February 15, 2010

False Teachers: Mark, Avoid and Why?

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Romans 16:17-18.

This message was delivered to my Systematic Theology II class at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York on 15 February 2010.

During my morning devotional reading recently, these two verses from Paul's last letter to the church in Rome opened my eyes, regarding the importance of preaching and teaching, sound biblical doctrine.

A great lesson is provided here to us, whether we are currently engaged in preaching and teaching or will be in the near future.

The Apostle Paul was making a summons to encourage his hearers to beware of those that strive to separate the body of Christ, from what they had heard and trusted regarding Jesus' teaching, from Paul and the other apostles. His instruction was for the steadfast unity of teaching and to take notice of those that operated in a contrary manner as well as for those that either were following these false teachers, or were contemplating accepting their teaching as valid, like the apostles.

According to the Word of God, sound doctrine is extremely important. (These 4 points obtained from
www.wayoflife.org, The Importance of Biblical Doctrine).

1. The two Greek words translated "doctrine" in the King James Bible, didaskalia and didache, are also translated "teacheth" (Romans 12:7) and "learning" (Romans 15:4). These Greek words are used more than 140 times in the New Testament, which shows how important doctrine is before God.

2. Doctrine and its companion terms are referred to 59 times in 1 and 2 Timothy alone.

3. "The truth" is referred to 10 times in 2 and 3 John alone. The apostle John said, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 4).

4. 1 Timothy 1:3 says that no false doctrine is to be allowed, which is a very narrow view of doctrinal purity.

Paul said to, "mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

Paul would have no other reason to say such a thing if they were not causing division, nor found guilty of offenses, or that their preaching had a doctrinal basis that was completely sound. But it wasn't.

The Greek word for offence in this verse is the word skandalon, which means a trap, or a snare, or any person or thing by which one is (entrapped) drawn into error or sin.

These false teachers were to be labeled for whom they were and avoided. Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible expresses what this type of avoidance means saying, "it does not mean that they were to be treated harshly; but that they were to be avoided in their "instructions.""

Paul said these false teachers were divisive because, "they serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." (v. 18)

These false teachers were motivated more by their carnal desires rather than the cross. Their sermons sounded good, as if they were theological, biblical and even doctrinal, but they handled the Word of God deceitfully.

In his letter to the Philippians (Phil 3:18-19), Paul said that those who are enemies of the cross, their god is their belly and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. These enemies of the cross, whose god is their belly are those who "worship their own appetites; or who live not to adore and honor God, but for self-indulgence and sensual gratifications" (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, commentary on Philippians 3:19).

Regardless of your role in the church, whether you teach a small group, lead a bible study, you are the pastor or you plan to be licensed and ordained with the privilege to preach and teach, we are responsible for teaching sound biblical doctrine, which can be accomplished through a weekly expository preaching of the Scripture.

We are responsible as shepherds, to those whom hear what we say about God's Word that they are discovering the the truth of God's word from its depth and not from the suface, because if the congregation fails to become as devoted to the doctrine of Scripture as they should be, the responsibility for falling prey to approving and following someone that is doctrinally in error, lies with the shepherd AND WITH THE SHEEP.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they increased, The more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame. They eat up the sin of My people; They set their heart on their iniquity. And it shall be: like people, like priest. So I will punish them for their ways, And reward them for their deeds. Hosea 4:6-9.


1. False doctrine is an evidence of not knowing God or His Word.

  • Jeremiah 2:8 - The priests said not, Where [is] the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after [things that] do not profit.

2. False doctrine destroys the church.

  • Jeremiah 12:10 - Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

3. False doctrine separates the church and brings the judgment of God upon them.

  • Jeremiah 23:1-2 - Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.

4. False doctrine is a destructive heresy.

  • 2 Peter 2:1-3 - 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, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
  • 2 Peter 2 describes the terrible fate, corruption and treachery of false teachers of the Scripture.

5. False doctrine is a sign of apostasy.

  • 1 Timothy 4:1-3 - Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
  • 2 Timothy 3:1-5 - But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

If we fail to adhere, obey and submit to the authority of the doctrine of Scripture, using it as profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, we cannot expect to be fully equipped by God (2 Timothy 2:16-17). Such work will be done for selfish gain and not in humble service and devotion to our Lord who died for our sins.


The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 1 Peter 5:1-4.


We are to continue in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42).
The apostles filled Jerusalem with doctrine (Acts 5:28).
We are saved by believing the right doctrine (Romans 6:17; 1 John 5:20; 2 John 9).
We are to separate from those who teach false doctrine (Romans 16:17).
We must be careful of winds of false doctrine (Ephesians 4:14).
No false doctrine is to be allowed (1 Timothy 1:3).
The preacher is to give himself to doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13).
The preacher is to take heed to doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16).
Preachers who labor in doctrine are to be rewarded (1 Timothy 5:17).
Sound doctrine is to be adorned with godly living (1 Timothy 6:1,3; Titus 2:1).
The Bible is given for doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16).
The Bible is to be preached with doctrine (2 Timothy 4:2).
The last days is characterized by a turning from sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3).
The preacher must be able to use doctrine to protect the church (Titus 1:9).
Our doctrine is to be uncorrupt (Titus 2:10).
We abide in Christ by sound doctrine (1 John 2:24-27).
True Christian love is grounded in truth or sound Bible doctrine (2 John 1; 3 John 1).
Those who abide not in sound doctrine are not of God and are not be to received (2 John 9-10).


Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Anna Wood said...

Excellent sermon, excellent points, Kurt. Thank you for sharing it. Please keep on telling people God's truth. There simply aren't enough young men who do. God bless and keep you. You and your ministry will continue to be in my prayers. Anna

David W. Voyles said...

That seems like all the prosperity preachers want to talk about. I got fed up with the nonsense and wrote a book titled; A Shepherd's Trial: Feeding or Fleecing the Flock of God? It is an attempt to identify the false doctrines in the church and rebuke the greedy pastors. I am hoping that people will buy this book and send it to these preacher's doorstep to let them know that the congregation is not going to take this nonsense any more. You can get a copy at: http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/AShepherdsTrial-FeedingOfFleecingTheFlockOfGod.html

Phil Morgan said...

Great stuff, Kurt. I'm sure it was appreciated in your class. (Was it video'd in the end?)

The NT writers addressed false teaching as an issue of the highest importance and urgency. How tragic that these days the highest urgency and importance is given to smoothing over any hint of dispute. False teaching is not considered as big a problem as someone expressing a criticism or judgment.

Oh, you can teach whatever you want, no matter how heretical ... buy cable time and spew it over the airwaves, we'll all applaud that at least you're saying something about Jesus ... but don't you dare be so uncharitable as to raise a question from Scripture about what's being taught.

We have the whole notion of what is "loving" upside down. Somehow it's no longer unloving to confuse and mislead, it's unloving to try and set it straight. The arsonists need protecting; from the villainous firemen!


Paul Cortese said...

Kurt, awesome message. Keep letting God work through you to reach others with the truth.

I find it infuriating that churches are placing more importance on the quantity of their members rather than the quality of them. If a church has 35,000 people in it, yet none are there for more than tips to get rich or make it big, then where is the eternal gain? Where is the good fruit coming from churches run by J.O. and R.W.?

I understand that some people don't like to name names, but Paul did (2 Timothy 1:15) in his writings.

My other point is that Christians are so quick to say they shouldn't be judged by other Christians, especially philosophies. They always point to the plank in someone elses eye compared to the speck in their own (Matthew 7:3-5). I heard one person compare Christianity to a football team. One group of people working towards the same goal, and that no one should be calling out the other, only encouraging them. Apparently, this person never played football...

If I had a teammate pulling for the other team, and convincing my teammates that the best way to win would be to stop playing, sit on the sidelines, and drink the Gatorade, I would be furious. What kind of team roots against itself? What kind of body can preach against its own beliefs? The problem is, we SHOULD be a team, as the body of Christ. We just have too many teammates choosing to still sit on the sidelines or sip on their sweet-tasting Gatorade...