Motivation of False Teachers

Motivation of False Teachers

It is not true that all who claim to be working for the Lord are godly. Because the Holy Spirit guided the apostles and prophets, we have the totality of the very spiritual truth in the Bible (John 16:13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). It is the measuring rod to be used to identify false teachers. The Bible warns against the presence of false teachers, those who do not preach exactly what He revealed (Matt. 7:15, 21-23).

When the church began, one of the grave problems it faced was the Judaizing teachers. They were Jews who became part of the church then tried to force Gentile Christians to keep the Old Testament law, especially to be circumcised. Paul described these false teachers in the letter he wrote to the churches in Galatia. In that epistle he describes what motivated these teachers. To understand this motivation gives us insight into what motivates false teachers today.

False teachers wanted to look good to others. They were binding circumcision, and Paul described one of the reasons they did this. “They desire to make a good showing in the flesh (6:12). They were more concerned about how they looked to others rather than how they looked to Christ.

False teachers wanted to avoid criticism and persecution. Paul said, “They compel you to be circumcised only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” (6:12). As you read the divine history of the early church you will see the source of the persecution as it began. We tend to think that the Roman government persecuted the church, but it came from the Jews. As Paul went from city to city it was that nation who used every possible means to keep the church from spreading. The Judaizing teachers wanted to avoid this grave problem and compromised the truth about how Gentiles could be saved. In doing this they sought to appease the anger of the Jews. Preaching the truth often brings problems, but we must never let criticism from others keep us from doing right.

False teachers wanted to use their followers in boasting and to thereby advance themselves in the eyes of others. Paul said, “They desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh (6:13). False teachers often have more regard for the praise of men than for the glory of Christ.

True teachers have one motivation and that totally involves Christ and Him crucified. Paul said, “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6:14). True teachers do not seek to call attention to themselves, boasting of what they have done for the Lord. False teachers are in our world, and their motivation has changed very little from those in the first century.


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