The title might sound a little bit dramatic and it might raise a few questions for the reader, but I don’t think I’m being over dramatic. I think that false teaching really is a Trojan horse because people use the same language and yet mean different things.
People can entertain false teaching because it is often surrounded by hype. It might attract people, but does it really teach them the truth? Or are we letting in teaching that could be potentially dangerous to people within our congregations, teaching that could lead people to believe lies about the Bible and about God?
To be able to spot a false teacher you need to know your Bible, think through every word and watch people’s lives. Preachers and teachers are not perfect, they teach the Bible and call Christians to live by it but they are not teaching as the ‘finished product’. Every time we hear someone teaching from the Bible we need to test what they say, use our spiritual discernment and common sense to check that they are teaching God’s Word correctly.
So why am I saying that false teaching can be a Trojan horse? For a number of reasons.
The first is that church leaders might not know about it, but many church members are listening to well-known false teachers. So many people can get pulled into false teaching because the leaders of the movements can be very charismatic characters. They can be the nice people who appear to be ‘accepting’ and who seem to be teaching God’s Word. However, if you look into what they are teaching it can be a different story, often the message of the Bible is changed, or toned down, to accommodate the culture of today. People change the meaning of the Bible and they make it sound intelligent and plausible by quoting from the original texts or from the culture of the time. But in actual fact they are making the Bible more comfortable, making Christianity more like the world. They are trying to be hip and trendy and false teachers are trying to make the Bible less offensive. False Teaching is a Trojan horse because it might already be in the pew.
The second sign that false teaching might already be present in churches is because it can be an influence behind some of the songs that we sing. Singing is very important. When Christians sing they are praising God and encouraging each other. Congregational singing has both a vertical and horizontal element to it. The words that we sing are very important. We wouldn’t want to have a conversation about God and not be pulled up by someone if we said something wrong, would we? We wouldn’t want to hear a preacher say something that goes beyond what the Bible teaches, would we? We wouldn’t want to sign our names on a dotted line unless we fully grasped what we were signing up to, right? But when it comes to singing, people often don’t think through the lyrics, they often don’t question if a song is in line with the Bible, and they don’t always check the background or the influences behind the song. Therefore, there are many good churches and many wonderful Christians who are singing material that is wrong and teaches wrong theology. Songs can sound nice and be theologically incorrect, but songs can also sound terrible and be theologically correct. We should strive to have the best of both, we should sing well because it is an important part of our congregational life but we should also sing good and solid truth. People will often forget the sermon, they will often forget the readings, but generally they will remember the songs that were sung last Sunday and they’ll be humming them all week.
The third sign that false teaching is a Trojan horse is because it often goes unchecked. When people warn others about a particular person’s teaching, a particular ministry or a particular theology they can be met with “who are you to judge, how do you know what is right?” We can know what is right because God has revealed the truth to us in His Word, the Bible. Nobody should enjoy pointing out false teachers and warning people to stay away from such teaching, it should never be done out of a mocking attitude. But every time we hear false teaching, or see it in a person’s life (be it in their speech, their songs, or their bookshelf) we should warn them out of a love for their own spiritual growth.
An attitude to false teachers, that I’ve seen quite a lot, is that you just take the good stuff and leave the bad, that you listen to the truth and let the rest go. How exactly does that help? I don’t see Scripture telling me to flirt with false teaching or to listen to someone and just take the good and leave the bad. The Bible tells us to be on our guard, to set our minds on the things above, to grow in our maturity and understanding. How can we do that if we waste our time having to sift through chaff for a kernel of truth?
Truth should be the determining factor in everything that we do, we should not entertain false teaching because we should constantly be striving to teach Biblical truth, act in a way that glorifies God and promote the true gospel and teaching of God’s Word.
Emotionalism is no substitute for truth.
Charismatic, self-help, ‘Do better and believe in yourself’ teaching is no substitute for the Word of God that transforms lives.
Be aware that false teaching is out there, it can look harmless but it is dangerous! It can hurt people and it can cause people to doubt truth. Let’s stick with the Bible!