There are many false teachers holding themselves out a Christians today spreading their false doctrines online via websites, Facebook or Twitter pages and / or a YouTube teaching ministry.
False teachers are not only a probability, they are a certainty in the church today. So much so that chances are high that you will be exposed to one or more of them. If you are listening to Christian teachers and have not yet identified any of them as false it is less likely that’s because you have not come across one and much more likely that you are falling for what they are teaching without even realizing that it is false.
We are not only told in the Bible by Jesus and the Apostles about false teachers, their emergence in the church is a promise, as we read in Mark 13:22-23:
“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.”
I came into the sphere of influence of a false teacher two months after my conversion. This is not an uncommon for new converts. It’s natural for those newly saved to seek support, want to learn more about God, listen to sermons and fellowship with other Christians online. With the availability of what is online these days, and how virtually anyone can and will hold himself out as a Christian teacher, discernment is not a luxury, it is an imperative.
False teachers can be difficult to recognize in the moment, however, time, scrutiny of their teachings and discernment will reveal whether or not someone is a false teacher. As the Bible says they will be known by their fruit. Not the fruit of large followings or ministry quantity but by the fruits of the quality of what they teach.
Here are five marks that reveal a false teacher:
1. False teachers teach from their own wisdom instead of the Word of God
And with their own wisdom they lead people away from the Gospel. Even when they do use the word of God they twist its interpretation to suit their own needs.
Here is the Gospel in a nutshell as spoken in 1 Corinthians 14:1-2 -
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…”
Notice the “in accordance with the Scriptures” here. The apostles always taught in accordance with the Scriptures.
What should every teacher be teaching if they claim to be teaching in the name of Jesus Christ? Simple: Christ died for me.
False teachers mix their own foolishness into their message contradicting the essence of the Gospel and reducing their doctrine to deception.
The bible also says this about those people who seek out and listen to false teachers:
2 Timothy 4:3-4 -
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
This scripture points out that people will search out false teachers because they don’t want to hear what the word of God has to say. People love their sin and do not want to be convicted of it. The Bible puts your sin straight in your face and convicts you of it. This is a turn off for many people hence why they are drawn to teachers who tickle their ears by telling them what they would rather hear than what the Bible actually says.
False teachers - one of the most famous examples of which is Joel Osteen - cater to those who do not want to here the Gospel straight up, but would rather hear a watered down version that suits their fancies and desires while thinking and even maintaining that they are good Christians.
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”
Here Paul is warning that false teachers will invade the body of Christ - wolves, as he calls them - who will teach twisted things - doctrines that contradict the Word of God - in order to take disciples away from Christ.
Here the apostle John tells us how we are to discern if a teacher is a true or false one:
1 John 4:1-3
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”
The apostle John warns us not to believe everything that we hear, but, instead to test the spirits to make sure what we hear is coming from God.
The spirit that guides a true Christian teacher is God’s Holy Spirit, therefore everything that teacher says can be measured “by the book”, which means it will be substantiated as true through scripture in the Bible. It won’t be even a “little bit off” and if it is then it as a false teaching.
Galatians 5:9 says
“A little leaven leavens the whole lump”.
Leaven is a metaphor for sin.
False teachers are skillful at weaving lies - lies are sin - together with truth. In fact a false teacher tells as much truth as he can which is why he is so deceptive and discerning him can be so difficult. The Bible warns us, however, that even the smallest lie - a little leaven - in a teaching means that whole teaching must be thrown out because it leavens the whole lump - invalidates the entire teaching. One lie mixed into a teaching turns that teaching into deception which contradicts the word of God.
Yes, teachers can and do make mistakes and may unwittingly mix an untruth into their teaching every now and then. A true teacher, however, will correct her lie making sure that everyone knows that she understands what she has done and will have no qualms admitting and correcting her mistake. A false teacher rejects correction holding fast to her claim that her teaching is without error and will usually fall back on emphasizing the truth she has used in her teaching ignoring or diverting away from the lies she’s included and will not repent.
How are we to “test the spirits” as John warns us above?
Is the source the Word of God: Is the teacher quoting scripture straight from the Bible to support and back up her teachings? Or is she pitching wordy, eloquent arguments to press her point? Is she clearly laying out her teaching and supporting each and every aspect of it with God’s word? If not she is not teaching from the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but rather a false spirit. If she actually is a Christian but doesn’t know how to support her teaching with ample scripture then she is not ready to be teaching and therefore should not be leading others.
Does the teaching hold up to scripture? True teachers use scripture as their source, include that scripture in their teachings and allow the word itself to interpret the word, not their opinions. Not so with false teachers, which means we will need to test it for ourselves.
Rather than the word of God is the teacher using his own wisdom, arguments and opinions? A true teacher in Christ does not do this. Run the other way.
Is the teacher claiming to have received “personal” or “special” revelations directly from God? These “revelations” must be able to be completely substantiated by scripture. No “revelation” can stand on its own and if a teacher does not back up a personal revelation with the necessary scripture that validates it, then he is a false teacher.
The Bible tells us what will happen to those who try to add to or take away from the Word of God:
”I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
#2: False teachers seek gain.
And that gain is not just monetary. They are also eager to gain followers, loyalty, fame, influence, power and / or authority over people.
Rather than putting Jesus Christ first, a false teacher puts herself, her ambitions and her desires to win people over to keep them coming back for more first. This is where the ‘passion’ of the teacher and the appearance that she is teaching in the name of Jesus Christ can make it very difficult to discern her as false just by watching and listening to her. A well known example of this is Joyce Meyer. The demon influencing and leading false teachers is very savvy and subtly deceptive. That is precisely why everything they say must be measured against the word of God.
Gaining a loyal following that she could influence quickly quickly revealed as the primary motivation for the false teacher I was involved with for four months. She fostered a dependency upon her in her followers rather than urging them to seek God’s word of truth as their sole source of guidance and wisdom. She consistently demonstrated a need to be the centre of attention, to be seen as the wide leader and was put on a pedestal by many of the people in the group. Though she denied this was what she wanted (the devil doth protest to much?), her actions belied her words.
Carefully consider the teachers you are listening to see if they show signs of teaching or speaking for the sake of some sort of gain, be it monetary, a following, influence, etc. Jesus, himself, warns us to count the cost of following him and makes it very clear that to take his word out into the world - to be one of his disciples - means to give up gain of any kind, personal or otherwise.
“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
and Luke 14:33
“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
False teachers steer clear of scriptures such as the two above. Christ means what he says. If gain of any kind is your game you are not a disciple of Jesus Christ. Plain, clear and simple.
Titus 1:10 tells us -
“They (false teachers) must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.”
Teachers who fail to put the Gospel of Jesus Christ first and instead act out of self interest deny Jesus’ teachings. No one who is genuinely discipling and sharing the Gopsel according to Jesus Christ is in it for gain. In fact it is quite the opposite. They are willing to lose everything for Jesus Christ.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Beware, discern and leave those self-seeking false teachers behind to find true teachers in the name of Jesus Christ.
3. False teachers mask their deception with personality.
Personality, charisma, dramatic flare, many words, big talk and eloquence are all indicators of a false teacher who is using these devices to try to capture your attention and entertain you. Passion may certainly be displayed by a true teacher, however, the word of God is squarely at the centre and is the foundation of his teachings and he will be supporting his teachings with lots of scripture.
I heard a false teacher recently tell his audience that he had so much to say on the topic he was teaching about that it could fill eight to ten books. What??? Sounds rather lofty to me. There are already sixty-six amazing books at his disposal. What else could this teacher possibly add?
False teachers are incapable of bringing a consistent and true interpretation of scripture and instead hide their false doctrines behind charisma and clever arguments. Their arguments might sound clever, however, they do not help people or deepen the Biblical understanding of those who listen to them, instead they are designed to win the listener over to the false teachers opinions and false doctrine.
We don’t need charismatic, clever men and women telling us clever things. We need scripture. We don’t need a clever teacher’s eight or ten books filled with clever arguments that lead us away from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. God has given us everything that we need in the Bible.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Here apostle Paul speaks straight to that fact that there is no need for lofty speech or wisdom. The message is simple and he sticks to it even through his fear and trembling. That is the hallmark of a true teacher.
The Bible also tells us in Titus 1:10
“For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers… They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.”
True teachers, even when they are passionate for the word of God exhibit a humility when they teach that shines through. Their focus is on the word of God, not on their personality or sense of humor or telling stories that have little to do with scripture or are inserted to tickle your ears.
True teachers are not know-it-alls that teach from their own thoughts and ideas, they rely totally on the message of the word of God - Christ’s truth in its purity and simplicity - in their teachings, not on big words, showmanship, or attempts to evoke some kind of emotional response from their audience.
Your discernment radar should jump right up when you encounter a teacher who uses these tactics.
4. False teachers criticize the faithful.
When faced with correction from concerned Christians within the body of Christ false teachers rebel, cry persecution and belittle the Christians who try to correct their teaching, often resorting to accusing them of being “legalists” and condemning them for being overly attached to the word of God.
Problem with this is false teachers don’t know what true legalism is and most false teachers, themselves are legalists because they bend and twist scripture to fit their own needs. I will be addressing the topic of legalism in a separate post / podcast very soon.
Correcting false teaching using the power and authority of God’s word is not legalism, folks. False teachers are being deceptive when they accuse the faithful of being legalists. No surprise there.
Paul says of those people teaching in the name of Christ in Titus 1:9
“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
Christians are instructed to hold firm to the word of God in their teachings and to rebuke those who don’t.
The mark of a true teacher: accepting rebuke coming from within the body of Christ, considering why she is receiving it, turning to the word of God for the truth and repenting, thus acknowledging her mistake and changing her ways.
False teachers hate to be rebuked. They rebel. They don’t repent.
5. False Teachers exploit their followers
False teachers take advantage of their followers weaknesses, ignorance, immaturity, greed, even their lust. They play on their followers need for a leader who will give them what they want instead of need. The less their followers know, the less motivated to seek out the truth they are, the more they want their ears tickled or to be entertained instead of given the truth, the better it is for the false teacher.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
Having said that there are, unfortunately, people who really do want to know Christ’s truth who are also being mislead by false teachers. Christians need to step up and pray to God to be granted the wisdom, faith and knowledge necessary to suss out the truth from the lies. Discernment is not an option, it is an imperative. Satan wants nothing more than to take the whole body of Christ down and drag as many people as he can to hell with him and he uses false teachers to help him do that.
The quality of the teaching that you avail yourself of is your responsibility. Ask God to guide you to true Christian teachers. Listen and watch teachers carefully. Measure what teachers say against the word of God. Research the teacher as thoroughly as you can to see what other information you can find out about them. Are others, like me for example, questioning the validity of that teacher in blog articles, YouTube videos. etc? There is probably a very good reason for that. Take note and find out why so you can make an informed decision.
False teachers have always been in the church and they will be until Christ returns. Knowing their marks and their methods and measuring what they teach at all times will always expose them for who they are. Our responsibility as Christians is clear: hold fast to what is true, and reject and deny what is false.
Discern. Leave behind all false teachers. Seek those who teach Christ’s truth sharing the Gospel just as Christ spoke it to us. We need nothing more or nothing less as Christians.
The whole world has been affected by the COVID-19 virus and the reactions to it run the gamut from rampant fear to complete denial.
I used try to discern the deeper truths in dramatic world events such as this one. From the AIDS epidemic first reported in 1981, to September 11, 2001 and the horrific events 911, and all the smaller national and international events in between, I watched and analyzed noting how the world was transformed by changes impressed deeply into the fabric of the way things are done, at many levels especially at the governmental levels. I reacted in the same ways that those around me did, becoming baffled, confused, afraid.
I think most baby-boomers and those born in the years after can safely say that nothing on a scale such as this COVID-19 pandemic has ever been seen before in our lifetime. The measures taken have virtually paralyzed the globe.
This time for me, however, my experience of it is completely different.
Because I surrendered my life to Christ in March 2019.
I have a history of embracing the things that I explore in my life full on with passion and intensity.
Yup... I did the same thing after my encounter with Christ. Though my conversion took me by surprise in so many ways, I embraced Him fully, completely, passionately and surrendered everything into His hands.
I'm crazy (in a good way turns out) that way.
Nothing has been the same for me since. Even when things around me are in upheavel or I am dealing with difficulty or uncertainty I have the underlying peace and joy of knowing Christ is with me through it all firmly in my heart.
Philippians 4:6-7 - "...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
I don't need to try to make sense of things or figure out what the long term effects are going to be. I have a personal relationship with God the Father and creator of the Universe. I am never alone. There is nothing that I need to do to fix anything. I place everything into God's hands.
For real folks...
Luke 12:22-30 - “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you."
Things for me now are a far cry from how they were when I was in the New Age movement.
At this point on my journey I cannot even imagine what it would be like to be facing this pandemic without Jesus Christ or to be fielding the concerns of people who are living in fear at this pivotal time - or any time for that matter. Depending on guidance from unseen forces to provide answers to questions for which there are no answers. Bringing through a good word from a dead relative. Looking to 'source' and 'universal' energies. And other stuff like that...
Frankly looking back, it is all so futile. The cycle always begins again, more fear, more need, more things to do, more psychic sessions, more crystals and more seeking for the right answers, the way to happiness and to achieve contentment.
Around and around it goes.
I know for many of you this will not make any sense and it may very well annoy you if you've made it this far and that is OK. I am not trying to twist anyone's arm or come down hard on my readers who are not interested in what a gift it is to walk fully with Christ as a born again Christian.
It would be remiss of me, however, not to let you know how life transforms for those who receive Jesus Christ into their life through God's gift of grace.
Faith in God replaces despair, hope replaces confusion, God's grace and blessings great and small replace endless seeking, striving, doing and trying to be better. There is no need for advice from psychics or mediums, no need for meditations, ritual ceremonies, no need to follow the law of attraction, no need to try to look into a future you cannot control to see what might be ahead.
No need for any of that when you have a direct and personal relationship with the one true omniscient, omnipotent God who created everything and is in sovereign control over all.
You can relax and simply place it all into His hands. Even the Coronavirus.
Because.... God's got this.
Psalm 27:1 - "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
When you're a born again Christian you are adopted into God's family. You've got God. A direct line to the sovereign God of the Universe awaits you through Jesus Christ.
John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
The world will be forever changed by this COVID-19 pandemic and things at all levels are not going to get any easier. They'll, in fact, get much more difficult.
Nothing going on here on earth is random. God is shaking up the world so that those He is drawing near to him will (hopefully!) wake up and heed the calling of His children home to Him through his Son, Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:28 - "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
My urging to you at this crazy time: Get to know the real Jesus Christ and get to know Him now.
If you want to know more about Jesus please feel free reach out to me. It would be my joy to connect with you, show you where and how to start and answer any questions that you might have.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, I'm Clare!
I used to be a practicing psychic medium, mediumship teacher and new age blogger. That all changed when I was saved by Jesus Christ in March 2019. Here is where I share the joy and freedom of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.