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?