Another way to word the title of this article is: “Does Satan Exist?” If Satan exists, then false teachers exist because he is the master of all false teachers. Jesus described him as “the father of lies” (John 8:44). We see his deceptive teachings influencing God’s creation from the very beginning. God had told Adam nad Eve that in the day that they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die (Gen. 2:16-17). Satan boldly contradicted the words of the Creator. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:6). Sadly, the woman believed Satan rather than the Lord. The consequences were devastating, not only for Adam and Eve, but for all mankind.
Since that day, Satan has enlisted individuals into his service to lead men away from the truth of God’s Word. In the Old Testament, we read about the existence of false prophets. In 1 Kings 5:19-40, a man of God named Elijah stands in opposition to the false prophets of Baal and the false prophets of the grove. In the New Testament, Paul comes into contact with a false prophet by the name of Bar-Jesus (Elymas) in the isle of Paphos (Acts 13:6-11). False teachers of Judaism sought to lead many of the churches astray in the first century. Paul said that they taught “another” gospel, that is, another of a different kind (Gal. 1:6-9). Peter warned of false teachers who would enter privily into a congregation of the Lord’s people (2 Pet. 2:1-22). Jude wrote to this church again once the presence of the false teachers was made known and exhorted them to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 1-25).
Many warnings are found in the New Testament about false teachers. Jesus warned about them in His sermon on the mount. He declared: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15). In Philippians 3:2, Paul writes: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” In Colossians 2:8, he warned the church with these words: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Paul warned Timothy that seducing spirits and doctrines of devils would cause some to depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1-4). Titus was told by the beloved Paul to reject all heretics after the first and second admonitions (Tit. 3:10). The writer of the Hebrew epistle exhorted his readers, saying: “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines…” (Heb. 13:9). Peter gave a very powerful warning against false teachers in 2 Peter 2:1: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” John also warned about false teachers in his first epistle: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
Do false teachers exist? Yes! Both history and the warnings of God’s inspired Word tell us that they do. In fact, in the words of John, “…many false prophets are gone out into the world.” The lies of false teachers are as numerous as the sand of the sea. Here is a brief list of some of the lies we hear today:
- God does not exist.
- Man is a product of humanistic evolution.
- Man is his own god and his own savior.
- Jesus is not the Son of God.
- The Bible is not the Word of God.
- Mankind cannot understand the Bible.
- Baptism does not save.
- Man cannot fall from grace.
- Man can worship God as he pleases.
- Immorality is acceptable to God (abortion, homosexuality, adultery, etc.)
- All religions are accepted by God.
- Jesus will not return.
- Jesus will return to establish an earthly kingdom.
- There is no judgment.
- There is no heaven or hell.
This is just a short list of some of the false doctrines that are proclaimed today. It is impossible to list every false doctrine being taught. It would literally take hundreds of thousands of volumes to list every false doctrine that false teachers have proclaimed.
As we near the end of this article, let’s keep three things in mind. First, many will heed the words of false teachers. Peter affirmed this in 2 Peter 2:2: “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall evil be spoken of.”
Secondly, God has given us His precious truth which we can study (2 Tim. 2:15) and understand (Eph. 3:3-4) in order to protect us from false ways. The psalmist wrote, “Moreover by them is thy servant warned…” (Ps. 19:11), and, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:104).
Thirdly, false teachers do not parade themselves as false teachers. In fact, they can disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15). When they are found out, we must mark them and avoid them at all costs. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17-18).
Victor is a graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching, University of Memphis, and Ambridge University. He is married to Kathleen, and they have three children and six grandchildren. He preaches for the Oceanside congregation in Atlantic Beach, FL.