False teachers handle the holy things rather with wit and entertainment than with godly fear and reverence.
Satan labors with all his strength by false teachers, which are his messengers and ambassadors, to deceive, delude and forever destroy the precious souls of men.
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” - 2 Peter 2:1–3
The prophet Jeremiah declared, “And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.” (Jeremiah 23;13). And through the prophet Micah, the Lord himself complained “Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err,” (Micah 3:5).
They seduce them and carry them out of the right way into by-paths and blind thickets of error, blasphemy and wickedness, where they are lost forever. Jesus Himself warned,
“Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers,” (Philippians 3:2).
These evil men kiss and kill; they cry, “Peace, Peace” until souls fall into everlasting flames (see Proverbs 7).
Now the best way to deliver poor souls from being deluded and destroyed by these messengers of Satan is to display them in their true colors, so that being known poor souls may shun them, and flee from them as hell itself.
Now you may know a false teacher by the following distinguishing marks…
False Teachers are Men-Pleasers
The first distinguishing mark (of false teachers) is that they are men-pleasers.
They preach more to please the ear than to profit the heart. Isaiah thus described the longing of God’s rebellious people.
“Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:” (Isaiah 30:10).
And again the Lord complained through Jeremiah in these words;
“A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jeremiah 5.30,31)
These men handle the holy things rather with wit and entertainment than with godly fear and reverence.
False teachers are soul-destroyers. They are like evil surgeons, that skin over the wound, but never heal it. Flattery destroyed Ahab and Herod, Nero and Alexander. False teachers are hell's great enrichers.
It is not bitter, but flattering words which do all the mischief, said Valerian, the Roman emperor. Such smooth teachers are sweet soul-poisoners (Jeremiah 23:16,17).
This article is from the book Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, in the section “Seven Characters of False Teachers”, by the Puritan, Thomas Brooks (1608–1680).
To the reader: Now by these seven distinguishing marks you may know false teachers, shun them, and so deliver your souls out of their dangerous snares. - Thomas Brooks
Note from GospelFuel.com: It is shocking how clearly this applies to many of the popular Baptist preachers of our day, even among true churches. It will only grow more so in the last days, and we must beware, lest we ourselves should be deceived by false teachers.