In reading a post on Facebook the other day, I am reminded what little consideration we Christians give to where we get our spiritual food. The author of the post gingerly commented that she was going to a meeting of a fairly well-known evangelist. This particular evangelist is what the Bible would identify as a false teacher. Yet, here was this seemingly intelligent Christian author on Facebook gushing over said evangelist!
Hello, people! Get a grip. We are responsible to God for who we listen to.
Do we not read the Word? Do we not believe what God tells us about where we get our spiritual nourishment? Second Peter is a gold mine of helpful information in detecting which teachers are false and which are not.
Here’s a biblical checklist that my study Bible provides to help identify a false teacher. No more being deceived by these folk. A false teacher:
• is led by the flesh
• seeks to obtain power or gain for him/herself from the ministry (and usually at the sacrifice of low-income persons)
• initially, his/her message may not be false, but his/her motivation in ministry is fleshly
• appeals to the flesh in others, offering them some carnal our soulish satisfaction.
• ultimately introduces some doctrine that is contrary to the truth.
• brings about distrust of true ministers of God
So, what’s our responsibility in all this?
We should know the Word enough to detect when we’re being lied to. This is not something the average Christian likes to do. We prefer the pastor do all the reading, studying, and interpreting. Problem: what if said pastor is a false teacher? How would we even know?
Answer: Study the Word for yourself.
The Word of God is the measuring stick. This is the only effective way to detect a false teacher. Eventually, a false teacher will all drift from the truth of God’s Word because it deters them from their goal of gain and popularity. Each of us must use the Word of God to measure the words any preacher speaks, and any variation or imbalance in what is taught must be questioned. Reject any teaching that denies the lordship of Jesus.
We must also be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in this judgment. We are to judge only the teaching. God will judge the teacher.