We all want to think that the preacher we sit under is an anointed man of God and he is there to teach and speak the TRUTHS of the Word of God. But sometimes things happen and that person (man or woman) stumbles or falls. Somehow they begin following the wrong path. Perhaps it is greed, the allure of notoriety, the attention, or the perceived worship of an entire congregation of folks wanting to hear what they alone have to say… perhaps it is arrogance or pride… whatever it is; sometimes our leaders fall. Sometimes they take on the mantle of being the singular authority in all things Biblical. Their interpretation and understanding becomes TRUTH; and while it is acceptable and palatable to those listening, it may not be the TRUTH of the Bible.
Accurate and sound doctrine is fundamental to our salvation and increase in spiritual development. God warns us many times in the Scriptures to be alert and watchful of false teaching. As Christians, we need to be able to identify counterfeit teachers in order to know when we are being led down a wrong path. As an individual, we should be already in tune with the urgings, or promptings of Holy Spirit. Call it intuition if you want, but you know when something just isn’t right. You recognize the small voice inside telling you to be warned. When that feeling deep in you starts to stir, what then?
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.”
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 thorn bushes, 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.”
Just as authorities must study an original in order to be able to identify if something, a piece of artwork, a signature, a document, etc, is fraudulent, so must we study the original Word of God for ourselves in order to determine if a teaching, or teacher is fraudulent. The believer who makes a careful study of the TRUTH of the Word can identify the fake. For example: the believer who has studied the activities of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will recognize a teacher or prophet who denies the Trinity.
So, where to begin… Let’s start with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and [yet] it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. “And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.”
We begin by educating yourself. We begin by shoring up our foundation. We begin by reading and studying our bible. Learn and know what it says. If you are concerned about something you heard, judge that teaching by what the scriptures say. As a believer, develop the study skills needed to do a concise study of a word, topic, verse or book.
If you begin to feel that something seems out of sorts, ask yourself what it is? Holy Spirit will enlighten you. Prayerfully ask for guidance, ask Him to shed light on what’s concerning you. Ask yourself, are you hearing the whole gospel? Is this preacher teaching the birth, life, miracles, death and resurrection and the promised return of Jesus… according to the scriptures? Is there something missing or is not in alignment with what the Word of God teaches?
“Such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” Romans 16:18
Be forewarned, false teachers are not new. Those that would twist the Word of God to fit their own narrative have been around as long as the gospel has been around. Galatians 1:6-7 AMP speaks of the perversion of the gospel, “I am astonished and extremely irritated that you are so quickly shifting your allegiance and deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different [even contrary] gospel; which is really not another [gospel]; but there are [obviously] some [people masquerading as teachers] who are disturbing and confusing you [with a misleading, counterfeit teaching] and want to distort the gospel of Christ [twisting it into something which it absolutely is not].”
No one, not the greatest preacher, teacher or prophet of all time has the authority to alter the message of the Word of God. “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we [originally] preached to you, let him be condemned to destruction! As we have said before, so I now say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel different from that which you received [from us], let him be condemned to destruction!” Galatians 1:8-9 AMP
Does the character of the preacher, teacher or prophet exemplify and glorify the Lord? False preachers and teachers can be knows for their pride, greed, rebellion and promotion of themselves as “holy and blameless”. There are countess reports of preachers, demanding outrageous fees, private jet transportation; five-star lodging for themselves and their entourage… the list of required extravagance and mandatory indulgence goes on. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with a speaking fee and transportation assistance… when is it enough? When is it more about the speaker than the message?
My point here is this… in these times, as the end draws near, satan realizing that his time is short is going to do what he can to take the believers away from the TRUTH. In 2 Corinthians 11:14 we are told, “And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” and in verse 15, we are given the TRUTH about his demons , “So it is no great surprise if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, but their end will correspond with their deeds.” He will use double talk and confusion spoken by flawed preachers and teachers to trip up and confuse the believers in order to accomplish his purpose on this earth. And that is to take as many believers down. He is the author of confusion, and he knows that if he can confound the believer into believing falsehoods, then he has gained a toehold. Believe a small falsehood today, it will be easier to believe a larger one tomorrow. The only way that this can stop is for the believer to stay in tune with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to stay steeped in the Word of God; to learn and study the TRUTHS of the Bible; to know and understand Holy Spirit warning us of danger. The danger we speak of is the eternal danger of not recognizing and following the liar.
Conclusion – Two Step Guard Against False Teachers, Preachers and Prophets
Our defense against counterfeit teachers and their doctrine is actually uncomplicated. First, know the TRUTH by knowing the Word of God. That will also allow you to identify their heretical doctrine and false manner of living by the contrast of the two. Second, be obedient to the Scriptures clear principles and precepts even if the world thinks you’re crazy. Submit yourself to the will of God; he will protect you from the allure of satan and his trappings. He will protect you from the pressures of the world and the temptations of the flesh, temptations of the eyes, pride, all of which are used by false teachers to lead you astray.
Remember, we are told in 1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Note: Emphasis, highlighting and formatting features placed on Biblical Scriptures are solely the actions of this writer and are used to set apart the text to the reader.
Scriptures marked AMP are taken from the AMPLIFIED BIBLE (AMP): Scripture taken from the AMPLIFIED® BIBLE, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by the Lockman Foundation Used by Permission.
Unless otherwise noted, scriptural references are from the NIV – New International Version© Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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