top of page

False Teachers


We see it all the time. People we know and love fall prey to the scam artist “preacher” on TV who is selling everything from holy water from Jerusalem to pieces of the tree from which the cross of Jesus was taken. I don’t know. I made some of that up. I don’t watch any of that garbage because I know what they are, hucksters out to make a buck off of widows and elderly people. They are no different than the Roman Catholic Church showing off their useless relics to people in the Middle Ages to get time off of Purgatory.

Those are not the kind of false teachers I want to talk about here, however. I want to talk about the ones who are more subtle with their message. The ones who sprinkle in just enough of the Bible to make them sound legitimate, but when what they say around the Bible verses is put to the test, it doesn’t hold up. I want to talk about the ones who spread their lies and heresies to countless millions without remorse because they truly believe what they are saying is the truth.

When I think about false teachers, I think about people who spread a false gospel. I think about people who add to the true gospel message with man-made messages of falsehood. I think about people, and groups of people, who write music that gets played and sung in churches all over the world, yet the message that the writers preach is one that is filled with heresy, lies, and corruption of the truth.

Indeed, when I think about these false teachers, I cannot help but think about where I was just fifteen years ago in my own journey with the Lord. I cannot help but remember that I was poisoned by the false gospel that is called prosperity, the “health and wealth” movement that has taken the world by storm.

I cannot deny that I was mixed up in the whole world of this false form of Christianity. I sang the songs, led the worship with my guitar and a band behind me. I preached the messages that “God wants you to be totally and completely healed in every area of your life.” I listened to the “preachers” who are the leaders of this movement. I read their books and recommended them to others.

Yes, I was one of them, preaching about how God wants you to have money. All the while I was barely living paycheck to paycheck. I was scraping by unable to pay all of my bills sometimes. I had a vehicle repossessed by the lender because I could not make the payments on it and make my rent and utilities. And I lied to myself and said that it was God’s way of keeping me humble.

Yes, I was one of them.

Then my eyes were opened, and I saw the truth.

And I repented.

And I wept.

I repented for being a liar and preaching falsehood to God’s people.

I wept over the many people I had led astray for all those years.

And I determined from that moment forward that I would do everything I could to teach and preach the truth to every person that would hear my voice.

So, you see when I talk about these false teachers, I have a somewhat unique perspective. It is not that I am an outsider looking at what might be taking place. I was one of them. I saw the lies. I saw the manipulation. I even learned how to manipulate the crowd.

These are the things I want to talk about in this article. It is time to expose the lies of the enemy. It is time to open the eyes of the people so they may see the truth. We will explore a few things in this article including: the subtle deception of false teachers, the falsehood of modern-day prophets, the twisting of Scripture in the prosperity movement, and the modern-day regurgitation of ancient heresies.

First, I want to talk about the subtle deception of false teachers. What we are looking at here is the way these false teachers use just enough Scripture to make people believe they are teaching the truth, but they do not line up with orthodox teaching. They add something to their teaching that should not be there. Many times, what they add is new-age mysticism or occult practices.

Take a look at Joel Osteen. He has one of the largest “churches” in the United States. He has one of the biggest followings of any “preacher” in the world. His books can be found anywhere books are sold. However, his message is not the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, he uses some Scripture in his messages, but he adds the idea of declaring things over yourself to have a better life.

Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to work through the Word of God to sanctify a believer, Osteen believes, and teaches, that a person can pronounce a declaration over their life and believe that declaration so much, that it will become true. It doesn’t take much to find the clips on the Internet of Osteen on an extremely famous woman’s talk show leading the crowd in making some of these declarations over themselves.

This is a form of new-age mysticism. God does not want us to declare good things over our lives and believe in those declarations. He wants us to submit to Him and allow Him to change us through the Word of God.

Ephesians 5:25 - 27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (ESV)

As followers of Christ, we are to be made holy by the washing of water with the Word. Not by our own words, but with the Word of God. This is how we become a church without spot or wrinkle. We do not become the church that Jesus is looking for by making declarations over ourselves. We allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, sanctifying us through the Word of God.

This is the grand deception of false teachers like Joel Osteen. They use enough of the Word to make people think they are teaching the truth, but the truth never comes out of their lips. They deceive millions around the world and people flock to them so they can have their ears tickled and go about living their sinful lives.

Then there is Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, CA. This man, and his false teaching, has been allowed into virtually every church I know because of the music Bethel writes and produces. There are more problems with this false teacher, and his followers, than I care to count.

Johnson, like Osteen, believes in making declarations over your life. However, he takes it further than Osteen in that he makes declarations over social justice issues. If you do not believe me, a simple search online will bring up video clips of Johnson and a group of people gathered around a staff (imagine the staff Gandalf carried in The Lord of the Rings) and declaring that racism “shall not pass” and is over. They then, as a group, slam the staff into the stage and declare the same thing multiple times. It is sad, and sickening.

Beyond the declarations, Johnson allows emotional manipulation through the music that the worship team at Bethel produces. I know because I was guilty of the same thing at one time. Music has the power to evoke emotions. That is why a great symphony can bring us to the brink of ecstasy, or to an overflow of tears. Modern “worship bands” know this about music so they manipulate everything they can to evoke an emotional response.

They turn the lights down, except for the lights on the musicians and singers, which change with each song or movement in a song. They use colored lights and fog machines to create just the right atmosphere. They make the music unbearably loud so all the listeners can focus on is the music. Then, when the time is right, a nice slow song will be played. The lights on the stage will dim just a little. The music will fade down some and a moment is created. The chorus will be repeated over and over, until the entire group of “worshipers” is either crying or in a trance-like state.

I have witnessed this so many times. I still get disgusted with myself for being involved in such things, but I have repented of this as well.

Manipulating the emotions of people is an art and a science and Johnson and the Bethel crowd have it perfected. They are not the only ones, either. Most of the larger “worship” bands that are around today are guilty of this very thing. They follow the same formula, almost exactly as I described above. Some of those bands include Hillsong (all of the iterations of this music factory), Maverick City Music (who has even more issues we don’t have time to discuss here), and Elevation (whose pastor we will discuss later).

Johnson also allows the teaching of new-age and occult practices at the church and at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Students at BSSM are encouraged to let their minds wander while they are in prayer, allowing them to “visit Heaven” while in a trance-like state. By the way, this form of astral projection is not only taught to the students at BSSM, but also to the children in their elementary level school.

The elementary level students “visited Heaven” in one of these “prayers” and they all came back and drew pictures of what they saw. What they drew was almost identical to one another’s experience. This may seem innocent enough on the surface, but it is an occultic practice that allows demonic access into the lives of the people involved.

What happens when people visit Heaven in reality? Three things that I know of for certain: Isaiah sees the three-fold holiness of God and it almost kills him, we get the book of Revelation and all the prophecies contained therein, and Paul comes back and says the things he heard there “cannot be told, which man may not utter.”

Joel Osteen and Bill Johnson are just two of the many false teachers I could name under this first category of subtle deceivers. Do not be deceived by their false teachings. They are not teachers of the true Word of God. They deceive and manipulate their hearers and lead them down a road which likely leads away from Christ.

Second, I want to look at the falsehood of modern-day prophets. Where can I even begin with these people? There are so many people today who wander around claiming to have the gift of prophecy and even calling themselves prophets.

Let me just say here, I am a continuationist. I do believe that all the gifts of the Holy Spirit are at work in the church today. However, I also believe there are some limitations and guidelines that some of those gifts must work within. Prophecy, I believe, is one of those gifts.

God does not allow just anyone to prophesy, and it come to pass. The person giving the prophecy must understand what prophecy is, from Whom it comes, and why it is given. Today, these restrictions are ignored. I have been in services where people would be encouraged, and sometimes seemingly forced, by the leaders of the service to stand up and give a word of prophecy. Some of these people would then be declared “true prophets of God” and celebrated.

Let me tell you something about these kinds of services. They are filled with false teachers, false worshipers, and false prophets. If you find yourself in a service where something like that is going on, get out as soon as you can. Make a new door if you have to but get out of there. These things are nothing but demonic trouble.

Today, prophets are allowed to be wrong when they speak a word of prophecy. According to the “new definition of prophet” as given by the followers of the movement which began in Kansas City, prophets in our time are allowed a certain amount of leeway and do not have to be accurate in their prophecies all the time. This is why people like Kenneth Copeland are still alive.

Copeland has had so many false prophecies I am not sure I can count that high. One of his most famous blunders was when he prophesied the end of the pandemic in 2020. We all know how well that one played out. *Eyes rolling back in my head as I type that one out.*

Copeland also falls under the declaration crowd. One clip that I saw has him leading a group of people in a declaration that their hair will grow back simply by laying their hand on their head and declaring authoritatively, “Hair, grow.” This kind of silliness (stupidity) is common in Copeland’s ministry. A modern-day prophet? More like a modern-day profiteer as his net worth is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Another proponent of modern-day, inaccurate “prophets” is Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. IHOPKC, as it is known, is a ministry with a 24/7 prayer and worship room, several intercessory missionaries, and other related activities. IHOPKC was founded after several people had prophetic dreams, experiences with angels, visits with God Himself, and heard God’s voice audibly speaking to them.

These supernatural experiences, along with Bickle’s rather loose interpretation of the definition of prophecy is what lands him on this list. Now, I have been to the 24/7 prayer room at IHOPKC. It was an experience I don’t think I ever want to have again. The music was manipulative and repetitive, as I described in the previous section. The “prophecies” given were nothing more than Bible verses stated in the speakers own words, given as “thus says the Lord.”

There are so many more “prophets” who have come out of the Kansas City camp. I would warn everyone to beware of anyone who teaches that prophecy can be off a little and it still be counted as okay. But what does the Bible say about prophets why prophesy falsely?

Deuteronomy 18:20 – 22 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. (ESV)

That seems fairly serious to me. “That same prophet shall die.” Obviously, we live in the time of grace, otherwise there would be a lot of corpses stacking up when someone opens their mouth and says, “Thus says the Lord…”

Third, I want to dive into (or perhaps just wade into, so this doesn’t become a full-fledged book) the twisting of Scripture in the prosperity movement. This section is going to be a little different. Instead of naming a false teacher and then explaining why that person is considered a false teacher, I am going to explain the teaching of the prosperity movement and then give you a list of names of people who are associated with this movement. The list grows daily so I will just give you the most popular ones and you can connect them with others on your own.

One thing that the prosperity movement does is to apply Scripture out of context. Take, for example, a verse that a lot of people hold onto as their “life verse,” Jeremiah 29:11. It says:

Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (ESV)

That sounds really great! I would love to take that verse and hold onto it for the rest of my life, apply it to my own life, and hope that it comes to pass for me. But there is a problem. You see, while the whole of the Bible is written for us, not all of it is written to us. This one issue is why proper Bible study and context of a passage or verse of Scripture is important. What is the context of Jeremiah 29:11? Let’s go back to Jeremiah 29:1 and find out.

Jer 29:1 These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. (ESV)

Verse eleven is not written to everyone who reads it for all eternity. It is written to the exiles in Babylon. If you continue reading you will see that it is an encouragement to those exiles for when the exile is completed.

Jer 29:10 – 11 “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (ESV)

This is not an isolated incident either. Prosperity preachers do this all the time with all kinds of Scripture. They pull random Scriptures out of thin air to preach on TV telethons so that people will pledge $54.13 or some other random dollar amount that corresponds with the Scripture reference they use. (I’m looking at you Rod Parsley and T.D. Jakes.) They errantly apply Old Testament verses about the Levitical Priesthood to the pastorate today so that people will “bring all the tithe into the storehouse.”

Don’t get me wrong, giving to your local church is absolutely necessary so they can continue to do the work they are called to do. But if the pastor is using Malachi to manipulate people into giving their “whole tithe,” I would recommend that pastor read what the tithe was under the Old Testament Law. It wasn’t money. (Here’s a little insight for you. It was food: produce, grain, and meat given to the priests so they would have enough to eat and feed their families.)

Another manipulation of the Scripture is the misinterpretation and misapplication of the Parable of the Sower. If you are not familiar with this parable, Jesus relates to the disciples that there are different types of soil, but one person sowing seed. Some seed fell along the path, was trampled, and eaten by birds. Some seed fell on the rocks and grew but withered because it didn’t have any roots to gain moisture. Some seed fell in the thorns and tried to grow but got choked out by the thorns. Then some seed fell on good ground and grew and produced a harvest: some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold.

Jesus then goes on a little while later to explain this parable. (Something that was seldom done, especially for Jesus, so this one had to be special in some way.) The four types of soil are people who hear the Word of God, more specifically the Gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation. (Jesus says the word of the Kingdom which is the Gospel.) The rest of the parable, and the explanation thereof, is found in Matthew 13:1-9 then 18-23.

Where prosperity preachers misapply this parable is the seed. They equate the seed in this parable to money. Now, to anyone with more than two brain cells firing at the same time and is capable of reading past verse nine and into verses eighteen through twenty-three, this seems extremely crazy. But to prosperity preachers, this is a goldmine, literally and figuratively. I have heard more “sermons” on this parable than I choose to relate and only a few of them have interpreted the word “seed” correctly: never by a prosperity preacher.

Another thing I will relate about prosperity preachers is that they are not about just the prosperity of the pocketbook. Indeed, they believe that Jesus died for us, not just to be spiritually healed, but to be physically healed as well.

Again, I believe that God can and will heal. But I do not believe that it is God’s will that every person everywhere be completely healthy all the time. If that were the case, my entire family would be out of God’s will. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has never had some kind of sickness, disease, or ailment. These things are part of the world in which we live. They are a result of sin. They are part of the fall that Adam ushered into the world.

Prosperity preachers use Scriptures like Isaiah 53:5 to claim that Jesus died for our physical healing. However, when studying this verse, and the surrounding verses, it is more and more clear that Jesus died for our spiritual healing and reconciliation to God. “By His stripes we are healed,” means that the stripes Jesus took on His body bridges the gap that Adam created when he sinned in Eden.

Some prosperity preachers are, especially recently, taking this healing idea to another extreme and saying that sickness and disease are a result of demons. This has given rise to “deliverance ministries” where a person can go and be delivered from demons of everything from diabetes and cancer to lying and fornication. There are several out there now, but one of the biggest is the disgraced and disgraceful Greg Locke. Locke teaches that anything and everything can be attributed to demon possession and that Christians need to be delivered from those demons.

Let me just clear this up for you. Sickness and disease are, as I stated above, a result of the fall and can be treated by doctors. Sin is the cause of the fall, is passed down to us by the fall, and needs to be dealt with by repentance and sanctification. Period. End of discussion.

The final thing I will warn you about prosperity preachers is the “little gods theory.” This idea is a result of ancient Gnosticism working its way back into the church. It teaches that since we are made in the image of God, we are little gods ourselves. They take the truth that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God Almighty and corrupt that truth to teach that we are not just the image and likeness of God, but the same as God and, therefore, little gods.

All these things sound horrible and they are. I was in the middle of this stuff (except the little gods theory. I never got in on that one. It was too much for me.) I know how horrible it can be. I wasn’t even in one of the larger ministries that you see on TV. I was in a small town, in a small church, and doing big-time harm to the body. I promised you a list of names and many people are going to be upset by some of the names on this list. I want you to investigate these people and see if what I am saying is true.

People to watch out for include the following: Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Andrew Womack, Joyce Meyer, Rod Parsley, T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Steven Furtick, Pat Robertson, Paula White, Bill Johnson, Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer, Jackie Hill Perry, and Tony Evans.

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it does touch on some of the heavy hitters. I would say to avoid any of these people, and anyone associated with them. There are a lot of people coming out of Africa these days and most of them are to be either taken with caution or outright avoided altogether. Unfortunately, getting good, orthodox teaching into the hands of African pastors is difficult. (Although there are a few ministries trying to do this very thing. We are even looking into some options.)

The final group of false teachers I want to deal with in this article is the people involved in the modern-day regurgitation of ancient heresies. Throughout history people have come up with some crazy ideas concerning spiritual matters. When this has happened, the church has come together to discuss, debate, and ultimately decide which side of the truth she would stand on. Wouldn’t you know it, the Bible is always right. This one is from Solomon in Ecclesiastes.

Ecc 1:9 – 10 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. (ESV)

One such heresy (which may shock you in a moment when you find out who teaches it) is modalism. Modalism is the denial of the triune Godhead. We understand that God is One, manifesting in three distinct Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Modalism says that God is One and acts in three different ways at different times. Sometimes God is Father. Sometimes God is Son. Sometimes God is the Holy Spirit.

Modalism falls apart when tested by the Scriptures. With three verses we can knock a huge hole in the boat that modalism sails in. This time we go to the Gospel of Mark.

Mar 1:9 – 11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (ESV)

People who adhere to modalism do not know what to do with these verses, at least none of them I have ever known. We see God the Son, in the person of Jesus, being baptized and coming out of the water He sees God the Holy Spirit descending on Him like a dove. Then, God the Father speaks from heaven. All three Persons of the Godhead are present here. I really don’t know what else needs to be said about it. But there is more.

The truth is modalism destroys the very fabric of salvation. The Word of God tells us that it was God the Father who sent God the Son to reconcile mankind to Himself. In this, God the Son showed perfect obedience to God the Father. Now it is God the Holy Spirit who draws mankind to God the Father and works in mankind to be made holy. Without the triune nature of the Godhead, there is no true salvation.

Modalism was condemned as a heresy by the Council of Smyrna in 200 AD and again at the Council of Rome in 382 AD. However, as Solomon would agree, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Today, modalism is strong in the church. Its largest group of proponents are the Oneness Pentecostals. Of course, there are some big-name preachers who fall under the spell of modalism. Some of those include T.D. Jakes, Steven Furtick, Tony Evans, and Priscilla Shirer. I warned you that these names may shock you, but the truth is these people believe that God is One and One only.

Of course, there are people who feel that the church should unite with all people who claim the name of Jesus and have one large, worldwide church. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who claim to know Jesus but do not know salvation by grace through faith. They add some things to the “grace by faith” part and get salvation by grace through faith and other stuff.

Most of the time the other stuff is works because we are a people who feel we must do something in order to attain. Which would work out okay if what we are striving to attain is a material possession of some kind. However, we do not seek a material possession. We are trying to attain peace with God the Father because we have wronged Him due to our sin. We cannot gain this peace on our own, no matter what we do. This is why salvation is a free gift, given by God the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

There are several groups out there who claim to be Christian but fall short when it comes to salvation by grace through faith. For simplicity I will name them off and state why they are problematic in this area.

1. Roman Catholic Church – Instead of salvation by grace through faith, the RCC teaches that an adherent to Catholic teaching must also perform the sacraments of the RCC.

a. The Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist)

b. The Sacraments of Healing (Penance and the Anointing of the Sick)

c. The Sacraments at the Service of Communion (Marriage and Holy Orders).

2. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – Apart from their questionable beginning, (golden tablets written in Egyptian hieroglyphs delivered by an angel to Joseph Smith and then lost forever) their less than reputable past, (murders, polygamy, endangerment of followers, etc.) and their extreme fascination for family values (which can be a good thing), the LDS, or Mormons as they are sometimes known, are a well-known and highly respected group of people. At least, now they are. In the past, not so much. However, LDS teachings are beyond strange when it comes right down to it. For instance, they mostly ignore the Bible and instead adhere to the Book of Mormon which is another Gospel of Jesus Christ when He came to the Americas. (Huh?) They have other holy books that were “translated by Joseph Smith” from ancient Egyptian tablets. (Years later, people who could actually read Egyptian hieroglyphs took a look at these tablets. They translated them as a copy of the Egyptian Book of the Dead that made its way into America from grave robbers.) The LDS also teaches that Jesus and Satan are brothers, baptism for the salvation of the dead, and that when the faithful die they are given a planet to rule over as a god. I will let you make up your mind of this one.

3. Jehovah’s Witnesses – This group of people (known for coming around on Saturdays when you are trying to eat breakfast) is part of the restorationist movement born out of the second great awakening in the United States. They believe that they, and they alone, are the one, true church. They teach that Jesus is the son of God, but not in the Trinitarian sense that true believers understand. They teach that Jesus was created by God and, therefore, not coexistent with Him. Also, they teach that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force through which God acts, and not coexistent with God. They have their own translation of the Bible which molds around their own preconceived ideas about who God is and how He interacts with the world. They do not believe in a life after death, instead that at death everything ceases to exist, there is no Hell, and that God may remember a person enough for that person to be resurrected at some point. (Maybe?)

4. Seventh Day Adventist – Another group of restorationists coming out of the second great awakening, the SDA was born from false prophecies about the return of Jesus. When none of these prophecies came true, (big shock since not even Jesus knows when He will return, but only the Father) the leaders of this group instead stated that the last date they claimed Jesus went into the Holy of Holies in Heaven and offered a sacrifice. (Even though He had already done that on the cross, they decided amongst themselves that the first one wasn’t good enough, I guess.) SDA teaches strict adherence to much of the Mosaic Law including:

a. Seventh day worship (keeping the Sabbath holy)

b. Extreme dietary restrictions. Some try to eat kosher while others go vegetarian or even vegan.

There are many today who feel that we should welcome people from these groups, and others, right into our churches as if they are already part of the Body of Christ. However, careful examination of their beliefs will show that they fall under the same old heresies that the church has fought since her beginning.

So, since I have failed to keep this article brief, I would like to conclude with this thought. There are a lot of people out there who will do everything they can to use the Bible for their own gain. Please, avoid these people. Avoid falling into the same trap that I did so many years ago. I was able to get out of that trap. I know so many people who have not. Many of my closest friends are still stuck in those prosperity driven churches. Most of them, I believe, are just deceived, and need to hear the truth.

Let me leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul from the letter to the Roman church.

Rom 16:17 – 18 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. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (ESV)

May God bless you all in the mercies of Jesus Christ, through the power and work of the Holy Spirit.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page