“Beware of false prophets, who came to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” – Matthew 7:15
Sadly, we live in a time where false teachers are everywhere. Their teachings damage people’s faith, devour babies in the faith, and we must be able to identify them.
Here are 6 ways to identify a false teacher
- They are money motivated
A minister should never be motivated by money.
1 Timothy 6:5, “and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”
1 Peter 5:2, “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly.”
2 Corinthians 2:17, “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 2:5, “For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed- God is witness.”
If a preacher is constantly in your pockets, and hardly in the word this is a sign that you should run. If a preacher tells you God only wants you to be healthy, and wealthy this is a sign that you should run.
2. They constantly flatter
2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers who suit their own passions.”
A false teacher will flatter people who are living in sin. They will give false assurance of salvation to people who live in rebellion to God. They will be ear ticklers, telling people only what they want to hear.
3. They avoid hard truths
You will not hear much about sin, hell, or suffering from a false teacher. You will never hear a call to repentance. They will dilute the truths that are harder for people to digest, and manipulate God’s word in an attempt to make it more palatable.
4. They explain texts away
False teachers are never faithful expositor’s of the word. If they ever attempt to approach a text that is clear, but hard, they dance around it, or explain it completely away.
5. They have no conviction
They never speak out against something, unless it’s popular and safe. You will have no trouble hearing what they are for, but you will never hear what they are against. You will know that they are all for love and tolerance, but you will never hear of God’s wrath and intolerance of sin. Unless of course you get them preaching about money, the false teacher seems to always have great convictions about tithing.
6. They preach blatant and outright heresy
“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 Peter 2:1
They will deny that Christ is the only way to heaven. They will deny the person, or work of Jesus Christ. Orthodox Christian doctrine will be replaced by ‘new ideas.’ When Jesus Christ does not change.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8
To the pastor who may be reading this, it is your duty to protect the sheep from wolves. People may not like you, people may not appreciate your courage here on earth, but they will in eternity. Lay down your life for your sheep.
To the one who follows destructive teachings and heresies I plead with you in love, turn from these things. Acquire teachers who will tell you the truth about your condition, about God’s righteousness, and guide you into eternity in heaven. Please do not follow these false teachers into hell.