We all see the flashy preachers on TV telling viewers to send in their “seed money” promising God will bless them financially.
While it can be easy to discern a false preacher who is this blatantly obvious – it can be more difficult to spot one who is more subtle, perhaps even close to us.
The good news is, God’s Word tells us what to look for when it comes to identifying a false preacher. So if you’re wondering where to even begin – start by asking yourself these three basic questions.
Do They Preach True Gospel?
The Gospel speaks of our sinful nature, and separation from God, and tells us we can only be reunited with Him through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
His death and resurrection speak of God’s plan and reminds us that our works cannot save us.
When we stand before God, we are either covered by the blood of Christ or we aren’t.
If a preacher teaches there are “many ways” to get to heaven or claims you can do enough works to earn your salvation – he is not preaching the true Gospel of Christ.
False teachers are nothing new.
Paul warned the Galatians about turning to a false Gospel – and his warning still rings true today.
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
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. 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.” – Galatians 1:6-9
Do They Preach Ultimate Healing Here On Earth?
As Christians, we know that full and complete healing won’t occur until we are reunited with our Father in heaven.
Our bodies are decaying.
Every day, our earthly bodies move closer to death due to the sinful world we live in.
While it’s good to pray for healing in both ourselves and others, we know that it is never a guarantee.
If a child with cancer dies, it isn’t because we didn’t “pray hard enough.”
Likewise, we aren’t promised prosperity and wealth here on earth.
Sure, the Lord may bless some of us financially, but we must be careful to not assume we are guaranteed a comfortable and “happy” life on this side of heaven.
In fact, the Gospel tells those of us in Christ that we should expect to face persecution and troubles during our time here on earth.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
Notice Jesus doesn’t say “if” you have trouble – He says you WILL.
Thankfully, we can rest our hope in the One who has overcome death itself.
Does Their Life Match Up With What They Preach?
You will know them by their fruits.
Pay attention to how this preacher lives their life outside the walls of the church.
Sure, a smooth talker can sound good from the pulpit – but a true believer will live a life as someone who is constantly dying to oneself to become more like Christ.
If they are constantly caught up in scandals and have a continued pattern of embracing things of this world, that is a red flag.
Of course, preachers still sin, and we all have our own struggles here on earth, but their life should reflect the Gospel that they preach.
If your preacher cheats on his wife, is a drunk, makes inappropriate passes at women, gambles, seeks after luxury items of this world, embezzles money, and is not repentant of his sins – RUN – do not walk!
Make sure the preachers you listen to are sound – and are preaching the true Gospel.
It can be easy to get swept up in the latest “celebrity” pastor – but God’s Word never changes.
The best way to discern a false preacher is to know God’s Word inside and out – so you can spot the phony, because you know God’s truth so well.
Pray for discernment, and that God will continue to reveal His truth to you through His Word.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
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