Today’s blog will simply start with scripture.
“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth,imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” 1 Tim 6:3-5
It’s easy to simply throw the “false teacher” tag onto anyone who disagrees with us. But sometimes that is exactly who they are. If they only disagree with you, this may not be an accurate title. But when they disagree with scripture, the title is fitting.
So, when someone challenges or questions an interpretation of scripture… how do you know if they are simply seeking knowledge and teaching or are themselves a false teacher, spewing a false gospel?
While some may be given the gift of discernment, others of us are left to analyzing their tone and style to determine their motive. Paul is giving Timothy some excellent advice that we all can benefit from. “He has an unhealthy craving for controversy”
I had this shocking experience recently when I began having theological discussions with what I first believed was a brand new christian. It wasn’t the depth of the questions that enlightened me to his true title. After all, he was a philosophy major. However the tone of the conversation changed when I challenged him to focus on scripture and not put as much emphasis on other extra biblical writers.
Instead of seeking knowledge, this man was seeking to influence others to a false teaching. He asked me where it says in the Bible that the Bible has the ultimate authority. (Never mind the irony of someone who is challenging such authority to ask that question in the first place.)
So I provided a few verses to choose from.
- Deut 4:2 – ‘You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it’
- Deut 12:32 – ‘Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.’
- Prov 30:5-6 – ‘Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar’
- Gal 1:6-12 – (9 quoted) ‘As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed’
- Rev 22:18-19 – ‘I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book’
Now, a man seeking knowledge may ask for more clarification or information, but a false teacher cannot combat the scriptures. We must test the spirit of the person asking such questions.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error” 1 John 4:1-6
If you keep the Word fresh in your, you will be able to test and discern false teachers.