BUFF SCOTT, JR.
Brief Analysis of “False Teacher”
As I understand “false teacher” in the new covenant letters, only those who teach
falsely intentionally and knowingly fall under the Spirit’s condemnation. For if all of us who teach falsely, or who make an occasional instructional mistake, fall under heaven’s judgment, there is no hope for any of us.
This subject caught my attention a while back when a fellow-believer left a doubly strong impression that he had reached a state of perfection in doctrine—perhaps not intentionally, but the impression was there nonetheless. I called his hand by pointing out that if he is not a false teacher in any sense of the term, he has reached a state of absolute flawlessness. I asked him to respond to the following statement, “I [his name] never teach anything falsely, knowingly or unknowingly.” He elected not to answer. Let me break this whole thing down in simple terms:
* In a real sense, we all are false teachers in that our knowledge and understanding of divinely revealed messages are imperfect.
* When we consider the term in the vein the Holy Spirit uses it, “false teacher” applies only to those who take pleasure in teaching erroneously. There were false teachers at Rome. They were not the honestly mistaken. They were those who delighted in serving their own partisan appetites. “By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Rom. 16:17-18). They knew they were teaching spurious doctrine.
* The Spirit does not call the honestly mistaken false teachers, because we all are false teachers in that none of us are faultless in what we teach. “If anyone is never at fault in what he says [teaches], he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check” (James 3:2). And “no man can tame the tongue” (v. 8).
* There were “false brothers” among the believers at Jerusalem. “Some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves” [to Judaism] (Gal. 2:4). These false brothers knew what they were doing. The tone of Paul’s words denotes they tried to misrepresent the truth knowingly and deliberately.
* Peter refers to “false teachers.” To illustrate their beguiling and underhanded tactics, Peter says, “They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them…in their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up” (2 Peter 2:1-3).
* In Acts 20:29 false teachers are called “savage wolves who will not spare the flock.”
There are many other passages that tell the same story. Permit me to reiterate without belaboring the point that “false teachers,” “false brothers,” and “false prophets” in the scriptures refer only to those who carefully and deliberately teach and broadcast fallaciously—even those “blind guides” who led “blind men” (Matt. 15:12-14). Jesus alluded to the self-righteous Pharisees when He directed attention to “blind guides.” They were intentionally blind.
I am not aware of any honestly mistaken believer in the scriptures being called a “false teacher,” although we all are honestly mistaken on occasion. And those in the scriptures who were misguided were enlightened, not rejected, such as Simon (Acts 8), Cornelius (Acts 10), Apollos (Acts 18), and others.
Those who claim they never teach falsely are usually divisive and reject those whose doctrinal agenda does not carry their partisan label. The results are even more churches/denominations. And that’s sad. Sent via BlackBerry