Tag Archives: False Teachers

Test the Spirits to See Whether They Are From God

Don’t believe everything you hear. This truth, coming either from a pastor or a parent is good advice, and it’s the advice that the Apostle John passes on to his followers:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (ESV)

Here is John’s warning against false teachers, but notice he doesn’t say teaching; he uses the word “spirits.”  What John is saying is that whenever you hear someone teaching, there is a spirit behind it. It’s either the Holy Spirit or it’s an evil spirit. So test it. See if it is truth. Don’t accept every teacher who claims to be speaking for God, because everyone says that their message is true. But many teachers are spreading false ideas, so you can’t believe everything you hear.

A Very Prominent False Teaching

We should know that there is bad teaching out there, and one of the most prevalent messages is very subtle: today we are told that there are two realms of information: facts and values. Facts are the hard sciences like chemistry and biology and of course math. These things, people say, are a matter of truth, right and wrong. But then there are values. And that’s a whole different realm, these people say.

“You believe in Jesus?” They ask. “Well, I’m glad you found something that works for you! But I don’t think that would work for me.” So religion is put in the area of values. “It’s nice, and I’m sure it’s helpful to you,” they say somewhat condescendingly, “but let’s keep it out of the public square, and please keep your views to yourself, because your thinking is only a matter of personal opinion. It’s not in the true/false realm like science and math.” Ah, but Jesus is either risen from the dead or not. That’s not a value – that’s a true/false question, and the answer to the question is more important than all the quadratic equations in the world. So don’t believe every spirit.

Like every other age, we are living in an age of ideas. In John’s day it was Gnosticism and the Judaizers, who wanted to add works to faith. Both of these teachings are still going strong today, though they have morphed into something John and Paul might not recognize, but we should be able to. And there are many more things to suck us in – the strange appeal for some to radical Islam and everything else, from Oprah to Dr. Oz.

The moral of this story is that Christians need to be interested in doctrine.  Don’t let anyone say to you, “Well, I am just happy in Jesus. I’ve got my Bible and my Christian friends…and doctrine?…well, doctrine is boring. I don’t pay attention to that. I don’t get all caught up in theology and that sort of thing. I don’t need to be interested in doctrine.”  But you see, that’s just not true.  John says, “Test the spirits.”  But you can’t test the spirits unless you have something to test them by. Truth matters.

And more than that, whatever you say about doctrine, you do believe certain things. Not everyone likes the word doctrine, nevertheless, everyone has a doctrine, even those who say they don’t.  Because you see, theology is the study of God.  He’s the most important subject we can study, and everybody has thoughts about Him, even those who say they are not interested in theology.

So be careful to test the spirits, to see if they are from God.


For Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 26th: 1 John 5



Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


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10 Signs of a False Teacher

False teachers are not just a “2,000-year-ago phenomenon”. Christians today can easily be caught and enslaved by their ideas. They are not just men and women who preach in so-called churches (though they are that), but they are also talk show hosts (one used to have a book club), as well as teachers in middle schools, high schools and Universities. They are people you go to work with who like to espouse their views. These items that Peter pointed out certainly don’t hold true for all false teachers, but they are a good starting point…(I have included the text of 2 Peter 2 for you to easily compare notes.)

  1. Their teaching is destructive. (vs. 1)
  2. They deny the uniqueness of Christ and the atonement. (vs. 1)
  3. They have many followers. (vs. 2)
  4. The Gospel is maligned because of what they teach. (vs 2)
  5. Greed is often a motivator. (vs. 3, 15)
  6. They will be eternally condemned. (vss. 4 – 9, 12, 17)
  7. Their teaching results in immorality. (vss. 10, 14, 18)
  8. They despise authority, perhaps especially biblical authority (vs. 2, 10, see also 2 Peter 1:16 – 21)
  9. Their ideas seem good and fruitful, but in the end are empty, vacuous. (vs. 17)
  10. They promise freedom, but are actually enslaved to sin themselves. (vs. 19)
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.

3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;

6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked

8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);

9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,

11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.

12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction,

13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.

14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing,

16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.

18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.

19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:1-22 (ESV)


For Thursday, November 19th: 2 Peter 3



Posted by on November 18, 2015 in Uncategorized


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