Jesus warned his disciples about false teachers who would deceive many. Math 244,11,24
So did Paul, Peter and John.
1. The true Church has always suffered from varying degrees of falsehood.
Sometimes this has been disastrous and on other occasions relatively trivial. Paul warned the Ephesian church that After my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Act 2029,30 When Jesus wrote to the Ephesian church he commended them: I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. Rev 22 But Emperor Constantine (306-337AD) who is reputed to have converted to Christianity named the days of the week after Roman gods and began 17 centuries of the persecution of the Jews - God’s chosen people by an unconditional and eternal covenant (Gen 177,8).
By 1370 AD the Roman Catholic Church strongly opposed the translation of the Bible by John Wycliffe. 41 years later the Roman Church declared him a heretic, exhumed his bones, burnt them and scattered the ashes in a river - too late! It was not Wycliffe who was the ‘false teacher’, but Rome! By the 16th Century Rome continued their falsehood by burning at the stake several hundred true and faithful Christians because they dared to translate the Scriptures into English, recite the Lord’s prayer in English or expose the multiple errors of Rome. Since then, no Pope has ever repented of their gross errors. A few have expressed their sorrow that the Protestant Reformation occurred, but never that they were (and remain) the teachers of falsehood. See website 25 Major Roman Catholic Errors (Use back arrow to return here).
2. Why are some teachers false? What is their goal?
Falsehood is often based upon a personal longing to be popular.
Jesus is thus presented only as a loving God, whom we can choose to follow.
God’s judgement of sin and its consequence is omitted.
Propitiation is not mentioned and the cry for mercy is rarely heard.
The Cross is a symbol of love, but not the required price of redemption.
Singing joyful songs is good, but it should not replace serious preaching.
A few intellectuals make theology complicated and use long or unusual words.
They desire to be thought scholarly and wise.
Some enjoy power and authority so much they can never admit to being wrong.
Others are more like kings who desire to ‘take’, using the law, deceit or false
promises; rather than to give, which may be costly. (1 Sam 810–18)
Down the ages some have discerned a single neglected aspect of church life.
They magnify this and largely ignore the many other truths.
The charismatic movement has often emphasised the Holy Spirit + miracles,
at the expense of Christ needing to be crucified for our sins.
3. What is false about their teaching? When does it become important?
All leaders and preachers can be partly wrong. Few, if any, get everything right.
Many work on the principle of sticking to the most important to avoid all else.
For instance they might avoid the subject of God’s plan for Israel and the Jews
or the Great Tribulation in Revelation because they are controversial.
It takes courage and humility by both the leader and listener to admit we are
all learners before God and his Word. Pride is a clear obstacle here.
It is God’s intention that some things must remain a mystery.
4. Satan is the father of lies.
False prophets and teachers initiate or perpetuate lies; new or from tradition.
What they say or do will almost certainly benefit themselves in some way;
and at the same time degrade our Saviour and our God.
When Christ opens the first of the seals (Rev 61) and calls forth the conqueror,
what will happen? How will he conquer?
He will dominate the world by teaching us to accept his lies as truth. e.g.
a) The evolution Theory that denies God created this wonderful earth.
b) Cyclic Global Warming is true, but not caused by human activity.
c) The Palestinian claim to be the ancient people of the Holy Land is a lie
See website: Four Lies (Use back arrow to return here)
5. Some helpful examples of false teachers in Scripture:
There are six things that the LORD hates, ...
a false witness who breathes out lies ... Prov 616,19 Prov 145
“Listen, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the LORD.’” In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died. Jer 2815-17
Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. Jer 298,9
Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity. Lam 214
They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Ezek 136
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Math 715,16
Many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. Math 2411
For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Math 2424
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. Lu 626
Such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 2 Co 1113,14
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Col 28
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thes 29-12
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. 2 Pe 21-3
Many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. 1 Jn 41,2