many think that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe to listen to.
  3. There is a general tendency to completely free and
    independent thinking today—many like to prove their independence
    of judgment by believing the newest ideas, which are nothing but novelties.
  4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear kind, loving, and open-minded—many seem half- ashamed to say that anybody can be wrong or is a false teacher.
  5. There is always a portion of half-truth taught by modern false teachers—they are always using scriptural words and phrases, but with unscriptural meaning.
  6. There is a public craving for a more sensational and entertaining worship—people are impatient with the more inward and invisible work of God within the hearts of men.
  7. There is a superficial readiness all around to believe anyone who talks cleverly, lovingly, and earnestly, forgetting that Satan often masquerades himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
  8. There is a wide-spread ignorance among professing Christians—every heretic who speaks well is surely believed, and anyone who doubts him is called narrow-minded and unloving.

All these are especially symptoms of our times. I challenge any honest and observant person to deny them. These tend to make the assaults of false doctrine today especially dangerous and make it even more important to say loudly, “Do not be carried away with strange doctrine!”

* * *


How did the fishermen know which were the good fish? Good fish look different from bad fish. When we choose friendship with Jesus, our lives look different as well. Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Read Matthew 13:47-48. How do you think fishermen could tell the good fish from the bad fish? Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. What are ways your life has changed since you chose a friendship with

God? How would others know from your words and actions that you love God?

Krista Heinen

3 thoughts on “Appearances Can Be Deceiving”

  1. The way we live daily and react to problems differently from the world reflects Jesus in us. Our actions will be different than worldly reactions and others will see this in us. We try to react as Jesus would and by doing so have an inter peace that others want to know about.

    Give thanks and glory to God and Jesus for their unconditional love for us. AMEN

    Prayers and Love

  2. I have always, since a young child, had a relationship with Christ, I concealed it while a young woman in my late teens – early twenties, oh yes a stand of freedom, found independence! I let Him be still while I walked a detour path. He was always my Savior and God my Abba but I chose the flesh for a bit and I forever regret it — I flopped like a bad fish in a sea of sin with so many others thinking I could make better decisions for myself — I found out I could not! I lost many relationships that I thought were wonderful when I got back in step with the Lord and repented of my wrongful decisions. I realized what I had lost most, during my detoured walk, was valued time with God and Christ Jesus! Don’t get me wrong I still fail, making bad choices but I do not walk with or follow the world view…it causes some hardships as my husband does live in the world quite a bit as well as my adult children…they, all accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, have detoured living according to social values. I continue to pray they too will find their way back to the path the Lord created for them before they were known to the flesh. I try every morning, before I rise, to give thanks for His blessings and to help me be better this day than I was the previous day. I ask for Him to fill me with His presence so that my words, actions, and thoughts give Him all praise and glory so that there is more of Him and less of me… I offer His words with those He is sharing with me in this life — I present videos of Biblical salvation from well known evangelicals — teachings on preparedness for the rapture — this is how I show them my love and obedience to our Abba as well as my love and hope for them! I thank our Abba for saving me through Christ — this is one way of truly showing Him I adore and thank Him. Yours in His family.

  3. As someone who has had the misfortune of being a part of your flock, it is so ironic that you should be writing about false teachers. You who have been a proponent of the emergent church movement and innumerable other errors. You are a man who appears wooden and insincere at best and utterly diabolical at worst. You appear cold, calculating, utterly self seeking and wildly ambitious for your own personal gain in this world of position, money, reputation and power. This article highlights your preoccupation with “safe” people or an utter paranoia about those in disagreement with your particular views or leadership when we had the misfortune of being a part of your church. A church which was fantastic except for the fact that you were riding on the coat tails of an absolutely godly pastor and constantly basking in the wake of others adulation for him by appropriating it falsely for yourself. How extremely predictable yet ironic! YOU ARE ONE OF THE FALSEST OF THE FALSE!!!! You and all your psychobabble friends and family. It is so incredible that even after the church threw you out and rejected you as senior pastor, you have still managed to hang on and continue to suck the life blood out of it and hurt countless innocents. Your appearances are truly deceiving. My prayer is that you repent and listen to those who have the courage to rebuke you Proverbs 27:5 although I’m certain that instead you will try to destroy them.
    Proverbs 27:5 Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.
    Verse 5. – Open rebuke is better than secret love. Love that is hidden and never discloses itself in acts of self-denial or generosity, especially that which from fear of offending does not rebuke a friend, nor speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), when there is good reason for such openness – such disguised love is worse, more objectionable, less beneficial, than the plain speaking which bravely censures a fault, and dares to correct what is wrong by well-timed blame. To hold back blame, it has been said, is to hold back love. “I love not my friend,” wrote Seneca (‘Ep.,’ 25), “if I do not offend him.” Plautus, ‘Trinum.,’ 1:2, 57 –

    “Sed tu ex amicis certis mi es certissimus.

    Si quid scis me fecisse inscite aut improbe,
    Si id non me accusas, tu ipse objurgandus.” Publ. Syr., ‘Sent.,’ 16, “Amici vitia si feras, facis tua,” which Erasmus expounds by adding, “If you take no notice of your friend’s faults, they will be imputed to you.” Cicero (‘De Amicit.,’ 24, 25) has some sensible remarks on this subject: “When a man’s ears are shut against the truth, so that he cannot hear the truth from a friend, the welfare of such a one is hopeless. Shrewd is the observation of Cato, that some are better served by bitter enemies than by friends who seem to be agreeable; for the former often speak the truth, the latter never…. As therefore both to give and receive advice is the characteristic of true friendship, and that the one should act with freedom, but not harshly, and that the other should accept remonstrance patiently and without resistance, so it should be considered that there is no deadlier bane to friendship than adulation, fawning, and flattery.”

    Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

    Open rebuke is better than secret love. This is to be understood, not of rebuke publicly given; though Aben Ezra thinks public reproof is meant, which, arising from love, is better than that which is done in secret, though in love, as being more effectual; for rebuke among friends should be given privately, according to our Lord’s direction, Matthew 18:15; but it signifies reproof given faithfully and plainly, with openness of heart, and without mincing the matter, and palliating the offence; but speaking out freely, and faithfully laying before a person the evil of his sin, in all the circumstances of it, as the Apostle Paul did to Peter, when he withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed, Galatians 2:11. Now such kind of reproof is better than such love to a person as will not suffer him to tell him of his faults, for fear of grieving him, or losing his friendship; or than such love as does not show itself in deeds, and particularly in faithful reproofs; for so to act is to hate a person, and suffer sin to be upon him, Leviticus 19:17.

    Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

    5, 6. secret love—not manifested in acts is useless; and even, if its exhibition by rebukes wounds us, such love is preferable to the frequent, and hence deceitful, kisses of an enemy.

    Read it and weep!!!! I encourage others who know this is the absolute truth about you will also come forward and rebuke you.

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