False leaders

False Leaders

False Leader Mock up2

Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12-14)

Those of us who participated in the committee that authored the False Leaders document, feel like Paul. We have become far more aware of our motives, our actions, our impact on the people we serve and what we teach.

None of us has attained perfection, but we are more determined, by His grace, to be more like Jesus in the way we lead, what we teach and how we treat people.

With this in mind, we invite you to download and read it. We are each looking inward as we compare ourselves to Jesus’ standards.

We also invite you to pass this around as a resource to people you think might value it for their own life or ministry.

Here is the link to the False Leaders page.

Maranatha (Come, Lord Jesus)

What Motivates False Leaders?

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False leaders have a variety of sinful motives. They may:

  • Want to do the deeds of the devil. (Jn. 8:41-44)
  • Want to gain power by controlling people. (3 Jn. 9-11)
  • Seek to undermine the authority of Scriptures and the Lord’s true servants. (Phil. 1:15-17; 2 Pt. 3:16)
  • Seek praise and honor from people. (Matt. 23:5-7; Jn. 12:42-43; Gal. 1:10)
  • Seek personal financial gain. (Jn. 12:4-8; 2 Pt. 2:3; 2 Pt. 2:12-16)
  • Promote their fleshly lifestyles. (2 Pt. 2:17-22)
  • Promote their own teaching. (1 Tim. 1:3-7)

A false leader’s motives, with time and discernment, will become obvious. Observe the fruit of their words, life or ministry to discern their motives. (Matt. 7:15-20; Matt. 12:33-37; Gal. 5:19-25; 1 Tim. 5:24)

Take a moment for reflection or discussion:

1. How have I discerned motives of others in the past?
2. How can the principle of “observing fruit” assist me in discerning motives of false leaders?
3. If fruit reveals motives, what motives does the fruit of my life reveal?​


Who are False Leaders?

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False leaders are those who lead people away from a focus on Jesus as Lord and Savior. They also lead the saints away from faithful, godly living and sound doctrine. (1 Tim. 6:3-5; 1 Jn. 4:1-6; Jude 4)

In the New Testament false leaders are called:​

  • Sons of the devil (Jn. 8:44)
  • False prophets (Matt. 7:15)
  • Blind fools (Matt. 23:16-26)
  • Brood of vipers (Matt. 23:33)
  • Hypocrites (Matt. 23:1-36; Lk. 12:1-3)
  • False teachers (2 Pt. 2:1)
  • False apostles (2 Cor. 11:12-15)
  • Deceitful workers (2 Cor. 11:12-15)
  • Antichrists (1 Jn. 2:18-22)
  • Deceivers (2 Jn. 7-8)
  • Many other descriptions (2 Pt. 2:17; Jude 12-13)

We see four types of leaders.
1. Some are weak leaders. They operate in the flesh, have sinned and need to change. Peter and Barnabas were in this category. (Gal. 2:11-14)
2. Some are un-taught leaders that need additional understanding.Apollos was in this category. (Acts 18:24-28)
3. Some are deceived and may or may not be true believers. (1 Tim. 6:3-5)
4. Some are false leaders driven by their father, Satan. (Jn. 8:44)

Caution: Some people may behave or have beliefs we disagree with, but they are not false leaders. (Lk. 9:49-50; Rm. 14:1-12)

For personal reflection or group discussion:
1. What has been my experience in observing false leaders and false teaching?
2. Where have I seen damage caused by false leaders?
3. Why is this topic important to me?


False Leaders

This is a hard topic to discuss.

The chapter I read in the last few days is 2 Peter 2 which discusses false leaders. I admit that it is painful to read. Peter says that false leaders are among us secretly introducing destructive heresies (v 1). This is the doctrinal deception.

Then Peter says that many will follow their sensuality and greed (v 2-3). This is their character deception.

The result is that they lead people astray from the ways of Jesus. They seek followers for themselves. It is interesting that when I talk with most any of our African partners, they refer to the deception running rampant in Africa called by the names “health and wealth gospel” and “prosperity gospel”. These are obvious but there are so many others that are even more subtle and working among us in whatever culture we live.


In my book, Lead In Light Of Eternity, I devote a chapter (7) to this topic so if you would like to delve deeper into this topic you can.

The Lord is coming soon and the closer we come to His return, the more deceptive the enemy’s tactics will be.

I admit this is a hard topic to talk about but it is vital to be aware of as we attempt to walk in the ways of Jesus. He and His apostles did not shy away from the topic but instead intentionally took time to address it.

Peter felt the topic was so important that he devoted one third of his last letter to the topic. If he felt it so important, shouldn’t we? I encourage you to read 2 Peter 2 carefully and respectfully.