Should Christians Expose False Teachers?
The Bible encourages us to expose the errors of false teachers. Genuine Bible-believing Christians should never keep silent in the face of false teachers who spread their false doctrines.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 describes false teachers as being agents of the devil who disguise themselves as righteous people but yet they work against God and against the Christian faith.
In Matthew 7:15 Jesus says: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
For example, in the world there are many false teachers who preach false gospels and who teach false doctrines such as the prosperity gospel, seed-faith teachings, hyper-grace / antinomianism, spiritual covering doctrines and word of faith theology and New Apostolic Reformation teachings. Many false teachers especially within developing countries are also in the habit of deceiving followers through the selling of “anointing oil” and various “anointed” objects for cash.
It’s important to understand that we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). Part of the Christian life is that our Christian walk consists of a battle between good and evil.
Therefore just as God uses His people to spread the gospel and share the works of Christ, the devil has his false teachers who will attempt to distort and destroy anything that represents the kingdom of God.
It is therefore essential in this battle between good and evil that Christians understand who the enemy is and what the Bible says about how to deal with false teachers.
False teachers are not friends of the kingdom of God. They are enemies of God’s kingdom because many of them are influenced by wicked and demonic motives.
False doctrines can be compared to a disease that destroys the body. Therefore false teachers and false teachings must be exposed in order to save those who are lost and deceived.
It’s interesting to note that whenever Jesus encountered the Pharisees, Christ was mostly direct, forceful and even confrontational when speaking to them. Jesus was never as friendly with the Pharisees as He was with other people.
Jesus was not afraid to expose the heresies of the Pharisees because they were false teachers who were leading the people astray. In Matthew 23:1-39 Jesus exposed their wicked hearts and their wicked motives without fear or compromise.
Christ new the terrible spiritual danger that the Pharisees posed to the people. Their false doctrines were not creating followers who would eventually enter the kingdom of Heaven but the false teachings of the Pharisees was creating followers who would end up in hell as result of following them.
In Matthew 23:15 Jesus said that the Pharisees created proselytes who would become twice as much a child of hell as themselves.
In Matthew 3:7 John the Baptist also exposed the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers” because of their evil deception.
HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS RESPOND TO FALSE TEACHERS?
1. We should TEST false teachers.
1 John 4:1 says Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
The Bible does not discourage us from exercising spiritual judgment. God does not discourage us from testing or judging the character or nature of others. It is essential in the discernment process to have the ability to test and judge in order to discover if people are who they claim to be. In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus said that we would know false prophets by their fruits. Therefore we cannot discern the fruits of a false teacher unless we have tested the spirits.
According to 1 John 4:1 we are encouraged to “test the spirits” because of false prophets who exist in the world.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 we are encouraged to “test everything and to hold fast what is good.”
To “test everything” means that there is no idea; no philosophy; no argument; no object and no individual that is immune to being judged or discerned through the lenses of God’s word. All things and all individuals must ultimately submit to Christ and the word of God.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Therefore in order to avoid spiritual abuse and deception, which is growing rampant – it is necessary to test all ideas, doctrines and philosophies and all preaching through the lenses of God’s word and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (who is also known as the Spirit of Truth).
The Bereans were said to be noble people and they also tested Paul’s words and preaching through the Scriptures (Acts 17:10-11).
2. We should EXPOSE false teachers
There are cases where it may be necessary to mention specific people or specific groups that are perpetrators of false teachings as long as there is sufficient, consistent and provable evidence.
Paul named Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:18-20). In his letter to Timothy, Paul said the following regarding Hymenaeus and Alexander: This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Notice that Paul speaks to Timothy about waging “the good warfare” because living the Christian faith requires that we expose false teachers and warn other people about them.
As mentioned above, in Matthew 23:1-39 Jesus specifically exposed the Pharisees because of their false teachings. Without fear or compromise He exposed their wicked hearts and their hypocritical nature.
In Ephesians 5:11-14 Paul says: Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light…
3. We should AVOID false teachers
Romans 16:17 says: I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
Why is it necessary to avoid false teachers? It’s because they do not edify the Church. They are enemies of the Church. Their false doctrines corrupt the body of Christ.
Galatians 1:8-9 says: But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
The body of Christ should have no association or partnership with the works of darkness nor with false teachers. Many false teachers can be persuasive and charismatic. Many are able to seduce people through smooth talk and various manipulation techniques.
Therefore discerning and avoiding false teachers prevents one from being polluted by their false teachings.
2 John 10-11 says: If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
The background behind the Book of 2 John was that John the author of the book is concerned regarding false teachers who were not teaching the exact doctrine of Christ and who maintained that Jesus did not actually rise in the flesh but only spiritually. John is therefore giving warning that true Christian believers should not fellowship or allow these false teachers into their home and must have nothing to do with them.
Why Should You Expose False Teachers?
1. You are obeying the commandments of God as a soldier of Christ
2. You help prevent the deception from spreading to others
3. You help evangelize to those who are presently misled by false doctrines with the hope that they will know the truth and be set free from bondage
4. Exposing false teachers is an expression of love specifically to those who are led astray or those who could be potential victims of the false teachers
According to 2 Timothy 3:16 the purpose of Scripture is for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
In 2 Timothy 4:2-5 we are instructed to “… reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” because we are currently in an age where people no longer “endure sound teaching but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
It is therefore necessary to deal with the issues of false teachers and false doctrines in a Biblical manner. Christians should not remain silent while false teachers spread a false gospel and false teachings.
The spiritual lives of people are at stake and Christians need to be bold and courageous to expose the unfruitful works of darkness.