According to the Bible, false teachers are a deadly menace, not just an annoyance or distraction. Such wicked messengers attacked the Israelites, drawing them away from God’s law. Jesus warned his followers about them, calling them “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” And the apostles confirmed and clarified the Lord’s warnings, labeling false teachers “dogs” and “evil workers.”
Such strong language reveals the mortal peril of prophetic error. Truth is the Christian’s life blood. Knowing it sets us free. So, if we fall prey to Satan’s lies from the mouths of the liars he employs, we cut ourselves off from life-giving, freedom-winning truth.
Maintaining biblical balance
We’ve talked about the “two ditches” analogy before. It’s the idea that there are two equal but opposite errors on either side of a biblical truth. It’s easy to steer into one or the other without realizing it.
For example, you might think it’s okay to sin because repentance is easy. Or, you might avoid repenting of sin because you fear the difficulty of returning to God. The better, safer way is to stay in your lane. Be forgiven, but don’t go on sinning (Jn. 8).
This analogy applies to false teachers as well. One “ditch” into which you can drive is heresy hunting, finding error in every teacher and arguing over every minor doctrinal point. The other ditch is turning off your spiritual discernment and embracing any teacher in the name of peace and unity.
But we Christians cannot, should not unite over that which the Bible calls us to divide. Similarly, we should not cause division over non-essential matters. Staying in the driving lane requires the right mix of discernment and discretion.
The mature Christian calls out false teachings and teachers when they pose a true spiritual threat, but remains watchfully silent over issues of personal preference or stylistic difference.
Thomas Brooks was a good pastor who loved his flock. His care for his readers emanates from his text. Here in chapter 7 he provides seven characteristics of false teachers. Brooks beckons his readers inside the protective fence of spiritual discernment, wisdom, and truth.[Continue reading] about What does the Bible say about false teachers?