False Teachers and Prophets
If you spend any time on the internet, you will find plenty of people who have opinions about who is a false teacher or prophet and who isn’t. In these last days, it’s important for the body of Christ to be relying on the Word of God and the Spirit of God, not the word of man or the spirit of man. Everyone has an opinion and as the old saying goes, they are a dime a dozen. In other words, they are pretty much worthless. As a true disciple, you must learn to discern for yourself. You have the Living God inside to guide you, if you let Him.
In this article, I want to look at some scripture that should help you discern between the true false teachers/prophets and those preachers/teachers who are human and say or do stupid things at times (which we all do). YouTube is full of videos with clips of messages from these preachers. Knowing a little bit about editing audio and video, I know that it’s easy to edit clips to make someone sound like they are saying whatever you want. Also, you can take one part of a full message out of context and it can sound very different than if you listen to the whole message.
This is also very true of the Bible. Entire religions and movements have been built on a single scripture taken out of context. We must always study scripture in context with the rest of scripture. Scripture needs 2 or 3 witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:1), so when you before you build a doctrine from one scripture, find 2 or 3 others that support it.
Okay, back to the false teachers, let’s look at some scripture:
2 Peter 2:1-3, “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. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”
In this scripture, I’ve underlined a few key points to discuss. First, false prophets or teachers will secretly introduce destructive heresies. The Greek word that is translated as “destructive” is Apoleia, which means destroying, utter destruction, and destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell. So, what Peter was talking about was a teaching that was going to cause people to turn away from Christ and end up in hell. The Greek word translated as “heresies” is Hairesis, which means the act of taking, capturing (as in storming a city), choosing, choice, dissension arriving from diverse opinions. This would be a teaching that so captures the hearts of people that they won’t read the Bible or seek Jesus. We see this in the self-help, self-development, and new age teachings (going within yourself for power – you are god or going to the universe, which like a magic genie granting your every wish).
Second, we see that these false prophets/teachers will deny the sovereign Lord who bought them. That’s Jesus who died for the sins of mankind and bought back our righteousness with His blood on the cross. So, a false prophet or teacher will not preach Jesus as Savior and God, rather that Jesus was a powerful teacher, healer, and a good historical man. Their teaching will cause people to deny that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that He is the Son of God. Their teaching will not lead people to repentance for sin and into salvation.
Third, many people will follow these powerful speakers into depraved conduct, which will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In other words, the Bible will no longer be the truth. Just a good book full of wisdom. That there is no truth; everything is relative. The Humanistic movement is preaching this loudly – it’s okay to decide what gender you are, it’s okay to marry anyone you love, it’s okay for women to have pro-choice and abort God’s children, it’s not okay to say the name of Jesus at school or bring a Bible or pray, it’s not okay to say Jesus is a military prayer or in a government building prayer, after all, we have to have separation of church and state (which was written into our constitution to protect the church from government control, not the opposite).
A couple other quick scriptures to act as the 2 or 3 witnesses:
Romans 16:17-18, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery, they deceive the minds of naive people.”
False teachers will cause divisions and put obstacles in the way of people, trying to keep them from Jesus and salvation. They will teach contrary to the Bible. They will be smooth talkers who flatter people in order to deceive. It’s an antichrist spirit and a forerunner of the Anti-Christ who will emerge at the beginning of the Great Tribulation.
1 John 4:1-3, “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. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
If a teacher is not teaching that Jesus was God in the flesh, then it’s a spirit of antichrist. Again, if they are not leading people to Jesus and salvation, they are false teachers.
We have many false teachers in our world and most of them are not in the pulpits of churches. When you are discerning whether someone is a false teacher/prophet, you must invest the time to take anything you see on the internet into context with the rest of their life and teaching. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to discern is that if they are teaching the Word of God and leading people to Jesus and salvation, they are definitely not a false prophet/teacher. You may not agree with everything they say, but that’s irrelevant to the issue.
I want to finish by cautioning everyone to be careful about speaking privately with family or publicly against people who others are calling false prophets or teachers. The very people who had been praying fervently for the Messiah, were the ones who spoke against Him and demanded His crucifixion. Psalm 105:15 says, “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” God has given the church Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. These are His anointed people sent to equip the church. If you speak against them, you are speaking against God, which will not be good for you.
If you suspect someone is a false teacher, do your due diligence by studying and discerning the complete teachings and ministry of the person, then ask God if they are a false teacher. Be very careful about what you look at on the internet. Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, and Creflo Dollar are all listed in numerous places as false teachers and yet millions of people are being brought to the Lord Jesus through their worldwide ministries. Yes, there have been times when things they have said (taken out of context) have sounded wrong and that’s because they are human and still God’s work in progress. However, that doesn’t make them a false teacher. False teachers will not lead people to Jesus, because they are being motivated by satan to deceive and keep people away from Jesus.
As a disciple of Jesus, be discerning of what you hear and see. Seek the Word and the Lord, before condemning. We will be known for our love for each other, not our hate.