False Teachers and Lying Prophets


I.         As long as God has had teachers and prophets in the world there have been those who taught falsely.

            A.        Jeremiah complained about the false prophets - Jeremiah 5:30-31

            B.        Paul had problems with teachers binding the Old Law - Acts 15:1-2

            C.        Paul warned the Ephesian elders that false teachers would arise from among them - Acts 20:29-30

            D.        Jesus foretold that in the last days of Jerusalem there would be false prophets - Matthew 24:10-11

            E.        False teachers will exist among the brethren - II Peter 2:1-3

II.        What makes a prophet or teacher false?

            A.        First let us define what we mean by a prophet or teacher

                        1.         Prophet - A man, inspired of God, who speaks for God.

                        2.         Teacher - A person who instructs others in God’s Word.

            B.        A false prophet or teacher is one who is not speaking on behalf of God.

                        1.         Generally recognized by the fact that their doctrine does not match the truth of God’s Word. - Deuteronomy 13:1-4

                        2.         However, not all false teachers teach false doctrine

                                    a.         Philippians 1:15-17 - Some are preaching Christ but from impure motives.

                                    b.         Jeremiah 14:14-15 - There were prophets prophesying in God’s name whom God had not sent.

                        3.         We are also not talking about someone who because of a lack a maturity has not learned everything

                                    a.         Peter strayed from the truth, but we would not call him a false teacher - Galatians 2:11-14

                                    b.         Apollos did not know about Jesus, but we generally don’t call him a false teacher - Acts 18:24-28

                                    c.         The prime difference is that these men did not stay with their error.

            C.        False teachers are motivated by popularity

                        1.         II Timothy 4:3-4 - People want teachers to please them

                        2.         Jeremiah 5:30-31 - People don’t care if the doctrine is wrong so long as it leaves them feeling good.

                        3.         Popularity is a form of power.

                        4.         They will say whatever is necessary to gain an advantage - Jude 16

            D.        False teachers are motivated by money

                        1.         Titus 1:10-11 - Teaching falsely for the gain

                        2.         II Peter 2:1-3 - Making merchandise of the brethren

                        3.         II Peter 2:14-15 - Following the way of Balaam whose “righteousness” was profit.

                        4.         I Timothy 6:3-5 - They see the gospel as a way of making money

                        5.         Their stance depends on who is feeding them - Micah 3:5

            E.        False teachers are motivated by pride in themselves

                        1.         Ezekiel 13:2-3 - They speak of their own imaginations

                        2.         Jeremiah 14:14 - They teach the deceptions of their own minds

                        3.         Jeremiah 23:25-27 - They teach their own delusions

                        4.         Jude 8 - Reject authority by their own dreams

                        5.         II Peter 2:10 - Self-willed

            F.        False teachers are motivated by sensuality

                        1.         II Peter 2:2 - Sensuality is popular. This is not just sexual sin. These are things that appeal to the senses – smooth words, luxuries, fulfilling worldly desires.

                        2.         II Peter 2:9-10 - Indulge in the flesh

                        3.         II Peter 2:12-14 - Following animal instincts

                        4.         Jude 10 - Unreasoning animals

III.       Recognizing false teachers

            A.        Matthew 7:15-20 - You will know them by their fruit

            B.        They lead people away from God instead of towards God - Jeremiah 23:21-22

            C.        They give a false sense of security

                        1.         Ezekiel 13:9-10 - Teaching peace where none exists

                        2.         Ezekiel 22:26-28 - Will make no distinction between right and wrong. Whitewashing error.

            D.        They reject what they do not understand

                        1.         Jude 10 - They revile what they cannot understand. It is not a time for study but a cause for derision.

                        2.         I Timothy 1:6-7 - Fruitless discussions about things they don’t understand

                        3.         I Timothy 6:3-5 - Unable to reason, they have a morbid interest in controversy and disputes about words.

                        4.         I Timothy 6:20-21 - Empty words and controversial arguments become their truth

            E.        They spread strife and evil suspicions

                        1.         I Timothy 6:3-5 - It is a form of power to bring others down

                        2.         Jude 16 - fault finders and grumblers.

IV.      What do we do about false teachers?

            A.        First understand that their destruction is in God’s hand, not ours - II Peter 2:3-12

            B.        Notice that even angels understand that judgement is in God’s hands - Jude 8-10

            C.        Even if the truth is taught from the wrong motives, at least rejoice that it is being taught - Philippians 1:15-18

            D.        Teach God’s truth. It always wins in the end - Jeremiah 23:28-29

            E.        Keep the false teacher from among yourselves - Romans 16:17-18