I am grateful to see women are concerned about who they listen to and that they desire to be careful. There is a great need to talk about false teachers and false teachings. In doing so, there is a problem that those who speak against false teachers will run into. We become mightily attached to the people we listen to and agree with. When someone else goes against them we can take it personally.
Thinking about this brought up the idea of abusive relationships, and I realized that is exactly what is going on with false teachers and the followers. I hope today I am able to speak about the topic in love and explain why we need to care for the victims of false teaching, including the false teachers.
We Should Care About False Teachers & How They Are Treated
Many people share the concern that pointing out false teachers is not the Christlike thing to do. First, I think it is Christlike to be concerned in how false teachers are discussed and the manner they are discussed. It is wonderful we care for others, and when we focus on negativity there is a temptation to go off on more than we need to. It’s easy to separate ourselves from the false teacher and forget the false teacher is a human as well. An issue many face now with keyboard warriors. We can type what we want because we are not speaking to this person face to face.
We all should understand the significance of our words, their impact, and how we are to be Christlike. Some would prefer we do not talk about false teachers at all, and out of concern for the false teachers, I want to talk about why we should.
God Always Took Anyone Speaking Wrongly Of His Commands & Words Seriously
When we look at Jeremiah 28, we see the false prophet Hananiah. Against the prophecies of Jeremiah, Hananiah proclaimed that God would break the bondage within two years… not the seventy being proclaimed. God then has Jeremiah go to Hananiah.
(NIV) Jeremiah 28:15-17, “Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Listen, Hananiah! The LORD has not sent you, yet you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies. Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you are going to die, because you have preached rebellion against the LORD.'” In the seventh month of that same year, Hananiah the prophet died.”
(NIV) Proverbs 25:14, “Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of gifts never given.”
(NIV) Jeremiah 5:13, “The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.”
False prophets have been called deceivers, liars, and windbags. False teachers have been referred to as white washed tombs by Jesus. Beautiful on the outside and decayed on the inside. Those who speak pleasant words, but not words of the Lord. Those who create legalistic teachings.
Name calling is used pretty strongly here, right? These are words used to describe false teachers leading people astray and there are consequences both for the false teacher and the one being led astray. All reasons for us to care and be concerned for people who are proclaiming and teaching deception.
Deception Is Alluring To The Ears
False teachings are deceiving for a reason, they are pleasant to the ears.
(NIV) 2 Chronicles 36:15-16, “The LORD, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.” (Chapter 36 is covering Jeremiah’s timeline)
False prophets have not changed. People say many deceptions to soothe their audience and give a false hope.
(NIV) Jeremiah 14:13-14, “But I said, “Alas, Sovereign LORD! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.'” Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” *Emphasis mine
Danger Of People Listening For God Outside Of Scripture
There are many false teachers who claim the Lord speaks to them and tells them what to do. Not from scripture, but from what they believe God is telling them to do outside of scripture. Here is the danger.
(NIV) Deuteronomy 18:20, ” But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.” Which we see with the prophet Hananiah, he dies because he falsely spoke of God.
When we proclaim God speaks to us, we are teeter-tottering with prophesying because we cannot make God’s word no less authoritative.
My Own Influence Of False Teaching & Recant
I believe many say God speaks to them and they sincerely believe it’s okay because they believe it does not carry the same authority as scripture. Friends, I, too, used to believe this. There are blog posts I have gone through and edited because I spoke in this manner. And I recant from it, I’m sorry. God’s word, all the time, whether scripture or when we think we are hearing from Him needs to be treated as holy. The problem is we do not hold His words as holy, we lower His authority.
I thought it was okay. I thought my experiences were okay because I wasn’t holding them up to scripture. But dear friends, can we agree the word of the Lord never loses authority at any time, and therefore, He holds the same authority to His words just like He did with scripture.
Can God burden us to think of others or lay His truth on our heart, absolutely! I do not mean to speak against the Holy Spirit pointing to sin, righteousness, or the judgment to come. God renews our minds with His truth. It is His truth that is to be stored within us and that truth will be reflective of scripture because it is the word of God.
When we hear people say God told me to do this, or God asked me this, or God showed me this, all of these things need to be held up to scripture. I used to think God spoke to me when I saw the number 6. The truth is it’s not Biblical. I relied purely on my own emotions and symbols. The Bible does not say God is showing His love for us when we see the number 6.
But what if I took that further and told people (this is an example), “When you see the number 6 that means God is talking to you. When you see something that means a lot to you that means God is talking to you and you are hearing from Him.” With this statement alone, I made a proclamation about God, that He speaks to everyone in experiences. I also told people they need to hear from Him based on my own experience and symbol, not scripture. I used my experiences to justify why I believe this is true about God and placed my “truth” on others.
People hearing this are now burdened to figure out how they need to hear from God outside of scripture, and apparently if they do not hear from Him, then something must be wrong with them.
Emotional Abuse Of False Teachers
This is emotional abuse. It is manipulative because who would not want to experience God? The more vulnerable someone is the more desperate they will be to seek out these experiences of the supernatural.
Check out these examples.
- If someone is terrified that they are not saved, well, if they have these experiences then they must have the right relationship with Christ. Right? The teacher appears to hear from God all the time, why can’t we? They must have a better walk based on their experiences with God and hearing from Him outside of scripture. I should get their book to learn how to draw closer to Jesus and hear from Him. The Bible doesn’t really teach me this, but this teacher has fascinating knowledge and supernatural stories.
- If someone has financial issues or a deadly illness, and he is promised if he gave money to this pastor, then God will answer his prayer.
- If a church promises healing, and we need to go to their school or learn their tricks in their book in order to heal ourselves and others. (Sad fact, look at the amount of students from the Bethel supernatural school who have Covid-19. Pray for them.)
- Every time a pastor preaches there is calm and soothing music in the background.
Who is being deceived and taken advantage of? This is why we are concerned for followers of false teachers.
There are millions of people today who are being manipulated by someone on a stage with the term pastor or teacher and the listeners are being taken advantage of because they are vulnerable. This is abuse. Victims of the deceiver do not see the false teacher as a deceiver. They see someone who genuinely cares about them and others. They might believe this individual is appointed by God, like Elijah, making the false teacher more untouchable.
More than likely, I believe many false teachers are sincere and genuine, who believe what they say is okay and helpful. Just like an abuser who loves the victim and does not see the harm in the abuse.
False Teachers, Unfortunately, Manipulate & Take Advantage of the Vulnerable
Abusers are real humans with real feelings, too. Yet, I wonder if we would be more against abusers than we are against false teachers? Abusers often grew up in an abusive environment, and this was their norm. Deceivers have grown up with or adapted deceitful teachings that someone else taught them. Abusers do not often look like an abusive person. Deceivers do not appear deceiving.
Sadly, there are a number of false teachers who were victims of abuse. What happened to them was not right and it’s horrible. In addition to this, please consider the followers of these false teachers. More people who also have been taken advantage of and manipulated by others. Individuals who are more vulnerable and desperately seeking counsel, some place to call home, and someone loving they can trust because this person understands. Someone who is also taking advantage of them.
Like victims of abuse, followers of false teachers will come up with all kinds of reasons to excuse the deceiver. Yes, they are probably aware of other false teachers, but THEIR teacher couldn’t possibly be wrong. Which is why individual false teachers being called out helps plant a seed to the followers and warns the false teacher that what is being preached and done is not of God.
It’s painful to admit the person we followed is a liar and deceiver. There are people who have gone out of cults struggling with the realization their life was a lie. No one enjoys being challenged, but a true elder of the church is not above rebuke and reproach.
God can absolutely use a false teacher to preach the Gospel. I do not mean to say that a false teacher cannot do any good. They absolutely can. God can minister to false teachers and they can repent! Costi Hinn’s testimony is a powerful example.
We Need To Discuss False Teachers Out Of Love For God & Others
What I hope to have the reader leave today’s post with is an understanding of why we need to talk about false teachings, and why those who do research on individual false teachers are important. Ultimately, the word of God helps us discern the best. It is only through knowing the word of God we can rightly divide. That being said, not every single person is immediately familiar with scripture. It takes quite a bit of time to understand sound doctrine, especially for those who never heard it and those who are vulnerable to be led astray again.
Many do not know who is a trustworthy teacher and who is not. I have learned a lot about scripture in studying and reading over why some individuals are false teachers because scripture saturates what is being discussed. This is how we learn after all, and I appreciate the amount of hours and days of research some of these godly men and women devote to help protect others, including false teachers.
Warning others of false teachers is not meant to be cruel, and we do need to care about the manner in which we speak of others. We do not want anyone to be a victim of abuse. We do not want others to be manipulated and taken advantage of. We want everyone to know the truth of God in His written word, including false teachers.