Why don't they see the teacher is false? One reason is "deception by investment"

We are told that in the last days, deceivers will come. They will carry false doctrines, false teachings, and they will want to follow their own lusts instead of sound doctrine. This web page has a list of all the verses in the bible that speak to false doctrine. This web page lists all the warnings about false prophets (which are teachers, too).

In some cases, it is easy to tell who is false. Todd Bentley down in Lakeland FL was easy to spot as false for Christians - but he still deceived a great many.

Other false teachers we're warned about, like in 2 Timothy 3:5, have a form of godliness but deny its power ... those teachers are harder to spot.

Even as babes in the faith, still on milk, the Word is so transparent and so sure that relying on it brings clarity as to whether a teacher is teaching falsely. (Hebrews 5:12; 1 Cor 3:2).

But because we ARE flesh, it gets tangled in everything. We can't separate the flesh from who we are but continual submission and obedience regenerates us and we grow in His Christlikeness. Excising the flesh where it has fallen prey to sin or where lies are embedded within is sometimes a violently difficult process. This includes recognizing of a favorite teacher is false and going away from him or her.

Sometimes someone will come up to you and say "So and so may be a false teacher bringing false doctrines." You get angry, because you like that teacher. The first reaction will always be fleshly. Translation: emotional. People's reactions will range from peeved to furious. When my friend and I were talking about false teachers and she asked me about Joyce Meyer, I said I believed Mrs. Meyer teaches a different gospel and therefore is false. She agreed. She wasn't angry because she had already come to the same conclusion I had and therefore no anger flared up. But when I said I had concerns about Beth Moore, she got ticked because she had not come to that conclusion. Challenging Beth Moore as a teacher was also challenging my friend as a student. That anger arises because of something called "deception by investment".

Deception by investment as defined by Glenn Chatfield is here, "When one learns their favorite teacher is a false teacher, they continue with the deception because they’ve invested so much of their life in them. They’d rather continue in deception than admit they were deceived." And the term is used again, here at his blog The Watchman's Bagpipes.

When we invest time, energy, even money in a teacher or a ministry and then some bubbling reservations or charges are raised, our fleshly response is to dismiss them out of hand. But that's exactly when the lie firms its grip. It is simply pride that won't let go. This is why, I suspect, when many of you ladies report that you brought a concern about a female teacher to your Ladies Leader, she became angry. This happens a lot. Pride won't allow some Ministry Leaders to accept that they have made a grave error and publicly humble themselves in apology and explanation. Rather than listen to the concerns, they are so invested in their false teacher that they continue in the deception and get angry at you.

Look at the situation as a morning glory. It's so pretty! But its delicacy is deceptive. It actually has a hard grip and won't let go.

I had a morning glory on the left side of my door for about a year. Boy, that thing grew fast! It soon wound around the wrought iron plant stand and up over the awning. The flowers looked so pretty in the morning when they bloomed! But then my landlord said that he had to excavate that area and was going to pave it over. I had to get rid of the wrought iron stand and the flowers.

I'd never dealt with morning glory flowers before. I was amazed at how firmly they were wound in! I thought I could just pull them down but no way. I thought I could just use a knife to cut them away but nope, that didn't work either. I had to use scissors and personally excise each strand. It took hours. Each vine was stronger than it looked.

A year later, on the right side of my door, I spotted some more morning glories! Look at the bottom of the photo below. I really can't tell where the root is, or which stalk is the main one. Just suddenly one day there was a clump.

In the photo below, we can see how tightly wound the vine is to the thing which it claims, in this case, an old cable wire.

Left unattended, there will be shoots sprouting off to go in other directions to claim other things to cling to.

This how false teaching is. It emerges from whence you least expect. You're surprised by it. Its root or origin is often difficult to determine. If left unattended, it winds among your flesh tighter and tighter. It gets harder and harder to excise. And left unattended for a long time, this happens:

Here is my practical advice when hearing a charge of false teaching, either about yourself, or about another favored teachers you've invested in: be ready for the flesh to rebel. It will flare up like a match.

But if you wait, what happens to a match? It burns out quickly. Let the emotions about the charge of false teaching leveled on your favorite teacher dissipate. If you don't allow them to lead you, they will dissipate. Then begin the work the Holy Spirit wants to guide you into. He will either confirm or deny the charge, but allowing yourself to let the anger drive you means you are allowing the morning glory vine access to a tighter grip.

Be careful out there, brethren. Don't let the morning glory vine choke off truth through its fleshly grip but instead, let His pure glory lead you into truth. Even if you have to cut off your hand to do it.


  1. Great post. It's true! So far, I've not been confronted about a teacher that I'm passionate about, so I've not experiences this kind of thing first-hand, from that standpoint.

    Tucking this wisdom in for the future...

    (Also, I almost chuckled when I saw the tattooed guy-- I thought that was what this post was going to be about. Today, I've been having conversations about the tattoo I have from my unregenrated days, and I was gonna say, 'oh! what a coincidence!')

  2. Emily, lol on the tattooes :) If a person is tattooing bible verses and pictures all over their body it gives one pause, because as the Old T. Law prohibits in Lev 19:28 the NT doesn't. We're not under the old Law. So in the case of tattoos, we should always judge a matter on whether God would be pleased with it. If there is room for doubt, don't do it. In this case I believe God would not be pleased, but since there is no NT outright prohibition against them it only serves as an alert rather than a marker if a brother or sister starts getting them.

    I was amused by Bentley's tattoos though because his lies about them were so easily exposed. All you had to do is look at a photo of him prior to 2006 and see none. So the tattoos aren't the hugest issue, but the lies about them were.

  3. I forget what year his hoopla came out (Bentley), but I was still quite young in the faith and hadn't branched out yet to too many teachers.

  4. It was April 2008. Ac, three years ago already!

  5. Aha! It was less than a year after I was saved. I do remember hearing about him, but I didn't follow him at all. I'm glad he was exposed!

  6. I sure would love your opinion on the Toronto revival http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_Blessing and Bill Johnson http://www.ibethel.org

    Bill Johnson did support Todd Bentley, but as far as I know that was before his divorce from his wife. I am not sure of how he feels about the situation now that Todd has remarried.

    This is a great post, lots to pray about.

  7. My thoughts on the Toronto Blessing align with this Q&A from MacArthur:


    the opening line is:

    The apostle Paul was very clear in pointing out that "God is not a God of confusion" (1 Cor. 14:33). Where pandemonium rules, we can be certain God is not the author of it. ... He will not mystically reveal Himself to us as someone different from the holy God the Scriptures reveal. Since the Bible tells us He is not the author of confusion--and specifically that He does not approve of disorder in public worship services (this is the whole point of 1 Corinthians 14)—we can know with absolute certainty that He is not the power behind a movement whose main features are hysteria, tumult, and frenzy."

    The Wiki you shared says of the Toronto Blessing that "In 1995, the Airport church was released from affiliation with the Vineyard movement. The reasons for the disaffiliation were for growing tension over the church's emphasis on extraordinary manifestations of the Holy Spirit and the Vineyard leadership's inability to exercise oversight over the revival."

    In other words, it got too crazy.

    I'm personally suspicious of any and all charismatic manifestations. Not that they don't *ever* occur today, but I believe they are extremely rare and need to be tested against scripture when someone does make a claim of occurrence. In my opinion the Toronto Blessing failed the scriptures here- 1 Cor. 14:33.

    The MacArthur Q&A refers to the same resource at the end of the wiki, "Counterfeit Revival, by Hank Hanegraaff".

    In Wikipedia's entry for Bill Johnson, it states, "According to a recent book written by Johnson, "Face to Face with God", Bethel is "a church where supernatural encounters with God happen regularly, miracles are common, and the congregation has an infectious passion for spiritual growth." The church has approximately 1,500 members, and a School of Supernatural Ministry". Wow.

    "Second Year students in the Supernatural School of Ministry have the opportunity to travel with our leadership team on ministry trips where the students are the ministry team for each trip. “Firestorm” is a ministry which is part of the school, where the students go to different churches as the primary ministry team. They demonstrate signs and wonders, train the local congregation in supernatural ministry and take them into the community to do treasure hunts (i.e. these are prophetic spontaneous encounters where Believers look for hidden treasure in the hearts of the folks of their city)."

    Wow again. So that is what Bill Johnson is up to these days. I'm skeptical, as I said. Todd Bentley dropped out of the picture for a while but has reappeared in ministry again. It is my opinion he is disqualified from Christian leadership (but not worship and church membership)for having had an affair and divorced his wife. If he has not repented then it is my opinion he is not qualified even for church membership (1 Cor 5:2,5)

  8. Thank you Elizabeth for giving time into these questions I have.

    These have been a few things on my heart, more so Bill Johnson over the Toronto revival. I have been in prayer over it and will continue do so since your posts have opened up some questions in me.


  9. I would like to give credit where it is due. The term "deception by investment" was a teaching by G. Richard Fisher of Personal Freedom Outreach apologetics ministry. He is an excellent teacher and a couple years ago retired after 40 years as a pastor.

    As for the Toronto revival question: it was a 100% false revival started by man with false signs and wonders. It morphed into the false Pensacola revival and all the other spinoffs. There is nothing about them from God.

  10. Do you consider what is happening in muslim nations in the middle east lately a revival? There seem to be so many that are coming to Christ, it's really, really wonderful to see.

  11. I have heard reports of a sweeping conversion to Christianity in the Muslim nations for a few years now. I say I "hear" about it because most sources that report mass conversions and a new sweeping faith in Jesus inside Muslim nations don't report specifics, due to safety concerns. If it is really occurring, yes, I would consider it a revival.

    At the same time, the bible tells us that interest in the Gospel will be declining in the Day of the LORD (Tribulation) to almost zero, (Luke 18:8), and that in the run-up to the Tribulation, (the Last Days- from ascension to rapture) apostasy, deception, false doctrines and false teachings will spread outside the church and poison it from within. That there will be many false christs and false gospels. So I'm grateful to the apparent work of the Holy Spirit for His work in Asia, North Africa and China but also mourn the loss of faith in eastern Europe, Canada, Australia, and America

  12. More people are active and are fighting for their rights.

  13. Can you tell me more about Joyce Meyer/Beth Moore? I've only ever heard of the latter, but I haven't watched enough of the former to see any obvious false teaching. Don't see this as challenging your claim, I just want to know the details, so that I can come to the same understanding.

    Todd Friel often deals with false teachers on his Wretched program, which you can find clips of on youtube.

  14. EriK,

    I'm not familiar with Mr Friel. I wrote about my concerns with what and how Beth Moore teaches in a series that begins here

    The Link to the next part in the series is posted at the top. The last essay in the series is one about discernment and gives links and tips on how to prayerfully consider whether a certain bible teacher you're listening to is biblical or not.

  15. I've seen many clips of Todd Friel. So far, he seems very astute in identifying false teachings and calling them what they are.


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