How to Guard Yourself Against False Teachings
The Bible consistently warns us to beware of many types of false teachers and false teachings. The Bible warns us that spiritual deception will increase in the last days.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 says: Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared
There are many dangers associated with believing false teachings. So every believer must learn to guard himself from being deceived by false teachings. Below are several ways to protect yourself from deception
Know & Interpret the Scriptures Correctly
Knowing the Bible is not just about learning to memorize Scripture verses, but it’s also about learning to correctly and appropriately interpret the Bible texts. We must be able to interpret the Scriptures in their proper context by looking at what the author of the text originally intended to say to his readers.
We must also be like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-12) who did not simply or easily accept every message that was spoken from a pulpit. Instead after listening to Paul’s message, the Bereans went back to the Scriptures to fact-check for themselves to see if what Paul preached was indeed true.
So interpretation of scripture is not exclusively for a priest or pastor of a church. Instead the interpretation and application of all Scripture is meant to be conducted by all true born again believers because God recognizes every Christian to be a minister of God and part of the priesthood of all believers.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
The Bible warns us about false teachers. Therefore we must understand that not every message or sermon from a preacher is Biblically correct. Not every doctrine taught from the pulpit or in a church is from God.
2 Peter 2:1-3 says: But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
So if we intend to guard against false teachings, then we must understand the Bible and learn to interpret Scriptures in their proper context.
Have an Intimate Relationship with God
Christianity is not a religion. It is an intimate relationship with a personal God. One of the objectives of every genuine Christian believer is to know God and to be known by God. It is through an intimate relationship with God that we can guard against self-deception or even deception from external sources.
In John 10:14 Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me”
In John 10:27 Jesus also says: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Therefore relationship and intimacy with Jesus Christ is critical to learning to follow the voice and teachings of God instead of following the voice of false teachers.
In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
The false believers in Matthew 7:21-23 were self-deceived and hypocritical. They were not truly born again. They claimed to be religious and claimed to have done many things for Christ, but Jesus exposes their root fault in spite of their religious claims: In verse 23 Jesus highlights that He never knew them and that they were workers of lawlessness. This means that despite their religious practices, Christ had no intimate relationship with these false believers because these nominal Christians were self-deceived and they lived a lawless lifestyle.
Have a Hunger for the Truth
One characteristic of many false teachings is that most false teachings either subtly or blatantly draw people away from the Person of Jesus Christ.
False teachings tend to draw followers into following men instead of Christ. False teachings tend to draw people into following the doctrines of men and demons instead of the Bible. False teachings draw people away from the true Gospel and deceive them into following a false gospel.
False teachings turn churches into religious cults and their preachers into cult leaders and false christs.
Acts 20:29-30 says: I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 says: For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
The Bible warns that the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine and nor will they love the truth.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 says: For the time is coming when people will not 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.
Therefore to avoid false teachings, we must love the truth and seek it daily. We must love the truth even when it hurts to hear it. Truth is found in God’s word and through a genuine relationship with Christ.
We develop a love for the truth when we love God and when we love the things of God.
We also develop a love for the truth when we do not lean on our own understanding or knowledge. Instead we must seek to have our minds and thoughts to be shaped by the word of God and by the character and nature of Christ.
The devil wants us to be in a state of deception because he is also known as “the father of lies”. However Jesus desires that we know the truth because it’s the truth that will set us free from the bondage and deception of the enemy.
False teachings can ultimately lead people to the gates of hell whilst the truth of God’s word leads people to Jesus Christ who gives us eternal life.
It is therefore important in our daily Christian walk, that we always guard ourselves against false teachings.