How To Identify A False Teacher (Pastor/Mentor)

I decided last week what today’s post would be upon. Since deciding the topic, God has been showing me that I needed to write on it.

Side Note: This is definitely a longer post than most of my other ones, but this topic is very important. There is a lot of scripture posted here, as well as referenced. There were so many things against me writing this. So many problems that happened. May the Lord be glorified. 

Why People Are Led Astray By False Teachers:

  • Curiosity- people become curious about the supernatural, and that tends to draw them into false leaders who appear to have “more information” about it. As well as experiences or even powers, as scripture says people will lead others away through wonders. (Matthew 24:24)
  • Peer Pressure or parents follow the doctrine 
  • The individual does not know true and sound doctrine, therefore, anything that “sounds” right could be. 
  • The individual has scales in their eyes, this comes from a multitude of things, but if we are already deceived, we can fall into false teachings easily. 
  • The individual is desperate. Seeking answered prayer or healing tends to be a big one. 

A light show. A feel-good sermon. 

An interesting take on the supernatural that no one has heard before. 

Everything looks right and sounds right on the outside. It is only until we start unraveling the thread that we realize what has been going on the whole time is a lie. There are many people who are deceived right now, and they will be given into their deception because they refuse to get out of it. (Jude 1:18, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Galatians 1:06-07)

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Distorting Gospel– to alternate the meaning of the Gospel, to twist, to lie, to deceive

What Do False Teachers Do:
  • Secretly, meaning hidden, will introduce destructive heresies, including denying God, Jesus, and/or the Holy Spirit. This means that they will be preaching part of the true Gospel, but also interweaving other concepts throughout scripture. Understand, if even one part is true, the rest is tainted, and therefore the whole doctrine is tainted! (2 Corinthians 11:4, Galatians 1:06, 1 Timothy 6:03)
  • It will not be obvious that someone is a false teacher. They are “among the people” therefore they will blend in and “look” like other holy pastors and their doctrine might appear holy on the outside. Their doctrine may have pieces of other “sound” doctrines as well. (Matthew 7:15)

(NIV) 2 Peter 2:01, “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.”

(NLT) Acts 15:24, “We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them!”

(NIV) Acts 20:30, “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”

  • They will be praised by many, this includes not only the world but other “believers” as well. People who are deceived will not be able to know if they are following a false teacher. Regarding the scripture below, look not at the accuser of the teacher, but rather…the congregation. Does everyone or 98% just follow the leader? No challenges. No questions asked about doctrine from the congregation? That indicates something. Instilling fear in a congregation to not speak out is NOT Christlike. Creating anger within the majority of the congregation to those that do speak up is NOT Christlike. 

Please Note: We know in the past that not “everyone” spoke well of false prophets. God had His own prophets to speak against them. Therefore, we look at the people the teacher is surrounded by. Even Jesus had people surrounded by Him who falsely accused Him. They were welcomed to listen to Him. They were rebuked but never thrown out. 

(NIV) Luke 6:26, “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”

  • They may belittle others or even their congregation. (You will know them by their fruits.) 
  • They show pride in themselves and what they think they know. They may give the deception that they have a special knowledge or meaning of scripture, therefore, drawing people to hear what they have to say. (1 Timothy 1:03-04, Romans 16:17) 
  • The congregation of a false teacher/prophet will reflect the leader. It’s possible not only will their knowledge of the Gospel be distorted, but they also could carry traits of the same kind of pride as their leader. 

(NIV) Jude 1:19, “These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.”

  • The false teacher may say they will receive correction if they are proven wrong, but they will not heed the rebuke. They will morph scriptures to prove their point. 

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RED FLAG- If this person is not whispering in your ear the Bible does not read the way they say it does. If you take out their teaching, the Bible sounds different. 

If someone says, “You need to read the Bible THIS way with THIS understanding and you’ll see it’s all there.” THAT IS A PROBLEM!

Understand this, true knowledge and understanding that comes from scripture, regarding more “meaty” material, that alone comes from the Holy Spirit. Just because someone has knowledge about word meanings or symbols, just because they carry many books with “information” does not, in fact, mean they are correct about Bible text.

Heresy- a belief or opinion that is contrary to orthodox doctrine.

The true Christian doctrine, despite belief, has not changed over time. The Bible has been tested over and over again in many ways and nothing changes. Otherwise, in this day and age, it should not hold up the way it has in this modern world. That’s because God influenced the writers. God is Alpha and Omega. He can do what He wants, and He spoke through the prophets and apostles. His truth will always live on! 

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There are people who will try to add to scripture. False teachers often will take one to three scriptures and weave this elaborate story. This false teaching often becomes a major building block in the false doctrine. These false teachers/false prophets may act like they have been gifted by God with a “new” revelation that no one else has known before. This is false because Jesus Himself tells us He gave us everything we needed to know. (John 14:29-30)

(NIV) 2 Peter 3:16, “He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Peter explaining Paul and how ignorant people misunderstand and distort the truth Paul preaches.” 

Understanding the Bible is crucial!

What To Understand About The Bible So You Are Not Confused:
  • Context – what is the whole scripture saying. What are surrounding scriptures around the one saying? What is the chapter about? 
  • Patterns– The Bible is consistent with symbols. God is consistent in what He does. 
  • Word Meanings– People can look at Hebrew or Greek meanings of words, but understand these meanings can mislead people. Some will only select a translation of a word that works for their theology. 
  • Historical Background– When Jesus spoke who was He speaking to? Where was the location, the culture? These help in understanding scripture. 
  • Physical/Symbolic– There is a right and wrong time for scriptures to be looked up in the physical sense and the spiritual sense, as well as symbols. False teachers often use this confusion to their advantage. 

UNDERSTAND THAT WE MUST LOOK AT SCRIPTURE IN ALL WAYS NOT JUST ONE OR TWO OR WHEN IT IS CONVENIENT TO SUPPORT WHAT WE THINK IS RIGHT! There is a time and a place for everything relating to scripture. When people become narrow-minded on one or two of these aspects that is often when people stray from the truth. 

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The fruit of the Spirit will tell you a lot about a person. Of course, no one is perfect, but we are looking for Christ. (NIV) Galatians 5:23-24, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” 

What To Look For In A Good Teacher:
  • What matters the most is Jesus Christ. Not money. Not music. Not programs. Not the amount of people who show up. JESUS! 
  • Man is not glorified, and works of our own hands are not the focus to obtain salvation (legalism). Jesus is the only One who conquered sin, not us. Faith without works is dead, but we need to understand these works only come through the obedience (submission and willingness) of faith in Jesus Christ. This is all part of the transformation that takes place within us because of the Holy Spirit that then causes an outward action from us. (Romans 1:05,Romans 16:26)
  • Nothing is added to the Gospel and nothing is taken away. We must accept the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. We must believe that God rose Jesus from the dead. We must understand that in order to accept His precious gift, we must repent from all sin. We must serve our lives to and for Jesus, and it will not be easy. Our flesh will fight on it. It is a daily choice and a daily action to serve Him and to deny the flesh. 
  • Messages by these leaders may be hard to hear because they are convicting and the purpose is to die to the flesh to live in Jesus.
  • Teachings are not cryptic or symbolic. They are clear. The Bible is read as it is, nothing is added to it. Yes, there are messages that are “meaty” and geared toward more mature Christians, but nonetheless, the cryptic part comes not from the scripture, but our own understanding. 
  • Spiritual fruit is seen. Growth is made. The person is being transformed.

(NIV) 2 Corinthians 4:02, “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”

(NIV) 2 Corinthians 5:11, “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.”

Warning To Teachers & Anyone With Influence (Including Bloggers)

We may not think of ourselves as a teacher, but whenever we open up our mouth we are accountable to what we say. Scripture says to be slow to speak for good reason. The more people around us or those watching us we may influence or teach with our words. This is very important to understand because we need to err on the side of caution.

If we do not know a topic, we do not need to be speaking on it. We need to be grounded in scripture. We need to be aware that every word from our mouth matters, and honestly, I speak without thinking sometimes. That’s a problem.

We live in a world in which people are watching and listening. Many will turn away from Christ because they do not want to give up sin and their wicked ways. They want to be entertained and pleased in the flesh. But keep this in mind, lashing out in anger, being sarcastic and belittling are also ways we please our own flesh. There are leaders who speak a lot and look the part, but they do not have the Holy Spirit within them because they have not truly accepted Jesus and picked up their cross to follow Him.

(NIV) 2 Timothy 4:03-04, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

Monthly Scripture – (NLT) Psalm 90:02, “Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, You are God.”

Community Prayer Requests | November ’19– Join us in requesting prayer, praying for each other and lifting each other up. 

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13 thoughts on “How To Identify A False Teacher (Pastor/Mentor)

  1. I actually just did a paper on Jude for class! But it’s so true, our world has become acclimated into looking at the Bible through a 21st century lens. Many don’t realize that you have to read it within the context of it’s time. Reading the scriptures entails work that is guided by the Holy Spirit. When we approach it we must ask the who, what, when, where and why questions. God used people to write His divinely inspired word but He also spoke within their culture. The Bible is a timeless never changing message to all believers within an ever changing culture. The problem is many try to shape the message into their culture, thus twisting and distorting it into false doctrines. I like how you brought up the word study aspect, we can look at Greek and Hebrew words for a word within the Bible but we must be aware of what the author is intending to say within their context. For example, there are many words we use today in the English language that no longer hold the same meaning as they did years ago. Likewise, Greek and Hebrew words must be studied within the context of their time because we can easily make it mean something that it was never intended to mean. We must also remember that we are all called to “contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3), we should call out and correct those who distort God’s word but we must also do it with the love of Christ lest some stray away… I enjoyed this post, would love to see more on this topic! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s so awesome you did a paper!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I tried to be as thorough as i could. I don’t know how often I will go back to the topic. Are there any specifics you think need to be discussed further?

      Yes! I will have to add the video I watched but the person teaching talked about multiple points in the Bible and how to read it. He mentioned the same thing. That what one word means may be another. Or even how one can describe could be the same thing or different.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. T.R., Good stuff here!! Thorough job, too! I think you covered just about everything, every aspect of false teachings and false doctrines and false gospels and why people go after these. Very scriptural, too. Loved the scriptures that you chose.

    In my opinion, I believe the biggest reason people go after the distorted gospel is that they want the feel-good message that tells them they can continue living in sin and that God’s grace covers it all and that heaven is still guaranteed them. So glad you talked about repentance and the fruit of the Spirit and what a saved life should look like. All very important issues!!

    And, so glad you mentioned reading scripture in context, and interpreting it in context, too, for many false beliefs come from taking scriptures out of context to make them fit with our chosen lifestyles.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Praise the Holy Spirit for writing and guiding because a lot of this stuff just came to me as I wrote.

      Another perfect example of how the Bible works. I’m watching a video series about understanding scripture and the guy put it the best way I have heard when it comes to people questioning the Bible. Yes, there are many writers but all inspired and guided from the one mind of God. The scripture is all about understanding the mind of God, what He expects, what He plans, etc. It is not about man. I found that very powerful as the Bible is consistent despite having many writers, but one God!

      People definitely want the sweetness of words and I see what you mean about people desiring to keep sin. Then I see the Pharisee distorted Christian gospel, which I almost feel is more dangerous. People think they are free. They know enough sin is bad. But it is entangled in a web of legalism, lies, deception, and self-righteousness, belittling others, holding onto anger and bitterness. Not realizing the very thing they think they are doing (repenting from sin) is far from it because they do not even recognize what is sin.

      Yes, I realized through a fellow sister would be very benefical to discuss what a good teacher looks like and what kind of fruit we need to actually be seeing. Praise Jesus for using others!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, thank you for your encouragement to keep walking in Christ!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, scripture is all about understanding the mind, the heart and the character and will of God. And, that is interwoven all throughout the Bible.

        And, yes, legalism and liberalism (or libertinism) are equal sides of the same whole which is man-made religion. So, whether you (anyone) are one who follows a bunch of man-made rules and think that is getting you acceptance by God or whether you are one who holds to the cheap grace gospel which requires no repentance or obedience to Christ, because you feel that is legalism, they are both man-made gospels, for neither one teaches the truth. I think they both deny sin and they both deny the consequences of sin, too.

        The truth can be summed up in 1 Peter 2:24 which says that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This is the essence of the gospel message, the reason why we are saved from our sins.

        You are welcome for the encouragement!

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Identifying false teachers requires discernment, which I think walks hand in hand with critical thinking skills. It seems to me that most people would rather absorb sermons like a sponge than go through the time and effort to verify the information an individual presents in sermon format for themselves. I get the impression that some Christians also would not DARE think differently from their minister or teachers in their particular denomination, regardless of how plain the truth is revealed in the Bible. Bottom line, I’ve reached a point where I will not even trust teachers that seem to be “on the level” anymore. I always think critically about the information presented in the light of what I’ve read and thoroughly studied from Scripture for myself.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. False teachers are also identified by knowledge. I read an article on the net which was talking about critical thinking skills, and it was suggesting that they grow by acquiring knowledge. The more you know about science, history, the way things work, and basic facts the better prepared you are to spot nonsense. As applied to spiritual things, if Christians are thorough Bible students and are learning the truth of Scripture for themselves rather than being dependent on teachers they will be able to automatically spot when somebody is in error. If somebody says something which isn’t true on their personal blog, in a sermon, or somewhere else they’ll know there is something wrong immediately.

    Liked by 2 people

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