In every age, the church of Jesus Christ is under attack from lying prophets and teachers. Many hucksters who handle the Word of God deceitfully, corrupt the truth of the Gospel message. There is no real threat to the church from an explicitly and recognizably anti-Bible, anti-Christ, and anti-God teaching. The grave danger is from the teaching which appears to be biblical. Satan is very subtle. He doesn’t come with a placard in hand saying, “I like to ruin your life.” He wants to be as much as a Christian as possible. He appears very godly and very religious and all the time he is sowing the seeds of damnable heresy.
False teachers are not to be dealt with lightly, for what is at stake here is the soul-saving Gospel. They profess to know God, but they use the Word of God to make money; to make merchandise out of people. They are all in it for the money, except for a few fanatics. They quit what they are doing when the money runs out. If there is no money, there is no point in doing it. Money is always the bottom-line. They twist Scripture and pervert it for their own ends. They cause division in the church. They have dirty hearts, not cleansed by the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. They do not submit to the spiritual leadership of the church, and not even respond to the final authority of the Scripture. They are not answerable to anyone, they do not want any accountability, and they have their own church or own ministry, usually associated with their names. They function independently.
The Bible is never very nice when it identifies false teachers. Peter calls them unreasoning animals, wells without water, clouds without rain, dogs that lick their own vomit (2 Peter 2). Paul calls them liars, empty-talkers, evil beasts, lazy gluttons, detestable, rebellious, disobedient and worthless people, and he told Timothy that they must be muzzled, their mouths must be shut (Titus 1:10-16). Paul says to watch out for those who cause divisions by smooth words and flattering speech because they do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly (Romans 16:17-18).
Church is under a binding command to silence False Teachers
One of the duties of the spiritual leadership of the church, apart from teaching the truth, is to silence the men who should not speak. Paul gives a solemn charge to the church, “There are many rebellious men, empty talkers, and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach” (Titus 1:10-12). It is a binding command on us. And then he says, “These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you (Titus 2:15).
The church needs to speak sound doctrine not only to admonish but also to confront and rebuke. It may not be popular; it may not be accepted by everyone, but that’s the responsibility given. That responsibility comes with authority. It is not your authority as a pastor, or an elder, or your association with some church; it is the authority of Scripture. Then Paul says, “Let no one disregard you”. The Greek word “periphroneó” (περιφρονέω) means ‘look down upon or despise’. So, Paul says, “Hold your ground, don’t back down. Don’t let anyone rationalize around you. Do it with authority.” How is the church going to do this effectively?
03 practical ways stopping the mouths of false teachers
Revoke their right to teach
Stay away from the false teachers. Do not give a “pulpit” for them to talk. We can silence their mouths by not giving them a chance to speak. Do not give them a Sunday school class. Do not give them to lead a Bible study. Do not put them on the radio. Do not put them on TV. Do not publish their books. Do not promote them on social media. Do not let them come into your house. Do not propagate their tapes. Do not play their music albums.
Talking about music, do not buy albums of Bethel Music, Hillsong, Elevation, Jesus Culture. It may be true that they have some lyrics pregnant with rich theology. But they belong to churches that propagate false and dangerous theology and practices. We must remember that a well-written song can lead unsuspecting people to a truth-forsaken place. If I wouldn’t allow Bill Johnson to preach in our pulpit, then I won’t use their songs. Every dollar you spend on these ministries and artists, you are effectually funding their heretical doctrine. We are to be on guard so that savage wolves with snappy melodies cannot scrape our wallets.
Counter them with truth
“But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (2 Tim 1). That is the command for those in the leadership of the church. You can attack and keep on attacking the truth, but it will stand by itself. We silence the false teachers with the truth. Jesus did it over and over again with the Pharisees and the scribes and the Sadduccees. He shut their mouths by overpowering them with the truth (Matthews 22:34). We speak the word of truth without fear, and without an apology. When errors and lies are exposed, people will get hurt and offended. As humans, any threat to our belief system is automatically resisted. However, we are obligated not only to guard the truth (2 Timothy 1:14) but also to seriously fight for the truth (Jude 1:3).
Showcase the Gospel by good conduct
We should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people by our good conduct (1 Peter 2:15). Divine truth produces good fruit. False teachers are just the opposite. The error does not produce virtue. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20). They are corrupted, unholy, greedy scavengers.
The unsound doctrine is like diseased meat. Diseased meat can make you sick or even kill you. So it can unsound teaching. Unsound teaching can make people sick, and it is deadly and soul-damning. The same way, even good meat eaten in the wrong proportions is not healthy and can make you sick. You can put your weight and become out of shape unless you exercise to apply for its benefit. So it is with the sound doctrine. You can be puffed up with your head-knowledge without applying it to your life. Our character and proper conduct are inseparable from sound doctrine. Sound doctrine must lead to sound living. The world does not judge us by what we preach, but by our behavior.
With all being said, the credibility of the Christian gospel is tied to the integrity of the life of those who claim it. 19th-century German philosopher Heinrich Heine said, “Show me your redeemed life; I might be inclined to believe in your Redeemer.” As believers in the true Gospel, it is incumbent upon us to “Conduct ourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” (Col.4:5). The impact of our lives is vital to the credibility of the faith, and to the effectiveness of our preaching. It can become the determining factor in driving someone towards Christ or driving someone away from Christ.