Counterfeits and false teachers are nothing new; Satan is the “great imitator” (2 Cor.11:13-15), and has been hard at work since he deceived Eve in the garden. (Gen. 3:1-7; 2 Cor. 11:1-4)
In the Old Testament, Jeremiah and Ezekiel had to deal with false prophets in their time, and expose their counterfeit teachings even though many continued to follow them. Why?
“Because the religion of the false prophets (teachers) was easy, comfortable, and popular.” – Warren Wiersbe
So how can we protect ourselves and our families from false teaching?
Peter, in today’s passage, gives us four warning signs to help us identify them.
1. Destructive Heresies
“False teachers use our vocabulary, but they do not use our dictionary.” – Warren Wiersbe.
False teachers “appear” to believe the fundamentals of our Christian faith, yet slowly introduce their false doctrine over time. Peter describes their words in the Greek as plastos, which is where we get our English word for plastic. In other words, these false teacher’s words were like plastic… They are easily twisted and formed into various meanings.
False teachers are known for what they deny in Scripture rather than what they affirm… pointing their followers away from, instead of toward, God’s truth.
They deny the Sovereignty of God. 2 Peter 2:1
“They deny the inspiration of the Bible, the sinfulness of man, the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross, salvation by faith alone, and even the reality of eternal judgment. They especially deny the deity of Jesus Christ, for they know that if they do away with His deity, they can destroy the entire body of Christian truth. Christianity is Christ, and if He is not what He claims to be, there is no Christian faith.” – Warren Wiersbe
Will all Christians agree on the secondary points in our faith? No. But all true Christians must agree on who Jesus is and what He has done.
Jesus is the Son of God.
God is Jesus, and Jesus is God.
Jesus Christ is the only Savior, and only through our faith in Him can we have eternal life.
2. Shameful Ways
We see why false teachers want to deny God’s truth and point their followers away from Scripture instead of toward it: because they want to satisfy their lusts, their desires.
Lust and desire can come in many forms. When we hear of lusts of the flesh we most often think of sexual sins. And looking through history we see that many false teachers or cult leaders definitely used sex disguised in “religion” to fulfill some of these evil desires. But lust can also come in the form of fame, power, things, and especially money.
Make sure you not only pay attention to the lives of these false teachers, but to the lives of their followers as well. They may profess with their mouths to know and love God, but their lives tell a different story.
“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:16)
Plain and simple, money is their god.
Let me make this very clear: as Christians we are called to financially support our churches and pastors – we see this in Luke 10:7, “For the worker deserves his wage.” I love tithing to my church and various other ministries because I love joining them in the work God is doing through them, and am honored to give.
But here we see that the false teachers financially exploited and took advantage of their followers. Their motives are not for ministry but for money. They are more merchandisers than they are ministers.
When giving money make sure to pay attention to how the money will be used. Is this person open to sharing how the money given is being spent?
They deceive and flatter with their words. They tell made up stories instead of truth.
We need to make sure that we are in God’s Word for ourselves. We need to train our ears to listen to God’s voice. Our world is filled with many voices telling us how we should live our lives. The false teacher has all the answers. He or she has a “new revealed word” to share. They have “special” insight that others don’t have.
My sweet sister, everything that we need to know about is found within the Bible.
Nothing needs to be added to it… It is complete.
“The sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:3)
“The mark of a sheep is its ability to hear the Shepherd’s voice.” – Max Lucado
I read an article a few years ago about counterfeit money spotters. Instead of looking at all the different ways money can falsely be reproduced, these men and women are trained using authentic money. They spend much more time learning how genuine bills and coins are to look than they do with the false money.
The same is true with our faith. Our best defense in not being taken in by one of these false teachers is making sure we spend time with Jesus in His Word, reading it for ourselves. The better we know the Bible, and ALL of the Bible, the easier it is to spot when someone is twisting Scripture.
A few questions to think:
• What are you more impressed with, the teacher’s style and charisma, or the words he or she speaks?
• What do you remember most about the teacher’s message?
• Does the person point you to Scripture or away from it?
So thankful for you and your desire to dig into God’s Word for yourself! The better we know God’s Word, the better we can be in spotting false teaching!
Love God Greatly!
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