Editors note: this series of articles also appear in both the Sentinel Echo newspaper, Friday edition, weekly, London, KY and the Saturday edition of the Corbin Times-Tribune. They are a part of the teaching/evangelism efforts of the Mill Street church of Christ, 415 N. Mill St., London, KY.
Is your preacher a false teacher? Part 13
“…that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine…which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” - 1 Timothy 1:3, 6-7
The Bible “character profiles” a false teacher
The apostle Paul warned of false teachers in all of his epistles. He said in Romans 16:17-18, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
Have you noticed that when doctrinal disputes take place among the
leaders within the realm of Christianity their doctrinal points are
sometimes hard to follow? Sometimes people can get so lost that they
can’t make their decisions on the truths or errors being discussed.
Consequently, they make decisions on the basis of where they “wish” to
go… or what they “want” to do. Normally that means taking the easy
route, or just following the crowd.
Part of the reason for all of this is that the offer made by the false“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2:1-2). Based on Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, if the majority is going one direction…normally as a Christian you need to run the other way. I wish to provide you another (similar) tool to help determine the difference between truth and error.
teacher is normally “easier” than the narrow road. Today, there is a
drive to relax God’s teaching on a variety of things ranging from the way
the church is run to throwing out His morality laws in a variety of areas…
The Bible gives us “identification marks” of a false teacher. There areThe first characteristic is that they operate by smooth and flattering speech (Romans 16:18). Open confrontation is avoided at all cost (as long as possible) as the method of introduction is “secretly”. The apostle Peter stated this in 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” There are no solid personal demands placed upon the hearer. Recall that even in the garden the seduction was not by force. The real danger lies in discrediting the truth by smooth and flattering speech. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. ” (Genesis 3:4-5)
certain characteristics that are unique to false teachers in their methods.
So let’s take a close look at the common manner in which people are led
When challenged for this approach to things…the common practice is toNote how the Jews responded when trying to stop the teachings of Paul before Felix; “And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words. For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes...” (Acts 24:2-5). When you read Tertullus’ speech…you’d think that Felix and the high priest were bosom buddies. The truth was that they hated each other! The priests (council) had found Paul’s preaching…(the truth) to be a real pain to the way they wanted things to be. Their nest was already feathered! He was called a “pestilent fellow.” The truth is always a pain to the world. The only way to hide from the truth was to hide the truth. The problem for them was that Paul believed in what he was doing and he welcomed the debate. They would rather to have just killed Paul and not have to answer for themselves. Note also that 2000 years ago…they considered preaching the truth to be “stirring up dissension.”
hide behind the “smoothness” and play the victim. It works effectively.
Recall the story of Stephen, (Acts 7) the backdrop is that the “poor
helpless priests” were just trying to keep the social order of things.
“And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by
which he spake.” (Acts 6:10). Note how that they started mixing
what was true with what was not true…an impossible scenario for a
bystander to sort out. The important thing though is the manner in
which Stephen responded. Your average false teacher responds with
smoothness and flattery.
It is this simple fact that causes discernment to be difficult for folks that are not in the middle of a discussion. They considered Paul to be causing dissention when he led the seekers of truth out of Judaism.
How do you tell the difference between someone “causing dissention” or
“defending the truth?” That is the point of this article…look at how these
men operate…Do they run from a public “real” discussion or do they
yearn for it? We will continue this study next week, God willing.