New Testament writers warned about false teachings that sounded good but defied truth (2 Tim. 4:3; 1 John 4:1). Believers today must still heed these warnings! Ungodly leaders subtly twist truth with such conviction that unprepared Christians can be charmed by their lies. That’s why the Bible instructs us to evaluate the message of whoever desires to lead us (Matt. 7:20).
False teachers are deceptive. Verse 15 of today’s passage describes them as wolves in sheep’s clothing. They appear to want people to know the “real” truth about God, but their interpretation of Scripture may contain outright lies or a distorted mix of fact and error. Wise believers study God’s Word, so they can detect a “sheepskin” starting to slip. The wolves are further exposed by their personal lives, which won’t be consistent with righteousness (Matt. 7:16). A close study of their decisions, actions, and words will reveal that they do not follow the Lord’s will or biblical principles.
False teachers’ lives and messages are self-indulgent. Their enticing ideas appeal to their listeners’ fleshly nature. In fact, false teachers will often permit activities prohibited in Scripture. Some deceivers describe God’s grace as a license to live without restraint (Jude 1:4). Paul clearly denounces this lie, teaching that believers have died to sin and shouldn’t live in it (Rom. 6:1-2).
The body of Christ is expected to use Scripture as the standard against which to measure our leaders’ lifestyle and words. When we seek divine truth, we are given the discernment to differentiate between a holy message and a misleading one.