Many years ago a friend took a job as a bank teller at a bank in Rhode Island and for the first week after her initial training in bank procedures, almost all the bank had her doing was counting money from other tellers’ tills. She began to wonder how long this would go on, if she would ever have her own till. I do not recall how many days she sat there counting, but one day she noticed a bill that simply ‘felt’ different, she said. She showed it to her manager, and he commended her for catching a counterfeit. She counted a couple more tills and each one had at least one counterfeit bill and some had more!
Her manager explained as he again commended her, that each of the tills she had counted after her first week had been ‘seeded’ with a counterfeit bill. She had finally begun to ‘feel’ them and was given her own till.
Within the past year I have encountered lots of blogs with false teaching, some very subtle, some not so much, some that really do not matter, some that matter very much. Note that many genuine Christ-followers may participate in one or more of these false teachings. Not all incorrect doctrines come from wolves in sheep’s clothing. Simply, not all believers see eye to eye on many important topics (i.e., KJV Only, Water Baptism, etc.), but that does NOT make them false teachers. It certainly does not mean they are going to hell‼️ It is exclusively up to Father to determine the heart of anyone who calls on the Name of the LORD.
The following Top 20 list will give you an idea of what you may encounter “out there:”
- Baptism in water should have ended in the first century as it was a Jewish custom, and not for the Church.
- You are not saved unless you have been baptized in water.
- If you have enough faith, God is required to heal you and make you wealthy.
- God does not answer prayers as He did in Bible days; that closed with the completion of the New Testament.
- The gifts of the Holy Spirit are no longer functioning as that ended with the completion of the New Testatment.
- The Church has been ‘raptured’ already spiritually, and continues with everyone who accepts Jesus; there will not be a literal “Return of Christ;” or Jesus has already returned.
- The Anti-christ has already come.
- God does not send anyone to hell for eternity, but only until the ‘lost’ learn their lesson or have paid for their sins; or more simply, God does not send anyone to hell.
- You must observe the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath since it is one of the 10 Commandments.
- The Sabbath does not need any kind of observation.
- Following Jesus means we do not need to obey the 10 Commandments.
- Since the New Testament church held everything in common, followers of Jesus should not own their own personal property anymore.
- The Bible ‘contains’ the Word of God, but one needs to identify it from the legends or errors.
- We need to identify and call out anyone who teaches false doctrines.
- God has forgiven all your sins: past, present and FUTURE.
- To get extra help with prayers, you should pray to angels or to saints who have gone before us.
- Mary was born sinless and is a co-Redeemer with Jesus.
- The ‘name’ you have for God is not significant as long as long as you believe in something that makes you a better person.
- Mother Nature or the Universe is the same thing you call God.
- Porn may be good for you, especially if you do not have a committed partner, as it can keep you from actual adultery or fornication.
And this is just a sampling of the wolves among the sheep. It is more than anyone can reasonably address in a single blog to refute each of these false teachings, but there are common threads that run through them. Like my friend at the bank, the best practice is to regularly read and study the Bible the way she had to count bills for so much time. Recognizing false teaching becomes easier if you have ‘handled’ the real thing enough, if you know Jesus as your savior and Lord, and if you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
False teachers can most easily be recognized by certain traits.
First, they are most often motivated by pride and seem to need ‘followers’ who agree with every detail of their false teaching. There is little tolerance for disagreement.
Secondly, this follows that they are inclined to emphasize ‘special doctrine’ that sows controversy and disagreement. They are argumentative and will not let you rest until they decide you are beyond hope or you change to agree with them.
Their ’special doctrine’ is, of course, not called that, but is un-Biblical and is contrary to a major teaching of the historic Christian church and its consistent self-examination against the teachings of Scripture.
Many can be recognized by an obvious desire for cash, prestige or special privilege indicated by special garments or magical/theatrical styles.
Like Job, we can approach God in all righteousness and genuine faith, but when we see Him face-to-face, we will each (yes, even I will) say:
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2-6 (ESV)