"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves" (Matthew 7:15).
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)
We learn some important things from these verses…Peter is saying there were false prophets and false teachers then and today. Peter stated this as a fact and not as a possibility; and he said they were among you, not only on the outside of the church.
False teachers work secretly. It isn't that their teaching is secret, but the deceptive nature of their teaching is hidden. No false teacher ever announces himself as a false teacher.
“Many will follow” - This reminds us that false teachers may be popular. Just because something succeeds in attracting a crowd of followers, it doesn't mean that it is of God.
The most important words when dealing with any teaching is to consistently ask ourselves, “What do the Scriptures say?” When we read a book, even by a generally trustworthy source, we need to ask this. When we listen to our pastors’ sermons, we ought to do likewise. When we read blogs and tweets and other such things, we must always ask this question. When we do this, when we are committed to, with the help of the Holy Spirit, seeking to understand the Scriptures to the best of our ability, and when we hold all teaching—even good teaching—up to its light, there is no place for false teaching to hide.
False teachers have been around since the earliest days of the church. There are numerous New Testament books that warn about false teachers. The church today is no different. How do we know a false teacher from a true teacher? The only way to know the truth is to study the truth. We must know what we believe and why we believe it. This is why the spiritual discipline of Bible Study is so important. If you understand the truths of Scripture you will be able to discern when a teacher is saying something that goes against those truths.
How can we protect ourselves from falling prey to false doctrine?
- Be a serious student of God’s Word
- Learn from trusted teachers and commentators
- Listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit
- Be extremely cautious about any “new” teaching or “new” revelation.
- We don’t need a new revelation. We’re having a hard enough time being obedient to the revelation we already have.
How to identify false teachers?
- Personal, private interpretation of Scripture
- They contradict sound teaching
- They often justify their own immorality or greed.
- Motivated by greed and selfish gain
- They attempt to build their own kingdoms
- They cause division in the church
Our guideline is Jesus Christ and His inerrant, infallible Word—the Bible. This is the standard against which we can measure everything and measure we must!
Today’s Challenge: Let’s commit to being people of the Word. Discipline yourself to reading God’s Word daily, not because you have to, but because you want to, and because you recognize the value of building your life upon the truth of His Word.
- Why are there false teachers today?
- Can you give an example of false doctrine?
- How are you protecting yourself from false teaching?
Click here to learn how you can start your own podcast.