How to Discern False Teachers

I am going to say upfront that many believers in Jesus who are teaching the true gospel today are being accused falsely of being false teachers. The ironic thing about this is that it is mostly the false teachers who are accusing the Lord’s true messengers of teaching what is false.

“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 NIV

Those who are doing this, though, are leading many people astray by their false accusations so that a large majority of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ today, it would appear, are rejecting the true gospel of salvation in favor of a false diluted cheap grace gospel.

This false gospel denies Jesus as Lord, for its adherents refuse to submit to Christ as Lord of their lives, for they believe they don’t have to repent of sin, and they believe they don’t have to obey Jesus and his commandments. For, they charge that this is works-based salvation.

Even some of those who once had genuine faith in Jesus Christ are being led astray by the lies, and they are shrinking back, and they are rejecting the truth which they once held dear in favor of a gospel which gives them permission to continue living in sin, now without guilt.

“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24 NIV

So, it is important that we understand what the Scriptures teach about false teachers so that we can discern correctly who is a false teacher, and so we are not guilty of calling some people false teachers just because we don’t agree with some of the things they do.

False Teachers – Characteristics

Taken from Jude 1: They:

• Indulge in gross (sickening) immorality
• Go after strange flesh (unnatural relations)
• Reject authority (are contentious and rebellious)
• Revile (insult, abuse) things they do not understand
• Follow after their own instincts, like unreasoning animals
• Have gone the way of Cain and rushed into the error of Balaam
• Are hidden reefs (hazardous obstructions) in your fellowships
• Feast (partake, dine) with you without fear
• Care only for themselves
• Are wild waves of the sea tossed by the wind (double-minded)
• Cast up their own shame (disgrace) like foam (fine bubbles)
• Are wandering (deviating, straying) stars
• Do ungodly deeds in an ungodly way
• Speak harshly against God, his Word and/or his servants
• Grumble and are fault finders
• Follow after their own ungodly lusts
• Speak arrogantly
• Flatter people for the sake of gaining an advantage
• Are mockers
• Cause divisions
• Are worldly-minded
• Are devoid of the Spirit

Taken from 2 Peter 3: They:

• Scoff and follow their own evil desires
• Mock what they don’t understand
• Deliberately forget the truth that they have known
• Are in willful error regarding the truth of the Scriptures
• Are lawless (for they teach we don’t have to obey the Lord)
• Are unstable and so they distort the Scriptures

“Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:22-23 NIV

This one is huge! If any teacher denies that Jesus is God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – do not listen to him!

They will teach another Jesus other than the one of the Scriptures. They will use the Scriptures out of context, and they will twist them to say what they want them to say in order to appeal to human flesh. And they will teach a different gospel other than the one Jesus and the apostles taught.

So, this is one of the reasons why we need to be students of the Scriptures, because these false teachers are going to teach what is contradictory to the Scriptures. Only, in order to deceive people, they will mix truth in with their lies to make it sound like truth, or they will willfully leave out half of the truth, but willful half-truths are still lies.

The True Gospel

The true gospel of our salvation teaches us that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And he shed his blood on that cross to buy us back for God so we will now honor God with our lives (1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15).

It teaches us that coming to faith in Jesus Christ requires that we are crucified with Christ in death to sin that we might be raised with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And we are to forsake our former lives of living in sin and now we are to walk in holiness by the Spirit of God in obedience to Christ (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Lu 9:23-26; Tit 2:11-14).

And it teaches us that if we reject all of the above, and we choose to go on living in sin, even while claiming Jesus as Savior, and heaven as our eternal destiny, that we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8).

But if you are one who is teaching the true gospel which denies self, dies daily to sin and self, and which follows our Lord in obedience to his commands, you will face false accusations and persecution at the hands of those who are teaching a false grace (cheapened, diluted) gospel which pacifies people in their sin, and which does not put sin to death.

But we must keep teaching the truth, for people’s lives depend on them knowing the truth which will set them free from slavery to sin and which will empower them to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, which will then lead to eternal life with God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8).

And if you are accused falsely, and if you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, because you are living for the Lord, and because you are teaching the truth, then you are blessed. Just commit your life to the Lord and keep on sharing the truth in opposition to the lies which are being spread.

All Through the Night

An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.

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