False teachers always operate with sly, cunning, and guile. So here are a few red flags that Christians need to look out for.
Be On Guard! False Teachers Are Never Too Obvious
False teachings usually look Christian, sound Christian, are almost true but actually are not.
“It’s not like you’re going to find a person one of these days who will tell you, ‘Oh, by the way I am an agent of the devil. Why don’t you just follow me and together we go to hell?’ You are never going to find a Church which calls itself, ‘The devilish, or the cultic Church international’ and they’re inviting you to join them.”
Topics & Timestamps
0:23 – A question often asked
0:42 – The misconception about false teachers
1:06 – The truth about false teachers
1:29 – The Bible helps us to identify false teachers
1:47 – False teachers are not always obvious
2:22 – Jesus warns believers about false teachers
2:59 – False teachers work secretly
4:08 – The need for discernment for believers
4:27 – False teachers will try to blend in
6:43 – A call to be discerning
Top Quotes: Be On Guard! False Teachers Are Never Too Obvious
“What we find in the scripture is that false teachers are not easily noticed or detected- which is why we need to be discerning.”
“False teachings usually look Christian, sound Christian, are almost true but actually are not.”
“Scriptures invite all believers to test everything, hold fast to what is good and abstain from every appearance of evil.”
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Greetings to you brothers and sisters. This is Rodgers Atwebembeire from the Africa Centre For Apologetics Research. As a ministry we equip believers to defend their faith, to develop biblical discernment and to reach out to people who are victims of cults and false religious groups.
A question often asked
Now, concerning the subject of false teachings many people ask me, ‘How do we know one is a false teacher when we meet someone who claims to be a prophet or an apostle, or a pastor? How do we know that these are authentic, genuine men commissioned and called by God to serve?
The misconception about false teachers
Now, it might interest you that usually when we talk about false teachers, what people think about is some monster maybe with some huge horns at the back. Someone who obviously looks like a dragon and they think a false teacher should look like that. Until they look at the characteristics of false teachers and realize that actually false teachers are often the opposite of what they think.
Red flags to be aware of
In most cases they are very good inspiring communicators- these guys talk and they just capture your attention. Some of these guys are very generous- when you need help, they will help you beyond your wildest imagination and you are like, ‘What took you so long to come. You are the man of God we are looking for.’ And because of the deceptive nature of false teachers and the difficulty with identifying them, the Bible labors to give us characteristics that can help us to identify who these false teachers are and therefore be on guard.
False teachers aren’t obvious
One of these characteristics for instance is for us to know that false teachers and the teachings are not always obvious. It’s not like you’re going to find a person one of these days who will tell you, ‘Oh, by the way I am an agent of the devil. Why don’t you just follow me and together we go to hell?’ You are never going to find a Church which calls itself, ‘The devilish, or the cultic Church international’ and they’re inviting you to join them. No, instead what we find in the scripture is that false teachers are not easily noticed, are not easily detected which is why we need to be discerning. You read Matthew 7:15 for instance.
Jesus warns believers about false teachers
Jesus himself calls believers to watch out for false prophets. And how does he describe them? He says, “They come to you in sheep’s’ clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” On the outside they have a picture of a sheep that is gentle, harmless, innocent, something you would liken to a pet. But actually, on the inside they are greedy wolves that are looking for somebody to devour. And for that reason, Jesus says watch out because false teachers work by stealth-secretly. In fact, in a number of Bible passages the Scriptures tell us that false teachers work secretly.
False teachers work secretly
If you read Jude 4, Jude 4 tells us that we must contend for the faith because certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among us. The key word there being, ‘Secretly.’ You read Galatians 2: 4, and what the Apostle Paul say? That false brothers have secretly sneaked in. In fact, if I can read it, he says that, “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.”
You read 2 Peter 2, again Peter mentions the same thing that false teachers will come who will secretly introduce distractive heresies. The key word there being, ‘secretly’. That false teachers never want to be known. They do not come in an obvious way that you can easily know them. Which is why believers need to exercise discernment. Because not everything that the false teachers want you to see is actually true and biblical. False teachings usually seemingly look Christian, sound Christian, are almost true but actually are not.
False teachers will try to blend in
But also, secondly you may note that false teachers will usually try to blend in and look like other Christians. The Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 11: 3-4, he expresses concern, astonishment. And he says, “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent, you also are about to be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” In 2 Corinthians 11: 4 he gives them the why. He says, “If anyone comes and brings or preaches another Jesus that we did not preach, or brings a different spirit that we did not bring, or a different gospel that we did not preach, you easily put up with them.”
What is Paul saying? That there is another Jesus, there’s a different spirit, there’s a different gospel. And the problem of the Corinthian brothers is that they lack discernment. They are not able to differentiate between the genuine one and the counterfeits. And Paul is saying because false teachers easily blend in and look almost like we need to be on the lookout, we need to watch out what we hear, we need to guard our hearts and minds to make sure we are not being deceived by seemingly looking, seemingly sounding Christian teaching but actually are not.
Watch out! Miracles do not validate the man of God
In Mathew 24:24, Jesus made even a very interesting point when he talks about false Christs and prophets who even perform signs and wonders, if possible, to deceive the elect. In our generation someone who performs miracles is obviously looked at as the man of God. Otherwise, how did he get the power to perform miracles? But Jesus says, “Watch out! Miracles do not validate a man of God.” Instead in Matthew 7 he says, “Do you want to know who a false teacher is? You shall know them by their fruit.”
A call for discernment
False teachers work by stealth, false teachers try to blend in by teaching things that almost look like but actually are not. And that is why the Scriptures invite believers to the development and practice of biblical discernment that testing everything, they may hold fast to what is good and abstain from every appearance of evil.