Identifying false teachers
Can you identify false teachers? Do you understand what makes them false? Or why such people are dangerous? I didn’t once. But we can know. We just have to want to. In God’s Word, He has given us everything we need to be able to identity the ravenous wolves in our midst.
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.
There is a distinct lack of discernment in much of the modern church. The mainstream churchanity that has been rammed down our throats for so long is not honoring to the Lord but is bound up in human desires. We’ve spent decades consuming spiritual candy while starving for meaty truth. Why is this? How did we get to this point? What can we do about it?
2 Timothy 4: 2-4, Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 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.
False teachers were able to enter the church unawares because, when faced with attacks on the Bible, our spiritual leaders yielded again and again. They didn’t know enough, or care enough, to fight for truth. From failing to fight against higher criticism, not preaching Six Day creation and against Darwinism, bowing to humanism, giving into the early feminists, embracing feminism, again and again, our leaders have led us down a dangerous path. One that is at odds with the Bible.
These dark days
Too many pastors bowed to culture. Instead of teaching the inerrant Word, they folded. As a result, among other things, they pushed for equal “rights” for women in the church and embraced Liberation Theology.
Their capitulation allowed Critical Race Theory to invade our churches. Refusal to preach against sin–such as immodesty, impurity, homosexuality–while ignoring the dangers of CRT and Black Liberation Theology, led us to this dangerous theological downgrade.
Titus 2: 1, But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
The Young, Restless, and Reformed Crowd, the neo-Calvinists, led us down a dangerous road by adopting the language of Calvinism but not the dedication to God’s unchanging Word. This is why so many so-called Calvinists today are such a danger to the church.
James 3: 1, Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
There are still sound teachers but in these dark days, they are far too few. It is absolutely imperative that we use wisdom to discern if a pastor or teacher is standing on Truth or heading down the slippery slope.
Most of the Reformers and the Puritans are excellent and their worth has been proven. Their writings are wonderful resources, as are the writings of men like Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, etc. Go here for some suggestions.
For the more modern teachers, we must be willing to check out what they believe, who their teachers were, what they teach, and even how they live. There is much rotten fruit to be found. The Reformed Downgrade is real and we must be informed enough to combat it.
And, for the most part, eschew women teachers and read the solid men.
Women and truth
Sisters, we must prepare ourselves to be able to identify and stand against those who would teach false doctrine by devoting ourselves to study of the Word and to prayer. This is non-negotiable. We must be like the Bereans who daily checked what they were being taught against Scripture to see if what they were being told was, indeed, truth.
To that end, we must…
1) Know Scripture
Owning a Bible isn’t enough, you must study it. Here’s an explanation of why you need a plan for reading Scripture. If you don’t have a preferred method of studying Scripture, here’s a method for reading it through in a year, and some further suggestions for study.
The more you read Scripture, the more the Word of God is laid up in your heart and the less likely you are to be led astray by false teachers. One of the main problems facing the church today is a lack of biblical literacy. To be poorly read in the Word is to entice the Devil to deceive you.
2) Understand Scripture
A good commentary is essential in understanding the difficult passages of Scripture. Some of my favorites are John Calvin’s, Matthew Henry’s, and John Gill’s commentaries. The Reformation Study Bible includes R.C. Sproul’s commentary and is also highly recommended.
You can also go here to find links to commentaries online.
Here’s a brief refresher in the Five Solas. If what we believe contradicts the Five Solas, it contradicts Scripture. Scripture must be compared to Scripture in order to understand truth. It interprets itself. If what a teacher says doesn’t line up with Scripture, it isn’t true.
1 Timothy 6: 3-5, If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
Pray to understand the Word and to glorify God through your study. Ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment and to put good teachers in your path and to protect you from the designs of bad ones. Pray to develop the mind of Christ, that you might do all things for His glory, and that you might believe only that which is true.
2 Timothy 3: 16-17, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
4) Research what teachers believe
As you read or listen to a teacher or preacher, compare what they say to what Scripture says. If they have a blog or website, look at their statement of faith. If you are researching a pastor, listen to his sermons.
We must never love a teacher more than we love the Lord. God’s Word is always the final arbiter of truth.
Ask these questions about a teacher:
Does he use Scripture in context? Does he use a solid translation of Scripture? Is he more interested in gaining followers or teaching truth? Will he teach truth even if it costs him followers? Even if it costs him money? Even if it costs them their lives?
Does he read into Scripture that which isn’t there? Does he personalize it? Allegorize it? Does he exegete correctly? Is the teaching serious or frivolous? Does he tell jokes and stories more than he sticks with the Word of God?
Acts 17: 10-11, The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Identifying false teachers
1) Teaching that contradicts Scripture
If their teaching is at odds with Scripture, they are a false teacher. A godly teacher focuses on God’s Word and exegetes from it.
If the teaching is more allegorical, relies on popular culture, takes its cue from books or music, or centers Scripture’s truths on you, this is proof you should pass them by.
1 Timothy 6: 20-21, O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.
2 Peter 2: 1, But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
2) Denies creation as fact
No Adam, no need for Christ. The Lord said He spoke and it was. For a pastor to deny a young earth/six day creation at the very least marks them as someone who doesn’t fully trust Scripture and who is willing to accept a man’s word over God.
John 5: 46, For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.
Hebrews 11: 3, By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
3) Does the teacher support women preaching to men?
If the teacher is a woman, seek out videos of her speaking. Are there men in the audience? If a man, what is his position on this important topic? If a woman teaches men, or if a man supports a woman preaching to men, other false doctrine will follow.
1 Timothy 2: 11-14, Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
4) Does he support, embrace, or partner with known false teachers?
Look at their blogs, do online searches, look at their upcoming speaking schedule. Where are they appearing? Who are they appearing with?
2 Corinthians 6: 14-16, Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial?Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God;
5) Does his life line up with Scripture?
Is he holy? Godly? Wise? Mature? If his life doesn’t line up with what he professes, he is not a safe teacher.
1 Peter 1: 16, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
2 Corinthians 11: 3, But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
6) Does she like to create controversy?
Does she say things or do things to draw attention to herself, to create strife in the church, or to make herself look like a victim? If so, steer clear.
The Lord is clear as how older women in the faith are to live, what they are to teach. If a woman’s teaching or her lifestyle contradicts Scripture, she is a false teacher.
Romans 16: 17, I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
Ephesians 4: 14, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Jude 4, For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Sisters, we must do all that we do for the glory of our Lord. This includes choosing well those we learn from.
Soli Deo Gloria!
For further reading…