Discerning False Teaching

So I got a great email from a Rock Bridger asking it is a really valid and important question. And the question was, how do I know if somebody I’m listening to, like on a podcast or a YouTube video is a false teacher or not? And with all the information that out there that’s out there right now in this space of what we might call or under the category of Christianity.

What a great question. And the Bible tells us in 2 Peter, it’s not a question of are we going to be around false teachings or false prophets? It’s really the question is, can we, as Christ followers, discern who might be a false teacher or not? So I’m just going to give you a couple of handlebars. That kind of has helped me.

And what I think through when I think about whether someone is a false teacher or not. First of all, let me say this. No teacher of Scripture, no teacher of God’s Word is perfect. We don’t get it right 100% of the time. So our standard for human beings teaching the infallible Word of God is not perfection. There’s a lot of sermons I wish I could go preach because I said some things the wrong way or I, incomplete, inaccurate, etc., etc. and I’m thankful for the grace of God.

But when we talk about false teaching in the true sense of the word, here’s some things that have helped me. The first one would be accountability and fruit. So is the teacher. Is there some form of accountability? So Paul is very, very clear that we’re to have elders in every town, which you would essentially say every church needs a plurality more than one elder who is responsible for the overall teaching of that congregation.

So I want to know, is the person I’m listening to, are they able to be refuted or rebuked by a legitimate church authority? If there’s no authority structure around them? I immediately became nervous. There is certainly one around me at Rock bridge through our elders, and the feedback that they provide. And fruit, You know, Jesus says in one of the gospels, you’ll recognize them, meaning false prophets or false teachers by their fruit.

That’s hard when we’re scurrying, when we’re meeting people on a screen. And you might only see Matt Evans for 40 minutes a week. But I also want to know, are there other people around this teacher that can see evidence of the fruit of the spirit? And so that’s number one, accountability and fruit. Number two, we need to be wary of new information.

And I know that slack goes against culture because we’re in the information age. But first John reminds us that we have an anointing of truth through the Holy Spirit. And really as Christ followers, we don’t need new information. We just need to be reminded of God’s revelation, which is contained in the Word of God. And first, John reminds of that.

He says, what you’ve heard from the beginning. So he’s talking about what we would call the message of the apostles. The men who walked with Jesus witnessed his death, burial, and resurrection, and heard his teachings. And so that’s really the body of information. So when anybody comes along and says, I want to share something new that doesn’t fit in Scripture, and I’m just wary of that.

Number three is the message, the teaching from this person. How does it position Jesus? How is Christ positioned? I was sent a video that was and I was told I needed to watch this, this video and then by implication, that I needed to preach like this person, I listened to the video. Jesus’ name was never mentioned. They quoted two scriptures from the Old Testament and I was immediately wary, did more research, and realized this is a false teacher with a false message.

When Paul says, we preach Christ crucified, when Paul says we boast about nothing but the cross, that has got to be, that Jesus is the hero of every message. He’s the hero of the story. Period. Point blank. Anything else and we could be getting into a danger of false teaching and then finally does the teacher appeal to my subjective feelings?

Or is he grounding or she grounding everything in the objective Word of God? You can go find anybody who appeals to your feelings. In fact, Paul warns Timothy or he’s in a letter to Timothy. He says, hey, you can go find a teacher who tells you what you want to hear or scratches. And it sure tells you something you want to know or you want to feel in your teaching or in your message.

And so I want to make sure the people I’m listening to, my feelings are secondary to the objective truth and reality of God’s Word. Hope that helps you as we all seek to stay grounded in the truth of Scripture and the gospel of Jesus Christ.