In Part I of this article, God’s warnings to false prophet and false teachers were discussed. In Part II, let’s look at the main characteristics of false teachers and false prophets who preach a distorted, sugar-coated gospel. Five of the more relevant characteristics of false teachers and false prophets are:
1. They equate their leaders' words with the Scripture.
2. They reject authentic doctrinal Christian teaching.
3. They require busyness from their members.
4. They demand absolute conformity.
5. They elevate themselves over others. (David and Tamra Lee, Christ Is King Ministries.org)
Now, since the characteristics of false teachers and false prophets have been listed, let’s take a more in depth look at each of these characteristics. First, they equate their leaders’ words with the Scripture. As a result, they do not submit reverently to God’s Holy Word, which is the reason that they are misled so easily by false teachers and false prophets. However, there are true teachers and true prophets of God that are anointed by Him to purport the truth of His Word, not the personal beliefs and philosophies of evil men who attempt to lead their flocks astray. Therefore, God’s flock should prayerfully read and study His Word in order to be able to spot the gospel lies propagated by Satan. Of course, if you know men and women who teach and preach the following untruths about God’s Word, you should distance yourself from them. The Biblical untruths that they might preach are:
1. The Bible is just a dusty old book that contains dead letters written by ancient prophets. Therefore, you need a fresh word from God today.
2. The Bible cannot be trusted regarding history or science and that it must not be taken literally.
3. The Bible isn't God’s Word until it speaks to you personally.
4. The Words of God contained in the Scriptures aren't enough to heal your emotional and mental problems.
5. Signs and wonders, visions, and so-called Words from the Lord prove that they are true prophets.
6. Mystical books and practices should be incorporated into worship services.
7. They claim that Jesus’ death on the Cross of Calvary did not complete God’s Plan of Salvation. They insist that there is a new Messiah or an exalted angel that would benefit you more than the Bible.
8. They promote their books as the “way, the truth, and the light.” Therefore, if you want to really understand the Bible as God intended, you must read their books.
9. They take the Scriptures out of context and then apply God’s Words wrongly to themselves.
10. They want you to seek an experience instead of a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. (David and Tamra Lee, Christ Is King Ministries.org)
Second, false teachers and false prophets reject authentic doctrinal Christian teaching. They deny the Holy Trinity of God (God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). Some false servants of God only teach and preach half the Truths of God. For example, they do not teach and preach about Hell or even believe that there is a literal Hell. Some even teach and preach that “faith” is a mental idea, not the committing of a person’s life to the Lord Jesus Christ, heart, mind, and soul. However, worst of all, false teachers and false prophets do not believe that salvation through Jesus Christ in itself is all that is required for a person to really be saved. They also believe that people must perform religious works and give large amounts of money to their ministry in order to be truly saved from eternal damnation. (David and Tamra Lee, Christ Is King Ministries.org)
False teachers and false prophets also teach and preach a false system of “holiness” that strays from the Biblical definition of purity, modesty, and separation from the world. In fact, some teachers and prophets simply deny pure holiness. They purport that Christian churches must have some of the same activities that the world has so that people of the world could find a church to attend. As a result, secular-minded churches would play loud, so-called Christian music in their services in order to get more people to come to their churches. Of course, the use of this type of music in God’s Holy House of Worship would be an abomination to God. But, sadly, too many churches work diligently to create a circus-like and rock concert-like atmosphere in their services. By doing so, they expect this worldly approach to bring more people into the four walls of their churches. However, the Bible states that the spirit of God draws people unto salvation, not listening to ungodly, alternative Christian rock music, not giving away cotton candy and other goodies, and not dancing sensually at the altar prior to the beginning of church services. Therefore, when worldly activities are brought into the front door of a Christian church, pure holiness is kicked out the back door of that same Christian church. Ultimately, a Christian church without holiness would eventually become a Christian Church in Name Only, since the Bible states that “without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” (David and Tamra Lee, Christ Is King Ministries.org)
Third, false teachers and false prophets dominate the life of their members. They promote a “keep them busy and happy” attitude. As a result, they want their members to spend less time reading their Bibles, praying, and thinking for themselves. But, at the same time, false teachers and false prophets want their members to stay busy in the rituals of church activities so that they would stay tired and would be unable to think clearly. Then, it would be much easier for false teachers and false prophets to promote their ministry over the Truths in God and His Plan of Salvation. Of course, if the ministry of false teachers and false prophets is put ahead of God’s Biblical Truths, the church members would become spiritual zombies that are not capable of reading and interpreting God’s Word for themselves. Therefore, false teachers and false prophets would use a form of mind control to get their personal agendas achieved in their churches more so than ministering and witnessing to those that Jesus gave His life for on the Cross of Calvary. (David and Tamra Lee, Christ Is King Ministries.org)
Fourth, false teachers and false prophets demand absolute conformity. In many respects, they are like totalitarian dictators. They attempt to control every aspect of your life. They dictate to their church members what to believe, what to wear, where to live, who to associate with, how much money to put in the offering plate, and many other demands that are not according to God’s Holy Word. However, since Christianity is a personal experience between a person and God through Jesus Christ, the dictates of men do not fit into God’s plan for His children. His children should only conform to His Will for their lives. Therefore, when a minister demands that his will should supersede God’s Will, then an alarm system should go off in your heart and mind. Of course, when this alarm system goes off in your heart and mind that warns you that a minister is too demanding and too controlling of your personal life, you should do exactly what you would do if an alarm goes off in your house, you “run for your life.” Don’t continue to be indoctrinated by a minister who will lead you to Hell, instead of Heaven. (David and Tamra Lee, Christ Is King Ministries.org)
Finally, false teachers and false prophets elevate themselves over others. They expect their church members to accept their interpretations of God’s Holy Scripture and their discernment of messages from the Holy Spirit as the “truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Inevitably, these ministers who believe that they should be revered more than their parishioners should be looked upon as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” In fact, in Matthew 24:24, it reads, “For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” As a result, when it comes to the Truths of God in the Bible, Christians should always consult with the Holy Spirit first, instead of with men, even ministers, who might just lead you down a long dark road of spiritual destruction. (David and Tamra Lee, Christ Is King Ministries.org)
Therefore, ministers must meet the standards of God’s Word to insure that they are true teachers and true prophets. As stated by Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:33, “a tree is recognized by its fruit.” But, how can a minister be checked to verify that he or she is teaching and preaching the Truths of God? According to Questions Ministries (GotQuestions.Org), there are three specific tests to apply to any teacher or minister to determine the accuracy of his or her teaching:
1. What does this teacher say about Jesus? In Matthew 16:15-16, Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and for this answer Peter is called “blessed.” In 2 John 9, we read, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” In other words, Jesus Christ and His work of redemption is of utmost importance; beware of anyone who denies that Jesus is equal with God, who downplays Jesus’ sacrificial death, or who rejects Jesus’ humanity. First John 2:22 says, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.”
2. Does this teacher preach the gospel? The gospel is defined as the good news concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). As nice as they sound, the statements “God loves you,” “God wants us to feed the hungry,” and “God wants you to be wealthy” are not the complete message of the gospel. As Paul warns in Galatians 1:7, “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” No one, not even a great preacher, has the right to change the message that God gave us. “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:9).
3. Does this teacher exhibit character qualities that glorify the Lord? Speaking of false teachers, Jude 11 says, “They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” In other words, a false teacher can be known by his pride (Cain’s rejection of God’s plan), greed (Balaam’s prophesying for money), and rebellion (Korah’s promotion of himself over Moses). Jesus said to beware of such people and that we would know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20).
Two other very important characteristics of false teachers and false prophets to be considered are:
1. Does this person seek your heart or your money?
2. Does this person have 100% accurate prophesies?
Ultimately, in conclusion, Christians should be mindful of the Christ-centeredness of the messages that postmodern ministers and teachers purport in Christian churches throughout the United States. If they believe that their ministers and teachers are making statements that cannot be verified within the pages of God’s Holy Scriptures, they should leave these churches and find a church to attend where the shepherds of the flock are not “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Of course, to prove the truthfulness of their ministers and teachers, two final scriptures that stress the importance of not supporting the ministry of a false teacher or a false prophet should be used as a litmus test. These two scriptures are:
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."
2 John 1:9, 10 "If anyone comes to you and does not bring the Doctrine of Christ, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds."
Therefore, God expects Christians to evaluate their spiritual leaders. If they cannot pass the above litmus test, Christian ministers and Christian teachers should be abandoned by those who are faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. If they do not abandon these false prophets and teachers, Christians could be lead astray by these ministers “words of darkness,” that are contrary to the “words of light” written in the Living Word of God, the Holy Bible.