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Summary: How to tell false teaching from the truth

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“False Teachers –False Preachers”

January 18, 2015

1 John 4:1

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

2 Peter 2:1-2; 14-22

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 depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories.

14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

1 Timothy 4:1-2

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”

It is kind of unsettling to think there are false preachers and teachers out there that we have to be aware of -but there are. The Bible and experience says so. The problem is that not all are obvious. False teaching is many times hidden in truth or half-truth. Remember Jesus’ conversation with the Devil in Luke 4?

Three times the devil used Scripture to tempt Jesus. It was taken out of context – but it was Scripture. Remember how Jesus combatted that false teaching? He used Scripture Himself – but it was rightly interpreted and rightly applied.

It is important that we get to know the Bible so well that when someone begins to spout falsehoods in the name of God that we can recognize it. Some false teachers and preachers will lie and mislead because they want to build their own little kingdoms where they rule. It’s about power. Jim Jones and David Koresh comes to mind. They ended up causing the death of many of their followers.

Some false teachers have convinced themselves the truth is a lie and the lie is the truth. Often it is too hide their own sin or to rationalize it. Jimmy

Swaggart comes to mind. He convinced himself that consorting with prostitutes was acceptable. He even was able to preach wonderful sermons with great emotion while living with this hidden sin.

Ted Haggard was pastoring a large church in Denver while living a homosexual life style. He knew the Bible said homosexuality was an abomination to God – but he was able to justify himself in his own mind for a time. I have read that he has repented of his sin, confessed it and is now living a righteous life and serving the Lord. I don’t know that for sure – but I know God will forgive all who confess their sin and turn from it. There is forgiveness for all – but it is better to not sin. Holy living saves us from a lot of pain.

Some false teachers are sincere – but sincerely wrong. They may have been raised in a church that taught false doctrine and they were indoctrinated from their youth or at least as a babe in Christ. I think most of the false teaching in the world falls under this category. People believe the lie or error and are sincere; they are saved – but they are living in error. Jesus said,

“For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew5:18-19

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