False Teachers (article)
The question is often asked “what harm does it do for people to teach false doctrine?” This question has come up because people are taught, by society, to be tolerant of other people and what they believe or practice. Our society is tolerant of homosexuality, abortion, and other sins that people engage in. The only thing that society doesn’t want to be tolerant with is the truth. When it comes to truth, tolerant advocates are the least tolerant people on earth. No one wants false teachers to be named and exposed from the pulpit, in the church, so pressure is put on elders by ungodly church members, who in turn put preacher on the local preacher to tone his preaching down and not name off false teachers from the pulpit.
People don’t see the harm that false doctrine does, or that false teachers do. They don’t understand that God is not going to allow those who follow false teachers into heaven. People seem to understand that God is so loving that he would never sentence anyone to hell. This is a convenient doctrine that allows people to believe what they want to believe and at the same time plan on going to heaven.
If people could just see the damage that false teachers do they wouldn’t want to be so tolerant of them, but then if people could see the damage that alcohol causes they wouldn’t be so tolerant of it and those who drink it. We, as humans, have an ingrained capacity to bury our heads in the sand with things that are bad and just pretend that everything is all right.
We must see false teachers for what they are, and look at the harm that they can cause not only to the church, but to humanity as a whole. Until we do, false teachers are going to continue to run rampant and many are going to follow their pernicious ways which will cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of (2 Pet. 2:2).
One of the first things that one needs to do in any study is to define the terms of the subject they are studying, and this is no different. Paul wrote
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2Co 11:13-15).
The words “false apostles” comes from the following “ψευδαπόστολος pseudapóstolos; gen. pseudapostólou, masc. noun from pseudḗs (G5571), false, and apóstolos (G652), apostle. A false apostle, one who pretends to be an apostle of Christ (2Co_11:13)” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, e-Sword). Gill wrote:
“Ver. 13. For such are false apostles, etc..] Such as those he had in view, who sought an occasion to depress him, and exalt themselves, and to get money from the Corinthians; these were “false apostles”, or apostles falsely so called; they had the name, but not the thing; they were not called and sent forth by Christ; they had not the grace of apostleship, or gifts qualifying them for that high office; the power and authority they exercised was usurped by them; they could not prove their mission by true and real miracles; nor had they any seals of their apostleship, as those who were sent by Christ had” (Exposition of the New Testament, 2 Corinthians, p. 202).
These “false apostles” characteristics were that they were trying to usurp the right to be an apostles, something that could only be given by Christ. They did not possess the qualities of an apostle, nor did they have the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the ability to impart spiritual gifts on others. Yet they would claim that they were apostles of Christ, as if all one had to do to become an apostle was to simply say he was one.
False teachers use the same tactic on the Biblically ignorant today. They feel that all they have to do is to simply say that they are teaching the truth and that settles it, and as far as many are concerned, that is all it takes. This is the reason that there are over three thousand religious organizations in the world today. Someone decides that all he has to do is say that he is teaching the truth, and he will get people to follow him. David Koresh, Jim Jones, and other cult leaders have led people to their deaths because they convinced them that they had the truth, and all they used as proof is that they said so. Harold Camping is a prime example of false teachers not having any more proof of being teachers of truth than their word.
Since 1978 Camping has made 12 predictions for the second coming of Christ, the last one being October 22, 2011. Each of the predictions have failed, but people still haven’t abandoned him. One would think that after failing 12 times that people could see him for what he is: A False Teacher, who has no authority from God. One, of course, would have thought that people would have seen him for what he was before they spent millions on his false prediction before May 0f 2011. People sold their homes, and gave him the money, they quit their jobs handed all their savings over to this man. Then May 22, 2011 came and went and nothing happened. Camping then came up with some off the wall concoction that Jesus really came, but it was a spiritual judgment (sort of what the A.D. 70 proponent advocates), and that the literal judgment wouldn’t happen until October 22, 2011. Now that date has come and gone, and people are still listening to him as though he is the messiah himself. And all he convinces people with is “His Word,” that he is teaching the truth.
Paul tells us that these “false apostles” were deceitful workers, which is what false teachers are today. None of them will come up and tell you that they are false teachers and that they are going to teach you false doctrine. If they did people would not follow them, but what they do is to pretend to be teachers of truth and get people to follow them. Most of them are very charismatic people who make friends easily which is how they get so many to follow them.
It should not surprise us that these deceitful workers are like this seeing that the original false teacher (Satan himself) has often transformed himself into an angel of light. He promises to teach people the truth, and free them from the shackles of God’s Word, when all he is doing is binding them to eternal damnation. Yet, his influence looks good, it sounds good and appears to be good.
Peter wrote “there were false prophets among the people even as their shall also be false teachers among you” (2 Pet. 2:1). The word “false teacher” comes from ψευδοδιδάσκαλος pseudodidáskalos; gen. pseudodidaskálou, masc. noun from pseudḗs (G5571), false, and didáskalos (G1320), a teacher. A false teacher or one who pretends to be a Christian teacher but teaches false doctrine (2Pe_2:1)” (The complete Word Study Dictionary, e-Sword). Just as the false apostles pretended to be apostles of Christ, these false teachers pretend to be teachers of truth. However, just as the false apostles failed to measure up to the standard set forth in scripture. These false teachers will privately bring in damnable heresies. Many times they will come to you privately, holding private studies to try to deceive the minds of the innocent. Although they are becoming more brazen today, they still do much of their work in private.
Jude spoke of those who “crept in unawares,” and said that they were “ungodly men turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Jude wrote concerning these same people:
“These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 12, 13).
Peter wrote about them as “having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children” (2Pe 2:14). All in all these false teachers are liars who are so entrenched in their false doctrine that they cannot seem to help themselves. It is like breathing to them to teach their false doctrines.
There are two kinds of false teachers: (1) there are those who pretend to teach the truth, all the while knowing that they don’t have a leg to stand on, and (2) there are those who honestly believe what they teach. In one case, dishonesty is involved, in the other case the teacher is honest. However, in either case, false doctrine is taught, and souls are lost. People complain about calling those who honestly believe their false doctrines, false teachers, but the simple fact is that they both teach false doctrine. If one is a teacher and teaches false doctrine, he is a false teacher. Whether he is honest or not has no bearing on his or others salvation. The fact is that false doctrine is false doctrine and it is just as soul damning if is spoken by a false teacher who honestly believes that he is right as it is if it is spoken by the dishonest one.
Paul once said “I have stood before God in all good conscience unto this day” (Acts 23:1). Yet that same man wrote years later “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:15). Paul honestly thought he was doing right when he persecuted the church, but he admits that he was very wrong. So honesty has little to do with it. Either the doctrine is true, or it is not true. There is no middle ground between the two. Thomas Warren wrote: “The law of excluded middle for propositions is: every precisely stated proposition is either true or false (not-true). This is the case because there is no middle ground between a proposition being true and being false (not-true)” (Logic and the Bible, p. 21). Either the position is true, or it is false, and if it is false then no amount of honesty is going to make it good.
Whether the teacher is honest or dishonest, if he teaches false doctrine, he is a false teacher. His false doctrine is just as soul damning as the doctrine taught by the dishonest one. So what are we to do? How are we to treat them? Paul wrote: “Mark them which cause divisions and offenses to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). It is our responsibility to expose false teachers for what they are. If they can be changed then that is even better, but if not, they are to be avoided. We cannot afford to be tolerant towards any false teacher, honest or not. False doctrine will always harm the souls of those who follow it, so we must not tolerate it.