Why it is Biblically Appointed to Us to Call Out False Doctrine and False Teachers, & Pitfalls to Avoid
Take heed, I do take caution to not slander anyone, as God hates a slanderer, and you never know when someone might change their ways or apologize for a false prophecy or for teaching an unfulfilling message. There is a fine line to walk on this matter and you must follow Jesus very closely, because you can be just as bad as a false teacher if you create division and arguments among Christians, but also understand that disagreements do happen, they are OK, and there are Biblical answers for this too!
The more proper approach is to provide your understanding and facts, according to the Word, and share it with others. It is then up to that person to receive it and study it themselves, or ignore it altogether - either way, you did your part as a minister, and you can’t force someone to do anything, but you can continue to be a source of teaching and inspiration through the Word for others. It is important to call out false doctrines and at times false teachers, but I generally avoid specifically calling out a person for the reasons prior mentioned and the fact that it doesn’t always teach someone the main point. If I teach you that “this person is bad because of this”, then that’s all you might know, and you might get sucked right back into another false teacher preaching the same incorrect doctrine just dressed up differently.
I certainly look for Biblical motivation in my life, and it is part of my daily prayer that I ask God to guide me in what He wants me to do next, and when I see something pop 2 or 3 times consistently, I pray on that, and often it is the next path of discussion, studies, and writing that I go on. That’s just how it works right now for me and my relationship with God.
These past couple months, it was back to my “bread and butter”, you could say - exposing the doctrine of demons. Within my personal life, a few particular pastors and teachings kept coming up in passing events, and several people also approached me and asked me about things of the same exact issue, and it just so happened that I also had read and viewed things on the exact same matter that day and in prior weeks and months. I feel that when you’ve prayed on it, and then this many “coincidental” mentions and approaches from random people and events occur, there is something that needs to be unturned and God is motivating you to do something.
I shared a few things leading up to this article, and ruffled some feathers along the way. But that is to be expected - I will never be a writer or minister of the “feel good Gospel” and just tell you what you want to hear to feel better - I’m always going to be Biblically sound and true to the Word of God that I am sharing, and encourage you through that.
Two shares recently in particular dealt with the ministry of Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer, both of which I am not fans of as they preach that “Prosperity ‘feel good’ Gospel”, but this in no way means I am bashing them or saying that they have nothing to offer the body of Christ. It’s more-so that if they are your only form of ministry, you are missing out on 90% of the point of the Bible, actual true repentance of sin, actual teachings of Jesus, and also partaking in completely false versions of the Word. And honestly, I think the Bible is very clear on these types of preachers and what is said about them.
In fact, I think Joel is overall a good preacher of the Word as far as complete faith in God goes, and is more-so a life coach, but I feel he is lacking in core Scriptural teaching, doesn’t talk about Jesus enough, doesn’t quote Scripture enough, and certainly doesn’t talk about repentance of sin enough nor condemn some of the bigger Biblical sins that we commit.
I challenge you, go on YouTube and listen to any of his messages - sure, it’s nice to feel good and get told what you want to hear, but did you actually learn anything Biblical? Then go a bit further - research some of his interviews when they asked him his opinion on gay marriage or Mormons. Seriously - search “Joel Osteen on gay marriage” or “Joel Osteen on Mormons” - you might be shocked at what you hear, and how he doesn’t condemn them at all nor judge them in any way according to the Word, both of which we are appointed to do as Christians and especially as a Pastor of a flock (judging to form proper discernment according to the Word of God, and passing judgment blindly and emotionally, are two totally different things, and I wrote a very in depth article on this many months back and is still available here on my site).
What do I mean by that? Please understand, and you’ll see why after, that this ultimately is an example:
Take Joyce Meyer, for example. I think she is a powerful and passionate preacher, and she does offer things to the body of Christ, but even if you are a fan, look at this type of ministry subjectively:
I viewed one of her seminars recently that was nearly 3 hours long and recommended by someone else in ministry. The first 2 hours was mostly spent showing videos of testimony from people of how Joyce saved them and her ministry saved them, asking for donations, and showing off products for sale from her ministry. Then, once her message finally got started, not 10 minutes in, people were walking out, and she completely stopped preaching and started calling them out for doing so! As Christians, we don’t do that!
In one message, she proceeded to talk about when Jesus died at Calvary. She said that He went to Hell, the demons were dancing on His back, God was pacing back and forth (worried), and the Angels were trembling - yeah, NONE of that happened except for the part that says Jesus died for our sins, and it makes God, Jesus and the Angels look very much less powerful and more-so equal to the devil in terms of power and control. NONE of that is sound doctrine from the Word - it’s a dramatized story that she twisted from the Word to invoke drama in her audience - and it could seriously warp someone’s mind if they are not a student of the Word or realize that she is just putting her own flair and spin on a preaching. What if someone young in ministry or faith viewed this and thought that to be truth? And they grew up to think God, the Creator of all things, and His Angels, were somewhat weak and beatable?
Jesus never went to Hell when He died on the Cross and the demons certainly didn’t “dance on His back”, and God and the Angels certainly weren’t pacing back and forth worried about what to do. This message made God look inferior to the devil and weak, when He is the Creator and sovereign over ALL things.
And what happened after? She followed up with, of course, the triumphant victory of God and Jesus, and the crowd roared in applause, not realizing that they just cheered on a completely false version of the Gospel of Christ.
Now, perhaps Joyce has come back and regretted that message, or that seminar, so you have to take this with a grain of salt as well, and I don’t want to slander her name - so please, completely see this as an example of what to look out for in ministry such as this, and if you are involved with the feel good, prosperity type of Gospel such as this, you must keep a clear mind and look out for messages that go against the Word. And no matter how obvious it is that she totally fabricated a Biblical story to add flair and charisma, you wouldn’t know she was wrong if you didn’t judge her with proper discernment according to the Word of God.
Remember - the Word is here for us, for proof, for correction, and to be our sword, shield and armor.
2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV): All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
The Word on Calling Out False Doctrine
Wrapping this series up, it is important here and in all aspects of life to stay grounded in the Word and Biblical teachings. So, what does the Bible say on calling out false doctrine?
Let’s begin with what Jesus said:
Matthew 7:15 (KJV): Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
The word ‘beware’ means to be alert or privy to something, and in this case not only to identify false teachings but also false teachers, whose methods can be very subtle. As this parable goes, they’re clothing themselves with a cloak like that of a sheep when they’re actually ravenous wolves.
A cross-reference always helps as well, and we have plenty here, and the Bible is full of them for confirmation of things, certainly hearkening to the Scripture about 2 or more witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:1 (KJV): …the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.)
See here how we know that Paul used the same Greek word for ‘beware’ in the Book of Acts:
Acts 20:28-29 (ESV): Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
Another reference - Jesus used the same word ‘beware’ yet again in Matthew 16:6, but He was much more direct this time:
Matthew 16:6 (ESV): Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Paul had the same kind of group and error in mind in Philippians 3:2 and 3:18: “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” Then, verse 18: “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.”
Even in Romans 16:17, he warned, “Watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”
So, what are we to do with this information and these warnings from Jesus? For starters, to beware, you have to know who “they” are. You can’t avoid somebody or something if you don’t know who or what they are.
The practice of such shows up in multiple times throughout the Word:
2 Timothy 3:5 (ESV): having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
2 John 10 (ESV): If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,
2 Thessalonians 3:6 (ESV): Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
In other words, Christians, and shepherds in particular, should be discerning and alert to behavior and teachings that dishonor Jesus and destroy people — and not treat it in a casual or harmless way, but to actively rebuke it and expose it.
Paul also spoke of this in 1 Timothy 5:19–20 when he was speaking of elders who persist in error:
1 Timothy 5:19-20 (ESV): Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
When he said, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin” - that can be sin of false doctrine or sin of evil behavior, and anyone who does not accept correction. Can you think of any teachers of the Word who have made error or took a lax approach to addressing certain sins, and did not accept correction or change their ways?
Amazingly, Paul also went on to actually name several false teachers. We talked about this earlier, the actual calling out by name:
2 Timothy 4:10 (ESV): For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
2 Timothy 1:15 (ESV): You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.
1 Timothy 1:19-20 (ESV): holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
As we can see, Paul names multiple false teachers that the church should watch out for.
From just these short looks, we can infer from Jesus and Paul and Luke and John that false teachings and teachers are present dangers in this fallen world for the church and Christians alike. All of us — especially shepherds, pastors and ministers of the Word — should be alert and discerning to identify and, in appropriate ways, expose these dangers.
How should we go about exposing them, you may wonder further? Well, in 1 Corinthians 4:5, Paul talks about how the Corinthians should assess Paul and Cephas and Apollos, because the people were choosing sides and boasting about their favorite teacher:
1 Corinthians 4:4-5 (ESV): For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
So, what does this mean, specifically the words “do not pronounce judgment before the time”? Is this a warning to keep us from identifying false teachers or naming them? In my opinion, no.
“Don’t pronounce judgment before the time” to me means to not pass judgment the way that Jesus will on Judgment Day. In other words, don’t presume to know the heart of a person like Jesus will know the heart of them on that day. Only Jesus will bring to light the things hidden in darkness.
For now, our job is to do mouth judgment, writing judgment, and behavior judgment — not a heart judgment. When a mouth speaks unaligned with the Word, or we see destructive teachings claiming to be of God and the Word, or when a blog or an article or a book publishes a destructive and un-Biblical teaching, or when a body person behaves with destructive behavior against God’s command - in all of it, we are to be discerning and expose with facts and warnings.
I’ll leave you with Ephesians 5:11, which speaks of how we are to expose the error:
Ephesians 5:11 (ESV): Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
In the original Greek texts, which range from hundreds and thousands of years old, it was written exactly as this:
“Kai mē synkoinōneite tois ergois tois akarpois tou skotous mallon de kai elenchete” which translated exactly as “ And not have fellowship with the works - unfruitful - of darkness rather however even expose [them]”.
Pray to the Lord for guidance at all times, and especially on a matter such as this. Overall, there is a very fine line to walk when judging others to provide proper discernment, and we should avoid getting into a place where force our opinions on others or start to speak in a manner of other people such as, “Ohhh, THAT’s why they are in this situation,” for the sake of simple hearsay and not actually help or educate others.
Study the Word, become a student of the Word, share your interpretations with others, and when you speak on false doctrines and false teachers, the best way is to expose it with pure Biblical facts, and leave it up to the interpretation of others without ultimately condemning someone else along the lines of judging their heart.