How should you pray for a false teacher? The same way that you should pray for your own pastor and teachers. Pray that they would not teach anything false or misleading, but only what is true and right and accurate according to God's Word, the Bible.
Let me explain how I came to this conclusion. In the early 1990's, Jehovah's Witnesses were visiting me every week for two months. They explained what their church taught and I explained what the Bible taught, but I was not making any progress correcting their mistaken beliefs. They had been well trained. So, one Sunday afternoon, I attended a service at the local Kingdom Hall to see how they were trained.
When I arrived at the service, the leader was asking Bible questions and the members of the congregations were giving the answers. From the way one teenager answered with such detail and confidence, it was obvious that he was simply repeating word for word what was written in the Watch Tower literature. They were not studying the Bible at all, only what the Watch Tower literature said about the Bible.
Next, a member got up to teach on a Bible verse from the end of Revelation. After he read the verse, he began to teach how other churches interpreted the passage. I realized that he was about to accuse the other churches of false teaching on this verse. So I began to pray for him that the Lord would bind up his spirit so that he could not teach anything false or misleading but only what was true and right and accurate according to the Bible. As his words increased in volume and intensity, I could tell that he was about to condemn other churches for false teaching. Instead, he simply reread the Bible verse, made a closing remark and sat down. As he walked off of the platform, the befuddled expression on his face revealed that he had not said at all what he had planned to say.
God had honored my prayer that he not teach anything false or misleading, but only what is true and right and accurate according to the Bible. So I have prayed that same prayer for many people on many occasions. I prayed it for the Jehovah's Witnesses as they went to call on other people.
But, I also pray the same prayer for pastors and for missionaries around that world that I know. I do not want them to pass along false teaching that they have received. Some seminaries are not all that different from the Kingdom Hall. I recall when a seminary student from England visited the Bible college I attended and visited some of the classes. He was excited to discover that these classes studied the Bible, not what Karl Barth said about the Bible. Not that Karl Barth is completely wrong, but the Bible is so long and intricate that no one person or denomination can understand all of it perfectly. Depending on one authority or source is bound to lead to misinterpretation of some portion of the Bible. A better approach is to study the Bible first, then consider how different authorities interpret it.
I also pray the same prayer for myself as I teach my Sunday school classes and as I write these meditations and Bible studies, so that I can accurately teach what God says. But do not just take my word for it. Follow the example of the people of Berea. "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11 NIV)
The best defense against false teaching to to have a thorough knowledge of the Bible. A good way to start is by reading The Bible Story, an eight page summary of the main characters and events of the entire Bible. Then learn about Jesus by reading the Gospels. The Gospel of Mark is the shortest and easiest to read so it is a good place to start. After reading the Gospels, read the rest of the New Testament, then the Old Testament.
If you have questions or comments, please email me.
© 2003-15 Rodney A. Smith
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