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False Hearts Produce False Teaching

1 Timothy 6:3-5
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. (NIVUK)

False teaching is everywhere.  It is easily produced and absorbed by ungodly hearts; it is easily available online, in social media and even in churches.  Some people are misguided, others are malicious.  Apart from the obvious link between belief and behaviour, teaching is false … if it does not agree with the teaching of Jesus and the apostles.  Paul wanted Timothy to look out for false teachers and keep them away from God’s flock.  He said that false hearts would exhibit false motives, which is often evident even before the person starts to teach.
Why do some people set themselves up as teachers and lead people away from God’s Word?  It is a long list.  Firstly, pride.  Their conceit is a mask for their ignorance: question their assumptions, and they cannot give an answer which is consistent with God’s character as revealed in the Bible.  Secondly, power: they seem obsessed with disagreements and tiny details … their followers demonstrate the worldly characteristics of personal hostility fuelled by lies, suspicion and argument.  Thirdly, they hope to make money and make a name for themselves as they gather supporters.

None of those characteristics can be found in Jesus or His apostles.  Ephesians 4:17-20 describes the pagan mindset of futile thinking, darkened understanding, ignorance, hard hearts, insensitive, sensual, impure and lustful, and concludes, “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way”.  The false teacher’s mindset and heart-set cannot lead people to Christ.  Nobody can lead others where they have not gone themselves.   

There are few people who cannot be tempted to fall into some of these traps.  So before examining others, it is good to watch out for those tell-tale signs which indicate that our own hearts are being led astray – lest we lead others into error.  Then be alert to see who is influencing your friends, family and others in the church; are those teachers keeping to the apostles’ doctrine?  If you see false teachers, warn others; if you are in spiritual authority, do not let them have a platform in the church.  False teaching is cancerous: do not just smile and hope it will go away - it needs to be rooted out.

Lord of all. Thank You for inspiring the writers of the Bible so that we can know what is true and what is false by Your standard. I am sorry when I have not understood the risk posed by false teaching to the spiritual life of my family, friends and church. Please help me to be alert to detect any wrong motivation of my own heart and see the signs of error in others. May I be courageous in warning those who are in danger, and denying false teachers the opportunity to corrupt others. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams