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Beware of False Teachers
We are warned in the Scriptures to beware of people who are a danger to the life of the assembly, to its growth, its prosperity, its purity and its testimony. Yahweh’s assembly, His chosen people, is valuable to Him. He paid the highest price for it, and He wants it protected, especially from the devastating damage that is caused by division, conflict, and disharmony.
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Master Yahshua, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil, Romans 16:17-19 NIV.
Ever since the assembly was formed, she had been plagued by false teachers, troublemakers and even dangerous people. These people professed to know the Messiah but are not truly possessors of the true faith.
They claim to know Yahweh, but by their actions they deny Him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good, Titus 1:16 NIV.
After 2,000 years, dangerous people are still with us. That’s right. There are still those from within and without the assembly who work against the plan of Yahweh, who seem to mold the assembly to their likeness and who do not care about the destructive effect on the whole membership. It is therefore expedient that we take heed of the warning in the Scriptures.
This study can be of twofold benefits. First, it can serve as preventive maintenance. It has been said that the best offense is a good defense! It will do us good to know what the Bible says about false teachers in the ministry and how to handle them so that when trouble arises we will be able to identify the problem and deal it a death blow before serious damage is done to the assembly of Yahweh. Second, we will be aware of the strategies of the enemy and therefore avoid being used by the devil to cause trouble in the family of Yahweh.
False teachings could have a serious and damaging effect. Apostle Paul says in 2Timothy 2:17 “Their teaching will spread like gangrene…” J.B. Phillips Translation of the New Testament very expressively transliterates this by saying that these false teachers “are as dangerous as blood poisoning to the blood and spread like sepsis from a wound.” False teaching in the assembly is like gangrene or a malignant tumor in the body. It eats away the healthy tissues, it spreads and it eventually kills. We need to be awake to this danger in our day.
It is important for us to recognize that there are two ways in which people can be a danger in any congregation: the first is by holding and propagating false doctrines, and the second is by carnal and undisciplined living.
The Characteristics of False Teachers
The Bible gives us explicit signs about false teachers. False teachers appear to be preaching the Word of Yahweh but in reality they are not. And the painful truth is that these false teachers may come from the ranks of the assembly. In Acts 20:28-31 we are told
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the Assembly of Yahweh, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
How can we recognize false teachers in the assembly? Yahshua said in Matthew 7:20,
Thus, by their fruit you will know them.
The fruits or deeds of false teachers prove them to be just what they are.
They are Disobedient
They profess to know Yahweh, but in their works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work, Titus 1:16 NKJV.
Disobedient is the translation of Strong’s # 545 of the Greek apeithes (ap-i-thace); unpersuadable; i.e. contumacious: - disobedience.
Verse 10 of Titus chapter 1 tells us that they were “insubordinate”, “rebellious” in the NIV, which means that they refused to submit to authority, that is, the authority of the Scriptures, and they were insubordinate and ungoverned. If there is trouble in the assembly, or in the ministry, it is not primarily due to a clash of personalities, though it may include this. It is due to refusal on the part of somebody to submit to the authority of the Word of Yahweh.
True teachers must follow the Scriptures. They must not teach anything that cannot be supported by the Scriptures. They must use all the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments. They cannot take just one verse as the basis for establishing doctrine. They must use supporting verses from the entire Bible. They should not use any teaching material that is of man which cannot be supported by the Scriptures.
True teachers endeavor to be a good example of holy living to others. They display in their own life the truth they believe and teach. True teachers do not deny the true Names of the Heavenly Father and His Son.
They are Divisive
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them, Romans 16:17.
Paul uses two words here that describe what the false teachers do in the assembly of Yahweh. The first is the word “divisions”. It is a translation of Strong’s #1370 dichostasia (dee-khos-tas-ee’-ah); from a der. of NT 1364 and 4714; disunion, i.e. (fig.) dissension: - division, sedition. It means “to splinter or cause dissensions.” The other word is “offences”, which means “to lay a trap or snare in the path of another to cause them to stumble.” “Offences” is Strong’s # 4625, a translation of the Greek skandalon (skan’-dal-on) (“scandal”); prob. from a der. of 2578; a trap-stick (bent sapling), i.e. snare (fig. cause of displeasure or sin): - occasion to fall (of stumbling), offence, thing that offends, stumbling block.
How do they cause divisions and offences? How do they become a stumbling block? They deviate from the Word of Yahweh! They come in and begin to teach doctrines contrary to what the Bible says. They twist the Word of Yahweh to teach doctrines that are not biblical and thereby lead people astray. They teach doctrines that resemble what one finds in the Bible. But, there are subtle differences! Differences that make all the difference! This is the tactic of the religions of our world. They teach doctrines that, on the surface, appear to be biblical and right, but which are, in truth, evil. These false teachers will blithely follow their own ideas and fanciful interpretations.
There are chemicals that look and smell just like water. But, if they are drunk like water, they will cause death. You had better know the difference. So it is in the assembly. Some things sound good and convincing on the surface, but you have better be so familiar with the real thing that you can tell the difference. The false doctrine will divide the assembly and will send souls to the lake of fire!
Since these false doctrines sound good and convincing, these will attract some and before long, there is a division in the assembly. Satan loves it when this happens! He loves to introduce something into the life of the assembly that will divide the flock. He will then run in and cause massive damage in the midst of Yahweh’s people.
Watch out for these divisive people! Watch out for those who would teach things contrary to the truth of the Bible.
They are Deceptive
For those who are such do not serve our Master the Messiah, but their own belly and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the minds of the simple, Romans 16:18 NKJV.
These people may pretend to have pure motives and the good of the assembly at heart, but in reality they are not true believers. They don’t care about the assembly but only about themselves, their power and their personal gain. These people love to amass a following. They want to be in a position of leadership and they crave prosperity.
These people have a way with words and they use their ability to twist the truth and deceive the “simple”. The word “simple” does not refer to stupid people. This word is Strong’s #172, a translation of the Greek akakos (ak-ak-os); not bad, i.e. (obj.) innocent or (subj.) unsuspecting: – harmless, simple. It would speak of those believers who have not matured enough to know that everything that sounds good isn’t always good. Many young believers are so eager to learn about the Word of Yahweh that they are easy marks for these false teachers and other dangerous people. They haven’t grown deep enough in the things of Yahweh to be able to recognize a counterfeit when it appears before them. Those people in the banks who study real money can recognize a counterfeit bill when presented to them. So the people of Yahweh should be so familiar with the truth that when a false doctrine appears, they can recognize it and expose it for what it is. There is therefore no substitute for a constant study of the Word of Yahweh to mature the believer and insulate him/her against the deceptive tactics of the false teachers.
Do your best to present yourself to Yahweh as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth, 2Timothy 2:15 NIV.
True teachers “renounced secret and shameful ways; do not use deception, nor distort the word of Yahweh. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly they commend themselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of Yahweh,” 2Cor. 4:2.
How to Handle False Teachers
When false teachers appear in the assembly, what are we to do about them? Paul tells us in Romans 16:17:
I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them.
Paul says to “mark” them. This is Strong’s #4648 a translation of the Greek skopeo (skopeh- o); from 4649; to take aim at (spy), i.e. (fig.) regard: - consider, take heed, look at (on), mark. Obviously, we got our word “scope” from it. It means “to fix one’s eyes and attention upon someone or something.”
The idea here is that we have to watch the enemy lest he slip in on us and cause problems in the assembly. We are to keep our eyes open against those who would infiltrate the assembly!
Paul’s second command is very clear. He says that we are to “avoid them”. He is telling us that we are to have no fellowship with those who are dangerous to the life of the assembly. The word “avoid” is Strong’s # 1578 from the Greek ekklino (ek-klee-no); from 1537 and 2827; to deviate, i.e. (absol.) to shun (lit. or fig.), or (rel.) to decline (from piety): - avoid, eschew, go out of the way.
Apostle Paul gives another course of action how to handle these dangerous people.
Rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith, Titus 1:13b NIV.
The rebuking was with a view to their restoration “that they will be sound in the faith.” It is possible that these people are not aware that they are already being used by Satan. They are duped into doing Satan’s work. Thus, it is necessary to rebuke and pray for those who teach false doctrine knowing that they are not the real enemy but Satan.
Imposition of disciplinary action is also proper. As a result of a severe discipline imposed on these dangerous people, they might be led to repentance and brought back into full fellowship with Yahshua and with His people.
But, if these people refuse to repent and amend their ways, if they are in their spiritual life where they are willing to destroy the assembly to get their own way, the assembly is better off without them. It is often better for an assembly when some people leave. The goal here is to protect the assembly and to allow the Holy Spirit room to open the eyes of these people.
The Defense Against False Teachers
The purveyors of false teaching are constantly trapping the unwary. This is their methodology.
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, 2Peter 2:1a.
The false teachers come into the assembly and they gradually indoctrinate Yahweh’s people. But there is a defense against the work of the false teachers in the assembly.
To avoid being led astray by false teaching, be committed and dwell deeply in the Word of Yahweh. If you do not study the Bible and meet with others of like mind and spirit, you can be deceived by these false teachers. Always prove what they say by the Word of Yahweh. The surest defense against intrusions by false teachers and other people who would divide
the assembly is a congregation that has grown strong in the Word of Yahweh. Our lives should be marked by a commitment to the Word of Yahweh. We should consider it as essential to our life as food. Job said, I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread, Job 23:12 NIV.
We should be committed to spend some time in the study of the Scriptures and be imbued with the great doctrines of the faith. There are more Bibles in print today than ever before, but a Bible on the shelf is worthless. If you will determine in your heart that you will study the Bible, you will not be easy prey for those who would bring false doctrine into the assembly. They will have a hard time with you! You will be able to spot them early and to expose them easily.
To avoid being led astray by false teaching, be much in prayer. Pray without ceasing, 2 Thessalonians 5:17. All who have grown up in Yahshua and have become mighty for Him have known the importance of prayer. They have been men and women of prayer. The priority of prayer is brought before us in 1Timothy 2:1,
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.
Here is something that must be done first of all. Paul is urging that prayer is a priority matter and that it should always come first. It is the most important spiritual exercise in which we can engage. We often fail in that we put prayer second or third. Instead of making prayer fundamental we make it supplemental. We add it on if there is time left, and when we do this, we are foolish and wrong. It is easy to crowd prayer out of our daily program. Whenever we do this, we suffer. Prayer will keep our soul fit and we can develop it unto holiness – that is, in order that we may become a righteous person, grown into spiritual manhood and maturity, and one who is, above all, like our Savior Yahshua Messiah. Pray for spiritual guidance and ask Yahweh for His protection and help.
To avoid being led astray by false teaching, don’t play with “poison”! – if any teaching is suspect, prove it to be true or false. If false, then run from it, avoid it, beware of it, and keep away from it. Don’t give satan a chance. Be skeptical of any new teaching that may come your way and carefully scrutinize it to see if such teaching is in line with sound doctrine. Hold to the truth. Be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the false teachers and fall from your secure position.
The Destruction of False Teachers
Apostle Peter does not hesitate to tell us of the awful condemnation that awaits the false teacher in 2 Peter 2:1: “… and bring on themselves swift destruction”; in verse 3 “… and their destruction does not slumber”; and in verse 9 “… and to reserve the unjust (including false teachers) under punishment for the day of judgment.”
All false teachers receive their energy from one source: Satan. Paul informs us that there is coming a day when the father of all false teachers will get what’s coming to him. Romans 16:20 speaks of the destruction of the false teacher,
And the Elohim of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. Of course, Satan knows his time is short, Revelation 12:12. He is trying to do as much damage as he can in the time he has left. He is trying to destroy homes and divide congregations. He will do anything to wreck and tear down the lives of people. He deceives the whole world with his false doctrines and employs false teachers who are unaware of his tricks and schemes.
Have you been guilty of joining hands with the devil and causing trouble and division in the congregation of Yahweh? Repent and amend your ways that you may be able to escape the destruction that awaits the evildoers.
Are you living a life that insulates you against being caught up in the deception and wiles of the devil and his people? You need to be strong in Yahweh and in the power of His might so we will be able to withstand in these evil days.
We need to take our stand for Yahshua against the false teachers. Evil triumphs when Yahweh’s people do nothing. We have to stand for the truth and contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to us. We are to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. We are to “grow in grace and knowledge.” Yes, to grow is to build upon established true foundations – not throw them away!
To be able to do this, we need the grace of Yahshua in our lives and His grace is sufficient for us to make it day by day. He promised to be with His faithful servants (who teach ALL things which Yahshua has commanded) to the end of this age (Matt. 28:20). HalleluYAH!
-Elder Eddie D. Tadea
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