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How Do You Confront a Brother Or Sister Who Follows a False Teacher?

By Elizabethprata @elizabethprata
This blog is about prophecy, discernment and encouragement. In the discernment department, I write a lot about false teachers and show from the bible how and why the particular ones mentioned are false. I do the same with false doctrines.
However it is harder to know how to approach a person in your church who is under the sway of some of these teachings. You know that so-and-so is false. They don't. There is no question that the issue shouldn't be raised, because after all, the gifts are to be used for the building up of the saints to the ultimate glory of His name. Jesus wants a pure church. The Spirit works hard to ensure it, so that we can point to Jesus in holiness. But HOW do you approach someone you see involved in a Beth Moore study, or going to a Bethel Redding or IHOP conference, or using a curriculum by Henry Blackaby?
It reminds us that faith cannot be removed or detached from the realm of real life.
~John MacArthur
It's one thing to know about false teachers in the academic sense, but quite another to put the information to edifying use inside a church teaching situation. Both theological knowledge and deeds are important in a Christian. I've had the opportunity to approach some various church leaders and some brethren in various churches regarding different false teachings or teachers. With that in mind here is what I did when approaching a person about a false teacher.
Please understand that this is not a template or a method to be mindlessly copied. I'm just a forgiven sinner, a woman in Georgia working out my salvation with fear and trembling. There may be other ways to bring up the subject in a church or with a person. There are undoubtedly other scriptures to rely on as the basis for the action. Please share your method and your thoughts on scriptures that apply to the issue.

How do you confront a brother or sister who follows a false teacher?

Painting by echo feng, cc license

First of all, if you desire to approach someone about a false teacher or false doctrine in your church, it demonstrates the love you have of Jesus to care for His name so much that you want to protect your sisters from the dangers and poison that false teaching brings! "And many will follow their [false teachers] sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed," (2 Peter 2:2). False teachers bring these heresies in and it always leads to destruction of those who follow- if they don't repent. (Revelation 2:22-23). Therefore, remaining silent about the poison false teaching brings is actually hate. Helping brethren avoid the predators is helping them to abide in Him (1 John 2:27) and is love.
Though it is for the glory of the name of Jesus, it's hard to share even with a wise and trainable sister, one who wants to know and asked to know, about a favored false teacher, only to then see her saddened over the truth. Thankfully, these kind of hard feelings are fleeting and ultimately relationship building and not relationship-destroying.
On the other end of the spectrum, some people become very angry when told that a false teacher isn’t worth pursuing. These people are usually bound up in pride, and they cling to the teacher because they have invested their ego and pride in making the decision to follow them in the first place. It is called “Deception by Investment”, and these people remain angry, but at you, for bringing it to light. They would rather continue investing in the false teacher instead of looking it up like a Berean, so as not to puncture their pride. This kind of anger can be relationship destroying because you become the object of their ire rather than the false teacher who is blaspheming Jesus.
The first step is always prayer. The first pass in the process is always pray for your pastor, teachers, and

How do you confront a brother or sister who follows a false teacher?

By Chris Yarzab, cc license

Sunday School Director (who makes the decisions about which books to buy) or brother or sister you've developed a burden for.
Second, because it is a leader who makes the decisions on what curriculum to bring forward, I usually make an appointment with the leader and sit down in private and discuss my concerns. Even if it is a church member and not a leader who you want to talk with, still, make an appointment, maybe for coffee. Ask to stay after Wednesday night prayer meeting for a few minutes. Go to brunch after church.
I’d let the leader know that in the upcoming meeting you’re going to share concerns about such and such a teacher, so they will know what the meeting will be about- and so they can pray more specifically too. I’ve done this with the Pastor, Sunday School Superintendent, Teacher, and Ladies Ministry Leader. I don’t want to sandbag them or embarrass them publicly so I always ask to meet.
Most importantly and scripturally, meeting in private is also an acknowledgement of their office as leader, Hebrews 13:17 says,
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Pray before the meeting. A lot.

How do you confront a brother or sister who follows a false teacher?

Molly Sabourin
Original was in color

Third, when you meet: if they are a leader worth their salt, they will appreciate your humble approach and also appreciate the opportunity you’ve given them to personally research the issue you’re putting before them, and to pray. Even if you're speaking with a sister, and even if they are confused or angry with the subject of the talk, they will see the lengths you've gone to reach them in love. If you were in error and didn't know it, wouldn't you want someone to come alongside and put their arm around you and take time and speak to you in love? (Mark 12:31).
In my opinion another benefit of doing it this way is that if my interpretation of the verses and the scriptures leading me to a conclusion that a teacher is false is actually  incorrect, the leader can then have an opportunity to instruct me.
This woman’s short essay on how she chose to bring up a Beth Moore teaching to a sister who was about to enter a BM study was really good. I find it instructive and encourage you to read it, too. Loving sisters who love Beth Moore.
Fourth, in the meeting, (if you get a chance to meet in privately or one-on-one), I’d have put together some notes about why you feel so and so is an unprofitable teacher. I use notes when I speak to the leader or person because I’m very shy socially and I refer to notes because I get really tangled up and I forget the points I’d wanted to make. I give it to them when we’re done. This helps because it gives someone a chance to later read over what you’ve said.
I’d keep it short and choose the worst offenses from the teacher's cadre of false indicators. For example, though I've written about Beth Moore's falsity many times, I am especially aggravated at the vision she says she had where Jesus spoke to her like she was a prophet and told her the church was paralyzed by unbelief. To me, it is the clearest example of her falsity. The link for that essay explaining why it is a false vision, with scriptures, is here: "Examining Beth Moore's Statement 'My Bride is Paralyzed by Unbelief'
Here is a good web page from Rev Matt Slick (who runs outlining succinctly Beth Moore's many aberrations, you could pick and choose which ones the Spirit seems to be leading you to. The site has similar summaries for other false teachers, as well.
FMI: Is Beth Moore a false teacher?When you meet, the main idea is not to make an airtight legal case, but to share solid information particular to your heart and the church’s situation, and then to step back and let the Spirit apply these truths to their hearts.
I’d also include some verses which support your right and duty to point these things out, a few are above in the beginning of this post, a few are below. Just in case you get the old chestnut “Judge Not!” verse or “Touch not God’s anointed!”
  • Ephesians 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
  • 2 Timothy 3:5 Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people
  • Romans 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
5. When it comes time for the ladies study to begin, and the leader has dismissed your concerns or hasn't had time to work through it yet, or the Sunday School class is about to start, have your prayerful decision ready. I hope it is that you will choose not to attend. If you’re asked by the other ladies or men why you’re not attending, have a short statement ready in your mind to reply. Not as detailed as you give the leader, but enough to say in a sound bite which conclusively states your opinion.
Something like “I have researched Beth Moore’s doctrine and her teaching methods and have come to the conclusion that since she confesses hearing from Jesus and having visions, she twists scripture from its historical context and allegories it too often, as she did in her Strongholds book with misapplying Galatians 5:1, so it seems she is a false teacher and I decided not to partake of the study. I’d be more than happy to talk about this later with anyone who has concerns with my (and my husband’s?) decision.”

How do you confront a brother or sister who follows a false teacher?

Salem (MA) Public Library, cc photo

Or you might say, "Joel Osteen is a word-faith preacher who refuses to preach the whole counsel of God and since Ephesians 4:14 says to preach the whole counsel of God, Osteen demonstrates a lack of discernment and a rebellion against the Spirit inspired word, so I humbly decline to attend the study." And then your absence from it will be the continuing statement.
Use scripture in all cases, with the leader and with the brethren and in all discussions. It is the power of God to apply truth to hearts. Always use scripture. I can't say it enough, it is of extreme importance. Use scripture. It is not our earnestness or our fervor or our zeal which will win them over. It is not a carefully constructed argument. It is not the power of our intellect which will pierce the spell they are under with a false teacher. It is the Word!
"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).
The Spirit will resonate the verses you use in minds and hearts, and if I was a betting woman, at least one of them will seek you out later to say, “I had concerns too, but couldn’t put my finger on them. Can you tell me more?” And by golly you can hand them the same paper you gave the Leader you chose to speak with previously.
6. At all times keep praying. And keep loving the sisters and brothers who are under the teacher's spell, by all means. Some of them might be false converts but some of them will be truly brethren in the faith, standing on the same blood soaked ground you’re standing on.

How do you confront a brother or sister who follows a false teacher?

'Under A Spell" rjg329, cc license

The spell of the false teacher is always powerful. Picture a doctrine-whisperer seducing the brethren.
I was reading up on Beth Moore the other night. I read one woman’s blog where she had written that she had attended a Living Proof conference and really wanted to talk with Moore, because two of her children had died and she knew Moore could share the grief of child-loss, since Moore had given her adopted son back to his mother after raising him for 7 years. This blogger said she approached a counselor at the back of the arena when the conference was over. The following is an excerpt from her narrative. While I understand the woman was in the throes of grief, it is still a startling example of how deeply people get wrapped up in false teachers:
As we were walking and I was crying, I realized that Beth Moore was standing right beside me with her back to me. I looked at the woman leading me out of the room and held up my hand as if to say, "Just one minute." With my other hand, I reached out and literally took a hold of Beth's arm as if it were my only chance to ever be that close to her and feel her love. I couldn't help but think of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' robe......not implying that Beth has this same power, but simply saying that I truly wanted a blessing from Beth and in touching her hoped that I would receive it.”
These women are truly ensnared! Those who follow false teachers are caught up on something satanic. We can't beat satan but the Spirit of God can. I say satanic because the false teacher always tries to shift your gaze from Jesus to themselves. So many of them have elevated the teacher to a status they certainly don't deserve but if they are so emotionally (or financially) invested, they will balk at the notion that they have misplaced their trust. Just be sensitive.
On the other hand sometimes the Spirit helps by moving a person out off range of the predator. Distance helps clear the vision and they see the false teacher in a new light.
This is the narrative of a pastor's wife who move from Alabama to the Wisconsin to plant a church with her husband. She used to love Beth Moore but found out after the move that her love affair was drying out. Her writing is clear and down to earth funny. "Secret Life of a Pastor’s wife: Breaking Up with Beth Moore"

How do you confront a brother or sister who follows a false teacher?

Josh Mishell, cc license

Even though I am a native Southerner, born and bred in Alabama and having lived in the south all of my life, when I look through my Midwestern lenses, Beth Moore is not relevant. Her homey humor, "beloved," and "bless your heart" sayings don't translate. I would watch the faces of native Wisconsinites as they watched her DVD. They thought she was cheesy and as much of an over-the-top caricature as Jeff Foxworthy. "You girls, know what I'm sayin', right? We wouldn't be caught dead without our face on and our hair did." Hah! Most of the Wisconsin women I know can shovel snow, chop wood, and milk a cow without batting an eye. So many of my students grew up on dairy farms and were out milking cows by 5 am, shared a room with 4 other siblings, and didn't have a car until they graduated from college and bought their own. Concern about curling their hair in Africa would not rank in their list of concerns. And quite frankly, she's very patronizing to women and holds very, very strict gender stereotypes.”

How do you confront a brother or sister who follows a false teacher?

Nick Sherman, cc license

If a teacher doesn't translate it is because they are embedded in the world and using the world's language. the wrong language. God's word always translates because he transcends distance and time.
The upshot is that even if initially your message about a false teacher is not received, the Spirit is always working. He perhaps had prepared the person you're going to speak with by sending other people prior to you. Or subsequent to your talk, His work might continue in physically moving the person from the location of false teacher's sphere...or cause financial hardship to prevent cable subscription so TBN won't come into their house anymore, or to simply illuminate the scriptures when that person is reading the bible, or continue the work in a zillion ways we can't anticipate. Though we get emotionally wrapped up in the conversation, it is not the only thing the Spirit is doing and His work extends far beyond our little participation in it.
"so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)
That's why we use the Word and not our opinion in these talks. Our opinion is just a puff of wind, but His word is always working!
7. Not to say that it always works out. Sometimes the person you speak with doesn't see the light but your exhortation might entrench them further into their snare. This, too, is the work of God. His glory is always the highest outcome of everything we do. He is working for the glory of His name. This is where I found Ezekiel 2:3-7 especially helpful-

How do you confront a brother or sister who follows a false teacher?

Flickr marsmet533, cc license

"And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house."
NOT that we're prophets but on His day the person will have no excuse. In Revelation 2:20-22 Jesus is describing a false prophetess and commanding John to tell the church at Thyatira to leave off her and repent, and He gave them time to repent. He is always reaching for His sheep. But not all repent and leave off the false teacher, but His glory is such that they will know they were told. Ultimately, it is not up to us and it is not about us, but about Him and His glory, now and on His Day.
In conclusion, those are my thoughts on how to approach a person involved with a false teacher.
  1. Pray, (Philippians 4:6)
  2. Research with biblical accuracy to the best of your ability, (2 Timothy 2:15)
  3. Respect your leaders, (1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 )
  4. Meet and talk humbly of the issue, (Galatians 6:1)
  5. Share notes, (1 John 2:1)
  6. Be open to correction, (Hebrews 12:11)
  7. Pray some more, (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Ephesians 6:18)
  8. Separate from the false teacher, doctrine, curriculum, or teaching (Romans 16:17)
  9. Remain reliant on the Spirit no matter the perceived, observed, temporal outcome, (John 14:26)
  10. Pray (Romans 8:26).
Often, I’ve discovered that there are more people in the church who feel the way we do but simply don’t

How do you confront a brother or sister who follows a false teacher?

Yenkassa, cc license

speak up because they don’t know HOW to go about bringing difficult topics up. And for others, the notion of challenging a current popular teacher's doctrine on a biblical basis will be a new thing to them, because many churches or church members never do it at all. They are watching what we do, which is pursuing holiness and building each other up. (Ephesians 4:11-32; Philippians 2:1-18). There are always wider lessons in everything the Spirit in involved in. Just make sure the Spirit IS involved by being gentle, prayerful and biblically accurate.
This is what I came up with after prayer and research. What do you think? What has been your experience?
Further Reading
Is It Right for a Christian to Expose False Prophets and False Teaching ? (by Damon Whitsell)
Speaking out against false teachers
Why we must pursue holiness

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