5 Ways to Spot a False Preacher

About a month I preached a sermon about ways to spot a false teacher/preacher. Click here to listen to it.

With unlimited access to any sermon you want to listen to by any preacher today we are inundated with opportunities to hear the preaching of God's Word. Unfortunately, there are are many false teachers out there that we should stay away from. False teachers can cause a great deal of harm to the church and to the individuals who are swayed by their teachings.

When I was looking for an engagement ring for my wife, Stephanie, I was told by the Jeweler that in order to identify a good diamond from a bad one, I must know the 4 C's of a diamond.

  • Cut – Is the diamond’s most important characteristic. It has the greatest overall
    influence on a diamond’s beauty. It determines what we general think of as
    sparkle.
  • Color – Refers to a diamond’s lack of color, grading the whiteness of a diamond.
  • Clarity – Is the measure of the number and size of the tiny imperfections that occur in almost all diamonds. Many of these imperfections (blemishes, inclusions) are microscopic, and do not affect a diamond’s beauty in any discernible way.
  • Carat – Is the measure of the diamond’s weight (click here for more details).

diamond

I had no clue about diamonds. I was a single, graduate student dude who had never walked into a Jewelry store before. I'm grateful the Jeweler took the time to explain this to me because if he hadn't I could have easily bought a fake.

Like the Jeweler did for me that day, Paul has done for us. He gave Timothy and us 5 ways to spot a phony.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 says

If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

#1: Fruitless

Not agreeing with the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ not only means these teachers didn't affirm the good news of Jesus Christ that Paul was teaching, but it also means that these teachers didn't follow the ethical implications that flow out of the teachings of Jesus. In other words, true teaching follows good and rightful living. If you hear a preacher on Sunday and then don't see him practicing what he preaches, he is fruitless. He is not doing what he says.

There are many teachers and preachers out there who tell us one thing and then do another. They instruct us to do certain things, but they are unwilling to do it themselves. Jesus tells us that a way for us to know if there are false teachers among us is by their fruits, by their works, by their lifestyle, by their behavior (Matthew 7: 15-20). When we hear a preacher preach or a teacher teach in the classroom or small group, we shouldn't expect Jesus, but we should expect them to do their best to practice what they preach.

 fruitless

#2: Resistant

When I think of the word resistant, I think of the words defiant, disobedient, rebellious,
opposing, contrary, unyielding. When you are resistant, you are acting in opposition.

False teachers do not agree with you, and they have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about things that don’t ultimately matter. They are drama queens that like to talk about the controversial topics. You might have a false teacher among you if all they talk about is the most controversial topic you can think of. 

The NAS Version says, "…but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words…" (1 Timothy 6:4).

The KJV says, "…but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words…" (1 Timothy 6:4).

A false teacher also doesn't like to be held accountable. They have trouble with authority. There are teachers out there who refuse to be under accountability because it might "hold them back". There are teachers out there who have an agenda. Be careful of preachers who want autonomy.

#3: Arrogant

Verse 4 describes him as conceited. The Greek word here (tuphomai) means to be swollen with pride, to be puffed up with conceit, or proud. When a Preacher experiences some success as a church grows in attendance, he can easily become prideful, and believe the growth was because of him. How often we forget that everything is from the hand of God and by the grace of God (see Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

False teachers can also become 'know-it-alls.' Preachers and teachers spend a lot of time reading and researching various topics. As a result, they tend to know a lot of information about a variety of topics. Because of their wide range of knowledge, they can think they know everything and become experts in any topic discussed. Don't believe the lie that Pastors know everything. They don't.

#4: Uneducated

Paul describes a false teacher as one who understands nothing (1 Timothy 6:4).  The KJV describes him as 'knowing nothing.' A false teacher is ignorant. To be ignorant means to lack knowledge or awareness in general. To be ignorant means to be uneducated or unsophisticated. To be ignorant means you get on your high horse and you can’t get down from it. To be ignorant means you don’t know what you are talking about or what you confidently affirm.

There are many preachers and teachers out there who do their homework as mentioned above, but there are many who don't. When you hear a preacher every week say, "I'm just going to preach where the Spirit has led me," more than likely they didn't do their homework. I understand this is important to do every now and then, but if it becomes a routine, I would question if they've done the research needed to preach clearly. When a preacher or teacher is confused about something from the Bible, he needs to be sure to do the study that is needed before teaching.

#5: Distracted

distracted 2

Paul says that false teachers have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words...and think that godliness is a means to financial gain (1 Timothy 6:4-5).

Not only do false teachers spend their time on controversial subjects and not the Word, but they also use their platform to make a good living. This passage reminds me of the 'health and wealth' preachers who preach the prosperity gospel. The prosperity message says that if you just read your Bible 5 minutes a day, pray, and work hard, God will reward you financially. This may not be the case, but it does sound good. Because it sounds good, preachers continue to preach it and make money off its false message. The message of Christianity is about surrendering, commitment, suffering, standing alone, and abandonment, not success and money. Money and succes can come for Christians, but we shouldn't expect it everytime we pray or read the Bible.

False teachers and preachers are distracted with money and with telling people what they want to hear and not what they need to hear.

Paul told Timothy, and he’s telling us today, remember the 5 signs of a phony preacher:

Fruitless

Resistant

Arrogant

Uneducated

Distracted

When you're dealing with a phony, you're dealing with a FRAUD. A fraud is a fake, a
sham, a counterfeit, a hoax, or a scam. There are frauds out there, and we must be
careful of them.

Be watchful of phony preachers.

 

 

 

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