When we prefer to honour man’s teachings rather than the Word
Many believers assume that whatever a world famous teacher says must be correct without carefully examining what he teaches—and the spirit behind his teaching. Many tend to say, “Whatever proceeds from this illustrious teacher must be correct, considering his far-reaching influence and the bountiful fruits of his ministry.”
However, we are instructed to test all things and hold fast to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
“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” (1 John 4:1).
Like the Bereans, we need to be diligent in scrutinising any teaching against the Word.
A spirit of independent inquiry a la the Bereans keeps us from being deceived by false teaching.
“And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth” (Acts 17:11).
Being open-minded means having a non-judgmental attitude as we process the teaching material—being willing to listen or study the facts of the matter without any pre-conceived ideas or prejudices.
It means we are NOT easily intimidated by any teacher, no matter how well-known, illustrious or respectable he or she may be. We cannot say to ourselves or others, “Coming from this great man of God, it must be right.” That is highly dangerous. That is NOT being open-minded. That is tantamount to prematurely forming our opinion before we have listened to and investigated the validity of the message. No one is free from error, no matter how great he or she is.
One of the hallmarks of a disciple is diligence in studying God’s word so that we are approved by Him—not put to shame on account of lack of in-depth knowledge of scriptures.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) NKJV.
“Study to show thyself approved to God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightlydividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) Webster.
When we are ill-equipped with the Word, we might fall prey to deception and be easily swept by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). Once we are well-prepared, we will be able to judge and discern what has been taught against scripture (1 Corinthians 2:14-16).
While we study the Word, the Holy Spirit grants believers spiritual discernment:
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12, 13, 15, 16).
Here are two examples of teachings from prominent leaders that clearly do not align with the Bible:
NO NEED TO CONFESS SIN
The teacher’s claim: After our one-time confession of sin at conversion, believers no longer need to confess our sins. When God looks at us, all He is going to see is Christ’s blood, not our sins whether it is past, present or future. We merely rest in the ‘imputed righteousness of Christ’.
JESUS SET ASIDE HIS DIVINITY WHILE ON EARTH
The teacher’s claim: Jesus operated only as a man and not God during His earthly ministry.
If you care to search this blog, http://bit.ly/1ijiXHp, you will find many other instances that demonstrate the extent to which believers are willing to honour man’s teachings rather than the immutable and inerrant Word of God.
But being on the side of the majority does not necessarily mean we are on the side of truth. http://bit.ly/19tAJX7
Why it’s easy to be fooled without realising you’ve been had
These three areas of deception are just as alive today as they were in the Corinthian church long ago.
EIGHT WAYS TO FIGHT FALSE TEACHING
How to develop discernment and escape the clutches of destructive heresies
Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (Dec 2008 – Oct 2011). He can be reached at his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AskDrLi
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