(Display an object you brought for the following activity.)
1. How much do you think this object weights? (Have everyone guess.)
2. How did you decide how heavy the object is? Who is likely closest? How can we tell who is closest? (An accurate scale.)
(Display a scale and weigh the object.)
3. Would you trust the scale as an accurate instrument for weighing something? Why or why not?
Having a recognized standard is necessary for weighing objects as well as for evaluating truth in our world. God’s Word is the only standard of truth we have.
Read Matt. 7:15 Jesus’ warning against wolves in sheep’s clothing was among His earliest teachings to His followers.
4. What did Jesus mean by “wolves in sheep’s clothing”?
5. What leads false teachers to believe they are speaking truth?
6. Read Gal. 6:1. What are we cautioned about here?
Today’s Scripture comes from two different books of the New Testament with similar contexts. Both Peter and Jude, one of Jesus’ half-brothers, faced false teachings that was being taught by false teachers in their day.
Exposed! Read 2 Peter 2:1-3; Jude 16
1. What were the false teachers/prophets doing?
2. What was perhaps the most damaging teaching they were bringing to the church? (Denying the Master!)
3. What did following false teachings lead them to do? (Follow unrestrained ways and lead others to do so; blaspheme the way of the truth; exploit believers in their greed; use deceptive words.)
4. How did Jude describe these false teachers/prophets?
5. There is no evidence that either of these men read the other’s letter. Why do you think they teach basically the same truths? (They both wrote under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.)
6. Can you name a few of the false teachings that threaten the church today? (It doesn’t matter which “god” you worship, they are ultimately all the same! The acceptance of homosexuality as an option for family life. God wants you to be happy so just follow your desires and enjoy life. Rejecting the authenticity of miracles in the Bible, calling them folklore or tradition rather than literal accounts. And the list goes on!)
7. According to these verses, why are false prophets so dangerous? (Teachings that confuse, distort, or discount the gospel may cause someone to miss out on salvation through Jesus Christ. Other false teachings may lead us to miss out on the best God has for us.)
8. Can’t we just ignore them? (No! The teachings of false prophets eventually bring destruction to the prophets themselves but also to those around them.)
Peter probably indicated that the false prophets considered themselves part of the church. They considered themselves as members of the church, so Peter approached it from that vantage point. Only God and the false prophets knew if they had genuine faith but misdirected theology.
9. Why is it important to measure all teaching by the Person of Jesus Christ?
Read 2 Timothy 4:2-5.
10. Has that time come?
11. What character traits help us to identify false teachers? (They introduce heresy in stealth and secrecy. Falsehood often creeps in without fanfare or without much notice until it becomes established.)
False teachers are selfish, critical, arrogant flatterers. They promote ideas, teachings, and people to their own advantage, not the kingdom of God!
Predicted! Read Jude 17-19
1. What is so appealing about false teachers, especially in light of the apostles’ predictions? (They appeal to the fleshly desires.)
2. Why did Jude appeal to the teachings of the apostles to show the rise of false teachers? (The apostles were recognized as truthful leaders in the church and had heard the truth directly from Jesus, Himself.)
3. In Jude 17-19 what words and phrases did Jude use to describe false teachers and their teachings? (Scoffers; walking according to their own ungodly desires; create divisions; unbelievers; not having the Spirit.)
4. What happens to a church or Christian community when it is infiltrated by false prophets and teachings? (The church inevitably suffers strife and division when it entertains or permits false teachings.)
Because false teachers do not possess the Holy Spirit and instead follow their won natural inclinations, the church may find itself pursuing strategies or principles that are simply not of God.
Countered! Read Jude 20-25
1. What preventative actions for believers does Jude recommend in verses 20-23? (See Eph. 6:16)
2. Read Titus 2:13. This verse is very similar to Jude 21. Does “waiting” here imply doing nothing? What are we to be doing? (See Jude 22-23.)
3. How should we handle the doubt that people often feel when confronted with the gospel and truth? (Doubt should not be looked down on or made fun of or condemned. Doubting can be healthy if it leads to understanding and confirming truth. Instead, treat doubters with patience and love.)
We should never disregard the urgency of the gospel. Sharing truth is not just critical but always timely. A lost world needs our timely intervention with the truths of the gospel.
We must maintain a sense of caution toward a false prophet. We are more likely to stumble or get sidetracked if we assume that we are above the influence of false teachers. We can trust our all-powerful Savior to keep us from falling away from truth as long as we continually look to God and His Word.
Christians are in real danger of being taken in by a false prophet when we stop reading the Word of God for ourselves and simply listen to them.
Summarize and Challenge!
How should you confront false doctrine if you or someone you know has entertained it?
· Consider researching and providing a well-written book on the subject in question that includes Scripture to give them food for thought grounded in biblical truth.
· Share with them in all sincerity the strength of your conviction, based on biblical authority, with an explanation of why any false teaching may be detrimental.
· Seek to help the individual see the truth of God’s Word graciously and with humility, without condemning the person but the falsehood they have embraced.
Challenge: Review the cultural traditions, ideas, and routines that have infiltrated our church and your personal daily life. If you determine there is falsehood that you have accepted or ignored, decide on the steps you need to take to remove it.