Spotting False Teachers

2 Peter 2:1-3

People have an expectation that those who talk about God must also be serving Him and His people’s best interests. I wish that were always true. But sadly, the many warnings about deceivers entering the church are as relevant today as when the New Testament writers penned them.

In case you think I’m overstating the problem, let me point you to the words of Jesus: “See to it that no one misleads you” (Matt. 24:4). He warned that many would falsely claim God had sent them. Christ was not talking only about the early church. His caution was also directed at the generations to come—particularly those living during the present earth’s last days.

The apostle Peter gives a helpful test with which to evaluate teachers and preachers of God’s Word:

1. A deceiver attempts to manipulate and exploit his hearers. He uses half-truths, exciting promises, and flowery language to draw in followers. We’re to be on guard especially against the erroneous doctrine that denies the truth of the entire Bible.
2. Many false teachers will have morality problems.
3. Most will also be greedy and materialistic. If we observe these habits in the life of a leader, we must reject his or her teaching.

How can you see past a false teacher’s camouflage, cunning, and/or charisma? Filling your mind with Scripture will enable you to compare someone’s words and actions with God’s truth. Follow the psalmist’s advice and treasure God’s Word in your heart so you won’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).

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