Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of February 11, 2006

2 Peter 2:1-3 (NKJV)
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

There were false prophets like Baalam (see verse 15) and others in old testament times and there shall be false teachers in our day. A prophet speaks forth the Word of God while a teacher explains the Word of God.. Some think that teachers replaced prophets in the new testament. Whether that is true or not, it is clear that both have a major impact on how people relate to God.

How are false prophets and false teachers recognized? The best way to recognize a false prophet is to see if their predictions come to pass. That was the old testament test of a prophet. But if the prophecies haven’t come to pass yet, but still could come to pass in the future, that test won’t work. False teachers can be recognized today by the way they handle the Word of God. However, this passage shows that there are some other things that we can look for as well:

1. Their work may be secretive. They may not always try to influence people from the public platform, but they will often try to get into people’s homes so that they can influence them privately.
2. Their teaching will be designed to cause divisions and to rob people of their confidence in the Word of God.
3. Their teaching often denies the truth that Jesus is God.
4. They give Christians a bad name.
5. They are covetous and use their teaching to take advantage of people.
6. They do not submit to authority.

It is easy to level the charge of false prophet or false teacher against those with whom we disagree. But to be a truly false teacher or prophet, the person must be deliberately deceiving people, and usually it is for the “wages of unrighteousness”. Those who make mistakes in their teaching but who are teachable do not fall into this category.

Why do some people so easily accept what false teachers and false prophets tell them? We are told that many follow their destructive ways. I believe it is because they usually tell us what we want to hear. They often flatter and they offer people a sense of worth and of potential power. Even the Lord’s disciples thought that they were going to have a place of power in His kingdom. So if these men become powerful, their followers often hope to become powerful as well. In many cases, they isolate their converts and may even brain wash them. In these cases, the followers are willing to martyr themselves for the sake of the leader and his cause. But the false prophets and teachers are self-centered in what they do instead of being self-sacrificing. Our Lord gave Himself as a sacrifice for us, but these teachers and prophets often want people to give themselves, their wealth and even their lives for the leader and his cause.

We need to be careful today that we are following the Lord and not men. We certainly should have great respect for teachers that help us, but Peter tells us to beware or be careful that we are not led away with the error of the wicked in the second to last verse of this epistle.

Peter’s warning speaks to me as a teacher. My prayer is that my ministry leads people to Christ for salvation and comfort and help and not to me. I would like to be a teacher who unites instead of divides, who builds instead of destroys, and whose doctrine is sound and who rightly interprets and handles the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Bruce Collins

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