What does the church look like when Jesus is not enough?

The second group Paul addresses in the Ephesian church is a small group of people teaching false doctrine. They were inside the local body but not actually born again in Christ. Paul describes these false teachers and directly addresses Spirit-filled saints about how to recognize falsehood.


Thousands of Protestant churches are closing year after year. By reading Jesus' words to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, we can tell that the Spirit of God probably leaves places long before the people close the doors. We can avoid that end by addressing false teaching when it crops up. We know that Timothy addressed these issues well, because the Ephesian church was still in existence when John wrote the letters to the churches.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 offers a one-sentence comprehensive description of false teachers. They are filled with contamination and can do as much damage to a church as lead piping has done to the city of Flint, Michigan. God's people must recognize false teachers, address them by offering salvation through the true Gospel, and if they refuse to repent, ask them to depart from the church.


False teaching begins in small groups, which are easier to infect than the whole body. Any small group within a church needs qualified teachers, or they open the church to the danger of doctrinal insurrection.


False teachers present a "different doctrine," strange teaching that does not agree with the Bible. Specifically, it often begins with questioning the doctrine of Christ, His deity, and His words during His earthly ministry.

One telling sign of a false teacher is an ungodly lifestyle. Someone who is teaching proper doctrine and has truly made Jesus their Lord will show a change in their behavior. Take note of those who can speak eloquently but whose lives are characterized by sensuality. Jesus brings His light and love into a life and changes a person's character.


A false teacher is conceited, puffed up and "full of smoke." He may have a lot to say, but it is not worth anything. The same word described a danger of appointing untested men as pastors in 1 Timothy 3:6.

Mental Process

A person can understand nothing of God's Word if they don't understand Christ. Knowing who He is, why He came, what He's done, and what He demands is essential for teaching sound doctrine (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Morbid Influence

1 Timothy 6:5 describes the slippery downward slope that false teachers cultivate in God's people. They are skeptics, always asking questions but never giving answers, constantly arguing about words but not coming to a conclusion. This produces "envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction" among God's people.


The motive of these teachers is ultimately mundane. They are just after money. They want to split the church so they can be paid as pastors. They can tweak and nuance doctrine until they've gathered a crowd, which they can exercise to follow them out of the church. These teachers are never focused on the Great Commission, evangelism, or discipling people. They do not have the content heart of a pastor that Paul shows in Philippians 4:12.

Application Points

  • When Christ is accepted as Savior, He changes a life. The fruit of true faith and repentance is godly living. Does your life reflect godliness or worldliness?
  • The Bible repeatedly warns us about false teachers for the church's protection. Now we know what to listen for as under-shepherds of God's flock. The more a church is engaged in disciple-making, the less falsehood will be comfortable. When we recognize a hint toward false doctrine, we address the person in love out of concern for their soul.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 2 Peter 2:1-2 – Many in the church can be influenced by falsehood. This is why discipleship is so necessary!
  • Acts 20:28-30 – False teaching is possible in any church and any time.