Are you listening to the truth? Are your beliefs based upon sound doctrine? Do you sift all that you hear and read through the truth of God’s Word?

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”  2 Timothy 4:3-4

God’s Word is the foundation of our lives as believers. The eternal truth of Scripture is the basis for our faith. We embrace His Word as God-breathed, Spirit-inspired truth.

The apostle Paul warns Timothy that false teachers will infiltrate the church. Their smooth talk and cunning words will lead believers astray. They will distort God’s truth to suit the desires of their listeners… telling them what they want to hear… what meshes with their lifestyles.

“For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”  2 Corinthians 11:4

Paul reprimands the people of Corinth for accepting the unsound doctrines promoted by false teachers. He cares deeply for these new believers, not wanting them to be so easily deceived. He longs for them to stand firm in the true gospel of Christ that he has so lovingly taught them.

Paul’s warnings about false teachers are applicable today. Believers can fall prey to their compelling words and persuasive messages… and so be led astray. We need to be alert to teachings that run counter to God’s Word. The only way to be sure of the soundness of any teaching is to test it against the truth of Scripture.

The Bible is our source of truth… our authoritative handbook for life. False teachers may claim to have secret knowledge or revelation. Yet anyone who teaches a new way of salvation… a new spirit to be received… a new portrayal of Jesus not found in Scripture, is teaching a counterfeit gospel, not the true gospel. They are not to be believed.

“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.”  2 Corinthians 11:13

False teachers claim to represent Christ, yet their words are deceptive… based upon myths and false truths. Jesus taught that anyone who is not for Him is against Him (Matthew 12:30). Those who align themselves, their lifestyles and their teachings with the world and its ways are enemies of God and His kingdom.

How are we to recognize false teachers? They may preach a different gospel… a gospel not founded on the Word of God. The way of salvation is through Christ alone, based on grace not works. Any message that distorts the true gospel message is a false truth.

False teachers may preach a different Jesus. Christ is the Son of God who became man to give His life as a perfect sin offering. Through belief in Him, we have forgiveness for our sins and the promise of eternal life. Any message that changes the truth of Christ is a false truth.

False teachers may preach a different spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ within us… our Teacher, our Counselor, our Guide. The Spirit leads us to become more and more like Christ, honoring Him with our lifestyle. Any message that teaches of a spirit that leads to an ungodly lifestyle is a false truth.

“Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.”  Matthew 7:15-16

Jesus warns us to beware of false teachers who disguise themselves as members of the flock of God. They are as wolves who lead the sheep astray to their destruction. Their message is one based on relative truths not the absolute truth of God. Scripture is craftily twisted by them to appeal to their audiences… leading followers away from the path of righteousness.

Jesus shares that we can recognize false teachers by their fruit. They may appear to blend in with the flock. Yet beneath their sheep’s clothing are far different characters. People’s beliefs will show up in their actions. The lifestyles of false teachers oppose the ways of God, betraying their messages. Their underlying motives are for personal power, profit or prestige.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”  1 Corinthians 16:13

How do we protect ourselves and our faith from false teachers? The closer we stay to the Shepherd, the safer we will be from the wolves. We defend the faith that God has entrusted to us (Jude 1:3). As we seek to become knowledgeable and enlightened about God’s Word, any teaching that veers away from Scripture will be readily discerned.

God’s Word is not to be changed to fit our lives. Our lives are to be changed to fit His Word. Let us stand strong in our beliefs and in the truth of the Bible. Let us stand against unsound doctrines and false truths. As we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit along our path to Christlikeness, let us courageously affirm a true gospel, a true Spirit and a true Jesus.