“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.”—2 Peter 2:1
There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s in Peter’s words. It’s a clear and definite statement. There were false prophets among the people of Israel in the Old Testament—that’s a matter of history, and those who falsely claimed to be prophets of God were to be stoned. But the Israelites rarely had the will to deal with them, so they multiplied, causing disaster to the spiritual life of God’s people.
Take notice of the words “among you.” Peter is writing to the church and says, “There shall be false prophets among you.” So he is not talking about New Age people on television. He is talking about people in the local church, members of a local congregation.
In the words of Warren Wiersbe, “Satan is the counterfeiter. . . He has a false gospel (Galatians 1:6–9), preached by false ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13–12), producing false Christians (2 Corinthians 11:26). Satan plants his counterfeits wherever God plants true believers (Matthew 13:38).”
Here are some identifying marks of the false teachers among us today, from Thomas Brooks’ work Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices:
- False teachers are men-pleasers.
- False teachers are notable in casting dirt, scorn, and reproach upon the persons, names, and credits of Christ’s most faithful ambassadors.
- False teachers are venters of the devices and visions of their own heads and hearts.
- False teachers easily pass over the great and weighty things both of the law and gospel, and stand most upon those things that are of the least importance and concern to the souls of men.
- False teachers cover and color their dangerous principles and soul-deception with very fair speeches and plausible pretenses, with high notions and golden expressions.
- False teachers strive more to win over men to their opinions, than to better them in their lives.
- False teachers make merchandise of their followers.