Resources: How to Spot a False Teacher

By Elizabeth Prata

I'm helping a new believer. She is hungry for the word and wide eyed with wonder at everything being new and shiny. She started watching TV Preachers and we in our local body (I) have the sad job to let her know that not all that glitters in the Christian world is gold. We have to protect the lambs.

I remember the days after my conversion. I thought I was safe and that everything would now and forever be OK. The change in my worldview was immediate, it literally was like scales fell off my eyes. In eternity, it is true that everything will be OK, but there will be a lot of work, struggle, vigilance and not-OK stuff happening until I get there. The church is less safe than I thought and definitely takes vigilance to remain on the upward path of sanctification. Satan and the flesh and the world wants to knock us off our pins. It is our job to help new believers learn how to avoid these traps and pitfalls false teachers lay for us.

One main way satan operates is seeding the church with false teachers. Did you know that every New Testament Book except Philemon has strong warnings about being alert for false teachers and false doctrine? Some books of the NT are entirely devoted to the topic! (Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude.)

Since it's a big topic in the Bible, it should be a big topic for us. We shouldn't focus on false teaching all the time, after all, the best way to spot a counterfeit is to learn the real thing. Thus, our study is God's word, not false teachings. However, we do need to hone our discernment. (Hebrews 5:14).

Here are some good essays I've read lately that help us to identify false teachers.

Natasha Crain:

10 Signs the Christian Authors You’re Following are (Subtly) Teaching Unbiblical Ideas
The following are 10 signs that the Christian authors you’re following may be subtly teaching unbiblical ideas. I say “subtly” because I think most people would spot a problem immediately if a Christian said they didn’t believe in the Trinity. But it’s just as important to identify when less obvious warning signs—like the following—are present.
Denny Burk part 1 & 2-

How to identify false teachers
Given this obligation, it becomes all the more imperative to be able to identify false teachers when they emerge. Sometimes false teaching originates from outside of the church. Sometimes such teaching originates from within. The New Testament teaches that a more rigorous response is required when it arises within. Thus faithful pastors must learn how to identify and deal with false teachers. But how do we do that?
How To Deal With False teachers
In my last post, we looked at six characteristics that help us to identify false teachers. In this post, we will consider what pastors and congregations are supposed to do in response to such persons who emerge in their midst.
Michelle Lesley:

Popular False Teachers
The articles below are evidentiary findings on today’s most popular “divangelistas” (as well as a few male teachers and ministries in general). Please use them as teaching tools in the spirit of 2 Timothy 2:24-26 to help others understand the false doctrine these people are proclaiming, keeping in mind that the people who follow them most likely simply don’t know they’re following false teachers.
John MacArthur, blog essay

The Pathology of False Teachers
It takes careful discernment to see that the light is really darkness. Paul taught Timothy how to diagnose satanic darkness masquerading as divine light. Here’s how he described the key symptoms that identify those infected with the spiritual disease of false teaching:
Colin Smith:

7 Traits of False Teachers
In the same way Peter says, "There will be false teachers among you." Notice the words "among you." Peter is writing to the church and says, "There will be false prophets among you." So he is not talking about New Age people on television. He is talking about people in the local church, members of a local congregation.

Luke Wayne at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. I like this one because he mentions the behavior of a false teacher. It's not only about doctrine. Examine the teacher's doctrine AND life. (1 Timothy 4:16).

How do you Identify a False Teacher?
We can identify a false teacher or a false prophet by examining first and foremost their teaching and secondly their behavior in light of Scripture. If what they are teaching is not consistent with what the Holy Spirit has plainly revealed in Scripture, they are a false teacher and are to be ignored, even if they live extraordinary lives, even if they appear to have supernatural insight, or even if they seem to work great miracles.

We are one body. Help the new believers, our vulnerable lambs, stay in the flock, growing and maturing in healthy ways.


  1. I wish you give thought to including male false prophets when you write blogs on false teachers. I'm pretty certain that Paul, when II Tim. 3:16 was written, and he warned of silly, weak women being led away by their passions, he wasn't talking necessarily about women doing the misleading. When describing those who do the misleading, he used masculine articles and participles when describing those who enter the households. Otherwise, I always read fervently your false teachers and false teachings posts. God bless.

  2. Hi bloggerjim,

    Thank you for the suggestion. I have written about issues with the following men, who range from problematic to outright false: Ravi Zacharias, David Jeremiah, Billy Graham, Matt Chandler, John Piper, Neale Donald Walsch, the Kendrick Brothers, David Asscherick, and William Young. Is that what you mean?

  3. Natasha Crain mentioned above will not take a biblical stand on the creation vs evolution topic. She sits firmly on the fence which questions her discernment. Especially as a christian parenting blogger the topic is unavoidable. She seems intimidated by the scientists over the miraculous hand of God when discussing creation. In fact from what I read on her blog the miraculous is not even given mention.


Post a Comment