Spotting a False Teacher

I came across the following while studying for a message on 2 Peter 2:

Three main features have always characterized the ministry style of false teachers. First, they are authoritarian (Jer. 5:31), invariably ruling over their churches in a domineering fashion (cf. 3 John 9–10), and strongly denouncing any who question their authority. To make matters worse, they almost always lack formal training or reputable ordination, operating beyond any legitimate biblical or theological accountability.

Second, false teachers minister in a man-centered way (Jer. 23:16, 26; Ezek. 13:2), pandering to what they think people want to hear and accept (cf. Isa. 30:10; 2 Tim. 4:3–4). As a result, they preach their own visions (Lam. 2:14; Ezek. 13:9; Zech. 10:2; Col. 2:18) of health, wealth, prosperity, and false peace (Jer. 6:14; 23:17; Ezek. 13:10, 16). The true teacher emphasizes God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, and the desperate condition that results. But false teachers prefer messages of their own making—syrupy deceptions that appeal to the carnal appetites of their listeners.

Third, they treat the historic, Scripture-based doctrines of the church with contempt (cf. Jer. 6:16). Instead of proclaiming biblical orthodoxy, they promote their own self-styled novelties, methods, and doctrines. They purposefully distance themselves from the past, arrogantly endorsing some new-fangled approach to ministry, and often claiming private revelation from God in its defense.

John MacArthur, 2 Peter and Jude, Includes Index. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2005), 103.

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