Jesus said many false teachers and prophets would come in the last days. That means there are also true teachers and prophets whom the Lord sends; but in some cases, the issue is that some have wrong perceptions about whom He sends. There are times when He wants to bring correction, but it is not always embraced by those who hear it. It is easier to dismiss them as false than receive the correction. In that instance, it is a heart issue. One example of this is the prophet, Jeremiah. Jeremiah 43:1-2 But as soon as Jeremiah, whom the Lord their God had sent, had finished telling all the people all the words of the Lord their God—that is, all these words— Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie! The Lord our God has not sent you . . . Unfortunately, some will embrace false teachers and prophets, because they say what they want to hear. Even in Jeremiah’s case, the people of Judah wanted him to seek the Lord on their behalf, but did not get the response they wanted, so they rejected him as a true prophet of God (read Jeremiah 42-43). They didn’t want to repent, so they paid dearly for their hardened hearts.
There are instances when people are so entrenched in false doctrines and traditions of men that when someone brings true doctrine, it sounds false to them. It can be very disconcerting to realize you’ve been believing a lie, especially if it’s been for a lifetime.
Unfortunately, there are some individuals who have taken it upon themselves to become the “doctrine police.” They scrutinize teachers (as well as apostles, prophets and pastors) and call them false when they don’t agree with them. They make it their “duty” to “warn the Church,” and as a result, cause division. Without realizing it, they’ve become accusers of the brethren. Perhaps, their motives are pure, or at least in their eyes; however, by and large, they don’t know the hearts of those whom they attack. If the Lord did indeed send them, those who resist them are actually resisting Jesus.
Okay, so what about the one who is bringing something false to the table, but has a pure heart? He believes he teaching the truth. How can you bring correction to him if you attack him? Do you open your heart to those who accuse or attack you? Aren’t we supposed to approach one another with humility and meekness? What happens if you go to “correct” someone, and it turns out you’re the one with the false teaching? Are you open to correction? Remember, we’re all going to bow before Jesus and give an account. How we treat each other matters to Him!
Does this mean we just swallow every teaching that comes our way –hook, line and sinker? Of course not! What approach should we take? Everything starts and finishes with the heart of God. Submitting to Him is a great place to begin. Ask Him for true revelation concerning what’s being taught or said. Study to find the truth. As a suggestion, don’t try to prove or disprove it. Truth always dispels falsehood. If you try to prove something, you may overlook something that might correct anything you see that needs correction. If you try to disprove something, you may actually enter into unbelief. How so? You’re actually studying in order to not believe. Along that line, it would be possible to turn truth into a lie as far as your thinking goes. Fear and doubt walk hand-in-hand. Fear is vacant of faith, and more importantly, it’s vacant of love. Once you find and receive the truth of an issue, anything false falls to the wayside. When you have the truth, you cannot be confused.
When dealing with the person involved, everything needs to be filtered through love and the fear of the Lord. Someone may be a brother or a sister (our peer), but he or she is also God’s son or daughter. If what they teach is false, scripturally show him (in a spirit of gentleness). If his heart is pure, he’ll receive correction. It may take some time for them to see the truth, so it may not be immediate. Nonetheless, they will in due time –be patient. In this instance, he’s simply been in error –no ill-intent here. On the other hand, heretics reject correction. They do have malice in their heart. Titus 3:10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself (KJV). The bottom line: listen to the Lord and obey what He says.
In the scheme of things, our goal is not to try to get others to believe the way we do; rather, it is for everyone to believe the way God believes, to think the way He does and walk in His ways.
Jeremiah 23:29 “Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” We don’t have to attack those who teach false doctrine. We simply teach truth, while leaving personalities out it. Ironically, if you go around trying to warn people about false teachers and prophets, you may actually draw their attention to those who are false. In some cases, it may have the reverse affect than you intended. Some of those warned could actually become their disciples because they come to believe the opposite. They may never hear of them if you don’t mention them. Instead, teach them truth in the context of truth, and false teachers and the like will have no influence on them. Consider this: persecute it and it will grow!