Today we’re looking at seven sure marks of a false teacher. And here is the first one. False teachers are man pleasers. At heart, these false teachers, they’re not interested in looking good in the eyes of God. They’re really only interested at looking good in the eyes of men. They’re what the apostle Paul referred to as ear ticklers. Teachers whose great skill is learning what other people want to hear and then just giving it to them, just regurgitating what people already want to hear. Instead of challenging them, they flatter them. Instead of exposing sin, they affirm sin and they coddle sin. Listen to what the Bible says about a true teacher. “ But just as we had been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” False teachers speak to please man.
Second, false teachers bring their harshest criticism against God’s most faithful servants…Religious teachers continue today to rebuke and to belittle God’s most faithful servants.
Third, false teachers teach their own wisdom rather than God’s wisdom. False teachers always teach their own foolishness instead of divine wisdom. This means then, that the ultimate source of their teaching is their own minds. It’s their own hearts, it’s their own sinful desires. Listen to what God said through the prophet Jeremiah. He said, “ The prophets are prophesying lies in my name . I did not send them, nor did I commend them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.” That was true in Jeremiah’s day, it’s just as true in our day.
Fourth mark of a false teacher. False teachers ignore what is of greatest importance to focus instead on what’s of lesser importance. False teachers, they always place great emphasis on small commandments, while they blatantly ignore the great ones, the important ones. They skip over what the Bible emphasizes the most, to focus instead on these little verses and these minor characters. Think again of Jesus when he spoke against the religious authorities, the religious leaders of his day. He said, “ Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” That’s from Matthew 23. You can tell a false teacher when he governs godliness by keeping the smallest rules even while he gladly and blatantly breaks the big ones.
The fifth mark of a false teacher. False teachers mask their false doctrine with eloquent speech and impressive logic. You see, a false teacher can’t bring a consistent interpretation of the Bible. So what does he do? He hides blasphemy and he hides dangerous doctrine behind what seems to be a powerful argument. Behind this eloquent use of the language, he offers to his listeners the spiritual equivalent of this beautiful attractive piece of candy that’s laced with deadly poison. It appears scrumptious, valuable, delicious but it will still kill you dead. Paul had to remind the church in Corinth. He said, “when I came to you brothers, I did not come to you proclaiming the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.” Paul came with a simple message that had all the power of God behind it.
Sixth mark of a false teacher. False teachers are far more concerned with winning others to their own opinions than in actually helping people and bettering people…They’re ultimately in the business of winning followers and then gaining power, gaining authority for themselves.
How do we know a teacher is teaching falsely?