Beware of false teachers! Since nearly two thousand years ago, we have been warned of false teachers by Jesus Christ and His earliest apostles. False teachers had crept into the early church, misleading many Christians with untruths. Today, many false teachers are in our world, teaching others what should not be taught. As a result, many of those who heed their words are being led astray, believing in absolute falsehood.
Knowing the truths and nothing but the truths about Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, and God's Word, the Bible, is crucial to our salvation; our chance of receiving an everlasting life in the Kingdom of God is dependent on knowing God and the Christ accurately, for note what Jesus said in his prayer to God: "This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ." (John 17:3, World English Bible) Thus, we must identify the false teachers with their falsehood from true teachers.
How to Identify False Teachers
We can identify false teachers in mainly two ways:
1) By what they teach:
a) They teach that Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is not the only way and path to eternal life. They say that there are many ways to receive eternal life, but the Bible specifically says, "There is salvation in none other, for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, by which we must be saved!" (Acts 4:12) Those who believe in Jesus will be saved (receive salvation and eternal life): "whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him." (John 3:15-17) Those who willfully refuse to believe in Jesus will not receive eternal life: "He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn't believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God." (John 3:18)
b) They teach that we can earn eternal life by doing good works only when, in fact, we cannot; salvation is a free gift given by God--no one can be perfect enough to earn eternal life. Every person is unrighteous and a sinner:
- "There is no one righteous; no, not one. There is no one who understands. There is no one who seeks after God. They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable. There is no one who does good, no, not, so much as one." (Romans 3:10-12)
- "the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21)
c) Conversely, some false teachers teach that we can have eternal life by believing in Jesus without doing any good works at all. While we can receive eternal life by believing in Jesus alone, we will lose that eternal life if we do not do what God wishes us to do, for note what Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?' Then I will tell them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.'" (Matthew 7:21-23) Thus, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (also known as the Kingdom of God), we must do the will of God, and the will of God is summed up in these two most important commandments: "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. The second is like this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31) Unrighteous people will not enter God's heavenly Kingdom: "don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God." (I Corinthians 6:9-10)
d) They distort various teachings of the Bible and misrepresent the Gospel (Good News of God's Kingdom and salvation). The apostle Paul warned, "But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you any 'good news' other than that which we preached to you, let him be cursed. As we have said before, so I now say again: if any man preaches to you any 'good news' other than that which you received, let him be cursed." (Galatians 1:8-9)
2) By how they live: Jesus said, "There is no good tree that brings forth rotten fruit; nor again a rotten tree that brings forth good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For people don't gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings out that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings out that which is evil" (Luke 6: 43, 44, 45) So we can tell whether a teacher is true or false by the life they live.
False teachers do not live according to God's will. Instead, they:
- "defile the flesh," by committing sexual immorality such as adultery and homosexuality (Jude 7, 8)
- "despise authority," by rebelling against the government and other officials (Jude 8)
- "slander celestial beings," by speaking falsehood against God's angels (Jude 8)
- "speak evil of whatever things they don't know" (Jude 10)
- murmur and complain against God (Jude 16)
- desire the approval of people instead of the approval of God (Jude 16)
- do whatever they desire and mislead others through their actions and bad examples
- do not exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which are Christ-like qualities: love, peace, joy, longsuffering (patient endurance), faithfulness, goodness, kindness, meekness, and self-control
The Judgment That Awaits False Teachers
Enoch prophesied that God will judge false teachers for their falsehood and unrighteousness: "Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 14-15) God had carried out such judgments in the past, such as in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, where people were committing homosexual acts (Genesis 19). In the future, on the day of Jehovah, God will judge all unrighteous people, including the false teachers who are misleading people.
How to Combat False Teachers
The best way to combat false teachers and their falsehood is to know the truths. How can we determine what is true if we do not know what is the truth in the first place? To know the truths about Jehovah God and His Son, we must diligently study the Bible, for it is the only book that fully and accurately explains all we need to know about God and Jesus. The entire Bible is written by God through about forty men; God told the men what to write, and they wrote down His words. This is why the Bible is called the Word of God and why it is great for instruction and correction: "Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (II Timothy 3:16-17)
Once we have personally learned the truths straight from the Bible, we can rebuke and correct false teachers inn their falsehood, and also lead others back to the truths (Jude 22-23). Then and only then will we be able to combat false teachers and bring the Good News (Gospel) of salvation to others.
"If you instruct the brothers of these things, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished in the words of the faith, and of the good doctrine which you have followed. Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise has some value, but godliness has value in all things, having the promise of the life which is now, and of that which is to come. [And] be an example to those who believe, in word, in your way of life, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity." (I Timothy 4:6, 7, 8, 12) Amen! (So be it!)
Remember: "If anyone teaches a different doctrine, and doesn't consent to sound words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is conceited, knowing nothing, but obsessed with arguments, disputes, and word battles, from which come envy, strife, insulting, evil suspicions, constant friction of people of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Withdraw yourself from such." (I Timothy 6:3-5)
Dr. Shirley Cheng (b. 1983), a blind and physically disabled award-winning author with twenty-seven book awards, proclaimer of Jehovah God's good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, Summa Cum Laude (Highest Honor) graduate with Doctor of Divinity, motivational speaker, self-empowerment expert, poet; author of nine books (including "Do You Love Jehovah?"), contributor to twenty-two, and an editor of one; and a parental rights advocate, has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. Back then, she knew only her ABCs and very simple English; other than that, her book knowledge was non-existent. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University. http://www.shirleycheng.com
Do you have questions about the Bible? Something you don't understand? Do you need a bit of guidance in developing a relationship with Jehovah? Then Shirley would like to help you! Please contact her via her site at http://www.shirleycheng.com and she would be more than glad to do her best to answer your questions! Never hesitate to ask questions, for no question about the Bible is ever too small or stupid.