Recognizing a False Teaching


Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 7:15 to beware of false prophets. I wrote about the characteristics of a false prophet.

This time, I want to look at the characteristics of a false message.

The motive of the false prophet determines the message of the false prophet. In other words, the message is tailored to the motive.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21 NIV

False prophets will use Scripture to validate their message. If they didn’t, they would be at risk of losing your interest since you are wanting to hear a word from God.

But, the message of the false prophet will have to contradict scriptural truths at some point. It is at this point, that the message is revealed as false.

It is at the point of contradiction that the motive of the false prophet is revealed. Therefore, true prophecy and true teaching will not contradict Scripture at any point.

The books of Second Peter and Jude are two of the most extensive in speaking of false prophets and false prophecy or false teaching.

Jude gives us a view into the message of the false prophet:

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 3-4 NIV

Then, Jude went on to say this:

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. Vs. 11-12

From verses 11 and 12, we can deduce some things about a false teaching or prophecy.

A false prophecy or false teaching will:

  1. Promote God’s blessings without true repentance.

Have you ever noticed that many teachings that are out there are what I call “blanket blessings”? In other words, they tell you to do certain things and you will receive God’s blessing, but they never focus on where the heart of the individual is! “Just do this and you will receive this”!

This is the way of Cain.

Cain brought to God a sacrifice of His goods. The Bible tells us that Cain brought “some” of his fruits as an offering, while it tells us that Abel brought the fat and the first as an offering.

Without repentance, we can bring “some” of what we have as an offering but God wants all of our heart. He wants the “fat” and “first” of our lives.

The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Genesis 4:4-5

The Lord replied to Cain’s anger this way:

“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:6-7

A message that is a “blanket blessing” – which does not honor God through preaching true repentance and lordship as a condition of favor is a false message.

  1. Teaches that money is a sign of God’s favor or that it can buy God’s favor.

Money is necessary in this life. Following God’s principles of good stewardship and faithful sowing create a pathway to increase. Debt free living brings increase. Faithful work habits bring favor with employers which brings opportunity for promotion financially. Good service and integrity as a business owner brings new customers which creates a pathway for more finances to come in. Wise investments can also bring increase in finances.

Now, many messages don’t touch on these things at all. They simply say, “Give and you will receive”. You must receive to increase but: receiving doesn’t necessarily lead to increase  — good stewardship and integrity does!

You can make a million dollars this year and spend a million and a half. The result is still financial bondage.

Now that is out of the way, let me say this: beware of any message that teaches that riches or abundance is a sign of God’s love and favor. Finances may be a sign of God’s favor— or, it may not be at all! This is Balaam’s error.

All kinds of people are rich in this world: many wouldn’t know God is they ran into Him on the street! Consider these scriptures:

Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:24-27

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:3-6

It is extremely difficult for an individual to keep God first when money is screaming “hold on to me” and when you believe that money is a sign that God is on your side. Put those two things together and you’ll respond like the rich young ruler if Jesus tells you to give it all away. Many who love God with all their hearts are not rich and many who are rich do not love God at all. And, you cannot purchase God’s move in your life with money. Acts chapter 8 tells us the story of Simon who thought he could purchase God’s move in his life with money. The apostles rebuked him for his folly.

  1. Promotes the teacher and his special revelations.

God gives great revelation. He deserves the glory for all we receive from Him. I cringe at our attempts to promote ourselves as having an inside into things that others don’t. Statements like this scare me: “You must buy these teachings because the revelations here will change your life”. The exaltation of Jesus will change your life and whatever revelation anyone has comes straight from the word of God which is available to you for the price of a Bible! Teachers and prophets received revelation freely so we should release it to you for free! Yes, cost of materials must be covered. But, promoting the “special nature of the teacher” is another thing altogether.

Special revelations – the exaltation of teachers: this is Korah’s rebellion.

When the children of Israel rose up against Moses and Aaron saying that all God’s people were spiritually gifted, Moses replied:

Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?” Numbers 16:11

Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.” Numbers 16:15

Moses did not exalt his position although he had one. You can see by his response that Moses did not make himself wealthy by taking things from those whom he led.

God will put up with a lot of stuff but one thing He won’t put up with forever is someone who takes His glory.

 Remember the words of the apostle Paul:

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 1 Corinthians 2:5-7

Therefore let no one boast in men. Vs. 21

I hope the last two blogs help you to recognize the authentic message of God.

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One thought on “Recognizing a False Teaching

  1. Parkey, I just came across your blog after finding and following you on Twitter. Just read this post and I believe that you were spot on with your assessment of false teachers.

    Hope all is well!

    Ben Z

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