The labels of “false teacher” or “false prophet” can be tossed about prematurely without understanding what that label really means. I have a few friends who have labored under these labels and it has caused great sorrow, especially for the Lord.
When you checkout the spiritual credentials of most of the people who fall victim to these undeserved labels, you will discover they possess a faith aligned with the most orthodox of creeds. They garnered these premature and ill-informed labels because somewhere along the way they voiced an opinion or revealed a spiritual possibility outside the current reality or experience level of their critics. These differing opinions and observations are a favorite target of their critics.
If you would like to experience a splash of spiritual cold water in your face regarding this subject, read the single chapter book of Jude. It was written by the half-brother of Jesus. In the book, Jude addressed the issue of false teachers. Jude’s main criticism of these false ones had to do with Jesus Christ, not differing human opinion. “For they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4). The denial of Jesus was the doorway through which Jude creates a laundry list of sins that accompany a truly false teacher.
An inquiry into a person’s understanding of Jesus Christ has to be the starting point for any examination of a so-called false teacher or prophet. If this one issue is secure, then great caution must be exercised before we label someone as false. Without righteous inquiry, we can become a mouthpiece for darkness creating unnecessary division and conflict in the Body of Christ.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins