There are not many times I have had a truly original idea, and this article is no exception. Without deliberately plagiarising someone else’s writing I will summarise the gist of an excellent piece below. The original can be found at http://bereanresearch.org/how-to-recognize-a-false-teacher-false-prophet/.
The author gives three major ways we can know whether or not a teacher is false, and whether a good teacher is sometimes spreading false doctrines. Of course Paul and Jude specially tell us to avoid such people, so it is important that we who may call ourselves real Christians be familiar with the Bible so we can do just that.
Probably the best piece of advice is that, in order to recognise a counterfeit, we should be familiar with the real thing, but here are the three means of recognising a counterfeit:
- Listen to what this preacher says about Jesus. Peter confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son and chosen One of God. Any attempt to make Jesus less than perfect God as well as perfect man is false teaching. 1 John 2:22 says: “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son.”
- Does this teacher preach the Gospel? According to 1 Corinthians 15: 1-5 the Gospel is the good news that Christ died and rose again so we may repent and have faith that He has removed our sins and given us eternal life. The statements “God loves everyone”, “God wants us to feed the hungry” or “God wants you to be rich” are NOT the Gospel. God certainly wants us to do good works in His name, but this FOLLOWS the Gospel; good works are not part of our salvation.
- Is the teacher’s character and lifestyle compatible with his teaching? A false teacher can clearly be seen by his pride, his greed, his self-promotion, his poor morals or his rebellion. Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:15-20 to beware of such people and that we would know them by their fruit.
It is well to remember however that a false teacher will often masquerade as a “servant of righteousness” [2 Corinthians 11:15]. Only by being completely familiar with the truth will we be able to recognise a counterfeit.
[H/t Glenn Chatfield]