4 Ways to Spot a False Teacher

by Andy Comer


It was just an empty cup.  A toy cup at that.

From my perspective I was holding a toy, plastic, pink tea cup that could barely hold 3 oz. of liquid.  However from my daughter’s perspective I was holding an expensive, decorative, porcelain piece of china containing the world’s finest tea.

But it was just an empty cup.

The imagination is fascinating isn’t it?  Just close your eyes and you can travel anywhere, do anything, or be anyone.  For a brief second your problems go away, your to-do list no longer looms, and perfection seems just a click away.

Yet the cup is empty.

My fear is that everyday, in some form or fashion, we are offered an empty cup – a cheap, false deception that distracts us from the real, hard truths of life.

My fear is that everyday, in some form or fashion, we are offered an empty cup. Share on X

Jesus warned us, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

False teachers are not easy to spot.  That’s the enemy’s strategy. People who counterfeit money would never throw monopoly money on the counter to purchase a new TV. That’s too obvious.  Counterfeit money very closely resembles the real thing.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, how can we determine what is real and what is counterfeit? How can we tell when a teacher is of God or of the enemy?

Titus gives us four ways to spot a false teacher.

They ask you to do something that minimizes faith.

Titus describes these “empty talkers” as rebellious me who promoted a salvation based on works.  Basically the false teachers taught that circumcision was a requirement for salvation. Anytime someone tries to add to what Jesus already accomplished on the cross, you’re spotting a false teacher.  The cross was enough.  The cross is enough.  The cross will be enough.

God’s Word is clear that we are saved through faith! Don’t add to it, and don’t take away from it.

They focus more on self than Christ.

Titus says, “teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain” (Titus 1:11).  The second tip for spotting false teachers is they are more concerned about themselves than Christ.

Behind every false teacher is a desire for personal gain. Their desire is rooted in financial prosperity, personal superiority, or political popularity.

A true teacher, like Paul, will be willing to say, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

They de-emphasize God’s Word.

Titus tells us that false teachers will “turn away from the Truth” (Titus 1:14).

  • God’s word is truth (John 17:17).
  • Jesus Christ is truth (John 14:6).
  • The Holy Spirit reveals truth (John 14:17).

False teachers manipulate God’s Word by grabbing bits and pieces, taking it out of context, or labeling certain portions as outdated or irrelevant.  When something is true you can’t change or improve upon it.

Their life doesn’t match what they teach.

“The profess to know God, but their deeds deny Him” (Titus 1:6).

Basically, they don’t practice what they preach.  Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit,” and a false teacher has no fruit.


As followers of Christ, we just be on the alert.  We must be careful when someone is teaching thins of eternal significance.  It just might be an empty cup.