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  • Truth Matters

False Teachers and Their Gospel

Jesus warned us that “false Christs and false prophets” will come and will attempt to deceive even God’s elect (Matthew 24:23-27; see also 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 17-18). The best way to guard yourself against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth.

While this might not be all-inclusive, the list below does provide us with a biblical test of those who profess to teach the truths of God’s word. Flee from teachers who exhibit these


People Pleasers (Galatians 1:10, 2 Peter 2:3, Roman 16:17-18)

They preach more to please their audience than about the true message of Christ. They handle holy things with wit rather than with fear and reverence. The false teacher makes up stories and relies on their own creativity. They do not serve the Lord; they are greedy and deceive with smooth talk and flattering words.

Hypocrites (Matthew 23)

These false teachers love to be seen by others and desire the place of honor. They are full of greed and self-indulgence. They appear to be righteous, but on the inside are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. These counterfeits are a slave to corruption even while promising freedom to others through their message.

False Doctrine (2 Peter 2:1-2)

What does this teacher say about Jesus? It’s rare for someone in the church to openly deny Jesus. The movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life. Beware of anyone that denies that Jesus is equal to God or suppresses the importance of His death and resurrection.

Poor Character (2 Peter 2:1-18)

While compromised teaching is expected from false teachers, their compromised life might be the first warning sign.

• Pride or despise authority (verse 10), they deny “the Master who bought them” (verse 1)

• Sensuality or depraved ways, which typically means sexual sin - “many will follow their sensuality” (verses 2, 10, 12–14, and 19).

• Greed, for money and material gain - “in their greed they will exploit you” (verses 3, and 14–15).

Irrelevant Doctrine (1 Timothy 1:4)

False teachers considered myths and endless genealogies of equal importance to the gospel. Today, we have other examples of irrelevant and trivial speculations that consume our time and energy at the expense of sharing the gospel.

Again and again, Peter’s descriptions relate to greed, sensuality, and pride — or money, sex, and power. Or, look at it like this. Their falseness comes out in 1) sin against themselves, 2) against others, or 3) against God. In their greed, they fleece the flock for material gain. Or in their lust, they compromise sexually. Or in their pride, they “despise authority” (2 Peter 2:10), and the greatest authority, who upholds all authorities, is God himself.

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