© Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007

What the New Testament letters and Revelation teach about the present and final impact of false teaching is rather overwhelming. It is listed here with only minimal comment. The reader is strongly encouraged to look up the scripture references and study them in context.

Its impact on individuals and in the church:

In the New Testament letters and Revelation we learn the following about the impact of false teachers and their teaching on individuals [both believers and unbelievers] and in the church as a body:

      • They cause divisions [Romans 16:17; Gal 2:11-13; Jude 19]
      • They deceive the minds of naïve people [Romans 16:18; 2 Cor 11:3; Eph 5:6; 2 Timothy 3:13]
      • They put obstacles in the way of Christians [Romans 16:17]
      • False teaching tends to exalt human leaders, often against each other [1 Cor 4:6]
      • Has a corrupting influence [1 Cor 15:33]
      • Leads people astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ [2 Cor 11:3]
      • Throws people into confusion [Gal 1:7; 5:10]
      • Bewitches people [Gal 3:1]
      • Alienates people from those who teach the truth [Gal 4:17]
      • Burdens people [Gal 5:1]
      • Makes Christ useless [Gal 5:2,4]
      • Keeps people from obeying the truth [Gal 5:7]
      • Tosses people to and fro [Eph 4:14]
      • Hardens hearts [Eph 4:18]
      • Promotes worship of angels [Col 2:18
      • Unsettles and alarms [2Th 2:2]
      • Promotes controversies rather than God’s work [1 Timothy 1:4]
      • Ruins those who listen [2Tim 2:14; Tit 1:11]
      • Those who indulge in it become more and more ungodly [2Tim 2:16]
      • Spreads like gangrene [2Tim 2:17]
      • Many follow their ways [2Pet 2:2]
      • Bring the way of truth into disrepute [2Pet 2:2]
      • Changes the truth [Jude 4]
      • Satan leads the whole world astray [Rev 12:9; 13:3]
      • Men worshipped the dragon and the beast [Rev 13:4,8,12,14]
      • Deceives the inhabitants of the earth [Rev 13:14]
      • Deludes people [Rev 19:20]
      • Idolatry and blasphemy [1Jn 5:21; Rev 13:1; 17:3]
      • Intoxicates people [Rev 17:1,2]

The personal impact and implications of believing false teaching

We also learn what the impact of false teaching is from the perspective of the one impacted by it. To believe what they teach:

      • Is to sin [1 Cor 15:34]
      • Is to demonstrate ignorance of God [1 Cor 15:34]
      • Is to be led astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ [2 Cor 11:3]
      • Is to desert Christ [Gal 1:6]
      • Is foolish [Gal 3:1,3]
      • Is to refuse to love the truth and be saved [2Th 2:10]
      • Is to perish [2Th 2:10]
      • Is to make shipwreck of faith [1 Tim 2:19]
      • Is to be exploited [2P 2:3]
      • Is to fall from your secure position [2P 3:17]
      • Is to be led astray [1Jn 2:26]
      • Is to identify oneself as ‘not from God’ [1Jn 4:5-6]
      • Is to make God out to be a liar [1Jn 5:10]
      • Is to eventually drink the wine of God’s fury [Rev 14:9-11]

The final impact on the false teachers themselves:

Our contemporary mindset tells us not to be judgmental or critical, but Jesus and the apostles had no inhibitions about criticizing false teachers, nor about describing their ultimate condemnation:

      • Christ will reject them on the day of judgment [Matthew 7:21-23]
      • They will not enter the kingdom of heaven [Matthew 7:21]
      • They will be pulled up by the roots [Matthew 15:13]
      • They will have to give an account for every word they have spoken [Matthew 12:26,37]
      • They will be judged for the spiritual harm they have done to God’s children [Matthew 18:6,7; Mark 9:42]
      • They will not escape being condemned to hell [Matthew 23:22,3]
      • They will be punished severely [Mark 12:40]
      • Jesus pronounces ‘woe’ upon them [Luke 11:42-52]
      • They will be accused by ‘Moses’, that is by the Scripture written by Moses [John 5:45-46]
      • The story of Elymas [Acts 13:11-12]

In the New Testament letters and Revelation, the ultimate end of false teachers is also described:

      • They will get what they deserve [2 Cor 11:15]
      • Eternal condemnation [Gal 1:8-9]
      • Will be destroyed [Phil 1:28; 2Th 2:8]
      • Will be overthrown [2Th 2:8]
      • Handed over to Satan [1 Tim 2:20]
      • Have wandered from the faith [1Tim 6:21]
      • Rejected [2Tim 3:8]
      • The Lord will repay him for what he has done [2Tim 4:14]
      • Swift destruction on themselves [2P 2:1,3]
      • Condemnation [2P 2:3; Jude 4]
      • Eternal punishment [2P 2:4-9; Jude 5-7]
      • Will perish [2P 2:12]
      • Will be paid back for the harm they have done [2P 2:13]
      • Blackest darkness is reserved for them [2P 2:17; Jude 13]
      • Judgment [Jude 14-16; Rev 2:22,23]
      • Intense suffering [Rev 2:22]
      • Drink the wine of God’s eternal fury [Rev 14:10-11]
      • The fiery lake of burning sulphur. The second death [Rev 21:8]

Looking at all of the above evidence about the impact of false teachers and false teaching, the surprising thing is that the contemporary church and individual Christians are not more concerned about it than they are! What the above lists teach us should make us want not only to avoid false teaching like the plague, but also to protect others from it.

Yes. It will make us unpopular if we expose false teaching. We will be accused of being unloving, divisive and discriminatory. But it will demonstrate our allegiance to Christ, who is the truth, our affirmation of the New Testament perspective, in which all false teaching and false teachers are exposed and rejected, our unity with the New Testament apostles, and our bottom-line sacrificial love for our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died.