"...elders of the church...
Take heed...to all the flock
...grievous wolves enter in...
...also of your own selves...
Believers, and especially elders, are warned repeatedly throughout the new testament to watch or take heed or beware of false prophets.
The questions are: who are we to watch out for? How are we to deal with false teachers?
What do you see from the Scriptures?
#1 "...grievous wolves..."
verses: Matthew 7:15-20 "Beware of false prophets" Matthew 7:21-23 They may look very religious "have we not prophesied in thy name?" 2 Timothy 3:1-7 "Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof..." Titus 1:9-11 "unruly and vain talkers and deceivers... whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole house, teaching things which they ought not" 2 Peter 2:1-2 "...there shall be false teachers among you..." 1 John 2:19 "They went out from us, but they were not of us..." Jude 4 "For there are certain men crept in unawares... turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness..."
These false prophets may appear like godly Christian men and women, creeping in unaware. These false prophets are people that do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
#2 "...of your own selves..."
In addition to the false prophets mentioned above, many believers were also teaching false docrines. We must be aware and watch out for them also.
Acts 20:30 Acts 15:1,5 1 Corinthians 15:12 2 Timothy 2:16-17 their message will spread like cancer 1 Timothy 1:19-20 Hymenaeus and Alexander may have been believers 1 Timothy 1:3-4 "that they teach no other doctrine" 2 Timothy 2:23-24 they generate strife Titus 3:9 avoid foolish disputes 1 Timothy 6:3 if anyone teaches otherwise...
The following verses can be applied to either believing or unbelieving people that are teaching false doctrines:
Titus 1:9-11 2 Timothy 2:23-26 2 Timothy 4:1-5 1 Timothy 1:3-4,19-20, 6:3-5,20-21 2 Timothy 2:16-18,23-26, 3:1-13, 4:1-5
Preach the word;we must handle all false teachers and doctrines by the word of God
be instant in season, out of season;
reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
2 Timothy 4:2
The following verses may help to spot problems early on. We must be very careful about who we invite in to fellowship with them, being that there are so many warnings about false teachers creeping in unaware, and subverting whole household. Jesus said that we would know them by their fruit. A better way than just inviting everyone into the assembly, might be to meet with them one-on-one to discern what they really believe...to see if there is any fruit. The following verses are to help discern the fruit of the potential brethren.
Hebrews 3:13-14 We are to exhort one another daily. 10:24-25 Are they open to daily exhortation? Galatians 2:12,14 We often hear today "Judge not..." 1 Corinthians 14:29-31 Are they open to righteous judgment (John 7:24)? James 1:22-25 Are they doers of the word?
Are they open to rebuke?
Proverbs 9:8-9, 13:18, 15:31-33, 19:20, 28:23 2Timothy 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:12
Are we all looking at the same thing?
What is our faith based on: another man's beliefs, or the word of God?
Romans 4:21 We can all have fellowship if we are looking to the word of God Hebrews 11:1,6 Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp... 2Peter 1:19-21 "We have also a more sure word of prophecy..." Hebrews 3:7->Psalms 95:7-11 Harden not your heart...
Amos 3:3 "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Ephesian 4:1-6 Endeavor to keep unity Hebrews 13:17 "Obey them that have the rule over you,... for they watch out for your souls, as they must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief:"