“I think it’s important too, to be on guard for false teachers, particularly in a post-modern world. I look for those who take Scripture as a whole, and make sure their interpretation of a single passage is in line with the whole counsel of God, and that their theology lines up with how the Bible has been interpreted for thousands of years by celebrated church theologians. I’m curious what your criteria is?”
This is a fantastic question! Let’s dive right into how to spot a false teacher!!
How to Spot a False Teacher
First things first, I think it’s super important to talk about judging others. Because the biggest thing people will say is, “Well, we shouldn’t go around judging people.”
If you hear someone say that to you, it’s a huge red flag that they themselves may not be Christian OR they are legalistic.
That’s what I’ve found in talking to people.
The thing is that the Bible is extremely clear.
NO, we do not go around judging people, pointing our fingers, and saying, “He’s saved. She’s not saved. Oh wow, I’m better than him, he’s not even saved.”
There’s no pride in our flesh to do that and it doesn’t honor God. Secondly, ONLY God can TRULY know if someone is saved or not.
We are mortals, flesh and bone and we don’t know those things. We CAN (and SHOULD!) look at others if we are listening to them about godly things, to see if their lives and what they are teaching line up with the Bible.
That’s key. Did you see it?
IF WE ARE LISTENING TO THEM ABOUT GODLY THINGS.
If someone is teaching you how to fix a flat tire, it has nothing to do with godly, Bible teaching.
However, it’s a case-by-case thing because let’s say someone is teaching you business principles online to be a blogger. They are teaching you to steal other people’s SEO keywords, teaching you how to falsify tripwires with fake counters, and all that kind of stuff.
Is that what you should listen to? NO!
Everything we do, as Christians, needs to run through the Bible principles.
Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.
If you’re a blogger, you blog for the Lord. You have to be careful not to follow bad principles and immoral advice.
That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t follow unredeemed for business teachings, but that you have to run everything you hear through your own internal filter of the Word of the living God.
It means, no, I will NOT steal your keywords. And I’ve heard it from a Christian, “Well, we kinda have to steal the keywords because if we don’t and everyone else is doing it, we will lose everything.”
You’re right. We COULD lose everything by not stealing keywords. You know what?! I…DON’T…CARE!
If I lose this entire blog and all my millions of dollars in income, I could care less if I had to sin to get that money!
If I have to do something bad or wrong in order to succeed, take it all away!!!!!!!!!! I don’t want it. And that’s the difference. That’s WHY I’m so successful. I know God’s will is GOING to happen and it’s NOT going to happen through me sinning to get there. If God wants me famous, He’ll make it happen and I won’t have to violate my conscience (OR YOURS) to get there!
It’s sad to me that we don’t have more confidence in God that He can do anything and we look to our bank account to give us that peace, instead of Him. WHY…on EARTH…would God EVER ask us to sin to get us where HE ordained us to go?
So you don’t have to WORRY about stealing keywords and doing what everyone else does because even if you lose everything, God will raise you up another way, according to your integrity and His purposes. DON’T…SELL…OUT!
That doesn’t mean you can’t participate in some things. Let’s take counters as an example. MOST all counters out there are fake and we know it. You refresh the page, you open the page again, you go to Incognito and bada-bing-bada-boom, you get the sale again.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t LEGIT counters out there. I have a counter on my Shopify store currently and it’s legit. You open it in Incognito and it won’t work. Open the tab again, nope. It is a legit counter, an honest one that you can set it to show only once in the settings, which I do:
I have tested and tested it and it DOES only show once. It’s really cool and I love that because I CAN USE an upsell feature while still maintaining my integrity and conscience before the Lord.
So look for things that you can do that are honorable. As a Christian, you will get in trouble with God if you lead people astray, lie, or steal to get a sale. You won’t grow your income if you are doing it in that way. If your income does grow and God allows it, it’s “blood” money. Money that isn’t gained in an honorable way and God will deal with that.
So make sure YOU are not doing anything morally wrong either, and look for people to follow who are also very full of integrity with their businesses too (not just talking the talk, but walking the walk) if you follow them. Don’t do anything that violates your conscience.
So as you can see, there ARE times when we have to judge what someone is saying. If they tell me to steal keywords or put a fake counter to make a sale, I have to run what I do or what they are asking me to do to succeed against the Bible. Is it against God’s commands? If it’s not, it’s fine to do those things, but if it’s wrong, or if you feel in your heart like it violates your conscience, don’t participate.
You’ll gain far more success, doing things in an honorable, God-fearing way, than in a worldly way! And the temptation is there for all of all, at various points in our walks, of whether to sell out or not. Usually, it’s a small temptation, then bigger. So be careful, Satan roars around like a lion ready to devour. Be on the alert. Be careful. Don’t compromise and don’t listen to those that do either!
In that way, you do have to judge what people say and see if it lines up with your convictions and the Bible.
The Bible asks us to be like Bereans, studying the SCRIPTURES to see if what the teacher is saying is true.
Comparing it to what?
Notice in the previous sentence, I mentioned, “studying the SCRIPTURES”.
We are not taking the information and comparing it to a human. We are comparing it to the authority, Scripture. The BIBLE is the authority, not man.
And I don’t say that flippantly, for there are many good Pastors and many good teachers (whether that’s a Christian mom to her kids, a Christian blogger, or a teacher in any capacity), but we are all human, those who lead. We are NOT perfect. Not one of us.
So you can’t compare what others are saying to say, what John MacArthur says.
Even though he is a brilliant-minded, God-fearing, loving man, he is NOT Jesus.
John MacArthur, Sarah Titus, no human should take the place of God! That would be idolatry.
Now you could very well take your John MacArthur study Bible, for example, and read it and see what he has to say about a Scripture and decide from there. He is a very godly man for sure. But he’s not God. Since the Holy Spirit comes inside of us, we do not NEED a Pastor to decipher Scripture and God’s Word for us.
We do not need that, because we have God Himself living inside us. HE convicts us, our morals, our consciences.
That is not to say that going to church or listening to sermons is bad. It’s not. We SHOULD do those things. They are given to us, appointed by God, to help us in our spiritual walks and such a blessing to us. But it is saying that they are human instruments of God, HUMAN being the keyword. No one is perfect.
What IS perfect is the Word of God. That’s what you compare it to.
Who do they say God is? Do they teach the true gospel? If they are saying God is bad or doesn’t care about us, for example, that’s a lie. If they are saying you can be saved by baptism, for example, we know that’s a lie. We know in the Bible, Jesus died for us, of COURSE, He cares about us!!! And a physical act never saves anyone. It’s the heart, not a physical act that saves. Are they saying anything contrary to Scripture? If they are, they could be a false teacher.
So once you understand that we have to judge what someone is saying, according to the Bible, the only place to compare something to, the Word of God, and we understand that no one can truly know if someone is saved or not (not 100% sure anyway), we can now dive into how to spot a fake teacher.
Your criteria are so vitally important. For me, I look at their walk. Not their talk, their walk.
For example, if I see a blogger who is claiming to be Christian and yet they are cussing, using God’s name in vain (think: popular 3 letter acronyms), using fake counters, stealing SEO keywords, shading the truth, and doing other stuff that’s not great behind the scenes, I question their salvation.
There are many bloggers who SAY they are Christian, who paint this picture to the world that they are just like you, this stay-at-home mom, fighting to get through life and have gotten successful by doing it.
Yet behind the scenes, they are not even stay-at-home moms and lie about it. They go to a business office, outside of their home and their husbands raise their kids.
Now, there’s no shame in that, the shame comes in lying about it. They are not a stay-at-home mom when they work outside the home.
Google says this is a stay at home mom:
Now it gets a little dicey with working from home. I work from home and I consider myself a stay-at-home mom. That could vary in opinion and that’s okay, but I stay at home with my kids all day long, I manage them myself, and I manage my household myself. I do not hire that out and I am not currently married so all of that falls and rests upon me.
I DO homeschool my children from home. I DO work from home, obviously, I blog, but I do all the activities a stay-at-home mom does. So that could vary in opinion and you absolutely should think about what you believe and line it up with Scripture. Again for me, my opinion is that a woman who works from home is a Proverbs 31 woman. She is enterprising, she sells sashes. That doesn’t make her not a stay-at-home mom.
But when others are claiming to be stay-at-home moms and they omit the “home” part out completely, meaning their husbands are doing those duties and they are leaving home and working in a building separate from their home, that’s not a stay at home mom. That is a mom working and the husband is the stay-at-home dad.
We have to be very careful because false teachers lead us astray so craftily. You really have to think everything through very well. Satan is very subtle, you see. Incredibly subtle. You have to pay attention and be alert. Look at their walk. Does it line up with what God says a Christian is or does? If not, you have every right to question their salvation so that you are not led astray by them.
Fruits of the spirit
Are you looking at their fruits of the spirit?
The fruits of the spirit are found in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Does the person have love? Are they loving?
Does the person have inward joy? Are they joyful?
Is the person a peaceful person, not stirring trouble or discord? Are they peaceable? Do they strive for peace?
Are they forbearing? Do they show restraint? Or are they on Facebook, yelling at every single thing out there that offends them? Yes, we are to share our faith, no, we are not to go around attacking others! The Bible says to turn the other cheek. If someone offends you? Fine. Let them. Live in peace and go on with your day, knowing you know the truth. Don’t return insult for insult and play into those games.
Are they kind? Do they help others? Do they have a serving attitude? Are they kind toward people who cannot pay them back? That’s always a good one for me. If a blogger is kind to someone who is buying something from them or can pay them back, of what use is that kindness? Not that it’s worthless but the REAL test is, are they kind when no one is looking and the other person CAN’T pay them back? While you may not be able to see that, over time in following them, you can see if they are legitimately kind or not. Two of the kindest bloggers I personally know of and that I respect immensely in that way are Mindy from Mindy Jones Blog and Abby from Just a Girl and Her Blog. Not that there aren’t other kind bloggers, there definitely are! But Mindy and Abby are SUPER kind, even behind the scenes! Just love them!
Are they good? Do they have pureness about them? A sweetness? Goodness? Think: Snow White. Super sweet, kind, and just GOOD. Not trying to be bad. Not trying to look for an angle. Not trying to manipulate. Just good.
Are they faithful? Do they stay the course? The Bible says we have to fight the good fight and finish well. Finishing well is all about being faithful. Are they faithful? Do they continue in steadfast love, kindness, joy, peace, and so on? That’s not to say they are perfect. Again, no one is perfect, but the PATTERN of their life, the MAJORITY of their life if you will, will be marked by these qualities.
Do they have a certain amount of gentleness? You see Jesus and He overthrew tables in the church. That’s not that gentle. He came with force. So it’s not saying they can’t ever fight for what’s important. But Jesus’ main disposition was gentle, humble, meek. Over the years, God is working in me more gentleness. I’m still strong and stand up for what God would want me to, but there’s also a gentleness there. A humility that He is sowing inside of me. It takes time to develop these traits. It’s much harder to see them in very new Christians, but you should still be able to see the traits, even if they are pea-sized.
Are they self-controlled or wild and crazy? They should be self-controlled. Jesus, when He walked the Earth was ALWAYS self-controlled. You can see that in Scripture. Everything He did was very methodical. It was perfectly perfect and thought through. He knew exactly what He was saying to the people to get them to understand. Even when asked tough questions, He gave the answer so perfectly and in a self-controlled manner. He had peace and comfort, an assurance that we should all strive to have. 🙂
In 1 Timothy 3:8, it talks about the qualifications of a Deacon: “Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.”
While that may not apply to everyone you meet, let’s say a blogger, it can apply to leaders in the church.
They should be dignified. Is the person you’re following dignified? Are they honorable? Trustworthy?
Are they double-tongued? Telling one person one thing and another person another. My previous Pastor had this against him. He was double-tongued. In the situation with me and Kyle, I watched (and Kyle watched) as he told Kyle’s parents one thing and told ME quite another.
He was skating around the truth, trying to appease both sides and when you do that, you find yourself in a lot of trouble. You find yourself in sin. I knew that I couldn’t trust him like I had trusted him before, when I saw him skating around words and telling me one thing and Kyle and his parents another. This is double-tongued and it is sin.
Does that mean he’s not saved? No, I do believe he IS saved, however, it’s still sin and I won’t lie and say it’s not. We are to admit when we mess up and sin and ask forgiveness. He has not done that, which is even worse.
Are they addicted to too much wine? The Bible doesn’t say they can’t drink. It doesn’t say that having a glass of wine is wrong or bad or a sin. It says the addiction to it is sin. Personally, I do not drink, nor have I ever drank a dime in my entire life. Mostly, before I was saved, I didn’t drink because I knew my father was an alcoholic and it is supposed to be hereditary. I didn’t want to get addicted to anything, so I never started. Now, as a Christian, I don’t drink because it’s just not necessary.
There’s nothing wrong with it, one of my good friends has a vineyard and SELLS wine. There’s nothing wrong with that either. But getting drunk is a sin. My ex-husband drove home drunk a couple of times (thank the Lord, nothing bad happened) but it was just not fun to be around him when he was drunk.
Are they greedy? Do they want a lot of money and are willing to stoop to any dishonest level to get it? This isn’t a quality of someone who is walking with the Lord.
By looking at the person’s life, what they do, what they say, how they live, you can see characteristics, qualifications, of a godly person or not. Use your best judgment in those cases of whether you want to listen to them or not.
With that said…
You have the Holy Spirit
When you become a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you now. Use Him! Listen to Him.
Ask God to show you. Pray that He would give you the wisdom to know if you should follow this person or not.
God will show you.
He loves us, He cares for us, He ADORES us! We are His treasure. Why else would He die for us but that He loves us soooooo much. He wants a relationship with us. ASK HIM. Talk to Him. Constantly, all day long. Make Him your best friend. Pray for wisdom, seek it. Ask Him to give you wisdom and He will.
Your cup will abound in wisdom if you honestly seek it with all your heart and pray for it.
The Holy Spirit is there inside us to guide us. He will guide us and show us the way IF we seek Him and listen to Him, which brings me to my last point…
How well do you know the principles?
If we are to spot a false teacher, we must know inside and out, the truth. Is that not correct?
As a banker for a decade, I saw some tellers use a pen to tell if a bill was counterfeit. But pens aren’t 100% accurate.
What IS an accurate reading? How do you spot a fake $100 bill 100% of the time?
By knowing the genuine $100 bill so well.
In banking, we are not taught to look at the characteristics of a fake bill. Those change all the time.
We were taught to study carefully the real deal. Then when a bill comes past you that doesn’t look like the real deal, you know it.
I can spot fake money. Why? Because I know the real deal like the back of my hand. Probably better!
How do you spot a fake Christian? How do you spot a false teacher?
By knowing God!
The more you know God, the more you understand His precepts, the more you spend time with Him and His Word, the authority on everything, the better you can spot the fakes!
Get to know Jesus Christ so much that you can spot a fake Christian pretty easily. For some Christians, it’s your spiritual gift, and it’s a blessing. It’s my FAVORITE spiritual gift I have, discerning between spirits.
Not all the time of course, but many times, I can “read” someone’s spirit. I can see their spirit inside of them. I can tell if it’s a good spirit or a bad spirit. There have been many times that I’ve told Kyle, that’s not a good guy. He’s not saved. And Kyle grew up with some people who he thought were okay and years later, you can see their lives and how they aren’t saved. I knew in the beginning.
It’s a spiritual gift that God gives. You can discern amongst spirits if they are legit or fake. Again, you can’t tell everyone, and you don’t go around judging a bunch of random people for kicks. That’s not what it’s about, but you can spot a fake better because you just know. You can tell if they are your brother or sister in Christ, or if they are not on your team. If they are against you. And some pretend to be with and for me but are not and I know the ones that aren’t. The ones that mean me harm and so does God.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
We are spirits. Our souls are alive and they are either for God or against Him. There is no middle ground. We’re either saved or not. End of story.
Hopefully, this article has given you some good insights into how to spot fake leaders so that you are not drawn astray. As always, put my words and compare them to Scripture. Do that with everyone to make sure you follow the right people. <3