Should False Teachers Be Exposed?

Updated: Nov 26, 2018

This has become a very popular and widely-asked question of late amongst many within Christian circles. It has caused a lot of believers to become somewhat confused as to where they should sit on the matter. The majority of believers tend to be under the impression that we are to stay silent about such things in order to keep the peace and not arouse arguments or upset others. Most people feel that it’s in the best interests of all concerned that we remain quiet on this issue, and here are the most common reasons why they hold tightly to this belief;

-      Judge not, lest you be judged

-      Exposing someone is wrong and being unloving

-  Don’t accuse the brethren

-      Self preservation; aka pride

Let’s address these ‘reasons’ one at a time. 

Now as followers of Jesus Christ, we know that the only way to find the solution to any issue is by going to the Word of God, so let’s see what the Bible has to say on this subject.

Before I go any further, I’d like to ask that you open your heart to receive God’s Word and allow it to penetrate deep within, where the Holy Spirit will be able to help you discern the truth herein.

Firstly, we need to realise that it’s been many years of the ‘softly approach’ (or as some may know it as ‘seeker sensitive’) teaching that has been adopted in most churches around the world which we’ve been indoctrinated with over a long period of time, and this has had an effect on all of us to some degree. So you may find some of the Scriptures you read in this article today will take you by surprise, as some of them did to me when I found them and my eyes were opened to the truth. Coming into the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4) is the aim for each of us, and we know the truth can often have quite a sting in it when we first hear it, but God is true to His Word and after the initial shock, when we allow the dust to settle, the Holy Spirit will bear witness to the truth and you will feel an amazing sense of release and freedom follow.

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. - John 8:32

Judge Not Lest You Be Judged

Judge not, that you be not judged. - Matthew 7:1

The Bible tells us plainly that God is our judge and He is the one who will ultimately be judging the world on the last day, so we know this is not our job. This verse states that it is not our position to judge others and as the text continues, it becomes clear that it’s actually referring to hypocrites who are being judgmental towards others, while they’re having the same problem going on in their own backyard. 

However, as we read a little further down, Jesus goes on to caution His people about false teachers.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. – Matthew 7:15-16

Not only is Jesus warning us to ‘beware’ of these false teachers, but He is also telling us how we can know if they are a false teacher or not. 

Now, if we were to think that we are not to judge anyone, then how would we be able to adequately determine whether someone is a false teacher or not? You can’t discern if a person is a false teacher if you don’t judge their fruit, right? So this shows that we are supposed to judge under certain circumstances.

There are several other similar verses throughout the New Testament warning God’s children to be alert so they’re not deceived. A few for your own reference are; 1 John 4:1, 2 Corinthians 11:10-15, Matthew 24:24)

So now that we’ve established that it is expected of us to judge in order to determine a false teacher, the question we need to be asking then is this, who are we to judge?

We’ll find the answer is sufficiently uncovered by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? – 1 Corinthians 5:12

Paul was tackling sexual immorality within the church at the time, judging the man who had ‘done this deed’ (1 Cor. 5:3) and informing the church to expel the wicked person from among them (1 Cor. 5:13).

Therefore, we can see from this that it is not our job to judge those outside the church (non-believers), but we are to judge those inside the church (professing believers). In doing so, we are able to determine who among us is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and proceed to deal with the situation accordingly to protect the rest of the fold.

There are potential dangers when a church is not operating in line with God’s Word on this matter—skewed ideas of what ‘judge not lest you be judged’ actually means can cause catastrophic results for all within the church; deceiving, damaging and scattering the sheep.

Exposing Someone Is Wrong And Being Unloving

This belief is growing rapidly day-by-day, especially as we move further into the end days with convoluted world views constantly being injected into our hearts and minds through the media with the internet, TV and newspapers alike. The global mind-shift from believing something is 100% wrong, to spinning it upside down on its head where it’s now being accepted as not only right, but celebrated (Isaiah 5:20), is a daunting sight to behold, however this is exactly what we’re all witnessing right now.

With the amount of opinions that surround us on a regular basis from friends, family and social outlets, it’s never been more difficult to escape the world’s views, and successfully abiding by the Scripture, ‘be not conformed to this world’ (Rom. 12:2) has hit a whole new level of complexity. For this reason, it is of huge importance that we renew our minds daily in God’s Word, so the filth around us can be filtered out.

That being said, once we ground ourselves in the truth, we then have the wisdom to differentiate between what is right and wrong, as well as what is loving and what is unloving.

Jesus is truth and is all loving (John 14:6). He always told the truth and never watered it down to bring it across in a way that’s easier to hear, nor did He only tell half truths so as not to offend anyone. No matter what the cost, truth prevailed. And there is no-one more loving than Jesus—we know that God IS love (1 John 4:8)! So to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, it is right to always speak the truth in love, offering nothing less because anything less is denying Jesus Himself! And when we convince ourselves that it’s unloving to share the truth with someone who is deluded into thinking a sin is not really a sin, we are in effect, doing that person an injustice by not delivering the very thing that can save them—truth!

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. – Proverbs 27:6

It’s more unloving to ignore, stay silent and turn a blind eye. If we have our Father’s heart, we will want people to know the truth, and we need to be bold enough to declare that truth so the people can know it! This is what it really is to be loving.

But what about exposing false teachers?

In a time when the proliferation of false teaching is mutating at an increasingly exponential rate, those who love the Lord must examine and test everything against the final authority of the recorded Word of God (Acts 17:11). The New Testament covers this subject many times—it’s an area that keeps being brought up so we need to understand the importance of this issue and be aware of the deceivers. 

Our manual for life is the Bible, and as we study its pages on this subject, we’ll find some interesting gems that we may have never noticed before.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them. – Romans 16:17

This portion of Scripture is a very important one. Notice it begins with ‘now I beseech you’, this is to implore or ask urgently and fervently.

The next part says to ‘mark them who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned’. The Greek word here is skopeo, which means “to scope out; to take aim at, consider, watch.” 

Believers are mandated to wisely scope out closely, observe and scrutinise all teachings and spiritual leaders under the lamp of God’s holy Word. We are to carefully discern between true and false doctrines and leaders and sound the alarm whenever something is found to be inconsistent with the Bible. 

Ephesians 5:11 explains that when false teaching is discovered, it is to be exposed.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (expose) them. -Ephesians 5:11

God counts heretics to be rebels whom He told us to reject.

A man that is divisive after the first and second admonition reject. – Titus 3:10

So it is good to reject and expose false teachers for what they are.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. – Acts 17:11

We need to liken ourselves to those spoken of in this verse, where the word which we receive, we diligently search the Scriptures to ensure what is being taught, is in fact correct.

The last words of Romans 16:17 state that we are to ‘avoid them’ that are deceivers. And the reason we are to have nothing to do with them is because a false doctrine is a lie from the enemy, and lies are like a spider’s web, they entangle themselves around anything they come into contact with, becoming messy and hard to clean off. Lies cause doubts to come in, and doubts lead people to become confused as to what truth is.

Did you know that Paul named several deceivers in his writings? In 2 Timothy alone, he named 8 people. Here are the names that Paul was inspired to justifiably identify:

1) Phygellus (2 Timothy 1:15)

2) Hermogenes (2 Timothy 1:15)

3) Hymenaeus (2 Timothy 2:17)

4) Philetus (2 Timothy 2:17)

5) Jannes (2 Timothy 3:8)

6) Jambres (2 Timothy 3:8)

7) Demas (2 Timothy 4:10) (apostate)

8) Alexander the coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14)

We readily gather here that naming names is an integral part of our ministry and that those who obey can, like this faithful apostle, be confident they have fulfilled the will of God.

‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.’ 2 Timothy 4:7

Part of fighting the good fight and finishing the course involves and includes marking deceivers.

2 Peter 2 focuses solely on false teachers and their destruction, and it begins by claiming that false teachers are among us and that they’re secretly bringing in their ‘destructive heresies’.

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who shall secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them – 2 Peter 2:1

So as these heretics sneakily worm their way in with their blasphemies, one of our responsibilities is to identify and announce those who are marked for destruction so they don’t take others with them. That way, any who are listening to those deceivers may be made aware of their true evil intentions and cease from being fooled any longer.

Don’t Accuse The Brethren

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. - James 4:11

This verse is commonly used as evidence that we are not to pull down or accuse someone within the church. However, this ideology has been extremely redefined and misunderstood, leaving the wolves with a flock of disabled believers, vulnerable and at risk of being preyed upon.

I agree wholeheartedly that we are not to pull down or murmur about our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, there’s no question about that. But what we need to understand is that a false teacher, who is professing to be a fellow brother or sister in Christ, is in fact, not part of the brethren at all.

So you see, he may call himself part of the brethren, but once it’s been discerned that he is a false teacher, we can establish that to warn others of his divisive teachings is not pulling down part of the brethren, but simply outing a false convert so the genuine brethren are not harmed by his evil deeds.

Self Preservation; aka Pride

Although this really isn’t a legitimate excuse, it is sadly, one that is often used by many—without being outwardly admitted of course.

A lot of you have been sitting on the sidelines for a long time now, seeing these absolute blasphemies against God that have been entering our churches through the mouth pieces of heretics, but yet because those around you aren’t saying anything about it, you feel that perhaps what you’re thinking is incorrect or that maybe you’re being too over the top in your beliefs. Let me tell you that you are not being over the top, or dramatic, or extreme—the Holy Spirit is stirring you up because the truth is not resonating in what these deceivers are saying (Col. 3:15).

Or maybe you’re one who knows deep down that what’s happening is not right, but because you’d be standing alone and there’d be a lot of persecution from those around you (even friends and family), you convince yourself that it’d be too difficult and it doesn’t really matter that much to keep silent...after all, some of the things the false teacher is saying is good stuff.

This is a huge trick of the enemy because the false teacher will talk of Jesus, and some things he says will be correct, but he mixes truth with lies, which makes accepting the lies more digestible and people are more willing to accept his teachings, both true and false. 

And of course, his teachings are self-focused which is nice and easy to hear.

For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him. – 2 Corinthians 11:4

When we start to believe the small lies, we end up believing the big lies.

Despite our feelings, our emotions or our own thoughts, we are called to be disciples of Jesus, to stand for truth no matter what! This is what Christianity is all about! It’s about being radical for Jesus! Being extreme for Jesus! Living wholeheartedly for Jesus in everything we do. In doing so, we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him (Matt. 16:24). 

There’s no room for pride in that! And for good reason...pride is not of God...pride comes from Satan.

The whole reason Satan fell from heaven in the first place was because of pride—he wanted God’s position and he is still under the illusion that he will be able to get it to some extent (Isaiah 14:14).

So let’s ensure we’re not allowing pride to enter our hearts where it distorts what is right and what is wrong, or what is true and what is false. Because above all things, our heart can be the most deceived (Jer. 17:9), so we should never rely on it, but always test the spirits with the precious and ever-reliable Word of God.

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: 

because many false prophets are gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1

Glory to God in the highest, who gave us His beautiful Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us into all truth! (John 16:13)

Came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. – John 18:37

-- By Jenny Ayling