Week of: April 23, 2012 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharing by: Pam Crawford
2 Peter 2:1-3: “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachings among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies evening denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” (NIV)
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22: “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”
EXAMINING THE EVIDENCE
In the Book of 2 Peter and 1 Thessalonians, Peter and Paul are addressing professed believers. They were not only giving them guidance, they were warning them to be on guard against false teachings. Many people believe that false prophets can only be found within strange cults and other religions. The Apostles were warning that there would also be false teachers/leaders within the Christian church. “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:30)
When I first began my journey of exploring the Bible, I received a similar warning. At first I dismissed it until something inside of me began to stir. I was discovering things in the Word of God that appeared to be contrary to what I had been practicing/believing for pretty much all my life. After intense study and the seeking of wise counsel, I eventually challenged the leadership within my church with questions that were specific to the denomination’s belief system. The answers I received made me restless. After much prayer and quiet discernment, I made the decision to abandon some of what I had grown up under in order to better align my spiritual beliefs to what God instructs in His Holy Word. Someone once said to me “if it aligns, obey it; but, if after careful discernment you conclude that it doesn't, reject it.” It is my personal opinion that, that was wise counsel.
Friends, we all have to figure this “spiritual” stuff out on our own. My journey is not yours, it’s personal. My questions may not be your questions. In fact, God may not have you wrestling with your spirituality, religious beliefs, or denominational doctrines at all at this point. This devotion is not intended to be a point of debate. I am simply sharing what Peter and Paul did back in their day. I am encouraging those I care about to be on guard and to educate themselves under the authority of God’s Word. It is not my intention to disrespect what you believe, and I would also ask that you return that same respect to me.
A few weeks back I shared information regarding the different religions and cults in our midst. I hope you had an opportunity to check out that writing. I said that it was imperative that we not only understand what we believe, we have to know what others believe so we will not be misled. If we don’t know the Word of God, we might be tempted to believe anything that sounds good or makes us feel spiritual. Our relationship with God should be much more than a “feel good” experience on Sunday mornings. God expects us to engage Him and obey what He shows us. We can do this by reading, studying, praying for the ability to discern the Bible in context, and then living out what we discover.
False teachings are not limited to organized religion; we can become false teachers ourselves. For example, if I tell you that “you deserve to be happy so go ahead and leave your deadbeat spouse,” I would be misleading you on several fronts. First of all we don’t deserve anything. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Next, leaving your husband is something that goes against what God teaches. The Word says “God hates divorce” (Malachi 3: 16), so I would be leading you in a way that is false. We have to look at the practices of our faith in the same light. What does the Word of God say about things such as God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit? What is the Biblical view in regards to heaven and hell, view of Scripture, salvation, sacraments, baptism, leadership, membership and prayer?
For the sake of time, I will direct you to a publication where you could check out the many different denomination views for yourself www.rose-publishing.com. I found this to be quite fascinating.
The following is a link to www.gotquestions.org. Their ministry in their own words “is to present what the Bible teaches on various topics. It is not our purpose to attempt to persuade you that all of our views are correct. We have presented what we believe to be truth.”
I have personally found gotquestions.org to be particularly helpful and Biblically aligned as I was challenged to explore some tough questions. If your denomination is not represented below you can search for it on their site. Be blessed.
1John4:1-6 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the anti-christ, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”
Life’s Application Commentary: “Some people believe everything they read or hear. Unfortunately many ideas printed and taught are not true. Christians should have faith but they should not be gullible. Verify every message you hear, even if the person who brings it says it’s from God. If the message is truly from God, it will be consistent with Christ’s teachings. False teachers are popular with the world because, like the false prophets of the Old Testament, they tell people what they want to hear. John warns that Christians who faithfully teach God’s Word will not win any popularity contests in the world. People don’t want to hear their sins denounced; they don’t want to listen to demands that they change their behavior. A false teacher will be well received by non-Christians. There are many ways to test teachers. One is to check to see if their words match what God says in the Bible.”
Additional Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:24-25, 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15, 2 Timothy 2:17, Romans 16:18, 2 Peter 2:1, 3 and Ephesians 5:6-7.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father Your Word is described in the Bible as a lamp to our feet. Turn on the switch Father for anyone who may have questions. Give them a sense of courage to ask their leaders questions in order to validate what they have been taught by man. Give them the ability to discern Your Word correctly so as to avoid being deceived. If there is someone who needs to make some changes in order to align to Your Word, give them a sense of peace and a boldness to be obedient to what you instruct. May we love and respect one another as we seek this wisdom individually. In Jesus’ Precious name we pray.
In Christ by faith,
“It takes a lifetime to grow to maturity. Some believers, however, don't seem to grow up at all. They get older, but their understanding of God's Word never goes very deep. This lack of godly wisdom is caused by ignorance of the Scriptures, apathy and complacency about spiritual things, and a failure to apply biblical truths. Discernment requires time and effort. You can't simply move through life, thoughtlessly reacting to situations yet never learning from them. Take time to reflect on your responses and observe the consequences of your actions and choices. If you feel convicted by what you notice, let that motivate you to begin a lifelong pursuit of the Lord and His ways.” – Dr. Charles Stanley
Open the Eyes of My Heart