There’s likely not many of us who haven’t fallen for a false teaching, or two, at one point in our Christian walk. As new Christians, we can often be filled with zeal for God, but lack knowledge of His word and the maturity to discern between biblical teaching and false teaching. It’s understandable. Yet what about seemingly mature Christians, who do know the Lord? Why do they continue to sit under false teachers and their teachings?

Firstly, I think it’s because we lack biblical discernment and understanding. The Lord gives us discernment, and we are told to exercise it. John MacArthur defines discernment as being “nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.[1]John MacArthur: What is Biblical Discernment and Why is it Important – Many people are in a situation where they rely on their pastors to spoon-feed them, and they don’t study the word of God for themselves on a regular basis. While it is of the utmost importance that we do attend a church where the word of God is being preached properly and unapologetically; this, in itself, should never replace personal Bible reading and study — they go hand in hand. We should be nourishing ourselves constantly on God’s word and digging deeper into its pages with each passing year. If you are sitting under a Pastor who is not grounded firmly in the word and who does not know how to exegete the Scriptures correctly, and you lack biblical discernment, then you will end up spiritually malnourished. So how do you gain discernment? Pray for it, study the Scriptures diligently, and learn the art of exegesis. Then you will be better equipped to spot a false teacher and false teachings.

Secondly, many of the false teachings are so subtle. There is a bit of truth packed into many falsehoods— there’s just enough truth to sound right, and that’s exactly where the danger lies. False teachings don’t seem inherently wrong, and the text may seem to imply the particular interpretation which we are given at first read, when we fail to take context into consideration. Galatians 5:9 warns us that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.” This is important to remember. Paul was using the above analogy to warn the Galatian Christians that they were not to add anything to the truth of the Gospel — that salvation is found solely through the Lord through faith. Whilst this may have been offensive to the Judaizers, who had been attempting to persuade the Galatians to adopt Jewish customs, it was of the utmost importance that the church rejected anything other than Christ’s saving work. The same applies now in 2016. Just as how the Judaizers attempted to add to the message of the Gospel and thus distorted it; a little bit of falsehood mixed in with the truth taints the truth and leads people astray.

Thirdly, false teachings are often easy-believism. They appeal to the senses, don’t require much of us personally, and are all about self. If I am being told about a God who will bless me ten-fold, one-hundred-fold, or even a-thousand-fold, for every dollar I give to His ‘church’, then that’s a pretty good deal. Likewise, if I can demand full and total healing from the Lord because I am His child and because it’s my right to do so, well I would be foolish not be taking that seriously! However, that is not what the Bible says, and that is not what God promises His children. These are points where the Scriptures are taken out of context and applied incorrectly, and people are, consequently, led astray.

Lastly, false teachings tell us that we are okay— that there is some goodness in us (and we all want to hear that!) I recently saw a few quotes being circulated around Facebook that said something along the lines of “God chose you because He saw something good in you,” and, “God chose you because He can’t live without you.” Now this sounds fantastic doesn’t it? The God of the universe — the almighty, omnipotent, creator God looked upon me and saw something special — so special that he needs me! Wow! While that may be appealing to the ego, it’s just not biblical. In fact, we read in the Scriptures the complete opposite. Romans 3:10-18 tells us that

“None is righteous, no, not one;

no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one.”

“Their throat is an open grave;

they use their tongues to deceive.”

“The venom of asps is under their lips.”

“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

in their paths are ruin and misery,

and the way of peace they have not known.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

God chose His elect to reveal His grace, mercy, and glory. It’s not about us — it’s about Him. Any teaching that attempts to take the glory away from God in order to place it onto us is intrinsically false. The gospel is about Jesus Christ and His saving work, to reduce it to anything else is a complete travesty and must be avoided.

References   [ + ]

1.John MacArthur: What is Biblical Discernment and Why is it Important –