The New Testament is clear about the fact that the church will have to deal with false teachers. In Matthew 7:15 Jesus tells us to “beware of false prophets”. In 1 Timothy 4:1-2 the apostle Paul warns us that “the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy…” Peter says in 2 Peter 2:1, “there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you”. The apostle John also warns, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1). With the many warnings that the bible gives us about false teachers, you might think that we would be on guard and that false teachers would have a difficult time deceiving people. Sadly, this is not the case. One thing that makes it easy for false teachers to go about their business is that they will tell people what they want to hear. In 2 Timothy 4:3-4 Paul says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” False teachers have an easy time of it when they tell the people what they want to hear. Another problem that allows false teachers to go about their work is that they often look and sound just like faithful gospel preachers. (See Matthew 7:15-20 and 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). In order to identify these false teachers, you need to look at what they don’t say rather than what they do say. The problem with their teaching is not that they actively teach false doctrine, but that they don’t preach “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). They don’t preach or teach on subjects that might offend someone or cause someone to become angry. This kind of false teaching is the more dangerous kind because in order to detect it you need a congregation that is really listening to what is being taught and also knows enough scripture to know if something is being left out. Good, sound, preachers who will tell us what we need to hear rather than just what we want to hear are a blessing. Encourage them to continue to faithfully teach the truth.
Beware of False Prophets