The apostle John wrote in his second letter, “For if you wander beyond the teaching of Christ, you will leave God behind; while if you are loyal to Christ’s teachings, you will have God too” (2 John 9, TLB).
The underlying principle of all Satan’s tactics is deception. He is crafty and has clever disguises. His deception began in the Garden of Eden and continues to this day. He invades the theological seminary and even the pulpit. He invades the church under cover of orthodox vocabulary, emptying sacred terms of their biblical sense.
What is a false teaching? It is any teaching which is contrary to the basic doctrines of God’s Word, such as those having to do with the Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, His atoning death, His bodily resurrection and second coming, salvation by grace through faith, the bodily resurrection of all believers, and the reality of heaven and hell.
For the Non-Christian:
1. Commend the inquirer on wanting to share his or her thoughts and discover the truth. Tell him or her that you hope you can be of help as you talk together.
2. If the inquirer seems to have a difficult time accepting the Bible at face value, it may be that he or she has never received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Emphasize that this step is crucial in understanding the Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Share the gospel – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD., and invite the inquirer to receive Christ.
3. If the response is positive, share other follow-up steps:
A. Encourage reading and studying the Bible and the gospel of John along with helpful Biblestudies – Your New Life In Christ Bible Study.
B. If the inquirer is influenced by or connected with a sect or cult, recommend leaving it immediately and severing all ties with the group. In its place, he or she should identify with a Bible-teaching church for worship, prayer, and fellowship with born-again believers and instruction in God’s Word.
4. Pray with him or her for a clear understanding of the Bible—for “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) in all things concerning God’s Word.
For the Christian:
It is not uncommon for an apparently knowledgeable Christian to be influenced by false teaching.
1. Take care not to offend the inquirer by suggesting that he or she is in error or has been gullible. Remember that Satan often disguises himself as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Do not suggest at the outset that he or she leave the cult or sect.
2. Trusting the Holy Spirit to lead you, consult other resources that give information about the doctrinal issues involved. Use your own knowledge of the Bible and your experience to help the person.
3. Ask your inquirer to write down the information and accompanying Scriptures you share, for future reflection and study. Offer to send a Bible study – Your New Life In Christ Bible Study.
4. Finally, pray with him or her for an open mind and for a knowledge of God’s will as he or she seeks to know the Bible.
5. If, at this point, your inquirer asks you to recommend a church, simply suggest that he or she seek to identify with a group of believers where God’s Word is preached and taught. Then trust the Holy Spirit to guide to the right place. Do not suggest a specific denomination or church unless the inquirer requests this information.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25).
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:8–9).
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1–2).
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:1–3).
See also Cults, The Bible, The Trinity
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996
False Prophets, Teachers
Note: False prophets and false teachers arise from within the church. They always put on a false front and often mix truth with error. They are, therefore, often difficult to detect. This requires watchfulness.
1. False prophets promise peace when there is no peace. They tell you that you can live in sin and God will not punish you.
Jer. 14:13–14. Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ ” And the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.”
2. God reveals the terrible damage false prophets do in the church and warns against them.
3. God warns against the false shepherds who destroy and scatter the flock.
Jer. 23:1–4. “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the Lord. “But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the Lord.
4. God warns his people not to listen to the false prophets who say that he will not punish unrepentant sinners.
Jer. 23:16–20. Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the Lord. They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You shall have peace” ’; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.’ ” For who has stood in the counsel of the Lord, And has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord has gone forth in fury—A violent whirlwind! It will fall violently on the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not turn back Until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly.”
Ezek. 13:10–12. “Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar—say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?’ ”
5. Jesus warns against false prophets who are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Matt. 7:15. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
6. Paul warns that savage wolves will come, even from within the church, and will not spare the flock.
Acts 20:29–31. “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
7. Peter warns that false teachers will arise within the church and secretly introduce destructive heresies.
2 Peter 2:1–3. But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
8. False teachers masquerade also as angels of light.
2 Cor. 11:1–15.
2 Cor. 11:13–15. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
9. Don’t be like the Galatian Christians who were easily led away from the purity of the gospel by false teachers, the Judaizers.
Gal. 3:1. O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?
10. Test the spirits (by the word of God) to see whether or not they are from God.
1 John 4:1–3.
1 John 4:1. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
11. Be like the Berean Christians.
Acts 17:11. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
12. Jesus commends the church that tests what it hears, and will not tolerate false teachers.
Rev. 2:2–3. (To the church in Ephesus) “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.”
 Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.