2 Timothy 4:2-5 HCSB Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
About three-quarters of all Americans believe Jesus was a real person, born in Bethlehem. These people will even say He’s the Son of God. Less than half, however, according to a recent study by LifeWay Research, think Jesus existed prior to the Incarnation. They don’t view Him as coeternal with the Father.
That’s a problem because most Americans see Jesus as only human and not divine.
This is a false belief and must be rejected.
There have always been false prophets and teachers
In the Old Testament, we find prophets in Israel who claimed to speak for God, but who were clearly false prophets.
1 Kings 22:5-6, 23 (HCSB)5 But Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “First, please ask what the LORD’s will is.”6 So the king of Israel gathered the prophets, about 400 men, and asked them, “Should I go against Ramoth-gilead for war or should I refrain?” They replied, “March up, and the Lord will hand it over to the king.”23 “You see, the LORD has put a lying spirit into the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has pronounced disaster against you.”
Ezekiel 13:2 (HCSB)2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: Hear the word of the LORD!
Matthew 24:24-27 (HCSB)24 False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.25 Take note: I have told you in advance.26 So if they tell you, ‘Look, He’s in the wilderness!’ don’t go out; ‘Look, He’s in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
There were also other warnings.
2 Peter 2:1 (HCSB)1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves.
2 Peter 3:3 (HCSB)3 First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires,
Jude 1:17-19 (HCSB)17 But you, dear friends, remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;18 they told you, “In the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires.”19 These people create divisions and are unbelievers, not having the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (HCSB)12 But I will continue to do what I am doing, in order to deny the opportunity of those who want an opportunity to be regarded just as our equals in what they boast about.13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.14 And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.15 So it is no great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their destiny will be according to their works.
The Apostle John wrote extensively about false prophets he called them antichrists.
1 John 2:18 HCSB Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, “Antichrist is coming,” even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour.
John urges believers to exercise spiritual critical thinking skills and “test the spirits to see whether they are from God”
1 John 4:1 HCSB Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
In John’s day Gnostics were teaching that Christ did not come in the flesh. Those who believed in a real Incarnation were from God, while those who did not were not from God.
1 John 4:2-3 HCSB This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.
While it’s important for us to discern false teaching, we can rest assured that God is “greater” and has already won the victory over it.
1 John 4:4-5 HCSB You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them.
Many teachings may be popular with the world, but they are not from God. Again, John contrasts the two kingdoms: One is marked by light, truth, life, and salvation. While the other is darkness, lies, death, and condemnation.
1 John 1:5-7 HCSB
Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Being sure of our identity in Christ (assurance of salvation) and discerning true versus false teaching are two sides of the same coin. The Holy Spirit inside us testifies to the truth that we are God’s children. The same Spirit helps us determine what beliefs and teachings are biblically true or untrue. When we listen to Him, we stay on the right path
1 John 4:6 HCSB We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
Let's work together to rid the Body of Christ of the false teaching that casts a shadow over the love of God for mankind, the sacrifice of Jesus for our sin, and the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain us.
We are easily deceived, Lord. Teach us to rely on Your Spirit’s leading. The better we know Your voice and Your ways, the better we can recognize those who truly serve You and resist deceivers. In Jesus’ name Amen