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How to Recognize False Teachers #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
January 2, 2023 7:00 am

How to Recognize False Teachers #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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When witnesses are sworn in, they're to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

It would be wonderful if there was a similar oath that someone had to take before he could step into a pulpit and open up the Word of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ could not have been more clear when He said, Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. And we'll be further examining that passage and others like it today on the Truth Pulpit as Don continues teaching God's people God's Word.

We continue the series to follow or to flee. And Don, the expression wolf in sheep's clothing is one with which most people are familiar, but they don't fully appreciate its implications. Yes, Bill, that familiar phrase helps us see why we must be discerning. The thing about false teachers is that they usually don't look like they're dangerous.

They seem to be so friendly and so helpful and so concerned for you, especially if you'll send them money. Here's the thing, if they looked dangerous, you'd stay away, so you have to look closer. Jesus gave us the signs to look for.

You'll recognize a wolf even when he looks like a sheep. If you stay with us today on the Truth Pulpit, it'll be good for your soul. And friend, let's get right to today's lesson as we join Don Green now in the Truth Pulpit.

How do we protect ourselves? Point number three, the detection of false prophets. The detection of false prophets. While they are subtle, while they are tricky, they can be exposed. Look at verse 16 with me. Jesus says, you will know them by their fruits. He says, you listen to me, you'll know these men when you see them.

They're subtle, but you can pick through the debris and discern them. He says, you will know them by their fruits. Verse 16, grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles are they. So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Now, just a little something, a little structural observation about the passage here. Notice that in verse 16 he says, you will know them by their fruits. And then in verse 20, it ends with the exact same phrase. You will know them by their fruits. And so verses 16 to 20 form a unit. This phrase, you will know them by their fruit, serves as a bracket around everything that is in between. And everything that is in between is reinforcing and teaching this same basic principle about how you will recognize false teachers, how you will detect them.

It's a single theme that he is making here. And Jesus uses a simple illustration to make his point. Think about it, beloved. This isn't difficult. Where do you find good fruit? You go to a good tree that is bearing fruit. Say, I want a lemon or I want an apricot. You go to a lemon tree and pull off a lemon.

You go to an apricot tree and you pull off an apricot. That's simple. If you want to know God's truth, look for the teachers and the leaders who are showing forth good fruit in their lives. Truth that is consistent with biblical doctrine.

Truth that is consistent with the righteousness of God in their own personal life. It's not that difficult. But you have to be aware of it to be able to pursue it and to recognize it. You don't find good fruit on thorn bushes. You don't find grapes among thistles.

No, you go to the right source to find good fruit. This is a general principle of life. Jesus says, take that basic principle that a child can understand and apply it to spiritual life as you are observing teachers who would claim to speak for God. When it comes to spiritual truth, how do you recognize the right source? How do you recognize a true teacher and distinguish him from the false teacher? How do you detect a false prophet?

Listen, beloved, this is so important. You have to look beyond what he says, in essence saying, I speak for God here. You have to look beyond that and say, okay, I hear you say you're claiming to speak for God.

Now let me examine that claim to see whether it be true. Just because a man says he speaks for God doesn't mean that he really does, and that is the point of Jesus' teaching here. The Bible gives us an enormous amount of help on this issue, and I hope I'm going to be able to convey it to you in the time we have remaining. First of all, in detecting false prophets, first of all, you look at their teaching. This is two things about detecting a false prophet.

First of all, you look at their teaching. You look at the fruit of what their doctrine is. Now, as I've been saying, Jesus in this context had just been talking about the narrow way, and then he goes on and says, beware of the false prophets. Beloved, a false prophet does not teach the true narrow way to salvation. False prophets do not teach Jesus' narrow way. They are strangely—get this, please get this— they are strangely silent on the very crucial matters that make the way narrow to begin with.

There is no narrow way in their teaching. The things that they say about God and Christ and love might be true as far as they go, but it's what they withhold and what they do not say that exposes them and that you have to be sensitive to. It's not necessarily that they say anything that is directly wrong. They just don't tell you the whole truth.

The legal system understands this. When witnesses are sworn in, they're there to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It would be wonderful if there was a similar oath that someone had to take before he could step into a pulpit and open up the Word of God.

Swear of man. And really, in essence, this really is what happens. It just doesn't happen externally like it does in a courtroom, but God is going to evaluate teachers on whether they tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And that, beloved, is the key for your discernment.

Let me explain that. False teachers, false prophets may talk about Jesus, but they won't tell you that other religions lead to hell. False prophets will ignore or minimize that salvation comes only through Christ. They will minimize the consequences of sin.

I'll talk about that more in a moment. But they are superficial men who are like the prophets God condemned in Jeremiah 6.14. Jeremiah 6.14. God condemned those prophets by saying, they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, peace, peace, when there is no peace.

No cause for alarm. All is well. God is love.

Go in peace, they say. And they can make it sound so appealing. Sprinkle in a few Bible verses that you yourself love, but never get around to showing what the real threat is of sin and judgment. Never getting around to say that you have something that you need to be saved from.

That is your sin and God's coming judgment. Those themes are strangely silent. When those themes are absent, people are never going to be awakened to their need for Christ. And their silence is what damns them and their teaching. Using the word dam and damnation in its literal sense of what God is going to do with them.

Now, let me give you five questions to ask yourself to help you detect false teachers in their teaching. I'm going to go through this real quick and just tie one Bible verse to it, but this will be a little primer on discernment. First of all, ask yourself this question when you're hearing a new teacher, or if, you know, you're from other churches and ask yourself this about what you're hearing from your own pulpit. Question number one, when does this man talk about the holiness and wrath of God? When does this man talk about the holiness and wrath of God? Romans 1 18, and notice in these verses that I'm going to give you, pay attention to the universal nature of what they say. Romans 1 18, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.

God's wrath is on this wicked world. When does that teacher talk about that? Secondly, when does this man talk about eternal judgment and hell? When does this man talk about eternal judgment and hell? Revelation 20 verse 15. Revelation 20 verse 15, I'm slowing down to help you take your notes.

20 verse 15, if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. When does this teacher talk about that? It's a good question to ask yourself. Listen, beloved, two things. If a man really believed those truths, he would be compelled to speak about them. He would not stand up in a pulpit and joke and laugh and entertain week after week, month after month, if he really believed that, because he would be compelled by the eternal realities that he knew to be true to speak on the things that really mattered.

And you show me a man who is just totally seeker sensitive like that, totally into and entertaining his audience, and I'll show you a man who does not believe these truths that we're talking about here today. Secondly, show me a man like that, and I'll show you a man who doesn't truly care for the souls that are in front of him, because if he truly cared about the souls that were in front of him, he would want to wake them up to those realities so that they could flee the wrath that is to come. He would be so weighed down by the reality of souls going into judgment and facing God and being able to speak and to say something about that, and if he loved them at all, he would warn them even if it was an unpopular thing for him to say. He would sacrifice his own popularity for the sake of the souls in front of him. The fact that he doesn't, the fact that he won't talk about it shows that he doesn't believe it, and he doesn't care, and therefore is not entitled to the allegiance or loyalty or devotion or support of anyone, because the results and the fruit of his teaching are going to show forth in the last day.

And he's going to be playing his little flute, leading people along. Everybody merry and happy until judgment strikes and it's too late. Beloved, you have the opportunity to discern teachers like that and to turn away from them. And not only that, I'm not telling you anything that you haven't heard over the years, but you've got to keep that in mind for the people who look to you as well. It's not just you, it's the people who look to you as well.

Thirdly, third question to ask yourself to help you detect false teachers. When does he talk about sin and repentance? When does he talk about sin and repentance? When does he hold forth the perfect law of God and tell you that you have broken that law and guilt is upon you as a result? When does he tell you that? See, a false teacher doesn't want to talk about those things because he's afraid it will empty his church. People will get angry and they will leave and then his power base will be diminished.

The pool that he has to draw upon for his greed and his lusts and his ambition is going to be diminished. So he steps back and he makes the way broad so that more people can follow. So when does he talk about sin and repentance? Because Luke 24, Luke 24 verse 47 says, Repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in Christ's names to all the nations. That's the mandate. Preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

When does this man or woman do that? You say he doesn't? Huh. Well, maybe about it. Then he's not giving you the way to forgiveness of sins. He's leaving you dead in your trespasses. It's a mortal threat to those who hear because of his silence. Fourthly, when does this man talk about justification by faith alone? When does he talk about justification by faith alone? When does he tell you how you are made right by the imputation of Christ's righteousness to your account?

And receiving that gift by faith alone. When does he do that? Romans 3 28, Paul says, For we maintain that a man, that is any man, is justified by faith apart from works of the law. That's what Paul taught.

When does this teacher get around to talking about those things? Fifthly, when does this man talk about the substitutionary atonement of Christ? When does he talk about the truth and meaning of the death of Christ on the cross? Isaiah 53 verse 6, All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way.

But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him. Referring to Christ. When does this teacher talk about that?

When does he get around to it? Now I understand. A guy can't talk about all of that stuff in one message. I understand that, although I guess I just did, didn't I?

That just occurred to me. No, we're talking about judging the course of a man's ministry. What are the themes that mark his teaching? It's not fair to judge a guy on one message when he has a bad day.

What is he like over the long haul? Because if a teacher believes these things, he will speak of them. If he doesn't speak on them, his silence is deafening because he is being silent on the fundamental points of the gospel.

And he's leading people down the broad path that leads to destruction. So examine his teaching when you're detecting a false prophet. Secondly, it's not just their teaching that you can examine, though. Examine their lifestyle.

Examine their lifestyle. This point is apparent from the context of the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes opened up with Jesus describing who the kingdom of heaven even belonged to. And he said in Matthew chapter 5 verse 3, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs and theirs alone, is what it means, is the kingdom of heaven. A proud, boisterous, self-promoting man is not even in the kingdom of heaven at all. A guy who doesn't know something of brokenness of spirit before a holy God is not even a Christian, let alone a true teacher. Jesus says the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit.

At what point in that man's life does he exhibit that characteristic? True Christians are marked by verse 6 of chapter 5, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Where is his thirst for righteousness? Where does he manifest a desire for the righteousness that God requires?

That's a fair question. That's a question that you should be asking when teachers come into your life. Further, this whole matter of their lifestyle, Matthew chapter 7 verse 21, look at it with me, Matthew 7 verse 21, Jesus says, Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. Take that and apply it directly to the false teacher who says, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord.

Okay, great, I agree, Jesus is Lord. What about your life, sir? Don't be afraid to ask those questions. Jesus is basically commanding us to ask those questions because he's saying, beware, pay attention, be on guard. You see, beloved, keep this in mind, talk is cheap. False prophets thrive on smooth talk and appearances that may trick you into thinking that they're the real thing. But, beloved, if I could say anything to you in kind of colloquial language, don't be a sucker.

Don't be a sucker for men like that because eventually what is in their hearts will come out. And, beloved, when you see an arrogant teacher or when you see a man who has been living a double life of sin that comes out eventually, you can know that you're looking at a false prophet, one right in front of your eyes, and you just go, this is what Jesus was talking about. So you test their claim to speak for God because those trees are going to get cut down and thrown into the fire.

They may fool us for a while, but God will triumph in the end. Now, what do you do if you've been exposed to a false teacher? How do you respond? Just a few suggestions as I close up. This will just take a couple of minutes.

Last page of the notes so it can't go much farther. Final point, point number four, dealing with false teachers. We've talked about their reality.

We've talked about their danger and detecting them. Now we talk about how to deal with false teachers. I want to give you four little things to help you on this matter. Number one, hold to principle over personality. Hold to principle over personality.

I would venture to say for people that we've known in particular, this is where we are most weak. You should not make excuses for false teachers. They have to be accountable to God, and when they stand up and they teach, they're calling greater judgment and accountability upon themselves.

If they violate God's teaching, biblical teaching, and if they show forth sin in their lifestyle, don't make excuses for them. Jesus commands you to turn away from them. Secondly, if you find yourself under the ministry of a false teacher, and in part I'm thinking to people who aren't here and who will hear this later, I'm speaking to them as well as to you. If you find yourself under the ministry of a false teacher and you come to recognize, second thing I would say, remove yourself from his influence. Remove yourself from his influence. Jesus says, beware, turn away from them. And that means you don't listen to their teaching, and you remove yourself from their authority. Leave the church if you know the man's a false teacher, and if they threaten you with excommunication, and you've got biblical grounds for saying this man is false, take the excommunication rather than following a man who's false. You've got to beware.

You've got to be on guard. Thirdly, withdraw your support. Don't enable their ministry with your time and resources.

You isolate them like we talked about from 2 John. You don't help them continue in their false ministry. And fourthly, and this one may seem a little bit counterintuitive, but when it comes to this, number four, leave their final judgment to God. Leave their final judgment to God. Because it's easy to get wrapped up in the question of, you know, well, is this man even a Christian or not?

You know, I mean, I see his ministry is bad, but is he even a Christian? Don't worry yourself with that question, because that's not your final judgment to make. Let God take care of that.

Your responsibility is to get out of the realm of danger so that that wolf cannot attack you. Now, beloved, these are weighty issues that call for serious understanding and discernment. But don't be gullible before every huckster that comes along and claims to speak for God. In the great grace of Christ, you don't have to be.

He says, you will know them by their fruits. Our Lord has given us what we need to discern the pretenders from the real ones and to walk down the narrow path that leads to eternal life. What a great grace He has given to us. Amen? Let's pray. Father, guard our paths and guide us in this crucial matter of discernment that we might honor Christ by following true men of God who truly speak for you. And Father, would you expose the many false prophets and false teachers who are around and so protect your sheep from their deadly influence. We thank you for the grace that is ours in Christ, and we pray that you would help us to this end, in Jesus' name. Amen. As Pastor Don Green has again reminded us today on the Truth Pulpit, the stakes are high in the spiritual war taking place between God and His church versus Satan and his followers.

A war, by the way, whose outcome is certain. God wins. Next time we begin a lesson talking about the urgency of rejecting false teachers. And Don, only God knows the number of our days, so the best time to get the gospel right is always the present, isn't it? You know, friend, I'm just mindful that there are bound to be some of you who are facing terminal health issues as you're coming through this holiday season, and I want you to know that my heart and prayers are with you. The Lord knows your need, and He will never forsake you. If you're a Christian, renew your trust in Him. And if you're not a Christian, you're alone, you're frightened, turn to Christ. He's a great Savior. Turn from your sin and ask Him to save you.

He promises that He'll give you rest. God bless you. And friend, if you missed any part of today's message, you can listen again at your convenience when you visit us at While there, you can also find the link to Don Green's Facebook page. So again, please visit Now for Don Green, this is Bill Wright inviting you back next time as Don continues in his ministry of teaching God's people God's Word from the truth pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-02 09:37:09 / 2023-01-02 09:46:26 / 9

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