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Jesus Taught About False Teachers

11.04.2023

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Introduction

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. Matthew 7:15

This is an excerpt from Louie Giglio’s book, At the Table with Jesus.


Because I travel often, I have a pretty close relationship with the GPS app on my phone. It helps get me where I need to go even when I don’t know where I’m going. Sometimes I don’t know what I would do without it.

Still, GPS isn’t perfect, as one long- haul driver discovered outside Silverton, Colorado. The driver was operating a thirty- foot box truck and following GPS directions to his intended destination several towns away. However, those directions instructed him to drive through an area locals called Engineer Pass, a rugged mountain road with an elevation of almost thirteen thousand feet. Successfully navigating that pass typically requires a four- wheel- drive vehicle— and a lot of luck. Unsurprisingly, the truck became stuck and blocked traffic on that road for days.

Nobody likes to be led astray. When receiving bad directions from our GPS, we typically experience some minor inconvenience at the worst. When we get bad directions in our spiritual lives, however, the consequences can be much more devastating.

Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus turned His attention to the reality of false teachers, whom He called false prophets. Jesus described such people as “ferocious wolves,” which highlights their purposes. False teachers aren’t nice people who are a little confused. They aren’t committed leaders who just need some extra direction.

No, false teachers are predators. They are out to destroy God’s people and God’s work in the world.

Thankfully, Jesus also taught us how to recognize false teachers. “By their fruit you will recognize them,” He said. “Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:16–17). According to Jesus, the best way to avoid false teachers is to focus not on what they say but on what they do—on the fruit they produce through their lives and through their teaching.

The apostle Paul gave a little more insight into this idea of fruit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23). These are excellent measuring sticks to follow when evaluating spiritual leaders in your community and in your own spiritual life. Does that person demonstrate love? Peace? Do they show kindness and faithfulness? Are they self-controlled? Do they help produce that fruit in the lives of others, including your own?

Of course, the main way to be confident about spiritual teachers is to examine what they say about Jesus. “Who is the liar?” wrote the apostle John. “It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” (1 John 2:22–23).

Response

  1. What dangers do false teachers pose within the church?
  2. What are specific and practical ways you can evaluate spiritual leaders and their influence on your life?

Scripture Memory

The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

Luke 6:40


If you want to keep reading from the book At the Table with Jesus, click here to grab a copy of this special resource.

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Scripture References

  • Matthew 7:16–17
  • Galatians 5:22–23
  • 1 John 2:22–23
Louie Giglio

Global Pastor

Louie Giglio Louie Giglio is the Visionary Architect and Director of the Passion Movement, comprised of Passion Conferences, Passion City Church, Passion Publishing and sixstepsrecords, and the founder of Passion Institute.