We studied Galatians 4 last week at my home group. That lead to a discussion about false teachers and how their methods can be contrasted to how Paul responded. I have seen many reports over the last few years about who false teachers are, and how to identify them, but being able to see it more clearly through scripture is very important to me. I don’t want to trust man’s description about false teachers, but I do believe scripture because I consider it to be truth, absolute truth.

Galatians 4:8-20 …. 8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.  12I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. 13As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. 18It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. 19My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

In verse 17, Paul talks about “those people”. These are the false teachers. Through this section you can see how Paul pleads with them to return to the Gospel, the ways of God and the truth they have known in the past. Not only do they know God, but they are known by Him. He had captured their hearts and become the Lord of it, but over time other things and the deception from these false believers was capturing their hearts again and getting in the way of the Lord.

 False Teachers  Paul
  • followers of their teachings
  • observance of rituals and practices
  • conformity
  • zealous living
  • followers of Christ
  • maturity in faith
  • freedom
  • zealous pursuit of God
  • Teaching of their practices
  • Enslavement to incorrect principles
  • Teaching of the Gospel
  • Life through living God’s principles

This helps me to clearly see that if I am being guided to follow leaders instead of God, and am being lead to conformity instead of freedom by living God’s principles then I am being misled. It is a truth I need to implant in my heart and use as a test for every book I read, sermon I listen to, and leader I consider following.

What other scriptural truths teach you about false teachers?