The Word of God (the Bible) has some very specific things to say to us about false teaching and false teachers. None of it is positive and all of it warns of disastrous consequences for us if we get involved with it. What concerns me is that I have noticed in recent years an increase in the number of lives that have been destroyed by false teaching. I’m speaking of people who call themselves Christians who are polluting their lives with sin and deception. There is a solution to this problem, and I will address it here.
Beware of False Teachers
The Apostle Peter, one of the first disciples of Jesus, wrote boldly about false teaching and its teachers. I want to draw your attention to some of what he said.
2 Peter 2:1-2 NLT But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. (2) Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered.
Beware of Destructive Heresies
Peter noted that there were false prophets in the nation of Israel (the equivalent of the Old Testament Church, those people who belonged to God). He warned the church, all believers, that there will also be false teachers among us (verse 1). You need to realize that these teachers are very clever in their communication. They mix a little bit of truth with a big dose of heresy and market it to weak Christians. These are believers in name only who are ignorant God’s truth, are trapped in some sin they don’t repent of, and would rather be in tune with the world instead of close to God.
Peter said that false teachers will bring sudden destruction on themselves. He also makes it clear that if we receive their teaching we will meet the same fate. He identified false teachings as destructive heresies. Embrace it and you will end up having your life and possibly even your faith destroyed. Notice that the forewarned destruction will come suddenly, but not necessarily immediately. Sudden destruction is something that happens quickly and unexpectedly. It is like the tornado that dips from the sky wiping out everything in it’s path in just minutes. Suddenly it appears, suddenly it destroys, and suddenly it is gone.
Is it is possible for a believer to be deceived but not yet destroyed? Absolutely. It will come. The tornado is on the horizon. There is no way to avoid the consequences. So don’t feel safe because nothing bad has happened yet. The God of grace will work through the Holy Spirit to try to lead the deceived “believer” to repentance. But at some point, known only to God, if His redemptive process is ignored, the consequences will come.
How Can You Identify a False Teaching?
One of the major ways you can identify a false teaching is when it results in you denying Jesus Christ as the Master who bought you. When you become a believer and put your faith in Jesus Christ, you are purchased from the old life of sin, adopted into God’s family and made a resident of the kingdom of God. Purchased you ask? Yes, by the blood Jesus shed on the cross when He died to pay for your sins. Since He bought you that gives Him the right to be Master of your life. What false teaching does is remove Jesus as the Master and promotes the teaching and the sin associated with it to the place of power in your life. Jesus is demoted, heresy is exalted and the process that leads to destruction begins.
Another way to identify false teaching is to carefully examine the teaching and compare it to the written Word of God. If it doesn’t line up with what God already said, it is false. Don’t follow it. Peter said that false teaching is evil (verse 2). It will produce sin in your life, not a lifestyle of righteousness (right behavior). When you hear it, it will appeal to your soul, that part of you that houses your mind, will and emotions. That’s how deception creeps into you. It sounds so good. It feels so good. It makes sense to your brain. But just like the lies of Satan caused Adam and Eve to rebel against God and bring death and destruction on humanity, any false teaching you receive and act on will ultimately destroy you.
You can also identify false teaching by looking at the personal life of the teacher. Peter said false teachers engage in shameful immorality which the deceived will also follow. Immorality is not just about sexual behavior. Morality is beliefs about what is right and wrong behavior. Again, it is the Word of God that determines what is right and wrong. False teachers will lead you into immorality proclaiming things that are not God’s truth.
Here’s an additional point to consider about immorality, it should produce shame in you, especially sexual immorality. But this is what will happen if you don’t walk in truth. The more you participate in that which is immoral, the less shameful it becomes to you. Your conscience will fade away and you will eventually accept immoral behavior as normal. The false teaching you embrace may alter your concept of morality, but God’s truth is eternal. It will never change to accommodate your desire for sin. Instead, you must be transformed (changed) so your behavior starts to line up with God’s Word. The good news is that God will even give you the power so you can!
Peter said that because of the work of false teachers the way of truth will be slandered. False teachers always contradict the truth of God. In this world, and even in some so called churches, God’s Word is spoken against, ridiculed, and rejected. Instead, we must reject all those who do slander the truth. Jesus said if you follow Him you will know the truth and it will make you free! His truth is not a list of rules and regulations to a true child of God. It is a collection of life giving principles which, when followed, will produce a liberty and a quality of life for you that is totally greater than anything you can have without it. So the choice is always clear, choose God’s truth and be free, choose false teaching and experience bondage and destruction.
To Sum it all Up
Don’t follow the crowd into false teaching in this life. Pay attention to the warnings we’ve looked at together here. Evaluate every teaching that you’re exposed to. Compare it to the truth of God’s Word. If it doesn’t line up it is false.
If you have already been trapped by false teaching, you are living a lie and destruction is the ultimate result. Stop the lie. Reach out to God. Confess your sin and turn from it. Then ask the Holy Spirit to give you the power to walk in God’s truth. He will forgive you, heal your mind and make you free.
Finally, there’s one more critical issue I need to make sure you understand. If you are in some kind of group that promotes any false teachings, you need to separate yourself from them so you can stay free. You should always hang out with people you want to be like. If you want to truly follow Jesus, fellowship with others who are truly doing the same.
If you want God’s best, reject false teaching and embrace the truth!
– Randy Hartwig