10 Cautions for Christians Who Download Sermon Podcasts

10 Cautions for Christians Who Download Sermon Podcasts

“I really like listening to her podcasts. I don’t know what it is, but when she talks she really makes me feel better about life,” Kara shared in her social media comment.

Kara went on to encourage others to follow the podcast as well. Later that day, an older woman pulled Kara aside to question what exactly she was learning from the well known podcaster’s sermons. Kara began to list a number of ways the sermons gave her warm feelings and hope for all the prosperity God wanted to bestow upon her. The older woman stopped her mid sentence, “You have repeatedly described how the sermons made you feel. You have not once mentioned what biblical principles you have learned from the podcasts.”

The older woman continued, “The Bible warns us not to be silly women tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.” She then kindly and graciously cautioned Kara to be more discerning about where she looked for theological insights.

What about you? Do you relate to Kara’s story? Are you careful when you listen to teachers online? Realizing that the Apostle Peter warned how there will arise many false teachers among us, do you ask God for wisdom to discern their doctrine? Let’s look at 10 cautions to consider before you download sermon podcasts.

  • 1. Does Their Message Adhere to Sound Doctrine?

    1. Does Their Message Adhere to Sound Doctrine?

    2 Peter 2:1 warns, “There will be false teachers among you who will secretly bring in destructive heresies…” Don’t assume that everyone who uses Bible verses to support their points is necessarily teaching truth. Satan is a deceiver whose common practice is to confuse people with a little bit of truth wrapped around a lie. 

    Remember Eve in the garden? Satan used God’s words to lure her into his cunning deception. The Apostle Paul shared this same concern over his beloved church in Corinth: “I fear lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). You have to know truth to be able to discern truth.


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  • 2. Do They Have a Huge Following?

    2. Do They Have a Huge Following?

    There are good teachers with large audiences, so don’t shy away from those who teach sound theology. In regards to false teachers, however, Peter warns, “Many will follow their sensuality and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:2).

    It is tempting to think God must be blessing someone’s ministry in view of their large audiences. But take to heart Peter’s warning that many will flock to listen to teachers whose messages appeal to their senses. 

    Remember when Jesus rebuked the people who asked Him for a sign? They were looking for sensation rather than truth. Jesus did not embrace the false faith of those who only wanted a sign. He knew their hearts and He did not entrust Himself to their attraction to spectacular signs. Jesus said, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign” (John 6:2, Matthew 16:4).


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  • 3. Do They Teach That God Wants You to Be Wealthy, Healthy, and Prosperous?

    3. Do They Teach That God Wants You to Be Wealthy, Healthy, and Prosperous?

    The Apostle Paul warns, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers” (2 Timothy 4:3).

    It is human nature to want a life of ease and comfort. So any teacher can easily draw a crowd if he or she tells people God wants them to be rich and healthy. However, prosperity teaching does not reflect the God of the Bible. For example, the Apostle Paul gave up everything to serve Christ, and God refused to heal him when he asked. Consider Paul’s perspective: “Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).


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  • 4. What Is Their True Motivation?

    4. What Is Their True Motivation?

    Beware of teachers who deceive followers into sending them money, promising they will receive financial blessings from God. My heart aches when I hear wealthy, false teachers seducing the widow to send her last mite in hopes of financial gain. To those false teachers, I say shame on you––and beware, because you yourself are being deceived into thinking you are serving God (see 2 Timothy 3:13).

    Recently I stumbled across a certain preacher who told stories of how people had planted “seed money” into his ministry so God instantly made them wealthy, or miraculously provided for their needs. Podcast after podcast he preached similar messages while tearfully pleading to his audience to send him money, all the while bragging about how God had miraculously provided him with expensive suits and automobiles. Please know that this man’s gospel is a false gospel and that his words are from Satan himself (see 2 Corinthians 11). 


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  • 5. Do They Point to Christ?

    5. Do They Point to Christ?

    Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16).  A godly teacher understands the power of the gospel and realizes there is no hope for anyone who does not surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

    Any other message about Jesus is a perversion of the true gospel. Listen to Paul warning not to put up with “He who comes preaches another Jesus… or if you receive a different spirit…or a different gospel…” (2 Corinthians 11:4). 

    Realize that true teachers will preach salvation not by works, but in repentance and surrender to Christ alone. Their message will not be watered down by the world’s philosophy, nor will they lead you to believe good works will get you into heaven. 


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  • 6. Is Their Goal "Unity at Any Cost"?

    6. Is Their Goal "Unity at Any Cost"?

    Unity among all churches sounds like a noble cause; however, not all churches adhere to sound teachings of Scripture. Working to unite with any church that claims the name of Jesus–without discerning doctrines that don’t align with Scripture–will result in a watered down gospel. This will sneak into our churches false followers of Christ who will stir up trouble in congregations. 

    Consider Jude’s description: “While they feast with you without fear…These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage…sensual persons, who cause divisions…” (Jude 12,16,19). 

    While there are various denominations who preach the true doctrines of Christianity, you would be wise to study Scripture so that you can discern and avoid any who are preaching a different gospel. 


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  • 7. Do They Address Sin?

    7. Do They Address Sin?

    A godly teacher will teach through the precepts of the Bible, challenging people to forsake their sinful tendencies in order to wholeheartedly follow Christ.

    I’m not talking about a person who preaches hellfire and brimstone every message, but one who systematically teaches through the Bible, challenging listeners to adjust their lives to truth.

    Sometimes the message will be a call to repentance, other times a challenge to forsake all to serve Christ. Learning to live godly in community and selflessly love God and others will also be taught. But beware a good teacher does not teach the world’s philosophies while attempting to attach random scriptures to support their points.


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  • 8. Does Their Private Reputation Match Up to Their Public Life?

    8. Does Their Private Reputation Match Up to Their Public Life?

    Jesus said, “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart” (Matthew 15:18). Beware if a person’s character in their private life does not match up to what they present themselves to be in public. 

    When my son’s friend asked him if his pastor-father was the same person at church as he was at home, we were relieved to hear our son respond with the affirmative, “Yes, my dad’s the same guy at church as he is at home.” 

    Hypocrisy in a teacher is a red flag not to be ignored. While realizing a godly teacher cannot live a perfect life, you should still expect them to live genuinely reflecting Christ’s character in the pulpit and at home. 


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  • 9. Do Others You Trust Recommend This Teacher?

    9. Do Others You Trust Recommend This Teacher?

    Whenever I walk into the house of a woman and see a book on her coffee table that is written by a false teacher, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. I want to grab the book and pore over each page to show her how the teaching of the author is unsound.

    In this day, teachers who preach a false gospel can appear larger than life. Their thousands of followers, ornate buildings and slick polish can easily convince listeners that God is blessing their ministry. 

    Before you subscribe to podcasts or regularly listen to specific teachers, you would be wise to ask your pastor and other trusted godly mentors if they have heard of the teacher and what they think of their doctrine. You can also look to see what other well known godly teachers have to say or if they associate with the person and their work.


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  • 10. Are You Preparing Yourself to Discern Truth?

    10. Are You Preparing Yourself to Discern Truth?

    Ephesians 4:14 says we “should no longer be children tossed to and fro…with every wind of doctrine…” Are you easily swayed by teachers whose messages make you feel good? Realize that if you’re not regularly being washed with the water of the word, you are in danger of becoming a “silly woman” who is easily led astray by people with flowery words (see 2 Timothy 3:6). 

    The Bible instructs anyone who lacks wisdom to ask of God and He will give it to you abundantly. Make a habit of asking God to guide you with truth to help you discern godly teachers. Additionally, it is beneficial to regularly attend a church that teaches good theology. Attempting to replace church attendance with podcasts is not in accordance with God’s plan for you to be taught and shepherded by a pastor.

    Finally, take to heart Paul’s instruction to Timothy: “Study to show yourself approved unto God…rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (see 2 Timothy 2:15-19). There is no shortcut for feasting on the Bread of Life. Listening to good podcasts can be helpful, but they should never take the place of time you spend in God’s presence learning from Him through Bible Study and prayer


    Rhonda Stoppe is the NO REGRETS WOMAN. Rhonda is an evangelist who meets women at the point of their desperation and shows them the way to Christ. For more about Rhonda’s women’s evangelistic conferences watch this promo video. As a pastors’ wife, author, favorite radio guest and speaker with more than 30 years experience, Rhonda helps women discover significance and become more influential than they ever dreamed possible. To learn more about Rhonda’s messages or to book her for your next women’s event, visit her at NoRegretsWoman.com
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