False Teachers Among Us
Are you absolutely 100% sure that what is being preached to you is the truth? How do you know it is the truth? God warns us thru His Word, "Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD" "(Jeremiah 17:5)... and, "It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man" (Psalms 118:8)… and the inspired Luke wrote, "But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: 'We ought to obey God rather than men'" (Acts 5:29).
Many passages in the Bible allude to warnings of trusting in a mere man. But how can we be assured that what a man is preaching to us is the truth? I have often heard or read comments similar to the following, "He is a good man, and I trust him."; "He would never do us wrong."; "He is as faithful as they come."; "I know in my heart he is preaching the truth.", and many other similar comments. However, does the Bible tell us our thoughts and our heart are what we are to rely on for the truth? What about, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5,6)? What about the previous passages?
It certainly appears that God is very clear about not trusting in man, but instead, we are to trust in Him. How exactly do we trust in Him? What did the Bereans do? "Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:10,11). The Bereans did not simply trust in what was being preached to them. The Bereans "searched the Scriptures daily" to make sure what was being preached to them was the truth.
"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).
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write, "Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness" (2 Timothy 2:14-16). To rightly divide the word of truth, we must learn it. To learn it, we must study it. How can we "test the spirits" if we have not studied God's Word to know the truth?
The only way we will ever know if what is being preached to us is the truth is if we study the Bible for ourselves. There is no other way of verifying the truth. If all we do is drive to a church building a few times each week and listen to a man preach a lesson, then come home and do nothing more to make sure what he just preached to us is the truth, then we are seriously ignoring and neglecting God's Word.
Jesus warns of false teachers, even to the point of telling us that many will appear to be preaching the truth, but they are wolves. He says that many will follow the broad path that leads to destruction, and few will find eternal life, and in the very next verse, He tells us why. "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:13-15).
"Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'THESE PEOPLE DRAW NEAR TO ME WITH THEIR MOUTH, AND HONOR ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME. AND IN VAIN THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN'" (Matthew 15:7-9).
Paul spent a good portion of his ministry warning the churches of false teachers. Consider the following passages warning of false teachers.
"For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears" (Acts 20:29-30).
"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:17,18).
False teachers will use smooth-sounding words and flatter listeners with their preaching, but they deceive those who believe them.
"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 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" (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;" (2 Timothy 4:3 KJV).
Have you ever wondered why there is so much conflict and confusion about various doctrines being taught, even to the point of being falsely taught? Paul tells us that people go where they can hear what they want to hear, where what they hear pleases them the most, caring not for the truth. They want their ears tickled. The truth will not agree with how they live their lives… they cannot endure sound doctrine. Therefore, they avoid the truth and hire preachers who will not warn them of their wrongdoing because it will offend them or hurt their feelings. Religious organizations allow false teachers because the people listening to them like the teachers!
"If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself" (1 Timothy 6:3-5).
"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8).
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).
Peter wrote, "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed" (2 Peter 2:1,2).
Many people are being deceived every day, and they have no idea because they do not study the Bible to make sure they are not being deceived.
"So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:19-22).
God bless you!
*NKJV except where noted.