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Monday, September 2, 2013

The Earmark of a False Teacher

Several times in this blog I have referred to the warnings about false teachers in the Bible.  You can do a quick search by typing “False Teachers” in the search bar above to see them, like this:
I was reading through Galatians this morning and ran across another warning, really an earmark of those who are false teachers.  Look for a moment at 4:17, notice how Paul describes those who have deceived the Galatian believers.  Those false teachers engaged with the Galatian believers not so they would seek Christ, but so that they would seek them.
What is one thing false teachers will always do?  Thoughts at DTTB.
One of the earmarks of a false teacher is that they will point not to Christ or not to the Bible, rather themselves or their teaching will be the focus of their ministry.  They will promote themselves endlessly.  The purpose, as Paul states, is to get you to seek them, not the Bible, not Christ.  Some will even hold the Bible up while speaking of things that are not found within its pages.  We have to be alert.  We have to be like the Berean believers who did not accept on face value what Paul told them.  Rather they dug into the Scripture daily to see if what Paul said was accurate, Acts 17:11.

The New Testament is full of warnings about false teachers.  They exist.  They exist in great numbers.  They fill our pews, they fill our airwaves, they fill our screens.  Beware.


  1. Michael..

    So, I agree with you wholeheartedly - false teachers teach anything BUT Christ... and, we are to be like the Bereans... But, I would caution (from my own sinful experience) that sometimes we go too far in our caution, so that we don't hear the truth when it is spoken, if it doesn't match what we already believe God to have said. If you read Acts 17:11 again (along with it's context), I think you'll find that the Berean believers did not shut their mind off to Paul's words until they had 'proven' them to be so, but received them gladly, as the text states, and THEN went on searching the scriptures daily to understand and to know for themselves if what was being taught was indeed, from God. If we are quick to judge, we might be sure to miss what God is trying to correct in our thinking, or our early engrained thinking about a scripture.


    1. Andy,

      Thanks for your thought. You are right. The Berean believers received the Word with “all eagerness.” Our English Bibles then insert a comma after those two words, however that is a device to make the translation more readable. In the Greek text the demarcation between the reception of the teaching and their engagement with the Scripture to “see if these things were so,” is more closely linked. Literally the sentence says, “they received the Word with all eagerness according to daily examining the Scripture if are these thus.” Sorry for the stiffness of the translation – the point is the participle, "examining," is linked to the main verb, “received.” So the eager reception and the examination of the Scripture are parts of a whole.

      You are correct that we have to be open to teaching. Just this morning in three of the conversations I reference in today’s post, I referred to Nietzsche who said, “Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.” We have to hold what we “know” to be true with open hands. That is why it is so important to challenge not only what we hear from teachers through the grid of Scripture but also continually to challenge what we “know” with continual study of the Word. One of my mentors has said time and again that the Christian life is a continual journey out of idolatry to true worship. What he meant is that we have to continually push our knowledge of the Lord and His Word. That is one reason the Body is so important. We desperately need each other’s gifts and experiences of our Lord to challenge and extend each other’s knowledge of our infinite Lord.

      Example, your thought pushed me to go back to this verse to look more closely at the Greek to see if there was a grammatical connection between the receiving and the searching.

      The thing that concerns me is that it seems that many, if not most, believers are passive in their engagement with what they hear from teachers. The assumption seems to be if it is in print it is right. That is not my experience. That is what I am trying to encourage; listening or reading critically through the grid of the Scripture.

      Thanks for pushing me on this. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your thoughts.


    2. In short - agreed, and you're welcome. That's the body, right?