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The New Testament speaks often about being on guard against false teachers and their teachings.  From Jesus’ initial warning from the sermon on the mount to the closing epistles of John, it’s an important thing to be mindful of – especially as we draw closer to the end of the age.

During a recent study of 1 & 2 Peter, I noticed one key to recognizing false teachers and teaching.  It may not apply to every situation, but as I thought more and more about it, it’s a good rule to assess what you’re hearing by.  Within the context of denouncing false teachers, Peter writes:

For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. (2 Peter 2:18-19a, ESV)

“…they entice by fleshly desires…” (v. 18 NASB)

A sign of a false teacher is that they will appeal to your flesh.  You will like what they have to say!  Here is a short list of some of the ways they do this:

  • allowing sin – false teachers will not preach against sin or they will water down appeals for repentance from sin
  • pleasurable things of this age – false teachers will appeal to our fleshly desire for pleasure. Sexuality, lust, drunkenness, partying, etc. will all be acceptable.  Less risque practices will be deemed appropriate as well as long as they are things one can derive pleasure and enjoyment from.
  • prosperity – false teachers will speak of financial or physical abundance and speak about “stuff” being a way of God showing His favor or blessing.
  • easy life – false teachers will not prepare their people for suffering or hard times.  Persecution will not come.  Life will be good, comfortable and enjoyable as a result of following Christ.
  • bitterness/division/sects – not all of the appeals to the flesh will be “good” (as the list above), but many false teachers will appeal to the flesh in a mean spirited way.   They will preach against others, isolate, and divide.  They will appeal to our fleshly desire to be better than others.
  • pride/superiority – false teachers will infer or preach outright that they and those who follow their teaching are better than others.  They are the true church and have the true gospel – and as a result it is unlikely that those not apart of their group are actually followers of Christ.

Now consider this: the gospel of Jesus Christ does not appeal to our flesh – it attacks it!  Our flesh hates following Jesus!  Our flesh desires to cling on for dear life while the call of Christ is to die to ourselves, deny ourselves, and offer our lives and bodies as living sacrifices! We should be challenged by what Jesus and his apostles teach.  And as a result, God has generously provided the holy spirit to enable and empower followers of Christ to have success at following him – and love it!

Remember these things as you endeavor to discern between teachers and their teachings.

4 Responses to “False Teachers Appeal To Your Flesh”

  1. on 12 Oct 2012 at 9:35 amSean


    Thank you for a fine reflection on an incredibly important topic. We all do well to take heed to this warning. Also, those of us who preach cannot allow our desire to be liked or to be popular to override our mandate to speak the truth in all its glory. If we are true to the gospel then it will sound radical, for that is what it is. As you say, the gospel calls us to die to our flesh. This is painful, yet liberating.

  2. on 12 Oct 2012 at 9:54 amSam B

    Hey Victor,
    Good read! Liked it =] you covered many points that have been tossing and turning in my mind, thanks for sharing! It is true that many who are misguided will teach these doctrines. Prosperrity is really a lie in the form of a candy wrapper covering a death pill. Who wants that?! Its true some will be prosperous, but only because God saw their heart fit enough to give it all back to Him and His people. And you’re absolutely right, sometimes the truth is offensive! When i lived in WV my pastor called it fluff n’ stuff gospel. Always made me laugh because its too true. Christ and God didnt want you to dwell and feel guilt ridden entirely for your sins, but he certainly wanted you to recognize them and stop it!
    Thanks again, love you brother and see you january! (or sooner ;D)
    Sam Behlen

  3. on 23 Mar 2013 at 8:47 amLisa Marie

    Oh beloved, I was just thinking about this…..I was thinking about Jesus Warning “You shall know them by their fruits….who was He talking about??? Christians? Jews? Fig Trees??? No…false prophets” Jesus was teaching us to look out for the FRUIT of what a prophet, in this case, a false prophet says….So I looked up all the scriptures I could find on what these false prophets said & did.. What is this “bad fruit ” Jesus asks us to look for??? I figured I better take a look! I noticed FIRST that they aren’t very nice when challenged, that’s for sure! 2 Chronicles 18:23~ False Prophet Zedekiah
    Then I looked up all the passages I could find about what they did, what happened etc….

    SCRIPTURAL signs to look for….

    A true Prophet of Yahweh is accurate in their prophecy, always!!!! If they aren’t God says do not heed them…..Dueter 18:22
    Genuine GOD sent prophets always seem to say “Thus saith the LORD” or “this is what the sovereign LORD” says…not “me” style….its pure & NEVER points to itself as the source~
    False prophets, soothsayers, pyschics etc must charge money$$$ because God is NOT their provider , the followers are…
    Genuine apostles, teachers, evangelists & prophets & pastors have NEVER charged people for their teachings or to learn of them about GOD…” ever
    False signs….
    “…..many false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; in so much that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect” Matthew 24:24

    They also are called RAVENOUS “hungry” for authority & power as was Simon the sorcerer in the book of Acts chapter 8
    “prophesying falsely and ruling on their own authority” Jer. 5:30-31

    Serving, teaching & sharing their “gifts’ for money Micah 3:11, and being partial and showing partiality in their teachings Mal. 2:7

    For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

    Once they have gain a decent measure of respect, they will attack or subtly put down, call into question other leaders & ministers etc, they are looking to sway others to follow them….Acts 20:30
    Its seems they must tear down others & defame others in order to establish their own authority in or over a church body OFTENTIMES seperate from others gaining thier OWN following.
    Through defamation they exalt their PERSONAL ministries…They always have a “personal ministry” UNLIKE the genuine prophets, they attempt to make Gods flock follow them…Genuine prophets, apostles, evangelists serve & proclaim The KINGDOM of GOD~to the whole BODY & all peoples….
    False ones convince followers that they are superior that they should be served & catered to rather than the example Jesus gave when he washed the feet of his disciples…….
    True apostles and prophets will be very humble men and women, approachable all the time, welcoming to all…Unafraid to share truth freely…. They will NOT promote their personal ministries or agenda.
    The are here to ADVANCE GODS Kingdom and the authority that they operate in is backed by the power of God and recognized in the Church without SELF-promotion.
    And as a good foundation, their ministry is seldom visible…
    False apostles and prophets minister with the wrong motives…Then the Spirit of God withdraws from their ministries, no more favor, no more gifting to reach masses….
    Since many false apostles and prophets do not recognize the HOLY SPIRITS departure they then end up STRIVING to operate, support & validate their own ministries.
    They begin to rely on their own human strengths & talents and the money from SELLING Gods gifts then sadly deceitful spirits and evil influences begin to torment them as we see in King Sauls life~

    Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. 1 Samuel 16:14

    The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 1 Samuel 18:10
    THEY also GET VERY VERY ANGRY when challenged, replaced, outdone or questioned…

    Christians have to be able to learn to recognize false ministers, and false brethren who are out to serve themselves but this should give us a greater appreciation for godly humble leaders , true ministers & brothers within the Church who serve God’s people and rightly handle the Word of Truth….. THIS is the BAD FRUIT Jesus is warning us to look for… I think….Love Always, Lisa

  4. on 23 Mar 2013 at 9:01 amLisa Marie

    None, the LESS, LOVE anyway!!! LOVE & Mercy will ALWAYS triumph <3 And who knows "IF" one of those false ones could REPENT & be saved? May GODs love show us the WAY to really make a difference!


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