Christians Judge a Pastor's Teaching or is that Heresy Hunting, being a Pharisee, & having a "Religious Spirit?"


"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
Acts 17:11



We have all heard the milquetoast, effeminate, ecumenical, false piety, and all to common refrain taken out of context of "Judge not, that you be not judged," Matthew 7:1.  Never taking a verse out of context is biblical hermeneutics 101.  Keep reading to verse 5, "Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

What Jesus is saying is we cannot make judgements without first taking the beam out of our own eye.  The moment we examine ourselves we will see clearly enough to critique others according to biblical precepts (Matthew 7:5).

An example of a Matthew 7:1-5 hypocrite would be a "Christian" man telling his married friend that he shouldn't be looking at scantily clad women in television commercials when he himself is addicted to porn.  In other words, don't ever criticize a person in a specific area when you struggle with that same sin in a much larger degree (See Romans 2:1, 20-22).

Another thing to consider is for a Christian to claim, "Judge not, that you be not judged," they are actually judging!  In other words, they are telling you not to judge while judging you!  That is the height of hypocrisy!  Those Christians who cry, "Judge not, that you be not judged," are the hypocrites Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7:1-5.

Jesus commanded Christians to judge in the Gospel of John, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment," John 7:24.  Being a Berean and judging is one of the most noble things a Christian can do.

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
Acts 17:11

The great Apostle Paul commands us to judge our fellow believers and to separate ourselves from them if they don't repent of their sins.  The Bible is very clear on the issue of Christians judging, it is part of our job.

"I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.  Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.  For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside?  Do you not judge those who are inside?"
1 Corinthians 5:9-12.

In the fourteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul is giving instructions on Church order and the conduct of Christians.  He commands us to judge amongst ourselves and he also states it's a good thing if an unbeliever is judged by us.

"But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of allAnd thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
How is it then, brethren?  When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.  If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.  But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge,"  1 Corinthians 14:24-29.

I am from Los Angeles County and as a young Christian I spent many hours watching channel 40 on my black and white television thinking this is Christianity.  Why not?  It was so popular.  If it was wrong I did not hear anybody speaking out against it.

How could it be so popular and be wrong?  How can they talk of Jesus and be wrong?  Who are we to judge them?  Who are we to touch God's anointed?

Do we have any examples in scripture when a person actually speaks out against false teachers and apostates?  If there are then these people who say that it is wrong to speak out against heretical teachings in evangelical circles are in conflict with scripture.

The Bible warns us not to follow men (Jeremiah 17:5, Psalm 118:8), but to test what all leaders teach with scripture (1 John 4:1, Acts 17:11).  God even says that he will test us with false prophets to see if we truly love God with all of our heart (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).  God even says that some of these false prophets will have signs and wonders that come to pass, thus emphasizing the importance to prove all things with scripture. 

Here is a short list of scriptures where warnings are given to protect God's flock:

1) John (the apostle of love) goes so far as to call what Diotrephes does in the church as "Evil" and even suggests that he does not know God (3 John 9-11).

2) Jude speaks out against, Cain, Balaam, and Korah using adjectives such as "Greed" and "gainsaying" and also pronouncing, "Woe unto them!" (Jude 11).

3) The apostle Paul had some strong words for the sorcerer El'ymas, "O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord," Acts 13:10).

4) The apostle Paul gives the names of Phygelus and Hermogenes, they had turned away from him and he warned the body of Christ (2 Timothy 1:15).

5) The apostle Paul also warned the church about Demas, saying that he had forsaken him and that he, "loved this present world" (2 Timothy 4:10).

6) The apostle Paul says that, "All men forsook me," and gives us this warning, "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.  At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge," 2 Timothy 4:14-16.

7) The apostle John records the words of Christ who is angry that the church in Pergamum for allowing false doctrine to be taught.  Again, names are named so that the church will know who to avoid,
"But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.  Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth," Revelation 2:14-16.

8) The apostle John records the words of Christ as He commends the church in Ephesus for "hating" the deeds of the Nicolaitans, "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate," Revelation 2:6.

9) The apostle John records the words of Christ who is angry with the church  in Thyatira for letting Jezebel a false prophet and teacher lead the people astray, "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols," Revelation 2:20.  What a frightening warning to these Christians leaders that remain silent and let God's people be lead astray by false teachings.

10) Jesus commends the church in Ephesus for testing what so-called "apostles" were telling them with scripture, and since these "apostles" contradicted scripture Jesus calls them liars, "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars," Revelation 2:2.  Again, Jesus commends the church in Ephesus for testing and exposing false apostles.

11)  The apostle Paul warns of false teachers Hymenaeus and Philetus: "But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.  And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some," 2 Timothy 2:16-18.

12) The Bereans in Acts 17 were commended for testing what the Apostle Paul taught with scripture to see if it was true, "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true," Acts 17:11.

13) Jesus Himself commanded us to judge, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment," John 7:24.

Are these great men of the Bible in the above scriptures all Heresy Hunters, Pharisees, and possessed by a "Religious Spirit?"  The answer is a resounding no!  They are faithful shepherds protecting God's flock from wolves who would harm the sheep.  To accuse these faithful men of being Heresy Hunters and Pharisees only reveals a total lack of basic biblical understanding and in most cases an overabundance of pride.

Some pastors and televangelists threaten their congregations about having a "Religious Spirit" if they test what is being taught from their pulpit juxtaposed with what the Bible teaches.  They condemn all who question a false teaching as being a Heresy Hunter and a Pharisee while the great Apostle Paul commended such behavior as being noble:

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
Acts 17:11

The Apostle Paul warned the church with tears for three years about the coming false teachers.  Can you imagine if the Apostle Paul was here today preaching for three years about false teachers?  Paul would be shunned by many evangelicals today for the type of preaching he describes in Acts chapter 20:

"Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flockAlso of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
Acts 20:26-31

John the Apostle of Love echoes these sentiments from Paul and we would all be wise to take heed:

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1

Jesus also gave Christians a very clear warning to beware of people who claim to be "Christians" leading us astray.  It would do the church well to listen to the words of our Master:

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves."
Matthew 7:15

These scriptures above lay forth a foundation for all Christians to emulate. If we would follow the advice that we should not speak out against false teachings we would allow countless numbers of God's flock to be ravaged by savage wolves and their destructive heresies.

We are warned many times in scripture about the coming wolves and our duty to test what they say with God's holy and unchanging Word: (Acts 17:11, 2 John 9-11, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 1 John 4:1, Revelation 2:1-3, Jude 3, Titus 1:9, Romans 16:17-19, 2 Timothy 4:2, Acts 20:28-31, 2 Corinthians 11:2-4, 11-13, Titus 2:1,15, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Matthew 7:15, Acts 13:6-11).

The ultimate burden lies on each individual Christian to test all things with scripture including what your beloved pastor preaches from the pulpit. But, there is a second line of defense against these false false teachers and their teachings; it is Christian leaders of every sort: husbands, pastors, teachers, elders, fathers, mothers, and many others ordained of God in leadership positions.  We in these positions have a responsibility to take charge of those in our care and to insure that wolves are exposed and destroyed.

Why are so many Christian leaders silent concerning these ravenous wolves making merchandise of God's flock?  In my opinion "Christian" television is replete with rank heresy day-after-day and hour-after- hour without so much as a peep of protest from most orthodox evangelical pastors. 

Some orthodox pastors even appear in studio with these false teachers and support them by their presence in violation of 2 John 9-11:

"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds."  

The sad thing is the Christians that question this unbiblical association are either ignored or labeled "divisive" while the perpetrators of these heresies are given adulation and praise.  The ones who truly are being divisive are the people that preach false doctrine and those ministers that associate with them.  For them to endorse these false teachers undermines both true biblical discernment and true Christian unity.

Rather than speak out as commanded by scripture, these Christian leaders continue to support the Word Faith Movement, false teachers, false prophets and other heresies taught on "Christian" television.

J. C. Ryle has well said:
"Divisions and separations are most objectionable in religion.  They weaken the cause of true Christianity.  They give occasion to the enemies of all godliness to blaspheme.  But before we blame people for them, we must be careful that we lay the blame where it is deserved.  False doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism.  If people separate themselves from teaching which is positively false and unscriptural, they ought to be praised rather than reproved.  In such cases separation is a virtue and not a sin...But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation...It is a plain Scriptural duty to "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints...

But I will ask any honest-minded, unprejudiced Bible reader to turn to the New Testament and see what he will find there.  He will find many plain warnings against false doctrine: "Watch out for false prophets" (Matthew 7:15).  "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy" (Colossians 2:8).  "Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings" (Hebrews 13:9).  "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God" (1 John 4:1).  He will find a large part of several inspired epistles taken up with elaborate explanations of true doctrine and warnings against false teaching.  I ask whether it is possible for a minister who takes the Bible for his rule of faith to avoid giving warnings against doctrinal error?"

Some Christians might hear some leaders speaking out against these false teachers and the outrageous fleecing that goes on during the numerous "Christian" telethons yet, when they see key evangelical leaders having fellowship with them, would it not be logical to conclude that these heretics must be orthodox?  Is this not why God gave us these warnings in scripture not to associate with false teachers (2 John 9-11, Romans 16:17)?

"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them."
Romans 16:17

When key evangelical leaders appear in studio or associate with these people in any way it is promoted in their newsletters, websites, and on their commercials to give the impression that they are orthodox and accepted among Christian leaders.  This association with false teachers by respected and orthodox Christian leaders perpetuates the deception of millions of Christians who see these "endorsements."

These shepherds lend a veneer of orthodoxy to the heretical and in the process according to 2 John 9-11 they are partakers of the sins of these savage wolves that are ravaging the flock of God.

The time the Apostle Paul warned us about in 2 Timothy is now here.  If only more pastors would heed the exhortation given by Paul because his statement describes the church today and we need faithful shepherds to stand in the gap:

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
2 Timothy 4:1-4.

Peter also gave us a dire warning as well concerning these false teachers whom would ravage the flock of God's sheep.  This particular verse describes the Prosperity Gospel in great detail.  This verse is so clear in judgment against the "Health and Wealth" preachers that I am baffled that people would even adhere to that heretical doctrine:

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."
2 Peter 2:1-3

In my opinion the Prosperity Gospel is so widespread and its influence so great that the only explanation for its success can be attributed to a willingness for people to be deceived:

"A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"
Jeremiah 5:30-31

People might believe that it would be impossible for all of these preachers to be wrong when they claim the name of Jesus.  You have to remember that the Jesus of the Word Faith Movement is not the Jesus of the Bible.  Paul gave us all ample warning of the ruse that Satan employs by masquerading as an angel of light:

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:13-15

I would like to thank God for the faithful shepherds that truly care for the sheep intrusted to them by God and speak out against this deception in the church.  These men pay a heavy price for caring for the sheep.  If only more men would weep as Paul did over the coming (Now here!) wolves in the church (Acts 20:26-31).

Here is what Charles Spurgeon said about false teachers:
"I cannot endure false doctrine, however neatly it may be put before me. Would you have me eat poisoned meat because the dish is of the choicest ware?  It makes me indignant when I hear another gospel put before the people with enticing words by man who would fair make merchandise of souls; and I marvel at those who have soft words for such deceivers.  "That is your bigotry," says one.  Call it so if you like; but it is the BIGOTRY OF THE LOVING JOHN, who wrote, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed; for he that biddeth him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds.

I would to God we all had more of such decision, for the lack of it is depriving our religious life of its backbone and substituting for honest manliness a mass of tremulous jelly of mutual flattery.  HE WHO DOES NOT HATE THE FALSE DOES NOT LOVE THE TRUE; and he to whom it is all the same, whether it be God's word or man's, is himself unrenewed at heart.  Oh, if some of you were like your fathers, you would not have tolerated in this age the wagon loads of trash under which the gospel has been of late buried by ministers of your own choosing. 

The apostle spake by inspiration when he said, "If we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be accursed."  According to modern effeminacy he ought to have said, "Let him be kindly spoken with in private, but pray make no stir.  No doubt the good brother has his own original modes of thought and we must not question his liberty.  Doubtless he believes the same as we do, only there is some little difference as to terms.

This is treason to Christ and treachery to truth and cruelty to souls.  IF WE LOVE OUR LORD, WE SHALL KEEP HIS WORDS AND STAND FAST IN THE FAITH, coming out from among the false teachers.  Nor is this inconsistent with charity; for the truest love to those who err is not to fraternize with them in their error, but to be faithful to Jesus Christ in all things."


Here is what Charles Spurgeon said about the "wretched indifferentism" of his day:
"We have been likened by one of our opponents to the boy in the fable who cried, "Wolf!"  The parallel only fails in the all-important point that he cried "Wolf!" when there was none, and we are crying "Wolf!" when packs of them are howling so loudly that it would be superfluous for us to shout at all if a wretched indifferentism had not brought a deep slumber upon those who ought to guard the flocks.  The evidence is to our mind so overwhelming that we thought that our statements only gave voice to a matter of common notoriety.  Either we are dreaming, or our brethren are; let the godly judge who it is that is asleep."


J. Gresham Machen had some insightful thoughts on these leaders that tell us to just love everybody regardless of what they teach:
"That disaster is a figure of what will come of optimism in the churches of today.  Superficially our ecclesiastical life seems to be progressing as it always did: the cabins are full of comfortable passengers; the orchestra is playing a lively air; the rows of lighted windows shine cheerfully out into the night.  But all the time death is lurking beneath.  In this time of deadly peril there are leaders who say that all is well; there are leaders who decry controversy and urge peace, declaring that the church is all perfectly loyal and true.  God forgive them, brethren!  I say it with all my heart: may God forgive them for the evil that they are doing to Christ’s little ones: may the Holy Spirit open their eyes while yet there is time!  Meanwhile, in the case of many of the churches, the great ship rushes onward to the risk, at least, of doom."


J. C. Ryle has well said:
"Divisions and separations are most objectionable in religion.  They
weaken the cause of true Christianity.  They give occasion to the enemies of all godliness to blaspheme.  But before we blame people for them, we must be careful that we lay the blame where it is deserved.  False doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism.  If people separate themselves from teaching which is positively false and unscriptural, they ought to be praised rather than reproved.  In such cases separation is a virtue and not a sin...

The old saying must never be forgotten, 'He is the schismatic who causes schism...Controversy in religion is a hateful thing, It is hard enough to fight the devil, the world and the flesh, without private differences in our own camp.  But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation...It is a plain Scriptural duty to "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints"...

I am quite aware that when a man expresses such opinions as those I have just brought forward, there are many ready to say, "He is not faithful to the Church."  I hear such accusations unmoved.  The day of judgment will show who were the true friends of the Church and who were not.  I have learned in the last thirty-two years that if a minister leads a quiet life, leaves alone the unconverted part of the world, and preaches so as to offend none and edify none, he will be called by many "a good pastor.And I have also learned that if a man studies Scriptures, labors continually for the conversion of souls, adheres closely to the great principals of the Reformation, bears a faithful testimony against Romanism, and preaches powerful, convicting sermons, he will probably be thought a firebrand and "troubler of Israel."  Let men say what they will.  They are the truest friends of the Church who labor most for the preservation of truth."


Here is what Charles Spurgeon said about taking a stand:
"We admire a man who was firm in the faith, say four hundred years ago...but such a man today is a nuisance, and must be put down...Yet imagine in those ages past, Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, and their compeers had said, 'The world is out of order; but if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row, and get ourselves into disgrace.  Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps, and sleep over the bad times, and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.'  Such conduct on their part would have entailed upon us a heritage of error.  Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the pestiferous bogs of error would have swallowed all.  These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on.

It is today as it was in the Reformers days.  Decision is needed.  Here is the day for the man, where is the man for the day?  We who have had the gospel passed to us by martyr hands dare not triffle with it, nor sit by and hear it denied by traitors, who pretend to love it, but inwardly abhor every line of it...Look you sirs, there are ages yet to come.  If the Lord does not speedily appear, there will come another generation, and another, and all these generations will be tainted and injured if we are not faithful to God and to His truth today.  We have come to a turning point in the road.  If we turn to the right mayhap our children and our children's children will go that way; but if we turn to the left, generations yet unborn will curse our names for having been unfaithful to God and to His Word."


Martin Luther said the following:
"If I profess with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God, except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.  Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved."


J. C. Ryle has well said:
"I now pass on to the second lesson that we learn from Antioch.  That lesson is, 'That to keep Gospel truth in the Church is of even greater importance than to keep peace.'...Paul's example is one we shall do well to remember in the present day. Many people will put up with anything in religion, if they may only have a quiet life.  They have a morbid dread of what they call "controversy."  They are filled with a morbid fear of what they style, in a vague way, "party spirit," though they never define clearly what party spirit is.  They are possessed with a morbid desire to keep the peace, and make all things smooth and pleasant, even though it be at the expense of truth.

So long as they have outward calm, smoothness, stillness, and order, they seem content to give up everything else. I believe they would have thought with Ahab that Elijah was a troubler of Israel, and would have helped the princes of Judah when they put Jeremiah in prison, to stop his mouth.  I have no doubt that many of these men of whom I speak, would have thought that Paul at Antioch was a very imprudent man, and that he went too far!"


Merrill F. Unger has well said:
"Deception will surely engulf people who follow man's voice instead of God's and who ride ecumenical trends that depreciate God's Word and approve false shepherds within the professing church."


Here is what Charles Spurgeon said about controversy:
"Controversy for truth against errors of the age is, we feel more than ever convinced, the peculiar duty of the preacher."


In C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography his wife added:
"Many people were foolish enough to suppose that he had adopted a new role, and some said that he would have done more good by simply preaching the gospel, and leaving the so-called 'heretics' to go their own way!  Such critics must have been strangely unfamiliar with his whole history, for, from the very beginning of his ministry, he had earnestly contended for the faith once for all delivered to the saints."


J. C. Ryle has well said:
"I feel deeply the painfulness of speaking out on these subjects.  I know well that speaking plain about false doctrine is very unpopular, and that the speaker must be content to find himself being thought of as very uncharitable, very troublesome, and very narrow-minded.  Thousands of people can never distinguish differences in religion.  To the bulk of men a clergyman is a clergyman, and a sermon is a sermon, and as to any difference between one minister and another, or one doctrine and another, they are utterly unable to understand it. 
I cannot expect such people to approve of any warning against false doctrine.  I must make up my mind to meet with their disapproval, and must bear it as I best can.  But I will ask any honest-minded, unprejudiced Bible reader to turn to the New Testament and see what he will find there. 

He will find many plain warnings against false doctrine: "Watch out for false prophets" (Matthew 7:15).  "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy" (Colossians 2:8).  "Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings" (Hebrews 13:9).  "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God" (1 John 4:1).

He will find a large part of several inspired epistles taken up with
elaborate explanations of true doctrine and warnings against false
teaching.  I ask whether it is possible for a minister who takes the
Bible for his rule of faith to avoid giving warnings against doctrinal
error?...

False doctrine does not meet men face to face, and proclaim that it is false.  It does not blow a trumpet before it, and endeavor openly to turn us away from the truth as it is in Jesus.  It does not come before men in broad day, and summon them to surrender.  It approaches us secretly, quietly, insidiously, plausibly, and in such a way as to disarm man's suspicion, and throw him off his guard.  It is the wolf in sheep's clothing, and Satan in the garb of an angel of light, who have always proved the most dangerous foes of the Church of Christ....

Let us be on our guard against the "insidiousness" of false doctrine.
Like the fruit of which Eve and Adam ate, at first sight it looks pleasant and good, and a thing to be desired.  Poison is not written upon it, and so people are not afraid.  Like counterfeit coin, it is not stamped "bad:" it passes for the real thing because of the very likeness it bears to the truth...

In the next place, let me entreat every true hearted servant of
Christ "not to be deceived by the superficial disguise" under which false doctrines often approach our souls in the present day.  Beware of supposing that a teacher of religion is to be trusted, because although he holds some unsound views, he yet "teaches a great deal of truth."  Such a teacher is precisely the man to do you harm: poison is always most dangerous when it is given in small doses and mixed with wholesome food.

Beware of being taken in by the apparent earnestness of many of the
teachers and upholders of false doctrine.  Remember that zeal and
sincerity and fervor are no proof whatever that a man is working for
Christ, and ought to be believed."


"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:13-15

"All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.  Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.  Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant."
Isaiah 56:9-12

"For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.  Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle."
Zechariah 10:2-3

"Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock!  The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened."
Zechariah 11:17

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.  But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.  The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.  I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."
John 10:11-14

"And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves!  Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?  Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.  The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.  And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.  My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.  Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them."
Ezekiel 34:1-10

"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, "Let us go after other gods'--which you have not known--"and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him."
Deuteronomy 13:1-4

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
Acts 17:11

"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:  And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted."
Revelation 2:1-3

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
Acts 20:28-31

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple."
Romans 16:17-18

"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.  He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds."
2 John 9-11

"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."
1 Timothy 6:3-5

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
2 Timothy 3:1-5

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."
2 Timothy 4:2-4

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.  For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men?  For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
Galatians 1:6-9

"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him....For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:2-4, 11-13

"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine....These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee."
Titus 2:1,15

"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints."
Jude 3

"Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."
Titus 1:9

"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 3:13-15

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
2 Timothy 3:16-17

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
Matthew 7:15

"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.  Behold, I have told you before."
Matthew 24:24-25

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."
2 Peter 2:1-3

"For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ."
2 Corinthians 2:17

"Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment."
Lamentations 2:14

"That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us."
Isaiah 30:9-11

"If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people."
Micah 2:11

"A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"
Jeremiah 5:30-31

"And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:  Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.  But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.  Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.  And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season.  And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand."
Acts 13:6-11

"For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.  As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.  They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.  Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?  A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;  The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"
Jeremiah 5:26-31

"For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.  Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle."
Zechariah 10:2-3

"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.  They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.  For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?  Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.
The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.  I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.  But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.  Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD.  Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.  I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.  How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;  Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.  The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.  Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?  Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.  Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.  Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD."
Jeremiah 23:16-32

"They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.  Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken?  Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD.  And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD."
Ezekiel 13:6-9

"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.  And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?  When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."
Deuteronomy 18:20-22

"And the priest's custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;  And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself.  So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.  Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.  And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.  Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD."
2 Samuel 2:12-17

"Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth; And your judgments are like light that goes forth."
Hosea 6:5
"Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
Acts 20:26-31

John MacArthur: Ready to Discriminate?