Today’s message is called “Beware of False Teachers.” The whole of the Bible is full of warnings against false prophets and false teachers.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV) 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, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,
We are living in the later times or last days. A time in which the number of false teachers will increase. This verse speaks of believers departing from the faith and falling away from God. These people will promote false teaching, which is actually the teaching of demons.
False teaching is not the truth but lies. However, the people who teach it actually believe their teaching to be true. False teachers have been deceived themselves and end up deceiving others. Jesus warned his followers about false teachers.
Matthew 7:15 (ESV) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Outwardly, false teachers look like godly, Bible-believing teachers. False teachers always misuse the Bible in some way to make their points. Yet, inside they are not filled with God, but with evil. Their desire is not to build people up, but to tear them down and gain from them. If false prophets and teachers look good on the outside, how can we detect them?
Matthew 7:16 (ESV) You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
The results and fruit of those who are false teachers will make apparent their internal character. The answer to Jesus’ question is that No, grapes are not gathered from thornbushes, nor figs from thistles. Thornbushes yield thorns and thistles yield sharp prickles. In the same way, a false teacher will not produce people loving God and one another in a biblical church.
Other than the long-term fruit, how can you recognize false teachers? By comparing their teaching with the word of God. There are two types of false teaching. The first type is teaching something contrary to Scripture. Now, some of the false teaching may be scriptural, but some is not. The second type of false teaching is teaching that does not teach important topics. Key teachings of Scripture are purposely avoided. This is also false teaching.
In my opinion, the majority of churches that identify as Christian in America today are filled with false teaching of many kinds. Our goal today is first of all to be able to identify false teaching and false teachers so that we are not influenced by it. Secondly, our goal is to be able to warn others of churches that promote false teaching. By staying in churches with false teaching, people are endorsing and are guilty of promoting that false teaching. So, today, we’re going to look at what Jesus taught on how to recognize what false teachers teach. Beware of false teachers …
Luke 11:38-39 (ESV) The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.
Jesus was invited to a dinner party at a Pharisees house. The custom for Jews was to ceremonially wash their hands before eating dinner. This was not for health reasons, but to make sure that they did not eat anything unclean. Jesus did not turn out to be the ideal dinner guest the Pharisee had expected.
He speaks of all the Pharisees, including his host. Jesus uses the outward washing as an illustration of who the Pharisees were. The Pharisees were Jewish leaders who looked religious on the outside as they kept their rules. However, Jesus knew that on the inside they were greedy and wicked.
Luke 11:40 (ESV) You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?
Jesus calls the Pharisees fools for their false teaching. God made their souls on the inside to be filled with God. Yet their souls were filled with ungodliness.
Luke 11:41 (ESV) But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.
The Pharisees made sure that everyone knew that they gave offerings to the temple as an outward show. However, they had not allowed God to change them. As we’ll see, they were not going to accept Jesus as God’s Messiah. If they would give God their souls within, then they would be cleansed and truly clean. The problem with the false teachers of the Pharisees was that they focused on keeping outward rules.
We must beware of false teachers who focus on outward rules. We must be careful not to focus on outward rules ourselves as a means to righteousness. False teachers are hypocrites, pretending to be something outwardly that they are not inwardly. The rules that false teachers promote are not the commands of Scripture, but additional rules they have invented.
The biggest lie of false teachers and churches today is the teaching that a person is saved by doing good things. The Bible teaches that only those who believe in Jesus are saved.Beware of false teachers who focus on outward rules. Next, we must beware of false teachers …
Luke 11:42 (ESV) “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
The Pharisees were tithers, giving to God 10% of everything they had, even the herbs they were growing. Jesus commends them for tithing, establishing tithing as a New Testament command. The problem was not their tithing. The problem was that they neglected other important things. The important things neglected were promoting justice for people and love for God.
We know from other passages, that the Pharisees always made a public show of giving their tithes. Yet, they looked down on those who had less than them. They had no relationship with God, their prayer were for show.
Luke 11:43-44 (ESV) Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”
The Pharisees liked the applause of men, they always wanted to be first, they were filled with pride. In Jesus’ day, graves were marked, so that no one would inadvertently walk on them. Graves are filled with dead bones and uncleanness.
In the same way, these false teachers deceived people who did not perceive their superior attitude. They were hypocrites, appearing godly on the outside, but full of pride on the inside.
Luke 11:45-46 (ESV) One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
The lawyers or scribes were the second group of Jewish leaders addressed by Jesus. Jesus pronounced another woe or judgement on the lawyers. They composed thousands of rules for people to keep, yet they did not keep the rules themselves.They likewise put themselves above others. Beware of false teachers who put themselves above others.
False teachers put themselves above others rather than serving others. Some false teachers personally accumulate millions of dollars from people who support their ministries. Their message is that you can be a rich millionaire just like me if you give me your money. That is a false teacher, and no one should enable them in their false ministry, even if they do say some things that are true.
False teachers are always name droppers, letting you know that they move in circles of other high profile people. False teachers have no time to pray for you or to talk to you. May we ourselves always have time for the needy and the hurting. May we use the resources that God has entrusted to us to further His kingdom and to help others, not just for ourselves. Beware false teachers who put themselves above others.
Luke 11:47-48 (ESV) Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs.
The false prophets and unbelieving Israelites opposed and even killed many of God’s true prophets in Old Testament times. Jesus now accuses these contemporary leaders as opposing true prophets as well. Of course, Jesus was more than a prophet, He was the Messiah. Yet, the Jewish leaders and the majority of Jews would oppose him and not believe in him.
Luke 11:49-50 (ESV) Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation,
Not only did the current leaders endorse their ancestors sins, they would continue them in their time. Jesus prophesied that these false teachers would persecute and even kill the true prophets and apostles that God would send. The generation of Israelites in Jesus’ time bore the greatest responsibility, for Jesus, the son of God had taught them and done miracles in their midst. Yet, they opposed and rejected him.
Luke 11:52 (ESV) Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
Jesus announces one final woe against the lawyers. The lawyers or scribes prided themselves on having so much knowledge of God’s Word. Yet, Jesus accuses them of taking away the key of the knowledge of God from others. Not only did the lawyers not have a relationship with God, they hindered others who sought to know God.
Luke 11:53-54 (ESV) As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
Here, Luke shows us that the scribes and Pharisees are acting in accordance with Jesus’ comments. They are opposing Jesus as a true teacher and prophet. They will continue to try to do whatever they can to stop Jesus’ ministry. When that fails, they will conspire to have him crucified. Beware false teachers who oppose true teachers.
We see the same thing happening all around us today, both in religious circles and in society. Those who are false teachers, promoting the lies of Satan, will always oppose true teachers. Usually, they will do what the Jews of Jesus’ day and the Jews of today do. False teachers will call the true teachers false and pass their teachings off as true.
As Christians, we have an objective standard of truth, the Bible. Those that teach contrary to God’s Word are the false teachers. And those who teach according to God’s Word are the true teachers. In order to discern God’s truth, an understanding of the Bible is required.
In order to understand the Bible, three things are necessary and taught in God’s Word. First of all, a person needs to believe in Jesus. Once they do, the Holy Spirit will help them understand God’s Word. Secondly, every person needs to read their Bible regularly. You have one book that God requires you to master in life, the Bible. Finally, every person needs to be part of a biblical church with true teachers that they can learn from.
As you grow in understanding God’s Word and knowing Jesus better, you will be able to discern the false teachers, prophets and churches that are all around us. Beware if false teachers who oppose true teachers.
In this message series, we’re learning to do what Jesus did. Today, we’ve learned how Jesus called out false teachers and warned us about them. We must be on our guard against false teachers who focus on outward rules. We must recognize false teachers who put themselves above others. We must beware of false teachers who oppose true teachers.
Many false teachers call themselves Christians and use God’s Word. Many denominations are made up of false churches and false teachers. They are no longer teaching the truth of God’s Word.Beware yourself and warn others to get out and become part of a biblical church. Truth matters. May God help us to know the truth and spread the truth.