What is your response when you hear false teaching? Should a Christian expose lies taught by others? Is it our duty to call out men who preach heresies? When a false gospel is proclaimed should we overlook it?
There seems to be two schools of thought on this. The first is that as Christians we are not to judge someone’s ministry. We should never call out a false teacher. If they claim to be a Christian who teaches the truth, we should take their word for it. After all, as children of God we are to unite under the love of Jesus and purposely steer clear of divisive doctrines that destroy fellowship. Didn’t Jesus want us all united?
The second thought is found in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
The first thought sounds noble, even Christ-like. After all, unity of believers is important. But unity should never come at the expense of truth! When faced with the same thought, Charles Spurgeon replied,
“To remain divided is sinful! Did not our Lord pray, that they may be one, even as we are one?” A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune. What they are saying is, “Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come together in one visible organization, regardless… Unite, unite!” Such teaching is false, reckless and dangerous. Truth alone must determine our alignments. Truth comes before unity.
Do you enjoy watching TBN, listening to sermons, reading Christian books, doing Bible studies, or following after preachers and teachers? Let me offer a word of caution. Beware! False teachers, damnable heresies, and doctrines of devils abound. Truth is not guaranteed just because someone claims to be a Christian preacher, a book is sold in a Christian book store, or a church is in your same denomination.
False teaching is slowly creeping into local churches all around us. It is subtle. It is hard to spot. Yet, it spreads in a deadly fashion. But, again this is really nothing new. Did you know that throughout the New Testament this is constantly dealt with? Jesus deals with false teachers and how to judge them. Paul addresses it, tells us to mark certain men, and calls those out by name who are in error. In Galatians he says, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” James warns those who would be teachers of the greater condemnation. Peter deals with it, as does every epistles of John. In fact, John warns us to not let false teachers into our home (false teaches can come in via the TV, books, or computer as well), or even wish them “God speed” because in doing so we become a “partaker of his evil deeds,” 2 John 1:11.
In fact, every New Testament book (with the exception of one) deals with recognizing false teachers, guarding against false doctrine, correcting false doctrine that was taught, or warning those who would be teachers. The only exception is the small personal letter Paul wrote to Philemon. Twenty-six out of twenty-seven books of the New Testament address this (listed below). Therefore, it must be important.
Not only should we call out false teachers and their lies, but we are responsible to. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). We cannot even worship God without the truth (John4:24). And Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified through the truth (John 17:17). Christians need to be bold and never back down from all the truth in God’s Word. But, we also need to speak the truth in love and as much as possible,“of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh,” Jude 1:22-23.
- Matthew – Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Mat 7:15)
- Mark – For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. (Mar 13:22)
- Luke – And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. (Luk 21:8)
- John – But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. (Joh 10:12-13)
- Acts – For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Act 20:29-30)
- Romans – 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. (Rom 16:17-18)
- 1 Corinthians – I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. (1Co 4:14-15)
- 2 Corinthians – For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2Co 11:13-15)
- Galatians – I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6-9)
- Ephesians – That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Eph 4:14)
- Philippians – (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Php 3:18-19)
- Colossians – And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. (Col 2:4) Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Col 2:8)
- 1 Thessalonians – Chapter 4, whole chapter is written to correct false teaching that they received.
- 2 Thessalonians – Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2Th 2:1-3)
- 1 Timothy – Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; (1Ti 4:1-2)
- 2 Timothy – But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2Ti 2:16-18)
- Titus – For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. (Tit 1:10-11)
- Hebrews – Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. (Heb 13:9)
- James – My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. (Jas 3:1) (warning to those who would be teachers)
- 1 Peter – The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. (1Pe 5:1-3)
- 2 Peter – 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. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2Pe 2:1-3)
- 1 John – Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1Jn 4:1) They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1Jn 4:5-6)
- 2 John – For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2Jn 1:7-11)
- 3 John – I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. (3Jn 1:9-11)
- Jude – For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jud 1:4)
- Revelation – I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: (Rev 2:2)