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.

How to Shake the Fake Anointing

The Bible teaches us in both testaments about the existence of false prophets and the dangers associated with their teachings. Over the next couple of weeks, I’d like to look into the characteristics of false prophets and their teachings.

First, let’s look at the characteristics of the false prophet.

Jesus tells us in Matthew, chapter seven to beware of false prophets.

Beware – properly, have towards, i.e. to give full attention; to set a course and keep to it.

The best way for us to identify false prophets and false prophecy is to give our full attention to the Word of the Lord.

To learn how to recognize a counterfeit, you are taught to recognize what is authentic.

False prophets look like sheep. They categorize themselves as being followers of the Lord, but Jesus said that truly, they are ravenous wolves.

What does a wolf do to a sheep? Feed on them. Why? Because, they are hungry.

What are they hungry for?

That’s the rub! To recognize a false prophet, you discern where their hunger takes them away from the truth of the word of God.

The prophet Jeremiah was surrounded by false prophets in his day. In chapter 23 of Jeremiah, he lists some characteristics of the false prophets of his day:

  1. They commit adultery and walk in lies

To understand this trait requires some biblical knowledge. We know that the commission of adultery is a specific act. But, scripturally we also know that adultery is committed spiritually against the Lord when we put things before Him.

Peter describes these individuals:

With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed–an accursed brood! 2 Peter 2:14

Peter characterized them by saying that they:  follow the desire of corrupt flesh and despise authority. Verse 10

They profess to teach the truth but live a lie. A lie is a falsehood used to promote the desires of the speaker.

A false prophet will tailor the truth to justify the desires of his own flesh.

Their teachings will seek to justify the indulgence of the flesh and even use scripture to make those indulgences spiritual.

  1. They seek popular acclaim

False prophets want to be recognized. How do they do that? More often than not, they do this by preaching a message that supposedly leads to outcomes desirable to their listeners.

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3

Inside the teachings of the false prophet resides a very dangerous component:

An unconditional pledge of immunity from disaster.

Repentance of sin is not usually a part of their pathway to God’s blessing. To have the widest appeal, they must tailor the message to include both sincere seekers and rebels, so they replace repentance with attitude adjustments, life coaching, and commands to “do something”.

  1. They fail to distinguish their own dreams from a word from God

Since their desires are corrupted, their words are usually corrupted by their own desires. They tell of dreams and encounters that bolster their goals and often, exalt these dreams and experiences to the level of biblical revelation.

Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart not from the mouth of the Lord. Jeremiah 23:16

Any teacher or prophet can miss God or have to clarify where a word is coming from. The apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians contains examples of that (1 Corinthians 7). With the anointing comes great responsibility for its presence. Dreams/visions/words are to be tested by God’s word. Any prophet who claims infallibility is to be rejected.

  1. They steal words from one another

False prophets will seek the “wow” factor. The anointing creates what they are looking for but if they are false, they will need another source. They often are voracious readers and listeners of others. In and of itself, this is not wrong. But, false prophets are looking for manipulative words and methods through which they can make people think they are speaking from the anointing when in reality, they are using motivational speech to bolster their goals. People who seek to motivate others are always looking for new buttons to push!

In closing, Jesus said that a false prophet may do wonders, give great words, and even appear to cast out demons, but you cannot fake doing the will of God, which is contained in the entirety of God’s Word. This is what marks the true prophet of God. They teach it and live it.

Next time, we’ll look at the message of the false prophet.

The Rise of False Prophets

During the last few weeks, I’ve been talking about signs of the end. The signs that I’ve been focusing on are a little more subtle than others because they don’t have to do with “heavenly” anomalies but have to do with things that happen in or to the body of Christ. I’ve used other references, but the basis of talk has been Matthew, chapter 24. In this passage, you see Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the signs that would signal that the end is near and that would reveal that Jesus’ coming is eminent.

Today, there is much talk of signs of the end: celestial signs, the four blood moons; terrestrial signs, earthquakes in many places; social signs, the rise of the spirit of the Antichrist; biblical signs, the encircling of Israel by enemies and the rapid evangelization of places where the gospel never had much historical effect. But, I have felt impressed to focus on those which happen within or in close proximity to the Body of Christ.

So far, we have talked about two signs Jesus spoke of to His disciples:

  1. The decline in the popularity of Christianity.
  2. The rise of offense and betrayal in the church.

 Today, we will speak of a third sign which Jesus told His disciples would be a sign of the end:

The rise of false prophets.

 Jesus told His disciples that many false prophets will rise up and deceive many people. To fully understand what Jesus is speaking of, I think it is best to start with a good definition of a “false prophet.”

The term “false prophet” can apply to a gamut of individuals. Most think of a “false prophet” as being one who teaches things that are heretical according to scripture, and certainly it does apply to that scenario.

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves.” 2 Peter 2:1

 But look at what else Peter said about “false prophets”:

“And many will follow their debauched lifestyles. Because of these false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.” Verses 2-3

The original language definition of “false prophet” is:

pseudoprophtēs (“a false prophet”) specializes in “the art of misimpression,” like about how they were “commissioned” by the Lord to touch the world with their message. But when in fact, they operate by self and for self so they must be exposed for what they are – and are not!

So, what does all this mean? Is the definition of a “false prophet” confined to those who teach things like Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin; or He didn’t really die physically on the cross?

 I don’t believe so.

 The biblical term “heresy” applies to ANYTHING that is anti-biblical. The definition of “heresy” is simply: “a choice.” A choice to teach anything that doesn’t line up with scripture and the heart of God!

 Even unbelievers can recognize blatant heretical teachings. It is the subtle stuff that you must watch out for. It is just as heretical to ignore the teachings about sin and focus only on specific parts of the Bible as it is to teach something that is anti-scriptural!

 I’m not going to call names today, but things like this bother me tremendously:

 “God is saying that if you send in money (a certain amount) right now, your runaway daughter or son will come home!”

 “God is saying that there are 100 people out there right now who are supposed to give $1000 dollars!”

 “In every situation in which someone is not healed, it directly tied to the individual’s lack of faith!”

 “God wants you to be rich! That is the blessing of Abraham!”

These are some examples that I can think of. Other things are bad too. I hear a lot of talk about living a victorious life but I don’t hear a lot of talk about repentance being a part of that process.

 Those who are members of Capstone know that I don’t consider it my calling to call out people who present teachings that are not biblical. I don’t have time for that because my calling is to teach you to live a biblical life! That takes all my time. Those who know me also know that I’m not saying that I know all about biblical truth or cannot be wrong about things.

 But, Jesus; not Parkey said that in the last days, false prophets would rise up and deceive many. It doesn’t have to pull you away from Christ to deceive you – it only has to get your focus off of true biblical living!

 I never saw our Savior saying many of the things that are being said today and they are not consistent with His or the disciples’ teaching!

 To keep from being deceived, you must be a student of the Bible. Half truths bring you to the same place as outright lies! Educate yourself so that you can rightly divide the word of truth! A little leaven brings change to the whole lump of dough!!!

Be aware! Deception is a part of the arrival of the end. I’m more concerned about avoiding deception than I am signs that appear in the heavens! Signs verify where you are – deception creates a pathway that takes you somewhere you don’t want to go!

Don’t be afraid of the end! It is a time of fulfillment for those who love the Lord!

Jesus said it this way in Luke 21:28:

When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”