Understanding the Dangers of False Teaching and Teachers
We must not believe everything we hear. It doesn’t matter who the speaker is, we must test whatever we hear with the Bible.
We must be like a Berean
Paul gave the Bereans a wonderful complement for something they had done
What set the Bereans apart?
Acts 17:10-11 – And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.
Remember, this was Paul that they were testing, and he didn’t mind it when they checked to see if what he said was true
Why must we be like a Berean?
Because there are many false prophets (forth tellers) who teach for wrong reasons
1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Every Bible teacher and Bible teaching must be held up against the truth of the Word of God
Where do false teachers and false ministers originate from?
They originate from the father of all lies, the Devil
Origin of false ministers
2 Cor. 11:13-15 – For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of the Messiah. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.
What might one of these disguises look like?
Matt. 7:15 – “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Why Does God Allow False Teachers to Exist?
Deut. 13:1-3 – “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 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,’ 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.
1 Cor. 11:19 – For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you.
What are some effects of false teaching?
- There are many and they all have their destructive tendencies
- Negative effects of false teaching
- Deceives People
Jer. 29:8-9 – “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. ‘For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord.
- collects followers
- perverts the Gospel
- leads to destruction
- defrauds people
- spreads to others
- causes people to be deceived
- delays God’s blessings
- puts people into bondage
- upsets things
- leads people astray
- falsely represents God
Delays God’s Blessings
Lam. 2:14 – Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; And they have not exposed your iniquity So as to restore you from captivity, But they have seen for you false and misleading oracles.
Puts People Into Bondage
Gal. 2:4 – But it was because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.
Titus 1:9-11 – holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.
Leads People Astray
Jer. 23:32 – “Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the Lord, “and related them, and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the Lord.
Matt. 24:11 – “And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.
Falsely Represents God
Jer. 23:31-32 “Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ “Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the Lord, “and related them, and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the Lord.
Acts 20:28-30 – “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Perverts the Gospel
Gal. 1:6-9 – I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of the Messiah. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.
Leads to Destruction
2 Pet. 3:15-16 – … just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
2 Pet. 2:1 – 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.
Col. 2:18 – Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,
Spreads to Others
2 Tim. 2:15-18 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some.
Where can we find false teachers?
- in places of worship preaching and teaching
- in Bible colleges and seminaries
- on tapes, videos and CDs
- on the mission field
- on television
- on the radio
- in books
What is our protection against false teachers?
- exercising discernment
- being built up spiritually
Heb. 5:14 – But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Built Up Spiritually
In Bible Studies
Eph. 4:11-14 – And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of the Messiah; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
What if we know someone who is in false teaching?
Are we to try to show them the truth, if so, how?
Be Patient and Gentle
2 Tim. 2:24-26 – And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
What are believers to do about false teaching and teachers?
- we must contend earnestly for the faith
- we must warn others of the dangers of false teaching
1. Earnestly Contend
Jude 1:3 – Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
An Example of Contending
Acts 15:1-2 – And some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue.
To earnestly contend means standing upon a thing which is assaulted which an adversary desires to take away to fight so as to defend it and retain it to contend strenuously in defense of
This contending has no end. It goes on and on and on.
2. The Second Thing We Must Do Is Warn Others
2 Tim. 4:1-3 – I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Messiah Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.
1 Tim. 4:1-2,6 – But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron… In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Messiah Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.
Acts 20:28-32 – Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
What are some teachings that are under attack?
- Inerrancy & authority of the Bible
- Literal consciousness after death
- Virgin birth of the Messiah
- Resurrection of the Messiah
- Second coming of the Messiah
- Creation account in Genesis
- The Atonement of Jesus
- Existence of the devil
- Deity of the Messiah
- Eternality of the soul & spirit
- God’s one plan of salvation
- Fall of man
- Sovereignty of God
- The Trinity
Marks of cults, false teaching, and teachers.
The first mark is its manipulation of Scripture. The Bible is twisted to fit the leader or group’s interpretation. Private interpretations are forbidden because the leader of the cult or false teaching is the only one, of course, who is able to understand God’s voice properly. Their teachings distort the historic, orthodox claims of Christianity.
Second, many times they manipulate people’s minds. There is little concern for individual thought and development. Education is usually discouraged while the individuals are bombarded with the cult’s doctrine and literature.
A third mark is the manipulation of time. Since salvation comes exclusively from the teachings of the group, in many cults or groups dominated by false teaching, members spend much of their time working for their organization. Family, school, leisure, sleep, and even food are most often neglected.
Finally, cults typically manipulate reality. They tend to have an exclusive “us” – “them” mentality in which society and old associates are all out to get them.
Anyone outside of the group is suspect.
If a religious group exhibits one or more of the marks mentioned above, that group’s teachings and beliefs should be suspect and carefully compared to Scripture. Jesus said that in the last days many false prophets would arise and deceive many (Matt. 24:11,24). To avoid the deception of false teaching, we should be rooted in the teachings of the historic Christian faith.
False teaching in the church or anyplace else is like poison in a glass of water. It must be filtered out.