What is the key to recognizing false teachers? from Compelling Truth
Anyone trained to recognize counterfeit money knows the best method is to be so familiar with the real thing that the inconsistencies of the fake are obvious. There are countless books and websites that claim to offer insight into the Bible, and countless religions that offer the “truth.” For those of us who are resolved to believe God’s Word, however, the Bible is the first and last authority. Anyone who teaches differently—man or angel—is to be “accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).
Knowing what the Bible says about some key topics is the best way to be able to recognize false teachers.
The nature of God. The Bible says there is one God (Deuteronomy 4:35), the Creator of the universe (Genesis 1). He is sovereign over the world (Isaiah 46:10), He is intimately involved in our lives (Matthew 10:29-31), and He is comprised of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17). He is spirit (John 4:24), and He is eternal (Psalm 90:2). False teachers, however, may claim God is only one of many, capricious, or completely disinterested gods. Some false teachers say God began as a human and worked His way up.
The nature of Jesus. According to the Bible, Jesus is man and God—God come down to be a man (John 1:14). He lived a perfect life (1 Peter 2:22) and agreed to take on the sin of the world so that mankind could be reconciled to God (John 14:6; 1 Peter 3:18). False teachers have different ideas. Many claim Jesus is merely a prophet or a good man. Others say He is Satan’s brother. Most teach that Jesus is not God at all.
The nature of the Gospel. Where teachers may skirt around the truth about God and Jesus, what they preach about the gospel usually reveals whether they are false teachers. The “good news” of the gospel is that salvation is through faith in Jesus alone and not through works of any kind (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus died for our sins, and we choose whether to accept His gift (Romans 10:9). False teachers add works in addition to Jesus’ gift—baptism, praying, giving money, sacraments, or joining a specific church. Other false teachers abandon biblical teachings altogether and substitute a whole host of manmade requirements for attaining heaven, eternal life, and/or acceptability to God.
The nature of humanity. The Bible says that because of Adam’s sin, people are born sinful (Romans 5:12). We cannot seek God on our own (Romans 3:11), although we can recognize His work in the world around us (Romans 1:18-20). Humanity’s natural state is wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). We cannot be good enough to earn God’s merit, let alone eternity in heaven (Romans 3:23, 6:23). False teachers claim we are born as blank slates that merely learn sin from our environment. They also teach that, with hard work and clarity, we can save ourselves.