Thieves and Robbers: Knowing the False Teachers


On Friday, I posted a new WWUTT video on John 10:10 which reads, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” The “thief” is often depicted as Satan. The context refers not to Satan but agents of Satan. Jesus was specifically talking about false teachers, whom he describes as thieves and robbers (see John 10:1-10).

In doing so, Jesus was referencing Ezekiel 34 where the prophet said the following:

“Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.”

When Jesus said to Zacchaeus in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,” this was also a reference to being the Good Shepherd (also John 10:11) who came to seek and to save the sheep who had not been tended by the shepherds. False teachers do not unify the people of God. They scatter them to be devoured by more false teachings, falling into a snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:7, 2 Timothy 2:26).
Pastor means shepherd. All pastors are called to tend God’s sheep, and the sheep are instructed to be subject to the authority of the shepherds (1 Peter 5:1-5). We are warned though that many will pose as shepherds but inside are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15). One of the job descriptions of a pastor is to teach sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it, warning the sheep against false teachers (Titus 1:9).
The Bible reserves its harshest criticisms for false teachers, and John 10:10 is one of those criticisms. False teachers do far worse than add a few words here or there or take a few verses out of context. What they preach is the teaching of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Irreverent babble and the mishandling of God’s word spreads like an infection that causes parts of the body to fall off and leads to ungodliness (2 Timothy 2:15-17).
The Scriptures say that unless they repent of their false teaching, they will be judged as liars, thieves, and murderers (Revelation 21:8). Jesus said not everyone who calls him “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who did the will of his Father (Matthew 7:21). The ignorant and unstable twist the Scriptures to their own destruction. Therefore we must be careful not to be carried away by the error of lawless people and thus lose our steadfastness in the faith (2 Peter 3:16-17).
Do you understand the seriousness? False teaching is a deadly thing. Those who teach falsely will be destroyed, as will those who believe and follow such false teaching. But the Lord knows who are his (2 Timothy 2:19). Those who are his sheep will hear his voice and follow the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-11).

Which brings me back to the video. Some of these thieves and robbers described in John 10 are seen in the thumbnail for the YouTube short (pictured above). From left to right, back to front: TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, Rob Bell, Jesse Duplantis, Joyce Meyer, and Oprah Winfrey. On our Facebook page, a woman named Michelle left the following comment:

“They don’t all preach the same thing. And just because they don’t fit in your little box does not make them false teachers. Some of them I don’t watch, I’ll grant you, but I’m tired of people placing false teacher labels because of things they’ve heard that someone said they think they said and whatever! What are you doing to get people saved besides pointing fingers without checking facts!”

Well, Michelle, the gospel is preached in that video. Jesus is the only way to heaven, and those who are truly his sheep will follow him and receive eternal life. Regarding false teachers, it’s not about whether or not they fit in some kind of man-made box, but whether or not they are following and teaching the true words of Christ. Let’s examine just the teachers pictured:
Rob Bell

Bell teaches a lot of weird things, but let’s focus on his most infamous false doctrine: he denies there is a hell and teaches that everyone, in some way or another, is going to go to heaven, even hostile atheists who never repented of their sins. The Bible teaches there is a hell, and yes, all those who did not believe in Christ for the forgiveness of sins will be sent there for all eternity (Matthew 25:46, Revelation 20:10, 15). Jesus talked more on the subject of hell than did any other figure in the Bible combined. It’s a pretty important subject.
Malachi 2:17 says, “You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’ By saying, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.’ Or by asking, ‘Where is the God of justice?'” God is indeed a loving and merciful God. But to twist the Scriptures as Bell does by denying that God is also a God of wrath and justice is to present a false god — a god of Bell’s own making, not the God of the Bible.
Oprah Winfrey

Oprah teaches that “there are many paths to what you call God.” In this video, she also denies that Jesus is the only way to heaven, saying it isn’t possible that he’s the only way. Lest you think this is just something she said a long time ago, in a miniseries that aired in October, 2015 on OWN, she said that there are “millions of ways to God.”
Do I really need to point out the problem with this? Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one gets to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Oprah embraces and endorses a great deal of new age spiritual mysticism. The Bible says those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21). “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:21).
Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer

Both of these false teachers preach the prosperity gospel, also known as “name it and claim it,” a hallmark of the Word of Faith Movement (or as Meyer has referred to it, Seed Faith teaching). Basically their message is to pursue riches by faith. For example, Meyer believes you can speak to your checkbook and be rich. The reason why you don’t have wealth is because you haven’t asked, twisting Scriptures like Mark 11:24. They might qualify their logic by saying things like, “You’re a child of the kingdom, right? Therefore you should be wearing royal robes!”
But 1 Timothy 6:6-10 reads, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
People are most often destroyed by riches, not blessed by them. Why else would Jesus say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mark 10:25)? The prosperity teachers heap a burden on their hearers, and then make them feel like failures when they don’t accomplish wealth: “Well the reason you don’t have is because you did not declare! The reason you don’t have is because you don’t have enough faith!” These kinds of burdens are what Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for tying onto people (Matthew 23:4), calling them children of hell who produce more children of hell (Matthew 23:15).
To be very clear, the prosperity gospel is idol worship. Osteen and Meyer are two of the names at the top of that list of teachers.

Jesse Duplantis

Oh, where to start? Is there anything that comes out of this man’s mouth that’s biblical? Duplantis claims he went to heaven and had a personal audience with God. John 3:13 says that no one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, and that is Christ. Duplantis claims God asked him for advice and he told God he was wrong. Job 38:2 says, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?”
Duplantis claimed that God has the power to take life but he can’t, and that you choose when you live or die. “Death and life is in the power of your tongue, not God’s,” he said. Well, in 2 Samuel 6:7, God struck Uzzah dead when he touched the Ark of the Covenant. In Numbers 14:37, God killed the ten spies who brought a bad report back from the Promised Land and misled the people. He also killed millions in a global flood. God absolutely will take the life of the godless (Job 27:8). But he gives life to those who trust in Christ (John 5:21).
As Justin Peters has said, and I agree with him, Jesse Duplantis is not a Christian. A person indwelt by the Holy Spirit cannot say such things about God. He preaches about a different god than the God of the Bible. If they preach a different god, they preach a different gospel. It is not the gospel that saves.
T.D. Jakes

I’ve written previously about Thomas Dexter Jakes who denies the doctrine of the Trinity. God is one God, three persons; Father, Son, and Spirit. How important is it to believe this? It is the doctrine that distinguishes Christianity from every other world religion. Many religions claim to worship gods. Some religions claim to worship one god (like Judaism and Islam). Some claim to believe in Jesus (Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses). But only Christianity worships the one true God who is one being in three co-equal and eternal persons. The Bible explicitly says that he who denies the Father and the Son is a liar and an antichrist (1 John 2:22).
In addition to denying this fundamental doctrine, Jakes, like Osteen and Meyer, is a prosperity teacher. He has said of himself, “I am the power and the kingdom and the glory, and I think I kind of like it that way” (The Wall Street Journal, August 21, 1998), twisting the closing words of the Lord’s prayer: “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Isaiah 42:8 says that God will not share his glory with another.
Woman Pastors

It should be noted that every teacher on this short list also believes women can and should be pastors. Joyce Meyer is herself a pastor. Osteen’s wife, Victoria, and Jakes’s wife also are pastors of their respective churches. This is contrary to what God’s word teaches.
While egalitarianism is not an essential doctrine (in other words, a person who believes a woman can be a pastor can still also be a born-again believer), this issue seems to be the one issue of our present time that can be used as a barometer to determine whether or not a church will influence the culture by the authority of God’s word, or let their understanding of God’s word be influenced by the culture. I am not alone in that determination.
In Conclusion

The Bible says to test the spirits, for not every spirit that claims to be from God is of God and there are many false prophets that have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). Jesus said each tree is known by its own fruit. A good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:43-45). By what they say, we will know if they speak the words of God or the words of the devil.
The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians to test everything. Hold fast to what is good and abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). The Bereans in Acts 17:11, more noble than even the Thessalonians, tested the words of the Apostle Paul against the Scriptures to know if what he was saying came from God. There are many who will claim to be apostles, but they are deceitful workmen, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).
Yes, my friends. These men and women are thieves and robbers. Unless they repent of their false teaching, their portion will be in the lake of fire (back to Revelation 21:8). We must do as Jude did and contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). Be wise and discerning, testing all things according to the word of God.


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