In 2 Timothy 3:13, it warns that evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-20:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing.
In other words, they will come to you looking like a Christian. Jesus warned you’ll know them by their fruit, or by what they do — just as you know a tree by its fruit.
A sober warning is also found throughout 2 Peter, chapter 2 regarding false teachers.
These scriptures warn us that false teachers are not only recognizable by their false doctrine and destructive heresies, but by their sexual immorality, and the slander they speak against truth. It warns that they are among believers, and even have fellowship with them!
What Does A False Teacher Look Like?
Scripture describes what to look for. Read from 2 Peter, the book of Jude, 1 Timothy, and Titus:
- They live sexually immoral lives
- They are rebellious and reject authority – they are self-appointed and unteachable
- They love to hear themselves and speak great swelling words of emptiness
- They are arrogant
- They use godliness as a way to gain money or a following
- They are complainers, walking according to their own lusts; flattering people to gain advantage
- They are mockers
- They cause division
- They envy others and create strife among believers
- They speak lies and teach what is contrary to sound doctrine
- They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him
- They are obsessed with disputes and arguments over words
In addition, we need to test the spirit or attitude behind what is being said. Titus 3:2 instructs us, “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” Are they mocking and criticizing another believer? Are they humble or arrogant in their delivery? Do they compromise the Word of God to appeal to those with itching ears as 2 Timothy 4:3 states?
Do They Bear Good Fruit? Lastly, even if a believer’s doctrine is off in some area, does that necessarily mean they are a false teacher? No. Observe the fruit of their ministry. Look at the one doing the accusing. What is their fruit? These are all questions we must ask.
We are living in the last days. As believers, we are called to walk in truth. We cannot pick and choose portions of the Bible that simply make us feel good, or that justify our ungodly behavior. In the end, we each must give an account of our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.
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By Bill Wiese, author of 23 Minutes in Hell