The New Testament
As the people of old have fallen away from God and have turned from following His truth, so too did the Church which Jesus Christ established. For soon after the Gospel of Christ began to be preached in all the world for a witness, abominable heresies started to creep into the Church. The members of the Church began to follow those principles of men that were pleasing to the ears, and the simplicity of Christ began to be corrupted. Again, it was not the non-members who began to transgress the laws, change the ordinances, and break the everlasting covenant [Isaiah 24:5-6], as they had no knowledge of these things, but it was the members who did so. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man.” [Romans 1:21-23].
For this cause the Apostles sought to warn the people, especially the priesthood who were to watch over the flock of God, and yet it was the priesthood who brought the corruption in. As Paul warned the Elders of the Church, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” [Acts 20:29-31]. Peter also desired to warn the Church, writing, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” [2 Peter 2:1-2].
It might seem odd that the Church was so soon removed from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, and instead followed another. Sadly, the same falling away occurred in the Old Testament, and for similar reasons. For the Lord frequently spoke through His servants, the prophets, against the shepherds and pastors of His people. In other words, the priesthood of their day. For they did not seek to serve God’s people, but became as a hireling, desiring instead to serve themselves and to receive gain and praise of the world. “My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray.” [Jeremiah 50:6].
However, the priesthood were not totally to blame. The Lord told the prophet, Ezekiel, “the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.” [Ezekiel 33:30-33].
In consequence of these things, both the priesthood and the members began to fall away from the fundamental principles of Christ. As a result, there became too much man and not enough God within the Church, causing division and strife. Hence the Church, which was supposed to be one body in Christ, became many churches in man.
Scriptures to Consider
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (KJV)
2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Isaiah 24:5-6 (KJV)
24:5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. 24:6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (KJV)
4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
2 Corinthians 11:2-4 (KJV)
11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Romans 1:18-25 (KJV)
1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 1:20 For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Acts 20:29-31 (KJV)
20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 20:30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
2 Peter 2:1-3 (KJV)
2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
John 10:12-14 (KJV)
10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 10:13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
2 Thessalonians 3:8-10 (KJV)
3:8 Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 3:9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Jeremiah 23:1-2 (KJV)
23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. 23:2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah 50:6 (KJV)
50:6 My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.
Ezekiel 34:1-31 (KJV)
34:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 34:2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 34:3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
34:4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 34:5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 34:6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
34:7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 34:8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 34:9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 34:10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
34:11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 34:12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. 34:13 And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 34:14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 34:15 I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. 34:16 I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
34:17 And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. 34:18 Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 34:19 And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.
34:20 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. 34:21 Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; 34:22 Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. 34:23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. 34:24 And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.
34:25 And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. 34:26 And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. 34:27 And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.
34:28 And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. 34:29 And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. 34:30 Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord GOD. 34:31 And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.
Isaiah 56:10-12 (KJV)
56:10 His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 56:11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. 56:12 Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.
Galatians 1:6-9 (KJV)
1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
2 John 1:9-10 (KJV)
1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
Ezekiel 33:30-33 (KJV)
33:30 Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. 33:31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.
33:32 And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. 33:33 And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.