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False Teachers

2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

These passages warn us that there will be false teachers among us, just as there were false prophets in the Old Testament. The rest of the chapter goes on to tell us that false teachers are evil and assures us that their time of judgment will soon come. God despises false teachers, but many believers in His church today seem to be embracing them. The Corinthians were doing the very same thing and Paul reprimanded them for putting up with such behavior.

2 Cor 11:4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough...13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Like the Corinthians, there are Christians today who accept anyone who claims to believe in Jesus. If a person professes to be Christian then they are automatically considered to brothers and/or sisters in the faith no matter what they believe or teach. Their doctrine is never examined to see whether or not it is true. While some people will readily admit that Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons are “false teachers” (though some Christians will not even admit that) they will not say the same thing about certain “mainstream” denominations. If someone is teaching a “false” doctrine or preaching “another” Jesus or receiving a “different” Spirit, Christians put up with it easily enough and yet, God does not. He is going to judge them and give them “what their actions deserve.” If God does not accept these false teachers, then why should we?

It is important to think about what we mean by false. While that should be a simple word to understand we will look at its definition to emphasize the significance of what false teachers are actually doing. In these passages the phrases “false teacher,” “false prophets,” and “false apostles” have the root word pseudes which means “untrue, i.e. erroneous, deceitful, wicked1 So we have pseudes prophets, pseudes teachers, and pseudes apostles. The word pseudes is translated as the word false in modern English. Let us look at the Webster dictionary and find the exact meaning for this word.

Main Entry: false2

2 a : intentionally untrue (false testimony) b : adjusted or made so as to deceive (false scales) (a trunk with a false bottom) c : intended or tending to mislead (a false promise)

Now, I realize the meaning of false should be quite obvious, but when we look at these descriptions, both from the Greek and modern day English we see that the word not only means untrue, but that it implies that it is intentionally that way. It is not that false teachers make a mistake, it is that they are intentionally deceiving and misleading those they teach. It is done with “wicked” motives and intentions. I think it is very important for us to realize this fact.

Many Christians have this misconception that leaders are not responsible for teaching false doctrine. They think that it is alright for them to make a mistake because people are fallible and therefore somehow not responsible for what they teach. The Bible, however, does not excuse mankind based upon their fallibility. While we are fallible, the Bible is not. It is without error and is written to all of us so that we might know the truth. Anyone who wants to know the truth, can find it. While many false teachers really believe the doctrine they are teaching, they are still "intentionally" teaching untrue doctrine. They are teaching what they want to believe rather than the truth that is in God's Word. They have chosen to believe that which is false and therefore intentionally lead others to do the same. The sincereity of their belief does not excuse their behavior. They are without excuse because the truth is available in God's Word. The Bible warns us specifically of these false teachers for a reason. Paul told Timothy to command men not to teach false doctrines (1 Tim 1:3) and reprimanded the Corinthians for putting up with those who do. These teachers are never excused in God's Word, no matter how sincere they might be in what they believed and taught.

Christians can definitely be confused about doctrine and still be saved. The moment you are saved you are not given complete knowledge of God and His Word, but you are given His Spirit that will help guide you into the truth. As you grow and study you should eventually get past the milk and into the meat. However, when a person starts teaching and preaching, they are in essence saying that they “know” what the Bible says (at least regarding the topic they are teaching). They do not think they are mistaken, they profess that what they are teaching is truth. When they teach and preach false doctrine, they are “intentionally” and are purposefully rejecting the truth found in God's Word, either because they do not want to see it or because they have not even tried to look. Either way, if you are going to proclaim to speak for God but do so rejecting or ignoring His Word, you are being deceitful. At this point we can no longer excuse their actions, no matter how sincere they feel they are being. God certainly does not excuse them and He is going to judge those who intentionally misrepresent Him.

So let us examine the passage in 2 Corinthians and see if we can find examples of how the church today is also “putting up with” false doctrine.

2 Cor 11:4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough...13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Are there any churches that are preaching a Jesus other than the Jesus the apostles preached? How do we know if it is the same Jesus? What we have to do is compare what the inspired Word of God says about Jesus to what the church is teaching. If they are different in any way, they are not the same Jesus. Having the same name does not make them the same person. So, for example, we could examine the Jesus of the prosperity movement to see if it is the same Jesus we find in the Bible. The Jesus in the Bible never emphasized health and wealth therefore, the Jesus who emphasizes prosperity is a different Jesus. Those who teach this doctrine are “false” teachers.

Matt 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money ."

Are there any teachers who are receiving a different spirit than the Bible teaches? Yes, this is happening so very often in Charismatic and Pentecostal churches today. Since we know that the gifts have ceased, every time someone professes that the Holy Spirit has caused them to speak in tongues, prophesy, or any of the weird phenomenon that they attribute to Him, they have received a different spirit. This is something that is not to be tolerated.

1 Cor 13:8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Is there anyone who is preaching a gospel other than the one presented in the Bible? The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by grace through faith and yet many churches teach we are saved by works. When a church includes baptism, mass, holy living, speaking in tongues, or any other “work” we must do as part of salvation they are preaching another gospel.

Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Titus 3:4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.

Paul said that someone who preached a false gospel should be eternally condemned.

Gal 1: 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

To teach “false doctrine” means to intentionally deceive and mislead people into believing something that is untrue. This is something that God does not tolerate. He inspired, through His Spirit, the apostles to write firm warnings and condemnations to those who teach false doctrines. He not only addressed the false teachers, but instructed us not to “put up with” them. Why would we tolerate someone who is intentionally teaching lies about God? That is what a false teacher is doing. Anyone teaching something not found in Scripture is someone we should avoid. We should do what Paul told Timothy to do and command that they stop. We should stand up for the truth, especially when it involves the character of God our creator, Jesus our Savior and the Spirit who gives us life.

The examples given above are merely that, examples. There are many different ways in which people are propagating lies in the name of Jesus. We must remember that these people are masquerading as apostles of light when in reality they are false teachers whom God will judge. Let us not embrace what God condemns. Continue to be like the Bereans and test everything against the Scripture to make sure that it is true.

Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.


1Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.
2Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary

 

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