What the Bible Tells Us About False Teachers
Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
A false prophet/teacher is guilty of at least four of these things and in many cases more. In their heart they devise a wicked scheme saying to themselves, "I will go out and teach these falsehoods and lead people astray." Why do they do this? The answer is because they are attempting to fulfill their own selfish desires be it money, power, sexual gratification, or whatever floats the false prophet/teachers boat. They then go out and exercise their lying tongue by bearing false witness and telling lies. This in turn can cause dissension among brothers. These people destroy families. Churches are reduced by these people, and Christians we are all brothers and sisters in Christ so if a false prophet/teacher turns us against one another then it fits the bill.
1John 2:18-27 Dear Children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist- he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us-even eternal life. I am writing to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit- just as it has taught you, remain in him.
In this text John is last us know that these are the last days, and that we know this because there are many antichrists running around. This term simply means an opponent or adversary of Christ. Although this exact terminology is only used here similar terminology is used in other scriptures.
For instance when Jesus Christ is speaking of the end times in Matthew 24: 23-25 At that time if anyone says to you, "Look there is Christ!" or "There he is!" do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect- if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.
Here the term false Christs is used instead of antichrists, but the implication seems to be the same whether the speaker is talking about false teachers, false prophets, false Christs, or antichrists. They have all come to deceive you and lead you astray from truth. The term false Christs is repeated in Mark 13:22 as well. This is a second accounting of the same story referring to Jesus prophesying about the Great Tribulation. Indeed we know that some of these individuals will be very convincing. So how can we tell these false teachers from God's genuine spiritual leaders? Well one way is told in 1 John 2:22 where he informs us that anyone who denies Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God is a liar and an antichrist. Paul tells another way.
2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
Here I feel that Paul is talking about the Anti-Christ who is prophesied to come during the time of tribulation. But as you can see from the verbiage of 1John 2:18 that there are many who oppose Christ and I feel that they can naturally follow a similar pattern. So if someone exalts themselves (like saying that they are a perfect enlightened person for instance) and opposes the teachings of Jesus Christ then you can identify them as an antichrist. (Also putting yourself on the same level as Christ is almost the same as saying that you are Christ, like saying,"Jesus was just an enlightened adept and I'm an enlightened adept too so I am just as good and perfect as he is." Once someone has made the assumption that they are just as good or better than Jesus Christ and or God then you know they are an antichrist.)
Jesus says in Matthew 7 15-20 Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
What does that mean, by their fruit you will recognize them? My mother used to have a saying (she didn't invent it, but it was one of her favorites), "Actions speak louder than words." As I have grown older I have learned to take that saying to heart. I learned the hard way that people will say one thing and do the opposite. So when the Lord Jesus Christ is speaking of fruits I believe that he is saying pay attention to what people do more than to what they say, because we already know a false prophet is a liar.
Galatians spells out more clearly the difference between good fruits (fruits of the spirit) and bad fruits (acts of sinful nature). Galatians 5:19-25 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Jesus says in John 10:1-11 "I tell you the truth, the man who does
not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way,
is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd
of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen
to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When
he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep
follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger;
in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a strangers
voice." Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand
what he was telling them.
Do you know his voice? Here Christ is telling us about our first line
of defense against false teachers. We, his sheep are supposed to know
his voice. What is the second thing? Run away from strangers, flee from
iniquity. If you do not hang around and listen to them then they cannot
lead you astray.
Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and to the twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Most of us can humbly admit that we are not perfect. We have all made mistakes and that is basically what sin is. A mistake is simply the result of a bad choice, which ultimately shows that we are responsible for our own mistakes. The biggest mistake that we all make is when we start to think that we are the most important entity in our own life. Who can be more important than the creator who made us, who breathed life into us, and allows us to wake up alive and ready for each brand new day? Did you feel that? There it is again? What am I talking about? The breath you just took. God owns that breath and he is just letting you use it for a while. So when you choose your wicked ways over a relationship with God think about the very life breath you just took and realize that your every moment is in his hands. Yet even though mankind when faced with the decision, "Do I love my creator and have a relationship with him, or do I turn away from him and do my own thing," choose to do their own thing God is still merciful.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
This is where you make a decision. You can either come to the gate and go through or you can turn away from God, but ultimately it is your choice and God will honor your choice either way you make it. If you decide to except Jesus Christ as your personal savior you can go on to have a relationship with God, you can get to know his voice, and most importantly you will have life. I believe that what you decide here determines what happens to you after your body dies physically. Because you see unless you learn to have a relationship with God in this life how can you expect to go on knowing him into the next? You see this is an eternal choice. You say here and now that either you are going to spend eternity in the presence of your loving creator or that you don't want anything to do with him and mean to stay as far away from him as you can get for eternity, an eternity in Hell.
The Bible tells us again and again that these are perilous times, and indeed you only have to look around you to be able to tell that things get worse all the time.
Colossians 2:8 See that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Indeed it says that the very false prophets like the one I wrote this page about are signs of the end times.
2 Timothy 4:1-7 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge; Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured our like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my race, I have kept the faith.
Paul wrote this in facing the knowledge of his impending death. He had been arrested and imprisoned for nothing more than preaching the gospel. Soon he knew they were going to lead him out and crucify him. Of himself he could say "I did my best, I accomplished what I was supposed to with my life", but here he also gives us who are of the body of Christ some simple tasks to perform. He is saying live your life for God. Have a continual ongoing relationship with him. Why is he telling us that? Because Paul knew what we were going to face in the future. He knew the enemy was sneaky and intelligent he had plenty of experience with this himself. He knew that the best way to tell the good guys from the bad guys is to know the voice of the Good Shepherd. Why? Because if you know the Good Shepherd's voice then the other guys can't lie to you and get away with it.
I pray that the Lord bless both the message and those that would hear
his word in Jesus name.