In the early days of Christianity, while Paul, Peter, James, and the other apostles were alive and working their ministries to spread the wonderful news of Jesus Christ there were many people who saw this religion as a way to make money, become popular, powerful, or otherwise help themselves. They twisted the truth to suit their own agendas and went from place to place, taught their messed up version of the gospel.
The apostles had to address the problem often in their letters and service to the churches. The problem still exists today. As long as there is greed and selfish ambition, there will be false teachers. As long as there are false teachers, we must be vigilant about keeping them out of the church.
There are ways to see if someone is genuine or if they are deceptive. What are they teaching? Are they teaching the Gospel, Jesus fully God, fully human born of a virgin, living a perfect life, dying on the cross, resurrected three days later as the one and only way to salvation? Or are they leaving something out? Are they adding something?
If the gospel they teach is different from what the Bible teaches, it is a sham. Do they use the Bible but give you a verse here and a verse there to piece together what it is they want you to learn? Do they take verses out of context to get their message across?
If the gospel they teach is not the whole Gospel and nothing but the Gospel it is a lie. Paul has strong words for the people spreading these lies that lead people away from God rather than to Him. Verses 8-9 read,
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”
He is basically saying, “Tell the false teacher, even if it is me or an angel to go to Hell!” He did not mean it figuratively, he meant it literally cursed in Hell for eternity separated from God. That may seem extreme, but leading people to Hell is extreme. The people who take people away from the chance to restore their relationship with Our Loving Father in Heaven will find out what a Jealous Awesome God He is.
The Gospel wasn’t made up by man. It isn’t a fairytale. It isn’t something to mess with. Paul had special proof of that beyond his faith. He wasn’t taught the truth by any man. Jesus stopped him on the road to Damascus, then he was taught in Arabia by The Holy Spirit before he went and spent any time with Peter, James and eventually any other apostles or teachers. (Verses 11-23).
That still happens today. I have met three people who met Jesus supernaturally and not through any person. I have read several more similar testimonies. One friend was a teenager who had never learned anything about Jesus. She was seeking the truth. He came to her in a vision, called her name and told her who He is. She believed. She went out and bought a Bible and read and learned all she could about her Lord. I know a man who was not looking for the truth at all. He was living his life quite happily (so he thought) when he was in a horrific car accident and died. While he was dead Jesus spoke to him and when my friend came back to life again, he came to real Life in Jesus as well.
What are the goals of the person teaching you? Are their goals to glorify themselves or Jesus? Are they trying to please man or God? Are they looking to be served or serve? What are they teaching, the truth of Jesus or lies about happiness?
Verse 10 reads,
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Can the false teacher give you a testimony? Can you give a testimony? Who does it glorify? The teacher? The bank? You? Or Jesus? Verse 24 tells who was glorified by Paul’s testimony.
“And they glorified God because of me.”
If your life doesn’t glorify God and cause others to glorify God, then you are not walking the path you ought to walk. If the life of the teacher doesn’t glorify God then do not listen to them.