The Gospel Coalition

"There were also false prophets among the people,
just as there will be false teachers among you." (2 Peter 2:1)

There are no "ifs, ands, or buts" in Peter's words. It's a clear and definite statement. There were false prophets among the people (of Israel in the Old Testament). That's a matter of history.

False prophets were a constant problem in the Old Testament, and those who falsely claimed to be prophets of God were to be stoned. The people rarely had the will to deal with them, so they multiplied, causing disaster to the spiritual life of God's people.

In the same way Peter says, "There will be false teachers among you." Notice the words "among you." Peter is writing to the church and says, "There will be false prophets among you." So he is not talking about New Age people on television. He is talking about people in the local church, members of a local congregation.

There is no such thing as a pure church this side of heaven. You will never find it. The wheat and the tares grow together. Warren Wiersbe writes:
Satan is the counterfeiter. . . . He has a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), preached by false ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13-12), producing false Christians (2 Corinthians 11:26). . . . Satan plants his counterfeits wherever God plants true believers (Matthew 13:38).

Authentic or Counterfeit?

How would you recognize counterfeit Christianity?

In 2 Peter 1 we read about genuine believers. And in 2 Peter 2 we read about counterfeit believers. If you put these chapters side by side you will see the difference between authentic and counterfeit believers.

1. Different SourceWhere does the message come from?

Peter says, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1:16). And then he says the false teachers exploit you "with stories they have made up" (2:3). So the true teacher sources what he says from the Bible. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message.

2. Different MessageWhat is the substance of the message?

For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. "We have everything we need for life and godliness in Him" (1:3). For the false teacher, Jesus is at the margins: "They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them" (2:1).

Notice the word secretly. It's rare for someone in church to openly deny Jesus. Movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.

3. Different PositionIn what position will the message leave you?

The true Christian "escapes the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (1:4). Listen to how Peter describes the counterfeit Christian: "They promise . . . freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity, for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him" (2:19). The true believer is escaping corruption, while the counterfeit believer is mastered by it.

4. Different CharacterWhat kind of people does the message produce?

The true believer pursues goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brother kindness, and love (1:5). The counterfeit Christian is marked by arrogance and slander (2:10). They are "experts in greed" and "their eyes are full of adultery" (2:14). They also "despise authority" (2:10). This is a general characteristic of a counterfeit believer.

5. Different AppealWhy should you listen to the message?

The true teacher appeals to Scripture. "We have the word of the prophets made more certain and you will do well to pay attention to it" (1:19). God has spoken, and the true teacher appeals to his Word.

The false teacher makes a rather different appeal: "By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error" (2:18). So the true teacher asks, "What has God said in his Word?" The false teacher asks, "What do people want to hear? What will appeal to their flesh?"

6. Different FruitWhat result does the message have in people's lives?

The true believer is effective and productive in his or her knowledge of Jesus Christ (1:8). The counterfeit is "like a spring without water" (2:17). This is an extraordinary picture! They promise much but produce little.

7. Different EndWhere does the message ultimately lead you?

Here we find the most disturbing contrast of all. The true believer will receive "a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1:11). The false believer will experience "swift destruction" (2:1). "Their condemnation has long been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping" (2:3).

Jesus tells us that there will be many who have been involved in ministry in his name, to whom he will say, "Depart from me; I never knew you" (Matthew 7:21). Who are these people? Surely Peter is describing them in this passage.

Don't Be Naïve

We must not be ignorant: "There will be false teachers among you" (2:1). So how do we apply this warning?

First, Peter's plain statement reminds us that the church needs to be protected. Among the many wonderful people who come to through the doors of the church each year, some would do more harm than good.

They may seem the nicest of people, but they do not believe in the authority of the Bible or the exclusivity of salvation in Christ. We welcome such people, because they need Christ as much as we do, but we must not allow them to have influence in the church.

Second, skeptics will always be able to point to hypocrisy and inconsistency in the church. They've always done it, and they always will. One of the strangest reasons for not following Christ goes like this: "I've seen people in the church who are hypocrites." So you will not follow Christ because some people who claim to do so are hypocrites?

The existence of the counterfeit is never a good reason for rejecting the genuine. Peter essentially tells us, "Of course there are counterfeit Christians. Of course there are teachers who do the church more harm than good. What else would you expect in this fallen world? Grow up! Don't be naïve! Don't miss what's real simply because you have seen the counterfeit."

Point to 2 Peter 2:1 the next time you meet someone hiding behind this excuse.

* * * * * * * * * *

Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible just launched a new daily devotional called LIFEKeys Daily. Visit Unlocking the Bible's site to request a free sample of the daily devotional, listen to the program, or browse other gospel-centered, Christ-exalting resources.

And join us next month in Orlando for The Gospel Coalition National Conference to hear Colin Smith deliver a plenary address on "Jesus Despised" from Luke 4:14-30. Register here for this five-day event featuring more than 80 speakers, including John Piper, Tim Keller, Don Carson, Matt Chandler, David Platt, and Albert Mohler.



[...]… [...]

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September 18, 2013 at 11:28 PM

[...] Here is another excerpt from the Gospel Coalition [...]

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October 1, 2013 at 11:03 PM

[…] [1] Quote found on […]

Tim Augustyn

November 6, 2013 at 06:28 PM


You have raised some very good questions about leadership, and you’re right in saying that they deserve biblical answers. But instead of responding to your questions point-by-point, I think it would be more helpful to try and respond to categories of questions that you are raising.

You’ve raised a number of rhetorical questions, where you ask a question and assume that your listeners will agree with your point of view. I think, generally, all Christians can agree that God is not a respecter of persons, that spiritual gifts are given to every believer for the benefit of the church and the kingdom of God, that all the children of God are to carry out the will of God, that believers should not bury their spiritual gifts, and that leadership in the church should not be reserved for the wealthy or highly educated. We agree on this. This is biblical.

Where we might differ is the role that church/pastoral leadership plays in a local church.

1. Church/pastoral leadership is given by God for the protection of the body of Christ.

One of the underlying assumptions that you’re making is that every person in every church who wants to teach or lead is i. a Christian, ii. spiritually gifted as a teacher/leader, iii. properly equipped to teach/lead, and iv. motivated to teach/lead for the good of the people of God.

But this simply is not the case. For example, the Apostle Paul tells Timothy (who is not an apostle, but a pastor in Ephesus to “charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine [than what was handed down by the apostles, or what we have recorded for us in the Bible] nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies…” (1 Timothy 1:3-4).

Here’s the reason why Paul asked Pastor Timothy to restrict the teaching of those in his congregation. Because their teaching “promote[d] speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Timothy 1:4). In other words, their teaching discouraged genuine faith and the view of one’s own life as belonging to God, to be lived in a way that brings honor to him.

Notice the goal of Pastor Timothy’s leadership: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). Good teaching promotes sincere faith, a good conscience, and a pure heart, and all these things result in love. Bad teaching has the opposite effect on individuals within a local church.

Later on, Paul says to Pastor Timothy, “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you” (1 Timothy 6:20). The message of the gospel, or “the deposit,” is entrusted to church leaders and pastors to guard. This assumes that there will be “enemies” of the gospel inside local churches, and that the survival of the gospel in that church depends on effective pastoral leadership.

2. God is the ultimate judge of every teacher/leader.

The Apostle says to Pastor Timothy: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The approval of God (not man) is of utmost importance.

Yet it is possible to be approved by men, and at the same time, not by God: “The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth” (1 Timothy 4:4).

The Apostle is describing a church that goes out and gets a pastor/teacher to tell them what they want to hear, so that he can help them “turn away from listening to the truth.” He may even hold up the Bible and mention verses, but his real interest is in talking about things that “suit the passions” of the people.

3. Even so, the Bible models for us that church/pastoral authority must make judgments about the fitness of its leaders/teachers.

The Apostle says, “Certain persons, by swerving from these [pure heart, good conscience, sincere faith] have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding… what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” (1 Timothy 1:6-7).

What is clear from this passage is that i. the desire to be a teacher is not a sufficient qualification for being a teacher/leader, and ii. nor is having confidence in what you are teaching. More important than a person’s confidence and desire is that person’s character. The Christian teacher must cultivate a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, and not swerve from these things.

Secondly, the Christian teacher must have understanding. It is possible to desire to teach the Bible (“desiring to teach the law”) and yet to not really understand what you’re talking about. This kind of teaching leads to “vain discussion” or empty, useless talk about the Bible or other religious topics.

Furthermore, when the Apostle Paul gives Pastor Timothy qualifications for elders he says, “If anyone desires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be… able to teach…” (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Notice, a judgment must be made about whether an overseer has the ability to teach—this is not assumed, just because a person has the desire to be an overseer.

4. Even though there are abuses, this leadership function must still be carried out.

There are certainly cases where church/pastoral leadership is abused. That’s why the Apostle Peter counsels leaders to lead “not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3). Pastors/leaders have the responsibility to protect the church, and they are to do this without becoming domineering.

The Apostle Paul says about some false teachers, “They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” (Titus 1:11).

So, “domineering” cannot mean that you stop short of telling a person in the church that they cannot teach. Rather, it reflects the kind of leader who is quick to make demands of others, but slow to make demands of themselves, and in doing so, they fail to be a good example of Christ-like character to the people of God.

All of this points to the fact that in the Bible, there is an expectation, a responsibility, a charge from God that pastors/leaders of a church will make judgments about the fitness of individuals to teach in their churches. This includes judgments about the character and understanding of the teacher, as well as the results of their teaching. And all of this is to be done in a spirit of humility to the glory of God!

Warmly in Christ,
Pastor Tim
Unlocking the Bible

Theodore A. Jones

November 4, 2013 at 10:25 PM

No leader of any contemporary church "Christian" or otherwise has any gift of the Holy Spirit and there is no possibility that any of them will. For the common denominator of their soteriological system is the false assumption of Jesus Christ's murder being a direct benefit for them.

Theodore A. Jones

November 4, 2013 at 08:43 PM

Didn't think he is a false teacher either.
"For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." Rom. 2:13 But I think you need to find out which law he is referencing and it is not the OT code.

Charles Allen-Palmer

November 4, 2013 at 05:05 AM

Questions that need answers that are strictly based on the Living Eternal Word of God. 1) As a child of God and knowing that God is not a respecter of persons, who sees and treats all His children the same, why then do certain certain church leaders prohibit the children of God to go out and do what God calls all His children to do? Are Spiritual gifts only given to church leaders, or are they given to all believers in Christ Jesus to use to the benefit of God's Church and His Kingdom? Are not all children of God called to do His Will and to do all for His Glory and Honour? Why then are the disadvantaged children of God pushed aside and instructed by these Church leaders to be silent? Is it not the Spirit of God that worketh through all His children, or does God only work through the rich and educated believers? Who then are God's chosen through His Son Jesus Christ? As a true believer and follower of Christ Jesus, just because I have no title of a Pastor, does this mean I must bury the Spiritual gifts that God has freely given to me? Last question; I would like to know where in any of the scriptures does God insist that His followers must first attend a Bible school to receive a title and have the right to preach? Is it not God's Holy Spirit that teaches all believers? Maybe I have a completely different Bible and all that that I read is not what I see in Christianity today.

B a r z i l a i – e n – D a n

May 5, 2013 at 11:23 PM

[...] Colin Smith (@PastorColinS) of Unlocking the Bible recently offered 7 Traits of False Teachers on The Gospel Coalition’s website. In it, he contrasts the teaching 2 Peter 1 and 2 to show [...]

[...] the whole thing: 7 Traits of False Teachers – The Gospel Coalition Blog. Share this:EmailPrintFacebookTwitterGoogle +1PinterestLike this:Like Loading... This entry was [...]


March 29, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Thank you Pastor Tim for taking the time to respond to my questions. You have been very helpful in confirming what I believed was true. There are so many people being harmed by false teachers. I hope the Gospel Coalition will continue to address the issues associated with this sin in order to help people not only identify them, but know what to do afterward. It is not always enough to just walk away as I did. When you lose your children, grandchildren, other family members, and dear friends, you can't help but search desperately for ways to correct this wrong. Thank you again, and God bless you.

False Teachers | Reformedontheweb's Blog

March 28, 2013 at 05:17 AM

[...] the entire list right here. Share this:EmailTwitterFacebookPrintLike this:Like Loading... Categories: False Doctrine Tags: [...]

Tim Augustyn

March 26, 2013 at 03:32 PM


When Jesus said, "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now own in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three" (Luke 12:51), he was talking about the division that faith in him causes between family members.

He was clearly not saying that church leaders ought to divide families in which some had faith and others did not. Jesus told a parable about the kingdom of God in Matthew 13 that seems to anticipate questions like this.

In the parable, a farmer sows seeds, but while he is sleeping his enemy comes and sows weeds in his field. His servants discover the weeds and they ask the farmer: "Do you want us to go and gather [the weeds](Matthew 13:28)? Listen to his response...

"No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest."(Matthew 13:29-30).

The New Testament is very clear that the role of the pastor/teacher is to preserve the unity of the body of Christ, not divide it:

"And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Paul goes on to explain why God has given leaders this responsibility to build up the church in unity: "so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes" (Ephesians 4:14).

In other words, as teachers/leaders do the work of building up the church in unity through solid doctrine and our faith becomes anchored in God's Word, then we are protected from the divisive doctrines and the teaching of false teachers.

The apostle Paul strongly warns the church in Rome against divisive leaders: "I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them" (Romans 16:17).

The kind of separation that Jesus describes in Matthew 13, and that Paul warns about, is to be reserved for the judgement which is to come: "At harvest time I will tell the reapers, 'Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn'" (Matthew 13:30).

Warmly in Christ,
Pastor Tim

[...] Colin Smith writes: [...]


March 23, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Pastor Tim, I want to thank you and all the others who have expressed their concern and taken time to address my questions. May I ask you to please clarify one thing concerning my second question, which was: Does the teacher/pastor have God's authority to bring the sword, or does Jesus bring the sword?

I wasn't really asking about the sword of punishment, or discipline, but rather righteous division as stated in Matthew 10:34.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—man’s enemies will be the members of his own household."

Would it be considered a trait of a false teacher if a teacher/pastor himself orchestrates this division of families (and marriages), doing himself, what Jesus said HE would do?

Thank you so very much for your help.

7 Traits of False Teachers

March 22, 2013 at 11:07 PM

[...] Read More [...]

[...] Ever have a hard time telling if a “teacher” is telling you the truth? Here’s a great article on “7 signs of false teachers.“ [...]

Tim Augustyn

March 22, 2013 at 09:25 AM

Sojourner, this is Pastor Tim from Unlocking the Bible. Pastor Colin asked me to thank you for your perceptive questions and respond to you.

1. You left your church because you were no longer able to hear the voice of Christ through your pastor. That was a wise thing to do: "the sheep follow him because they know his voice" (John 10:4).

Where I would be concerned for you is if your desire to be under the authority of Christ and his Word waned, or you no longer wished to eventually be under the protective (not destructive) authority of a local church again. But this does not seem to be the case.

2. The authority to bear the sword is given, in this age, to the civil government (Romans 13:1-7), not to the church. It is a misunderstanding of the Gospel itself to use physical or any other kind of force to compel a person to accept the Gospel or adhere to the Christian faith. No genuine faith can come as a result of force; it must be received freely. That was the tragic mistake of the Crusades of the Middle Ages.

The primary purposes of church discipline are: 1. To lovingly bring about restoration (of the offender to right behavior), and 2. reconciliation (between believers, and with God), and 3. protection (for the church). The failure to keep these goals at the center of church discipline has led to all kinds of abuses in the history of the church.

All church discipline is to be carried out in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1). There is no punishment involved in church discipline, as is the case with the civil government's use of the sword.

3. You've wisely answered your own question in saying that "your pastor has made himself accountable to no one." If that's the case, it appears that he, himself, is "despising authority."

Links From the Week | Lamp on a Stand

March 22, 2013 at 05:25 PM

[...] 7 Traits of False Teachers – I am someone who was led astray by false teaching for several years of my Christian walk.  It was not until my early twenties that I was really pointed to Scripture as the measure of what is true, and it has been life changing.  Because of my background, being aware of false teaching is something I hold very high on my priority list.  This article is helpful in providing a quick lesson on identifying false teaching. [...]

Destinations | Luggaged

March 21, 2013 at 12:20 PM

[...] are 7 Traits  of False Teachers taken from the book of 2 Peter. False teaching abounds in our day. This article helps identify [...]

[...] mía del artículo “7 Traits of False Teachers” por Colin Smith, disponible gratis aquí en inglés.) 14.580989 -90.514003 Rate this:Share [...]

Bill Norton

March 20, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Does false teaching apply to professors at faith-based universities? I see teacher/pastor. Does the teacher apply to those who instruct students, write popular books, etc.?


March 20, 2013 at 09:36 PM

I am sorry to hear this. I too am apparently being quietly shunned by former friends after leaving a particular situation and by God's great grace and Providence finding a wonderful church where the authority is carried out humbly and graciously in submission to the Scripture, where the calling as under-shepherds accountable to the Chief Shepherd for the care of the flock allotted to their charge (1 Peter 5:1-5) is taken very seriously, and the Scripture is used as the authority by which God's people are encouraged and nourished and guided, rather than as a hammer to keep us in line. It wasn't long after coming to this wonderful church that I ran into a very precious promise in the Scripture, couched in among the description of the coming righteous Branch:

"I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord." (Jer 23:4)

May you be filled with Grace and Peace and be brought into fellowship with the Body under faithful, humble, godly leadership. That is my prayer for you. God bless.

John Remillard

March 20, 2013 at 09:06 PM

Might seem minor but I thought the field was the world not the church (Mth 13:38).

Lon Hetrick

March 20, 2013 at 08:00 AM

Well, I must say I was hoping to read something more, shall I say, pointed. Some contemporary examples would have helped.

I think we all know there are wheat and weeds growing together in our congregations. I think a more pressing matter is that someone with some "church-cred" has got to start calling out false teaching and those who promote it. There are lots of popular teachers, authors and preachers who teach really damaging stuff, probably sincerely. Some of them may be like Apollos -- who was willing to learn and change his teaching -- if someone would take the time to try to correct in love. Others are wolves. But the masses will think they're all just fine as long as our best teachers, scholars, pastors, seminaries etc, don't say, "Hey, that's wrong. Here's why."

[...] Read the entire article [...]

[...] Via 7 Traits of False Teachers – read it all for more details.  False teachers aren’t that hard to identify.  The Bible is full of warnings about them.  Some of the fakes that used to visit my blogs (before being banned) would scoff at the notion that the Bible warns against false teachers.  I think that was trait #8. 1. Different Source—Where does the message come from? [...]


March 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Thank you for your thoughts and insights. I am hoping that Colin Smith will respond to your questions as he will be better equipped than I, since I did not write the article.
I just want to point out one thing. It sounds to me as if your former pastor seems to be the one who "despises authority". Someone who heavily emphasizes authority, yet refuses to submit to any is someone who truly does not understand the biblical picture of authority. I encourage you to really dive into the scriptures that focus on authority. A pastor's role of authority is of sacrificial servant-leadership, not dominance and control. I sincerely hope you can find a solid church community to now be a part of. One where the congregation does submit and respect those in authority, but also where those in authority are truly leading and loving their congregation. I am truly sorry that you have had such a hurtful experience with your previous church.

Tim Michiemo

March 19, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Very helpful post Pastor Smith! Really like the contrast that you made between 2 Peter 1 & 2 to distinguish between a true and false teacher. The main difference between the two is the nature of the message, is it firmly founded on the Word of God or founded upon human doctrine and truths. One foundation is steady and one is extremely shaky. Thanks for bringing up a topic that needs to be talked about!

PK Labby

March 19, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Very helpful and well reasoned...from Scripture. Thank you!


March 19, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Pastor Smith, I left a church after more than ten years of attendance because I believe it is lead by a false teacher/pastor. I quietly walked away. The main message of this teacher became "you must keep yourself under the authority of myself, the other pastors, and your deacon". This is taught over and over again 'because people have so much trouble accepting authority". All of my brothers and sisters who are still there now shun me.

Using his authority, I believe this teacher/pastor divides the body of Christ by insisting on complete unity of all thought. Questioning of his teaching is not tolerated, family members are separated until everyone professes submission. He speaks badly about virtually all who leave his church, causing existing members to shun them. If parents do not obey his decision that they should put their minor age child out of the house because of unbelief, he tells them to leave the church, and leave other family members and believing children behind, never to have relationship with them again. Many people want so much to leave, but are terrified of losing family members and friends if they do. I could go on...

I was conflicted reading your article when I read: They also "despise authority". This is a general characteristic of a counterfeit believer.

People come to God for many reasons. I began following Jesus Christ because I wanted and knew I needed to be under God's authority. It was later that I understood my sinful need. Since leaving this church my relationship and submission to Jesus Christ has grown, and as frail as I may still be, He is my Lord. I keep myself under His authority.

Should this teacher/pastor read your article he would immediately point to this statement" "they also "despise authority" and declare that this is the state that I and all others who have left his church are in. Yet this teacher removed himself many years ago from all church authority/oversight to create a totally independent church. He has been accountable to no one since.

I have three questions which I hope you will be able to address. Based on what I have shared:
1. Did I misunderstand God's plan in recognizing this teacher/pastor as a false teacher?

2. Does the teacher/pastor have God's authority to bring the sword, or does Jesus bring the sword?

3. What would you say to a teacher/pastor who demands submission to the authority of men, but is not under the authority of men himself?

Thank you so much for your article and any additional help you can provide.


March 19, 2013 at 09:49 AM

Excellent. A wonderful summary of false teaching.

Ben Guillot

March 19, 2013 at 07:59 PM

Very good and biblical and straight forward! I really appreciate it! Thank you for sharing this! God bless you!

[...] ‘The true believer pursues goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brother kindness, and love (1:5). The counterfeit Christian is marked by arrogance and slander (2:10). They are “experts in greed” and “their eyes are full of adultery” (2:14). They also “despise authority” (2:10). This is a general characteristic of a counterfeit believer.’ [Link] [...]


March 19, 2013 at 03:01 PM

" One where the congregation does submit and respect those in authority, but also where those in authority are truly leading and loving their congregation. I am truly sorry that you have had such a hurtful experience with your previous church." Caree

What is your definition of submit, respect, truly leading, and loving? Definitions may/can differ. Many leaders say they are loving you as they teach you falsely. When you try to communicate with them they say you are disrespecting their "authority." It can be a very devastating experience to a believer. The "leader" has authority and you are a nobody. A very difficult situation to say the least.

It is iften not the church that one finds false, but the teachers/pastors, which makes leaving all the more difficult. You have built life together with a local body, yet cannot continue to obey or listen to teaching that is not what you believe the scripture teaches. What is a berean to do?


March 19, 2013 at 02:43 PM

Sojourner -

I have seen this same scenario play out. I am curious about the answers to these questions as well, especially question 3.

Tim Augustyn

June 25, 2013 at 09:25 AM


Peter says, "There will be false teachers among you" (2 Peter 2:1). A "false teacher" is a person in a local church who has been given the responsibility of a teacher, but they exhibit one of more of the traits of a false teacher.

Your description is a bit thin, but it doesn't sound like this is a teacher in a local church, perhaps a synagogue?

In the case of what books are being used by teachers/leaders in a church, the responsibility for what is being taught often lies with the pastors, staff, and lay leaders, and ultimately with the elders of those churches.

If we've correctly understood what you've told us, no, the author whose book is being used in a local church is not a "false teacher."

Praying this will be helpful to you (and to others),
Pastor Tim (from Unlocking the Bible)

Theodore A. Jones

June 22, 2013 at 02:53 PM

In the area where I live a large number of the churches have been teaching from some books by a Jewish man who says that it is necessary to obey a law to be saved. Do you think this man should be classified as a false teacher?

[...] 7 Traits of False Teachers - [...]

[…] to really determine what false teaching is and who are false teachers. To figure that out check out Colin Hansen and Tim Challies on the topic. You can also listen to a song by Shai Linne […]

[…] this message. First is an article on the 7 traits of false teachers and their message. Read it here. As we see in Nehemiah, false prophets and false teachers are real. We must be able to identify […]


January 17, 2014 at 06:03 PM

I stumbled on this article by mistake. Very good teaching indeed. Thank you for all the good points and verses!

Marquisha Jerry

January 12, 2014 at 12:28 AM

Wow this information shocked me and the truth about false prophets wow! God is not playing with us when he mean what he said in his laws of the lamb Amen!

Charles Allen

January 12, 2014 at 09:57 AM

Totally agreed upon pertaining to false preachers and teachers of today. In South Africa it is fact that this type of practice is on the increase, where these false preachers and teachers have formed a strong bond amongst each other, making it difficult to erase. They use their titles, riches and fame to dominate the Christian platform in South Africa. Any person who tries to stand up and expose them, is black listed amongst the Churches, and is cast out. They are like the scribes and pharisees which Jesus continuously rebuked. As a Christian group, we have placed our faith in God and we trust no man, as we preach the true Gospel of God to the poor without financial gain. We obey God rather than man, and we fear no man, we fear only God.


February 25, 2014 at 09:02 AM

It is true that false teachers have, do, and will exist in abundance. It is unfortunate that they are all clergy in all so called Christian religions (false Christian), called Babylon the great, and the empire of false religion that is planet wide. Satan has and is deceiving the entire inhabited earth. I, however, must take issue with your comment that there is no true Christian faith. There is. It is the one Jesus Christ taught to his apostles. There is, to this day, a large group of people accurately adhering to Jesus' teachings. That group is not a religion, as per se, but does have a legal corporate name, as is required in this current system. They go by the name Jehovah's Witnesses. We were commanded to be Jehovah's witnesses and to bring the truth of the bible to the world, and are doing so. All Christians are required to do this, but very few do. Even less adhere to Jehovah's commands and covenants (contracts). Things like trinity, cross, and hellfire, immortal soul and rapture have caused most of the earth to not know God at all, but to participate in pagan activities like birthday celebrations, Christmas, Easter, flag and idol worship and involvement in the world, rather than being no part of it. It's very sad to watch all of this happen.

[…] which has dealt with false teachers.  I was hoping to use this article from Colin Smith on 7 Traits of False Teachers which […]

[…] Peter says, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:16). And then he says the false teachers exploit you “with stories they have made up” (2:3). So the true teacher sources what he says from the Bible. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message [Colin Smith - click here for link]. […]

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