False Teachers: What does the Bible say about them?
This is a broad subject, but in every generation, there are false teachers of the Bible who don’t even know they are false teachers. They can be completely sincere but wrong about their beliefs. Probably the best illustration of this in the Bible is the man Saul of Tarsus who ultimately became the great apostle, Paul.
1 Timothy 1:12-13
12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [Emphasis added]
But aren’t we glad he responded to our Lord on the Damascus Road! It just goes to show that even the worst of people, even thoroughly “religious” ones, can be saved and become highly productive believers.
1 Timothy 1:14-15
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation [APODOCHE = acceptance without reservations], that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [Emphasis added]
In this case, Paul had been a “religious” zealot. As a Pharisee he was a man who was feared by believers and every follower of Jesus Christ. In his letter to the Philippians, he speaks of his former “religious” credentials.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Here he lists some of the works or credentials he falsely assumed would qualify him for God’s blessing, not realizing that faith had to be at the heart of the matter.
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. [Emphasis added]
He was as dedicated as they come. But all this meant nothing because salvation has always been first and foremost a matter of faith, rather than anything else.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. [Emphasis added]
It is so wonderful that anyone who truly seeks God will find Him.
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. [Emphasis added]
The basic reason why so many people don’t find God is that they’re not looking for Him. They’re so caught up with the everyday things of life that He’s of no real concern to them. What information about God these people gain is “choked out” by such. Christ’s Parable of The Sower tells us about this.
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
What a contrast there is between them and those who are receptive to it!
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. [Emphasis added]
How receptive are you to it? How desirous are you to know God and His will for your life? What has your history been about that?
False teachers always find the ones who are ignorant of the truth. They are then quick to fill their mind with false information. The apostle Paul warns us about all this.
17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
This is actually a warning to believers about thinking like unbelievers.
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19 Who being past feeling [having become hardened to the truth and its practices] have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness [speaking of their frantic search for happiness apart from God]. [Emphasis added]
The people who fall into this are always led by false teachers. The apostle Paul was always warning people about such.
1 Timothy 1:19-20
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: [having become casualties in the Christian way of life]
20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. [Emphasis added]
In his earlier years, he warned about others.
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly [like our physical belly, never satisfied for long, insatiable]; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple [ADOLOS = the unsuspecting]. [Emphasis added]
Paul speaks of this in other passages.
17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. [Emphasis added]
All this tells us we’re not to be acting like unbelievers, including “religious” unbelievers. The Corinthian believers Paul ministered to had similar problems. They, too, were often conducting themselves just like unbelievers.
I Corinthians 3:3
3 For ye are yet carnal [ SARKIKOS = controlled by their sinful nature]: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal [driven by fleshly desires], and walk as men [as unbelievers]? [Emphasis added]
That would fit as a description of what often goes on even in churches and with their leadership. We’re to rise above such thinking.
Every believer should take the Bible seriously, understanding the importance of studying it, rather than just reading it. I’ve personally known people who would speak of how many times they’d read it but admitted they had little understanding of it. We should also realize that long-held traditional beliefs can be wrong even if they have been held for a long time by large numbers of people. To work against the grain of that is and always has been a challenge. This is why I have said for so many years, if you’re not experiencing opposition for what you believe the Bible teaches, you don’t have a ministry. Some people naturally despise and avoid division and opposition over anything. Here are some of the apostle Paul’s last words of warning to us about all this.
2 Timothy 3:12
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. [Emphasis added]
No exceptions!And bear in mind that we’re all in “the ministry” because as believers we are all ambassadors, personal representatives for Christ and His Word. I hope you’ll see it as a priority to always work toward representing Him well and courageously no matter how fierce the opposition is.