Recognizing False Teachers/False Prophets
Prepared by Nicholas Hill, Director of the Rexdale Youth Centre,
This is something that I prepared for my youth. It may be helpful to some of you. Your feedback is welcome.
So, how do we recognize a true prophet/teacher from a false prophet/teacher? According to the Bible, false teacher will be recognized by one or more of the following characteristics. Only listen to those teachers or pastors that are not characterized by the following:
1) Love of Sexual Immorality
2 Peter 2:14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed-- an accursed brood!
2) False teaching/doctrine
In the Old Testament the false prophet denies the authority of Moses and the covenants that God made with the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5: 1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the
Jeremiah 5:31: The prophets prophesy lies. The priests exercise power by their own authority. 1 And my people love to have it this way. But they will not be able to help you when the time of judgment comes! 2
Ezekiel 13: 3 This is what the sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit but have seen nothing! 13:4 Your prophets have become like jackals among the ruins, O Israel.
In the New Testament, deny Jesus Christ and the teaching of the apostles appointed by Jesus:
Acts 20:29 I know that after I am gone 7 fierce wolves 8 will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 20:30 Even from among your own group 9 men 10 will arise, teaching perversions of the truth 11 to draw the disciples away after them. 20:31 Therefore be alert
2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-- bringing swift destruction on themselves.
2 Peter 2:3 these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.
1 John 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
1 John 4:2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
1 John 4:5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.
2 John 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
3) Love of Money
Titus 1:11 who must be silenced because they mislead whole families by teaching for dishonest gain what ought not to be taught.
1 Timothy 6:5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
2 Peter 2:3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
2 Peter 2:14: they are experts in greed
Jude 1: 11 they have rushed for profit
12 shepherds who feed only themselves
Mark 12: 40 They devour widows' houses
4) Love of Power
Mark 12:38 As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."
1 Timothy 3:7: They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently.
5) Tell People What they Want to Hear
1 Kings 22:1 There was no war between
2 Peter 3: 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
6) Full of Arrogant Pride
1 Timothy 6: 3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,
4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions
2 Peter 2:10 Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings;
2 Peter 2:18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.
7) An overall immorality
2 Peter 2:13: Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight.
2 Peter 2:19: 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity-- for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.
Jude 1:4 They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
1 John 1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
1 John 2: 4 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.