How to Know if You're Safe Against False Gospels

Truth and false word blocks on a scale

How to Know if You're Safe Against False Gospels

We must make sure that the voices we are listening to are pouring out sound doctrine and truth from Scripture. Can you tell the difference between the Truth, and what simply sounds like the truth?

There is a different pandemic taking place within the body of believers. It is not one that can be cured quickly with medicine or a vaccine. This sickness is easy to spread, most often finding its foothold in the hearts of those who desire an earthly return on their investment, or control over the outcome of their faith.

A false gospel is the greatest plague, leading people away from the true light of the pure and simple gospel of Christ, and sweet dependence on the One True God. How can you be sure you aren’t deceived by the idols of a false gospel?

How does a false gospel spread?

The Galatian church gives us a front-row seat to the spread of this disease. Paul started the church on his first missionary journey in 46/47 AD, with the letter we have in our Bibles today, possibly being written in 48 AD. Whether it was after one year or ten, the church of Galatia abandoned the true gospel and accepted false doctrine as their truth.

How does this happen?

How is it that a convert who is walking with Christ turns their back on truth?

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We see it in our world today, believers who are buying lies rather than knowing the truth.

Is a lack of discipleship the root cause? Since the church in Galatia did not have the same resources we have, such as God’s Word ready and in their hands, or the same church environment, we could understand how they might fall into the trap of false truth.

But what about us? What about the Church today? With the resources we have, Bibles in hand, churches on every corner. What are we missing? How are we still believing false teachers peddling false doctrine?

Are we equipped to withstand false teaching, and if not, what will it take?

Scripture tells us many times that false teachers will come and they will be more frequent as the day of the Lord approaches. There will be those who seek to add, subtract, and distort the message of the cross. There will be false teachers who claim power, who claim to be Messiah.

The church will always be faced with this challenge — preparation is key. So what do we learn from the church of Galatia about how to guard ourselves against false teaching?

Be a disciple who knows the gospel inside and out.

There is a reason why Galatia and the church today succumb to false teaching. They don’t really know and understand the true gospel. This church age is filled with watered-down doctrine that seeks to masquerade as truth. If it doesn’t feel good, people don’t do it. If it doesn’t sound good, people won’t listen. If it doesn’t look good, people won’t observe.

This is the paradox of the church in 2021.

Instead of holding fast to truth, the church has abandoned truth in order to bow down to the people. The moment we bow down to what people want is the moment we no longer understand what the gospel really is.

In order to be a disciple of Christ who does not fall prey to false teaching, we must know the gospel of Christ. We must understand the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. We must understand on the deepest level what that means for you and I.

Either the gospel is all of God or it is not at all. The gospel says that the sacrifice of Christ was enough, period. There is nothing you and I can add here. There is nothing we can do to gain this ourselves. It’s free. No strings.

I don’t have to work my way to a better life, enlightenment, or holiness. It is achieved in Christ alone, through faith alone. End of story.

Be a disciple who is in the Word.

We cannot guard our hearts and minds without knowing God’s Word. If your Bible has more dust on it than any other item in your house there is a great chance — no certainty — that you are ill-equipped.

Without the Word of truth we have no sword to battle false teaching.

Paul in Ephesians calls the Word of God the sword of our armor. It is our defensive weapon. If we don’t know how to wield the sword however it will do no good.

Jesus models this for us when He is being tempted in the desert by the enemy. His response to the lies is to battle with truth. He doesn’t pour out just any word, He quotes the Word.

If we are to be disciples who are guarded against false doctrine and recognize false teachers who will come, we need to know the Word of God or we will never be able to withstand what sounds good.

Be a disciple who makes disciples.

Here lay the crux of our problem as a church. This in my opinion is the greatest plague of the modern church age. We no longer find discipleship important.

According to the Barna Group in 2016, only 2 in 10 Christians participated in discipleship activities. This ranges from Sunday school, small groups, one-on-one mentorship, and studying a book of the Bible and discussing it as a group.

In 2021, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number was lower. Sunday school is viewed as a thing of the past or for children. Small groups aren’t offered in many churches, and mentorship is a rare occurrence. These are the things that make up discipleship.

One of our greatest fears within the church is having to disciple someone else. We have left that solely to Pastors, and Bible study teachers.

Discipling requires vulnerability, and can often reveal the deficit of our spiritual lives. Fewer disciple makers reveals a tragic pattern that has been set up from a lack of discipleship for generations.

We are called to make disciples, in our homes and outside our homes. We are called to teach and show those young in the faith the way to go and the truth to follow. We are to open the Word and point them to truth in all things, and at all times.

Be a disciple who doesn’t just hear.

James tells us to not just be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. Don’t let it go in one ear and out the other. Do what it says. Our faith is active.

Passive believers will fall to false doctrine. Those who do not live the Word they hear and read will fall away at the first sign of something that looks and sounds like truth, but isn’t.

We live in a culture where being a Christian is simply a title and not the life we live. We cannot be believers in name only. When we are redeemed by a holy and righteous God we are changed. A title will be insufficient, it will seep into every area of your life.

Do what God says, guard your mind and heart.

Be a disciple who listens to sound teaching.

Just like they did to the church in Galatia, false teachers will seek to tell another gospel. They will put conditions on the work of Christ and the cross. They will seek to make you a part of the equation. They will diminish Christ’s power. They will seek to contradict the Word of God.

We must make sure that the voices we are listening to are pouring out sound doctrine and truth from Scripture. This is why we must spend our time in the Word of God on our own with the Holy Spirit teaching us. This is how we safeguard. We know the Truth, and learn to recognize the voice of our Father.

Time spent listening to God will help us tune out false teaching, or shut it down. When you know the truth, you’ll hear the truth, and live by the truth.

False teachers will come.

Be ready, stand firm, and know the gospel.

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Michelle Rabon is a wife and homeschooling mom of three who feels called to help women thrive in their walk with Jesus every day. In 2012, she started Displaying Grace, a ministry that is focused on helping women engage with God’s Word. Michelle has also served in women’s ministry for the past five years seeking to equip women in the local church through Bible study. When she is not writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, being close to the ocean, and drinking a lot of coffee.

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