For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4(NIV)
The ‘time’ that Paul warned his son in the faith, Timothy is here now. The first thing we need to address when it comes to discernment is our own innate desires to want to hear anything but the truth. The people Paul warned Timothy about, is you and me. We have a desire to want to hear things that we crave. In the Old Testament, God frequently sent His prophets to awake and warn God’s people to turn back to Him. What most (if not all) of the people did was go and find their own false prophets to tell them what they wanted to hear. They didn’t want to turn from their own ways. They didn’t want to hear what the Holy One of Israel had to say (Isaiah 30:11).
We’re a lot like those people God lead out of Egypt. The people who grumbled, rebelled, idolatrous, and who were prone to forget God and His commandments. God may not have led us out of a country, yet we can put our hand to the plow and look back (Luke 9:62). We may not eat angels’ food, yet we can fuss over God’s provision. We are just as likely to buck up against God’s authority, as they did often in the wilderness.
Too like our ancestors, there are shepherds around us that could care less about our souls. We need to be quite careful about what church we choose to attend, and what online sermons we listen to. There are men and women who aren’t rightly handling the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). Rather this is done intentionally or they just don’t understand the weight of the responsibility; is difficult to know. But what is known is that they are leading many astray, by the thousands, and even by the millions. These people usually have a significant reach, since their following is so huge.
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11
God has not left us to defenseless, we have His Spirit dwelling within us and we have Scriptures. We should be decided that no matter who is behind the pulpit, we will open our Bibles and see if what they are saying lines up with Scripture. It’s not wrong for us to have a natural skepticism toward any teacher of the Word. There is much at hand, our own soul. Spoken words have a way of dwelling in us, hours and days after they’ve been spoken. Are we allowing lies to dwell in us? Are we trusting mere man more than we trust God’s ability to reveal His nature and His will found in Scriptures? Are we believing that online sermons and devotionals exist so that we don’t have to read the Bible for ourselves? Are we satisfied with the insight and wisdom that someone else has gained through reading Scriptures? Are we replacing the word of Truth, for music, quick devotionals, and video sermons?
Child of God, the Bible is for you. It’s not only for a class or group of supposed ‘saved and sanctified Christians’. Don’t assign God’s seal to just anyone standing behind a pulpit. Don’t assume they have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. And, don’t forget Christ is the example you follow and the only standard.
There were many images of teachers and preachers that came to mind, while I was typing this blog. Yet, the purpose of this post wasn’t to expose those who I believe may do some of the Body, more harm than good. The purpose of this post is to awake/ invite/remind the people in Christ to use that beautiful mind they’ve been given. To guard their ears and hearts from unsound doctrine. And, to depend on the Holy Spirit to expose those whom He isn’t familiar with. To bring our favorite preachers and teachers to God, and to seek His counsel in prayer. And, to lastly dig into the Word for ourselves. And, not to depend on second-hand revelation and insight. What some of us have been guilty of is watching someone else bite into a burger and describe the taste on their tongues. Yet, God invites us to taste and see (Ps. 34:8).
Are we following certain preachers and teachers because we like their personality? Do we listen to sermons because the teachers are , ‘our friends in our heads’? Do we follow them because they are following Christ? Are we following them because we like what they post on Instagram? Are we downloading their sermons because we like their fashion style? Are we watching because they are ‘cute’? While these questions seem like things I would ask a bunch of teenagers and not the body of Christ. We are susceptible to following pastors and teachers for all the wrong reasons.
Do they stir up your affections for God? Do they consistently point you toward Him? Do they actually teach the Word? When they are behind pulpit are they mostly speaking about God or about themselves? Do they make the Word of God even more exciting? Do their sermons ever convict you to the point of repentance? Does their teaching make you understand a passage more than you did before? Does their preaching persuade you to pursue godliness?
Proper teaching simply explains what the Word says, and doesn’t add meaning to Word.
There are several ministries that self-exalting and not Christ-exalting. In other words, they have a lot to say about humans and not much to say about the Creator of them. Their sermons are designed to put the spotlight on us while pulling God out when we need His strength. They teach that God is perpetually a genie and not the sovereign Most High God.They not only malign the true meaning of Scripture, they ascribe false attributes to God.
When we believe the wrong things about God, it is quite hurtful. It takes a divine revelation and time to undo our false theology. False teaching can run rapidly like weeds in a garden. It does not only affect our beliefs but our communion with God. It can prevent true worship because worship of God requires truth. God often has to deal with this by cutting it at its root.
There was a time I thought being skeptical about teachers of the Word, was expressing meanness. Yet if false teaching can affect our hearts, shouldn’t we then guard ourselves with all diligence (Pro 4:23)? I believe and know that God is pleased when we are Bereans and we examine the Scriptures for ourselves. We are all called to teach the word of God on some scale, so God expects us to rightly understand His truth as well. There are many warnings and examples of false prophets/teachers in the Bible. You don’t need my blog or any blog on the web to give you advice on how to spot false teachers because you have God’s Spirit and His word. A concordance or a topical Bible study will be extremely helpful. And if you struggle with not having a desire to read the Bible, pray about it- consistently. A desire for the Word happens when we are praying about it. I can assure you that it is extremely rewarding.
Please, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And, stop by my shop and pick up some cute tees. Thank you for checking my little square of the Internet, be sure to follow and like. Thanks for reading and supporting my blog. I pray that it edifies you and glorifies God.