False teachers and prophets have existed from the beginning. Nothing new! There is no time when there weren't false teachers. The apostles gave us many warnings about false teachers. The Apostle Peter, John and Jude, or Judah, give us some good clues that should signal us to beware.
How can we recognize the genuine from the counterfeit?
Satan always has a counterfeit.
A half truth is always more deceiving than a whole lie.
False teachers tell us lies about Yeshua Messiah and His work in us and for us. False teachers are among us as WOLVES IN SHEEP CLOTHING. They are USUALLY among us as one of us, just as JUDAS. Think about it for a moment:
Judas partook of all that Yeshua offered. He was recognized as being in the "circle" with the other eleven. Judas ate with them, journeyed with them, saw Yeshua and all that He did firsthand, did miracles along with them and was sent out by Yeshua along with the other eleven.
While an individual false teacher may not have every one of these characteristics, these are the ones that I would like to discuss.
They have a different gospel message - one that has been perverted/corrupted
One that denies Yeshua as God in the flesh, and/or denies Him as the Messiah.
This is a spirit of Anti-Christ
II Peter 2:1 – But among the people there were also false prophets, just as there will be false teachers among you. Under false pretenses they will introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them..
2:2 Many will follow their debaucheries; and because of them, the true Way will be maligned. (CJB)
JOHN 1:1 -4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
1 Jn 1:1 – 4: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
1 Jn. 2:18 - Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
1 John 2:22 - Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
1 John 4:3; - And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
2 John 1:7 - For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
Their prevailing message comes from human strength and knowledge
A Godly teacher will follow the Word of God closely:
2Pe 1:16 "For when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, we did not rely on cunningly contrived myths...”
Whereas a false teacher will stray away from the Word:
II Peter 2:3 – In their greed they will exploit you with fabricated stories (fictitious words) (CJB)
False teachers have “intriguing” stories and words which “entice” or “entertain” or claim to “enlighten” their students with some new found knowledge. They call upon sources outside of the Bible for establishing Biblical truths. However, truth comes from the WORD of GOD. Take it to the WORD OF GOD. SCRIPTURE should back up the teachers words – and remember, you cannot use just one or two scriptures to build a doctrine. Take it to the WORD - do not trust the word of another human being.
Their focus shifts from the Word of God
A Godly called teacher puts emphasis and attention for truth on God and God's Word. A true teacher will say, “what does the Word of God say”, whereas a false teacher will put the emphasis upon themselves to gain a following and to entice people to listen to them. They desire followers more than to please God and lead people to His Word – the truth.
Warning about false teachers:
II Peter 2:18 – Mouthing grandiosities of nothingness, they play on the desires of the old nature, in order to seduce with debaucheries people who have just begun to escape from those whose way of life is wrong.
False teachers try to appeal to their listeners, to build their own kingdoms. Ultimately it is about them and their knowledge. They tend to win over those who have just begun their journey of faith, babes in Messiah, those still on milk, those un-trained in the Word, those who have just escaped from going the wrong way, or those WHO HAVE NEVER MATURED IN MESSIAH because of lack of prayer and study of His Word. They tend to win these over with their “words of nothingness” while a more mature believer will not be deceived.
Watch a teacher long enough and you will be able to identify if he/she is trying to build their own kingdom or the kingdom of God.
They have a different kind of character
A Godly teacher will practice according to
II Peter 1:5 – For this very reason, try your hardest to furnish your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with perseverance, perseverance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
Contrast that with a false teacher:
II Peter 2:10 – “especially those who follow their old natures in lust for filth and who despise AUTHORITY. Presumptuous and self – willed” (CJB) (meaning proud and arrogant)
They will not listen to wise council.
II Peter 2:14 they have eyes always on the lookout for a woman who will commit adultery, eyes that never stop sinning; and they have a heart that has exercised itself in greed; so that they seduce unstable people. What a cursed brood!
Again, a false teacher will eventually be revealed for what he/she is – their sin will eventually be revealed.
Notice that the scripture says that they despise authority. A false teacher/prophet does not like accountability. They claim that they do not need to be under anyone but God. This is not accurate, for God's Word makes all of us accountable to someone. We all should have leaders or individuals that are over us or that we answer to for accountability. No man is an island to him/herself in God's Kingdom!
They have no stability
A Godly teacher has a foundation which is built upon a firm foundation, a solid rock, rooted and grounded in the truth. Because of this they are firmly established in the faith.
A false teacher has built their foundation upon sand.
II Peter 2:17 Waterless springs they are, mists driven by a gust of wind; for them has been reserved the blackest darkness.
The KJV says “wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest”
Jude adds, (verse 12-13) late autumn trees without fruit,...raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame, wandering stars” (KJV)
The Apostle Paul describes this scenario perfectly in Ephesians 4:14 - That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (KJV)
These false teachers are unstable like water, tossed to and fro. They are no good like wells that have no water and black clouds that carry no rain. They are useless and unstable in all their ways. They are carried around by every new DOCTRINE THAT THEY COME ACROSS.
They are loud and showey like a rain cloud that produces lightning, thundering and wind, but never drops any rain or true substance to the earth.
They bounce around with new theories and the latest and greatest teachings and doctrines showing their ignorance and lack of a discerning spirit. To the mature, discerning eye, they show their lack of credibility and stability in things pertaining to God and His Word.
We must not be deceived! Apostasy will continue to grow before His coming! Denominations are crumbling every day, accepting the rulings and teachings of ungodly, false teachers and prophets. Unfortunately, the Hebrew Roots movement has gained in popularity over the years and has attracted every kind of erratic teaching imaginable. I prefer to not even use the term anymore to refer to what I believe. I simply refer to myself as a follower of Yeshua, a follower of The Way. I accept the entire Bible as the authenticated Word of God.
Test it with the WORD! Don't take my word or that of anyone else. A true teacher won't mind being accountable to God's Word. Take it to the Word and pray to the Father over it. Test the spirit of the teacher/prophet and make sure that they are operating according to the Spirit of Yahweh and not the spirit of this corrupt, sinful, world.