Do you know if your church or online ministry you follow is preaching the true gospel or simply serving up a “feel good”, man-centered theology? Let’s talk about 4 ways to identify false teachers in the church.
I shut my laptop and began strumming my fingers in a nervous rhythm. My bottom lip was getting uncomfortable from the deep impressions my teeth were leaving.
I’ve seen the social media martyrdom of many dear friends who stand for truth. I closed my eyes and slowly moaned in a woeful tone. “Noooo…Seriously Lord, why did you tell me that I should teach the book of Jude to these unsuspecting women in our ladies group?”
A sense of dread washed over me and I wanted to reason my way out of this calling, fast. “Lord, are you sure that you really want me to bring this up? I mean, this book is a little nuclear bomb when it comes to hot-button topics, warnings and winning souls! You know how much I don’t like confrontation, and besides, our church is grounded—they know this stuff already.”
I wanted to hide behind my Bible and get my quivering knees to stop knocking long enough to find an innocent substitute teacher for the class.
Feeling like that wouldn’t be the Christian thing to do, I took a deep breath and came to terms with a few things.
First, I am headed into the front lines of a war that I didn’t ask for, but He is able.
Secondly, this study could get ugly.
Third, I am not ready for this.
So, there are creepers in the church feeding your sheep really bad food and you want me to write about it? He smiled. He showed me 4 ways to identify false teachers and stand against false teaching.
Identifying the main characteristic of false teachers in the church makes each of us come face to face with an unpleasant reality.
We just might be wrong about a few things because we have been enticed and swayed by cultural norms. We also just might be wrong about what real Biblical Christianity looks like because we base our beliefs on what others say about the Bible rather than what the Bible actually says.
What is the goal of a false teacher?
Have you ever felt like the church in general has been hijacked?
I have, and that is what got me started down the road to the book of Jude. Honestly, my first goal was to try to survive 4 weeks of leading the book of Jude as a Bible study without getting anonymous hate mail or ending up being the only one left in my own class.
I am glad that God had a much bigger battle plan.
Jude ran headlong right into the fray without any apologies or excuses. I quickly realized, that I admired Jude for his tenacity in confronting false teachers in the church and God quickly placed a burning desire in my heart.
It was clear that God wanted me to put my big girl boots on and lock arms with Jude. The mission? The raw, clear, unapologetic, bold-faced, no holds-barred, proclamation of The Truth-the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So I am learning how to run to the frontlines with His love and mercy in my heart and the Word of God on my lips-big girl boots and all. Wanna join me?
What does the Bible say about false teachers? Let’s take a look at 4 ways we can identify false teachers in the church.
1. FALSE TEACHERS ARE SNEAKY
Jesus, Paul, Peter, and Jude all say the same thing: They will come silently into a body of believers and quietly introduce slight twists to Scripture. Beware of cherry-picking scriptures and topical sermons that beat around the spiritual mulberry bush. Love is much different than tolerance. Hate is much different than opinions. They will rise up among the true believers as gentle shepherd but with ruthless ulterior motives. They won’t be recognized until the damage is done because they do not see their own false gospel as false. They believe their own lies. They will deceive and draw away those who are not firm in their faith.
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgement from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:1-3
“ For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4
“ Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits….not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Matthew 7:15-23
2. FALSE TEACHERS DECEIVE
They are experts at playing church.
They know church words and they know the Bible, yet they are ravenous wolves. In fact, they seem to be the “church experts”, maybe even seminary trained and cultured. They are smooth talkers making you feel comfortable and provide sermons, resources, or studies that cause you to pat yourself on the back as they pad their pockets. They disguise themselves as self-proclaimed prophets with special words, divine healings, and even go beyond the scripture to unbiblical revelations.
They deceive by taking scripture out of context and fall into the same trap Eve faced in the garden. “Did God really say that?” It’s Satans favorite trick in the book. If the false teacher can get you question biblical, historical truth and convince you that it is unloving to accurately read your Bible, beware.
“For 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
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20
“ But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron..” 1 Timothy 4: 1-2
“ For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
3. FALSE TEACHERS EMBRACE IMMORALITY
Please hear this. The term sexual immorality covers a lot more bases than just homosexuality.
It covers pornography, sexting, and adultery. It covers lust of the eyes and mind, pedophilia, addictions to romance novels, masturbation, living together, fantasizing, and premarital sex. It covers prostitution, fetishes, feelings and false identities. It is a comprehensive word.
It covers it ALL—because God doesn’t excuse or exclude anyone. EVERY ONE of us will bend our knees under His Word when it comes to this subject.
“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.” Jude 4
What is Jude aiming at here? He is aiming at the teachers that are promoting immorality in the churches and the people who are cheering them on.
Need a highlight reel?
They will take the lavish grace of the cross and say it is a license to indulge in sexual sin, after all, God is full of grace and love, right?
False teachers will say it “unchristian” to call sin at its face value. In doing so, they deny the fact that Jesus alone has the power and the ability to save them from their depravity.
Instead of sharing the true Gospel of repentance and crucifying the flesh by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, these false teachers serve up the poisonous lie that the Holiness of God doesn’t enter into the equation.
False teachers want you to believe that the most loving thing you can do is to love the sinner by encouraging and condoning the sin.
That teaching, my dear friend, is NOT found in the Bible and allows for the doors of Hell to swing wide open and swallow generations of children.
What was Jesus’ response to the sexually immoral? Repentance and forgiveness – to go and sin no more.
Please, remember one thing. God has freely—FREELY—FREELY offered His very Son to set the captive sinner free. THAT IS YOU, THAT IS ME, AND THAT IS THEM…THAT IS ALL OF US. God, Himself has made a way out of sexual immorality through the blood of Jesus Christ and it ticks Him off when false teachers pat a lost person on the head and say—yeah, that sacrifice didn’t matter.
“Therefore, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.…and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” Romans 1:24-32
God takes the purity of the Gospel seriously—and He deeply cares about the lost finding salvation and hope. False teachers are in big trouble with a Holy God when they approve of the very things that crucified Christ.
4. FALSE TEACHERS ARE DEVOID OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Jude doesn’t beat around the spiritual mulberry bush! He goes right for the jugular in showing us even more characteristics of these deceivers in Jude vs 12-16.
“These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever… These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.” Jude 12-16
“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions. It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” Jude 17-19
Devoid of the Holy Spirit. Think on those solemn words.
Those are strong words and have even stronger implications as we consider false teachers invading seminaries, pulpits and pews.
These are people who would rather run with the wolves than rest with the Shepherd-and you won’t even know it. Their conscience is not bothered by sin and church is nothing more than a lucrative business.
I don’t know about you, but this makes my stomach churn and pricks my own conscience at the same time. Could it be that leaders, elders, and teachers in our church are operating from cultural flesh rather than a move of the Holy Spirit. Scripture says that is completely possible.
How do you respond to false teaching?
Now that you know what the Bible says about false teachers in the church, are you battle ready? Do you know how to deal with false teachers, or know when false teaching is creeping into your church?
Jude doesn’t give you permission to cold-cock unsuspecting people over the head with your 50 pound KJV, red-letter study Bible. Jude also doesn’t give you permission to write hate letters or run people out of town. He doesn’t advocate wearing placards on Sunday mornings in protest, or building an end-times bunker. Jude doesn’t even give you the right to splash hateful comments all over social media, or unfriend everyone you don’t agree with.
Jude doesn’t advocate any of that. What does he advocate?
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” Jude 20-22
I love Jude! He keeps things simple.
Know the true Gospel. Share the Gospel. Live the Gospel.
Run toward the lost with love in your heart and the hope of the Good News on your lips, all while you stay grounded in the Word. Fight the right way and with the right weapon—MERCY. Jude calls us to the frontlines of the battle to reach into the prison camps of those who have been ensnared by false teachers. That may take on different forms and look different in every circumstance, but the bottom line will always be to speak the truth in love.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ Himself, who is the head”. Ephesians 4:15-16
We have an insidious spiritual enemy that is lurking and we are being caught off guard simply because it is dressed nicely as socially acceptable and politically correct.
Dear sister, you are not on a playground, and this is not a game. You are on a battlefield where the enemy has a bullseye on the next generation, and he intends to play for keeps.
Girl, get in your Bible and know what it says! Pick it up and learn it! Know the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and run to the front lines with the mercy of the cross on your lips, and His love in your heart.
Yes, my friend, perilous times have crept into our pulpits and pews, and we cannot afford to lose one more minute with our Bibles collecting dust while our enemy opens fire. Are you battle ready?
4 Bible verses about false teachers
- 2 Peter 2:1-3: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgement from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
- 2 Corinthians 11:13-15: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”
- Romans 1:24-32: “Therefore, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.…and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
How about a Bible study on the book of Jude?
Check out this verse-by-verse Bible Study – Beloved, Stand
BELOVED STAND ALSO PROVIDES TEACHING VIDEOS TO HELP YOU DIG DEEP INTO EACH TOPIC. THESE ON-DEMAND VIDEOS ARE FREE AND AVAILABLE AT:
“A SIMPLE GATHERING” FACEBOOK GROUP under the guides tab.
The book of Jude is only 25 verses long but it is a nuclear bomb of sorts. Jude runs to the front lines in the epic battle of the ages and drives a stake into the ground for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. This power packed 3 week study, will take you on a journey through the mine fields of identifying false teaching, and prepare you to stand firm on the truth of Scripture. Together, let’s dig into this precious book, and learn how run into battle with grace in our hearts and Scripture on our lips! Beloved, Stand!