Three Dangerous Characteristics

by Pastor Kevin Sadler

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“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers…” (Titus 1:10).

Our Apostle Paul has nothing good to say in his epistles about false teachers. He states in this verse that there are “many” of them and that three of their most prominent and dangerous characteristics are that they are “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers.”

The first characteristic of false teachers is that they are “unruly,” which describes those who will not be ruled or made subject to authority. These kinds of men refuse to submit themselves to oversight. This is something for each of us to watch for in the Church: men who teach and preach, and who might go all over the place doing it, but having no accountability. By not submitting to authority, false teachers then oftentimes establish themselves as the authority and the sole source of spiritual truth for their followers.

We should beware of teachers who have titles of spiritual leadership but are accountable to no one who could remove that title or their position should they fail to honor it according to God’s Word. Even the Apostle Paul was accountable to the church at Antioch who sent him out on his journeys (Acts 14:26-27). No one, and no spiritual leader, outgrows the need for accountability in the Lord’s work.

The second characteristic of false teachers is that they are “vain talkers,” which refers to one who utters empty, senseless things. They talk and talk, and they’re good at it. They excel in talking but not doing; they are all talk but no action. Vain talkers are captivating, persuasive, and what they say impresses, but it has no real substance or foundation. As it’s been said, “You can always spot those who don’t teach the truth by the way they say absolutely nothing beautifully.”1

The third characteristic of false teachers is that they are “deceivers,” which literally means a mind-deceiver. The battle for the truth is the battle for the mind. Deceivers seek to control the mind, and they play mind games. They pass their error off as divine truth and cleverly disguise it, deceptively couching their teaching in spiritual terms. They even use the Bible to prove a point, but they twist Scripture or divorce verses from the immediate context or the dispensational context to teach what they want rather than what the Bible truly says.

All this reminds us that, to protect ourselves from the dangers of false teachers, we need to be staying close to the Scriptures and “Holding fast the faithful Word” (Titus 1:9).

1. Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2014), p. 313.

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