What Makes Someone A False Teacher?

By Vladimir Savchuk | August 12, 2021 | 5 mins

What Makes Someone A False Teacher?

Just because you disagree with a preacher, it does not make them a false teacher.

Yes, false preachers exist, and the Scriptures warn us about them, but as Christians, we cannot throw the term “false teacher” or “false preacher” around so loosely. We should not label someone a false teacher simply because they teach in a style we are not used to, or because they wear ripped jeans, have tattoos, and wear earrings.

I’ve broken down 3 categories that can help you better understand what qualities make someone a “false teacher.”

Fresh Teaching

First, this type refers to teachings that are fresh from God’s word.

“Fresh teaching” exalts Jesus. It is taught in the power of the Holy Ghost and it glorifies God. This type of teaching is not just motivational or inspirational, rather it reveals the true, sinful nature of man, the reality that hell is hot, and the redemptive gift of the cross.

Here are 7 questions to ask yourself to help identify a “fresh teaching”

  • Does it reinforce God’s Word?
  • Does it lead me to Christ?
  • Does it fill me with love for His church?
  • Does it strengthen my faith and give me an honorable purpose in life?
  • Does it turn me away from wrongdoing and promote righteousness and purity in my life?
  • Does it find wide acceptance and affirmation by notable men and women of God (who have passed on to glory)?
  • Does it build up the body of Christ?

If these questions can be easily answered with a yes, the preacher or teacher you are listening to should inspire you to walk closer with Christ in humility and holiness.

Fast-Food Teaching

Second, this teaching, honestly just makes you feel good.

Most of the time, these preachers are motivational speakers more than they are preachers of the Gospel. It is not wrong, but it capitalizes on one topic or one doctrine over another in Scripture. In Acts 20:27, Paul says, “for I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” This indicates that there are preachers who do not declare the whole counsel of God. They may preach only 80% of the counsel of God or the counsel of God as it relates to faith, fasting, prayer, grace, sin; however, they do not touch on subjects like healing, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and deliverance.

Nevertheless, there is a problem. Christians sometimes take those who are “fast-food preachers” and tag them as false teachers simply because they do not preach on other topics.

We have an example in Acts 18:24-28. Apollos was an eloquent man, mighty in the Scriptures, and preached in Ephesus. Yet he was “fervent in spirit, spoke accurately of the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.”

While preaching in the synagogue, Priscilla and Aquila realized Apollos was missing certain things in his teaching, so they pulled him aside. They did this, not to classify him as a false teacher for only preaching about the way of the Lord as it pertains to the baptism of John, but they “explained to him the way of God more accurately,” to bring him into the whole counsel of God.

Just because some preacher believes in healing and deliverance, or simply practices communion differently, that does not make them a false teacher.

So how, then, can we identify the false from what’s real?

Marks of A False Teacher

Third, in the Bible, we find four simple signs that help highlight falsehood in a teacher (2 Peter 2).

All the disciples encountered and dealt with false teachers. One may think that these teachers were the ones who preached “positive Christianity.” No, the Bible mentions that the main indicators of a false teacher are not only signs of heretical doctrine but of behavioral issues as well.

The four signs of a false teacher:

  1. They are secretive in their approach.
  2. They deny Jesus Christ.
  3. They glory in Christian freedom but are actually indifferent to their Christian duty.
  4. They take advantage of their followers to enrich themselves.

False teachers secretly bring destruction and heresy to the believer’s ears. However, they do not necessarily preach it from the pulpit. The foundation of a false preacher is their denial of the Lord who bought them; meaning, they deny the divinity of Jesus and deny Jesus as the only way to salvation.

If someone does not deny the Lordship of Jesus, who bought them, do not be so quick to judge and label them as a false teacher.

False teachers walk in destructive ways. Jesus says, “you will know them by their fruits,” (Matthew 7:15-20) not just by their teaching; this will be a clear sign of a false teacher – they live a compromising life indulging in the practice of sin.

Peter says, “especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanliness and despise authority…while they promise them liberties, they themselves are slaves of corruption” (2 Peter 2:10).

A false teacher is not the shepherd, but the hireling – they only do it for the reward of money.

The false preacher does not believe Jesus is the only way to heaven, and as a result, their life is immoral.

In conclusion, a false preacher is somebody who does not believe the Bible is God’s word.

Quick Advice

Now that you have understood what makes someone a false teacher, learn to grow in that discernment. Find teachings, preachings, books, and podcasts that will help you grow into a well-rounded man or woman of God.

However, you must remember, although it is beneficial to listen to other preachers, our primary source of teaching is the written Word of God.

Stay in God’s Word. Everything else, like commentaries, dictionaries, preachings on YouTube, and books (including my own), are all simply a supplement.

We do not need additional resources to understand the Bible, we simply need the Holy Spirit.

Learn to study the Scriptures with the Holy Spirit.

Read my blog called: Biblical Meditation

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