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Welcome to Season 20 of Truth.Love.Parent. We’ve been doing this for 5 whole years, and I couldn’t be enjoying myself more.
But some of you may be new to the show and are uncertain what it is exactly that we do here. Well, you’re in luck; our mission is actually pretty simple. We study God’s Word, we seek to understand it, and then we apply it to our marriages, parenting, and families.
We want to be the Ambassadors God called and created us to be. We’re to be His Ambassadors in our marriages, homes, and communities . . . and we recognize that this is the biggest and most important job we have.
We recognize that after we were born again, God deliberately left us on this earth in order to be salt and light, and our ministry of evangelism and reconciliation starts in our homes because our family members are the geographically closest people to us.
So, I’m glad you’re here to participate in this glorious calling!
Now, the topic I plan to discuss today — and on our next two episodes — has been rattling around in my mind for months and months. It may be over a year now; I can’t quite remember.
So, let me tell you why I haven’t discussed it before now. If I’ve been thinking about it for that long why haven’t I already spoken on the subject?
The truth is . . . this topic is scary.
Seriously, it worried me when the original idea came to me. But when I finally made the decision to put this topic on the schedule, and I started studying it, from day one of my study I was under heavy conviction, and I knew I had a lot about which to be worried.
This topic is brutal.
For this reason and more, most parenting podcasts wouldn’t go near a topic like this — even if they were wearing an N95 mask and full surgical attire under a biohazard suit.
If we’re talking about a secular podcast, the very suggestion of a topic like this would likely enrage the host. But even the vast majority of professing Christian podcasts wouldn’t want to talk about this topic either because it’s not a light, happy, pretty, encouraging, low-hanging-fruit-kind-of-a-topic.
In fact, the discussion we’re going to start today is guaranteed to reveal the ugliest parts of us parents.
So, why are we going to frolic where podcasters fear to tread? Why on earth would we risk so much to talk about it? Are we some kind of sado-masochists?
Nope. The only reason we’re going to work through this concept is — biblically speaking — we can’t not talk about it.
This topic is so incredibly huge. Seriously — you’re probably going to be shocked at how much the Old and New Testaments have to say about this issue.
Yet — you know what’s funny — I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone — teachers, pastors, counselors, disciplers, guys at a men’s breakfast — anyone talk about this topic.
So, that’s why — starting today — we’re going to define what it means to be a False Parent.
That’s right. I said, “False Parent.”
But we’re not just going to define it. Lord willing, on our next show we’ll discuss how to identify a False Parent, and then wrap up the three-part series talking about how to help the False Parent.
But before we start frolicking, allow me to invite you to join Truth.Love.Parent. on social media. If you use the socials, you should definitely follow and like and interact with TLP there. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
And — if you’re already connected with us there — don’t forget how helpful it is to interact with the posts. Simply clicking the Like button helps more people see the post. And commenting and sharing are great ways to help us shine more of God’s light into this dark world.
And you’re all invited to hang out with us there.
Lastly, you can find today’s free episode notes and transcript at TakingBackTheFamily.com. The link will be in the description, and you’ll be able to see all of the passages we referenced today in addition to a bunch of other podcast episodes we’ve done that complement this one well and will help you continue your study of this topic.
So — with that — let’s define what it is to be a False Parent.
We really do need to start with a good definition, not simply because it’s always wise to define your terms, but because this particular term has so many secondary definitions that also must be understood.
So, let’s start with my personal inspiration for the term False Parent.
I need to acknowledge that the term “False Parent” has been used by other people, but I wasn’t even aware of their usage until after I had completed my study of the subject.
In some mysto-psychological philosophies, a False Parent is a psychological framework a child created when they have an abusive parent. The Ascension Glossary says, “The False Parent is the confusion a child has with the belief system that our biological Mother or Father Parent should love, protect and nurture their offspring, but in actuality, none of these emotional needs are met by the Parental role.”
I suppose, in some very slight way, this definition may compliment the biblical definition we’re about to discuss, but — in case you decided to listen to this podcast simply because you wanted to learn more about this pseudo-psychological concept of the False Parent — I’m not really going to say anything else about it.
My usage of the term False Parent is rooted in the Bible.
A long time ago I was preaching through Jude, II Peter, and II John, and was overwhelmed by the description of these people called False Prophets. And then a while later I was reading through the teachings of Jesus and — once again — encountered a number of staggering predictions concerning these False Prophets.
And — like I’m sure many Christians do when reading through the Scriptures — I saw the False Prophets as people outside of myself for which I needed to be cautious. I think there are two reasons we have the tendency to not apply the term False Prophet to ourselves:
But then, about a year later I was rereading II Peter and I noticed that False Prophets weren’t the only people about whom I needed to be concerned.
II Peter 2:1 reads, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you.”
And the use of the word “teacher” arrested me because — though I couldn’t really see myself as a prophet — I definitely saw myself as a teacher.
In fact, here at Truth.Love.Parent. we regularly instruct parents that they must be their children’s primary teachers — especially when it comes to spiritual truth.
False Prophets were one thing, but the fact that a person could be a False Teacher grabbed me by the throat, and I wondered, “Is it possible that I could be a False Teacher?” And that lead me to ask. “What is a False Teacher, and how would I know if I were one?”
So I searched for the term False Teacher in the Bible and found the that II Peter 2 usage was the only one. So, I had to broaden my search, but the only other group I could find that seemed comparable to False Teachers were False Prophets. And that made me wonder how much they had in common.
So I looked at the Greek words that were translated false teacher and prophet and found that they had a lot in common.
And this is where we start building our definition. So, let’s consider . . .
1. The Biblical Definition of False
Both of those terms “False Prophet” and “False Teacher” are actually only one word in the Greek. And both of the words start with a the same Greek prefix — a Greek word you’re all going to recognize . . . “pseudo.”
You see! You knew more Greek than you realized. “Pseudo” is a Greek word that’s used of a lie, both intentional and unintentional falsehood, and — more broadly — whatever is not what it seems to be.
But I was still hung up with the English word prophet because I don’t believe that prophets exist today in the same way they did in the Old and New Testament.
So, I decided to check my understanding of what it means to be a prophet.
2. The Biblical Definition of Prophets
Here’s a crash course in what I learned.
Whether we’re talking about the Old or New Testaments, when you see the word “prophet,” you’re reading about someone who claimed to speak for God. That’s it.
Of course, prophecies could take multiple forms.
In the case of genuine Old Testament prophets of God, sometimes God spoke directly to them and told them what to tell the people. Sometimes the prophets communicated things they saw in a dream. And — whether in a dream or from direct communication with God — the content of the prophecy may have included a historical recitation, a contemporary command or application, or even a foretelling of future events.
And though most people in the world think of prophecy as that direct, special revelation from God to which the average individual doesn’t have access, the larger biblical idea of prophecy is much broader.
In addition to communicating a future event as provided by God, prophecy also includes communicating the already-recorded words of God. Prophecy isn’t limited to supernatural, extra-biblical revelation. It can include it, but it’s not limited to that.
So, in one sense, when you tell your children to obey because God commands that “children obey [their] parents in the Lord for this is right,” it could be said that you’re functioning as a prophet. You’re claiming to speak for God, and you are accurately speaking for Him.
Now, before we can continue, I have to explain something very important. I believe that God is supernaturally capable of doing anything and everything that aligns with His character, but I also believe that He has clearly communicated in the Scriptures that — during this day and age — He is not using miraculous demonstrations of His power in the same way He has in the past or in the same way He will in the future.
I do not believe God — today — is giving extra-biblical revelation to men and/or women. I do not believe that someone who claims that God communicated something to him that is not already in the Scriptures is an actual prophet of God.
Unfortunately, this is neither the time nor the place to explain all the reasons why I believe that. And I’m not trying to completely destroy yours or anyone else’s experiences or anecdotes.
The fact of the matter is — for the most part — God is not using that method of communication with His people. He’s given us everything we need for life and godliness in the 66 books of the Bible.
Will there come a future time when prophets will once again speak words from God that were not previously written in the Bible? Yes, but we’re not in that time now. And — within the context of parenting — the application of foretelling the future becomes very limited anyway.
So, we’re going to limit this concept of False Prophets to people who claim to speak for God, but don’t. And we’re going to be able to — in most cases — easily identify whether or not they speak for God because God has already communicated everything we need to know at this moment.
We don’t have to think, “Oh, no! That person is claiming to speak for God, and he’s saying things that contradict the Scripture, is he really speaking for God or is he not? How am I supposed to know?”
We will know because all we have to do is compare what was said to what God has already said. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Also — one more thing — I don’t believe that it’s wise for a spiritual leader to call himself a prophet. I believe that engenders more misinformation and confusion than it does help.
Anyway, so, my idea of False Parents grew from the biblical teachings concerning False Teachers and False Prophets.
And we can understand False Teachers and Prophets to be people who claim to speak for God, but who actually don’t.
Therefore — moving on — . . .
3. The Definition of False Parents
A False Parent is someone who claims to speak truth when — in actually — he’s telling lies. We could also say that a False Parent is someone who leads his children in the wrong direction, or a False Parent is someone who — regardless of how noble her intentions — is parenting her children in the wrong way.
And that right there should concern you.
If you’re anything like I, you know you’re not perfect, and you know that you’ve not only parented your children for your own fleshly desires, you know you’ve also misused God’s Word to persuade your kids to listen to you. In addition, you know there have been times where you’ve ignorantly misinterpreted the Bible but taught it to your kids as though it were true anyway.
That means that you and I and my wife and your spouse and every other parent in the world has definitely — at some point in our parenting — been a False Parent.
“But Aaron,” you may be thinking, “I know I’m a sinner. I know there are consequences for that sin, but this idea of being a False Parent isn’t nearly as scary as you made it out to be. It’s just another sin I need to be careful to avoid.”
And I thought the same thing . . . until I continued to study what God says about False Teachers — both how He describes them and how He describes the consequences of being them.
So . . .
4. The Biblical Description of False Parents
In order to illustrate this point, we’re going to look at only one Old Testament example and only one New Testament example.
Let’s start with Deuteronomy 13:1-5. “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.”
“Yes, well, Aaron, that sounds exactly like what we would expect to hear from the Old Testament.”
Well, my friends, God’s opinion of False Prophets in the New Testament isn’t any prettier. For our New Testament passage, I’m going back to II Peter and I’m going to jump around a little in chapter 2. The whole passage is powerful, but we’re going to stick to God’s description of False Prophets.
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world . . . and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes . . . then the Lord knows how to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties . . . . 12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray . . . . 17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, 'A dog returns to its own vomit,’ and, ‘A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.’”
God hates when people sin. But, there are so many additional condemnations for people who speak falsehood. Whether they claim to speak for God or not, He absolutely hates it. God is the truth, and those that worship Him must worship Him in truth.
That means that we parents have a huge responsibility on our shoulders. How many times on this show have we referenced Ephesians 6 and Deuteronomy 6? We know that God has commissioned us with the responsibility to teach our kids about God.
We know it’s our responsibility to teach our kids what God says, reprove them when they disobey His commands, counsel them when they’re ready to follow Christ, and train them to mature as His disciples.
But what we’re seeing today is if we lead our children in the wrong way, we are in serious trouble. If we claim to speak for God but misrepresent Him, there will be serious consequences.
Consider the weight of James 3:1, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”
But though people may have a choice as to whether or not they engage in teaching, those with children don’t have the choice of whether or not they’ll be teachers. Parents are commanded by God to be teachers. Therefore, we need to recognize that — as teachers — we parents will incur a stricter judgment.
But why a stricter judgment? Why is God harder on teachers? It’s simple. It’s one thing to believe a lie, but to believe a lie and then convince other people to believe that same lie multiplies the sin.
In Matthew, Mark, and Luke we read Jesus’ own words when He said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”
Therefore, it is absolutely vital that Christian parents know for certain, beyond all shadow of all doubt, that we are not leading their children the wrong way. We absolutely must know that we are not contradicting God. We absolutely must know that we are speaking God’s Words for God’s purposes.
“Okay, Aaron, I’m hearing what you’re saying, but I’m struggling seeing myself in those passages you read. God’s description of those False Teachers doesn’t sound anything like me.”
And I get that, but here’s our last point for today.
5. The Motivation of False Parents
You’re right; some False Teachers and Prophets and Parents are intentionally false.
Galatians 1:7 describes them as wanting to distort the gospel of Christ.
But consider with me I Timothy 1:3-7. Addressing Timothy, Paul writes, “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.”
This is where — for me — things really got scary.
I recognize that I’m a sinner and that my sin affects my kids.
I also recognize that there are significant consequences for people who would deliberately twist God’s Word.
But people can genuinely want to worship God and still be a False Teacher.
This is why this topic worries me so much, and I’m not talking about sinful worry. I’m talking about the dread that I may unintentionally — even in my passion to follow Christ and teach the Law and do right — I may misrepresent God because I don’t understand the things about which I’m making confident assertions.
It reminds me of the most frightening passage in Scripture. Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from ME, you who practice lawlessness.’”
I’m not concerned that I may not be a true follower of Christ, though — I will say — my confidence that I’m a follower of Christ comes from how closely my life is falling in line with the Scriptures. But I am concerned that if a person could believe they were born again and yet never have had a relationship with Christ in the first place, how easy is it for me — a sinful, finite human being — to lead people astray by claiming to speak for God, but speaking my own words instead?
And some of you who are now feeling the weight of your calling as a parent may ask, “Well then, why don’t we just avoid getting too deep in the Scriptures with our kids. That way we won’t get into stuff that’s over our heads and potentially misrepresent it?”
My friends, that’s simply not an option.
Deep into the Scriptures, deep into the character of God, deep into the will of our Lord is exactly where we must lead our children.
In I Corinthians 3, Paul says to the Christians there, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly.”
We must be growing from the milk to the meat, and we must be leading our children to do the same.
This requires that we “be diligent to present [ourselves] approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” This admonition comes right before God describes and condemns another set of False Teachers.
This passage from II Timothy 2 continues, “But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.”
Whether Hymenaeus and Philetus were deliberately lying or whether they had noble intentions but were just confused, they were a gangrenous, decaying, and deadly influence among God’s people because they had not been diligent to accurately handle the word of truth.
So, now that we know what a False Parent is — a False Parent is a dad or mom who intentionally or unintentionally leads his or her children contrary to God’s revealed will — we have the weighty responsibility to ask this question . . .
“Am I a False Parent?”
Or we could ask, “In what areas am I a False Parent?” or “When am I prone to fall into False Parenting?”
That will be the focus of our next episode. We’re going to dissect even more of the Bible in order to be able to identify False Parenting in ourselves, our spouses, and others.
And then, Lord willing, once we have a better understanding of our own False Parenting, we’re going to talk about helping False Parents. On that episode, Lord willing, we’ll find help for ourselves as well as other False Parents the Lord may bring into our lives.
Now, before we end, here’s one thing on which we all need to agree. Biblically speaking, we’ve all likely engaged in False Parenting. And there are consequences for that — consequences for us and consequences for our families. But God gives us everything we need to stop being False Parents and start being Ambassador Parents for Him.
For that very reason, please share this episode. Tell people about it. Put it on social media. Everyone you know has been a False Parent at one time or another, or they may be a False Parent all of the time. Share this episode with them so that they too can know Christ and worship Him with genuine, truthful parenting.
And if you’d like individualized help for your parenting, I invite you to write us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call us at (828) 423-0894.
One of the dads who took advantage of this invitation and sought biblical counseling with a TLP Counselor had this to say about the experience: “I do not have enough words to share how amazing this experience has been for my family. The biblical family counseling that we are participating in with our counselor has literally changed the dynamic in our home. While we are in no way where we want to be, the growth and progress has been incredible. Our counselor has the wonderful ability to share important biblical truths in a practical way, and it always feels like everything is said out of love with no hints of judgment. Our sessions are engaging and fun, and we always leave inspired to put into practice all that we have learned. I am so very thankful for Truth.Love.Parent. and the impact it is having on my family. Thank you again for all you do!”
If you’re looking for help, it never hurts to reach out.
And whether you pursue biblical counseling with us or not, I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to parent our children for life and godliness.
To that end, we’ll be discussing identifying False Parents.
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