One of the penalties of sin, of Satan's way of life, is perversion of mind. A sinning mind does not think clearly and accurately. But a righteous mind does.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
Lucifer, before he sinned, was wise. "You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty" (Ezekiel 28:12). But when he sinned, his mind became corrupted. He could no longer think rightly and clearly and accurately. By sinning, by choosing the way of pride and vanity and self-exaltation, he corrupted his wisdom. "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor" (Ezekiel 28:17).
Thus it is with those who follow Satan's way of life. "For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge" (Jeremiah 4:22).
This world is full of stupid experts. Some of the most esteemed experts have six or eight year college degrees, have great IQs, have great memory (even Hitler was said to have a remarkable memory for military detail), have great knowledge of facts of all kinds. But they do not have the wisdom to put the facts together to draw correct conclusions about the most basic things, the most important things in life. And many of these men and women are leaders in government, in news media, in entertainment, in education, and in business.
Many of this world's most brilliant scientists are atheists. They have a lot of scientific knowledge, knowledge of details. They can tell you the chemical elements that make up DNA that controls our genetics. They can you, from memory, how many electrons and protons atoms of each of those elements have. But they don't know that God exists. They willfully choose not to believe He exists because they do not want to believe He exists, so they ignore the evidence, the most obvious evidence of the universe itself, and conclude, "There is no God". God calls them what they are, fools (Psalm 14:1).
It is a law therefore that sin destroys wisdom, it impedes clear thinking. But obedience to God and His way of life produces wisdom. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments" (Psalm 111:10).
False leaders and false teachers in the Church of God often make themselves known by their lack of wisdom. It is a progressive thing. As time goes on, their thinking, their teaching, and their actions become more and more muddled, off-center, and extreme. But if you look at their history, you can usually see where they left the track of sound thinking a long time ago.
I have read some things written by teachers and leaders in the Church of God environment, in blogs and websites that claim to be Church of God, that are so ridiculous, they should be embarrassed to say such things, yet they don't have the sense to be embarrassed. I could feel embarrassed for them, except I know it is good in a sense that they go to such extremes and make such outlandish mistakes because it helps others to know that they are not teaching the truth and that they are not leaders the brethren should look to for leadership and training in God's way of life. I don't necessarily mention these teachers and leaders by name, because in some cases they may be making outlandish statements for the very purpose of attracting attention and traffic to their websites so they can try to convince Church of God members to join them or send them money or be persuaded of their false claims. So I don't mention them lest I send some traffic their way.
I let a false leader speak for himself and show by the fruits he is false. Discerning brethren will see that for themselves.
God exposes such a man for what he is by his own foolishness.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (Matthew 7:15-20).
Our words, what we teach others, are an important part of the fruit we bear, good or bad.
"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:33-37).
And as that happens in a progressive sense, the followers of such a man must continuously choose, as he seems to go more and more off the "deep end", to keep on following the person or to recognize him for what he is and to admit they made a mistake to follow that man in the first place. Admitting you made a mistake, that you followed the wrong man for a long time, is painful, but the sooner you admit it, the less painful it will be in the long run. And if you stay "on board" with such a man, it will be far more painful in the end.
In a sense, as such a man shows more and more clearly that he lacks the wisdom a godly leader would have, it becomes easier for his followers to recognize that fact. It becomes more and more obvious. Yet, as it becomes easier intellectually and logically, it becomes harder emotionally, because the longer they are with that man, the deeper their emotional commitment is, not just to that man and to the fellowship of the brethren in the organization the man leads, but to their own sense of being right to choose to support that man in the first place. It is probably harder for someone to say, I made a mistake following this man for 15 years, than it is to say, I made a mistake following this man for 2 years.
Yet the consequences are more painful in the end the longer you hold on.
An analogy is holding on to a rope of a run-away hot air balloon. You hold on to the rope, hoping to hold down the balloon, but it begins to carry you off your feet. You haven't the strength to climb the rope into the basket. You have seconds to decide. If you let go right away, no harm. Wait a few more seconds, and you are faced with broken ankles. The longer you hold on, the worse the result. Broken ankles are better than broken legs, and broken legs are better than death. But if you hold on too long, you are doomed. You will fall to your death. You pass a point of no return, and at some time you know your mistake and you know you are going to die for it as you feel the rope slipping out of your hands at 400 feet above ground level.
This does not mean that godly leaders and teachers never make mistakes. But, as Commander DeVriess said to Ensign Willie Keith in The Caine Mutiny, when Keith justified his wrong behavior saying that anybody can make a mistake, "There are mistakes and there are mistakes."
When we see Church of God leaders make ridiculous statements, statements that are clearly false or biblically unjustified, or go to unjustified extremes, they set a bad example, but there is a lesson in that example (which is why God lets it happen and lets us see it), and there is a warning in the lesson. First, of course, there is a warning not to follow such a leader or teacher. That is probably the first thing we think of. But there is a more important warning or lesson. Could the bad example we see in such a leader be us five or ten years from now?
Many of these people did not start out that way. They may have had more sense in the beginning. Lucifer did not start out wrong, twisted, corrupt. But it can be a progressive thing. Anyone in the Church can lose his wisdom and become foolish if he or she drifts away from God. So the warning is, stay close to God if you want to be wise and avoid foolish mistakes. Because if you don't, you could lose the knowledge and wisdom God has given you. You could end up like the bad example you see in foolish teachers and leaders.
This whole world is in the grip of Satan's deception. The world practices Satan's way of life, and the world is deceived by it. People lose their wisdom, their ability to think clearly, just as Lucifer lost his ability to think clearly and accurately when he sinned.
Atonement looks forward to the putting away of Satan, and once that happens, Christ can re-educate the world in God's way of life. People will begin to think clearly again, those who choose to obey.
If we want wisdom, if we want to be able to think clearly to make right decisions, wise decisions, we must choose to believe and obey God. We need godly wisdom to make the choices that will bring us success in life and in doing God's work. We in the Church have the opportunity to be pioneers in clear thinking. God has given us His Spirit, the Spirit of a sound mind, to the degree we seek God, believe God, and strive to obey God.
We need that wisdom, that clear thinking, to avoid mistakes that bring pain. If we think we can make good decisions in Satan's world apart from God, we kid ourselves.
Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:
The Day of Atonement - the Putting Away of Satan, Chapter 2
Faith, Chapter 6
Passover -- the Sacrifice of Christ, Chapter 2
Why Is Faith Important to God?, Chapter 9