In recent years, many false teachers have been given platforms that once did not exist. False teachers have always existed, nothing new there. We read how Peter expounds on the issue in 2 Pet. 2:1-3, “But false prophets also rose among the people…” as he sets to warn the church of destructive heresy.
However, in today’s media-driven culture, we have no shortage of venues that may receive our gaze and our ear. I, like so many, love a good teacher of The Word. I find myself drawn to teachers like Albert Mohler, John MacArthur, and H.B. Charles Jr. They preach and teach with great integrity and humility, falling into submission to God’s word.
Today, some among us who teach from equally-large platforms have distanced themselves from Scripture and lean more on application of their own good works, comfort theories and YouTube views.
Luke 5:32 and Matt. 4:17 tell us that Jesus came to call people to repentance, belief, purity and obedience. In fact, our Lord’s teaching ministry would embody these disciplines. So, in light of many wolves today that are dressed like sheep, reducing our Savior and distorting His Word, I would like to offer three simple principles that can help us discern false teaching from teaching that is truly purified and sanctified by the Spirit of God.
///Know The Word of The Lord
It has been said that “your relationship with Jesus will never rise above the amount of time you spend in His Word.” This is pressingly true when it comes to the discernment of those who teach and preach.
The more knowledge and affection you have for the Word, the easier it is for you to identify sound teaching from false teaching. God’s Word is pure (Prov. 30:5-6); God’s Word is complete and sufficient (2 Tim. 3:16-17); and God’s Word is settled (Ps. 119:89). We must know, cherish and trust the Word of The Lord.
///Seek godly counsel
I am grateful for those in my life who have proven themselves faithful to the sound teachings of Scripture. When I have concerns or just want to have a healthy discussion, I can always trust that they have my best interests at heart.
You need those people in your life; people who have spent many years reading, trusting and teaching The Word. And our greatest consideration comes from the Holy Spirit, our guarantee for discernment. The Holy Spirit is committed to your discernment (1 John 4:1; John 14:26), and brothers and sisters in Christ provide sound counsel (Prov. 11:14).
///Examine the fruit
Jesus tells us in Matt. 7:17 that “every good tree produces good fruit…” We would be wise to remember that. We must see spiritual fruit being produced in those who teach.
Col. 1:10 tells us to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord… bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” The greatest fruit a teacher can produce is leading others to have great affection for Jesus and His Word. Ask yourself, do they boast in their ministry, their lifestyle, their compassion for others and their likeness to Christ? Is their way of living promoted or is the life of Christ and the apostles promoted?
Much is said about boasting in Scripture in James 4:16, Gal. 6:14, 1 Cor. 1:31, and 2 Cor. 10:17. Our fruit is for the glory of God, and that alone should be sufficient for all teachers and believers.
So, let us be found strong in faith, firm in our convictions, and fruitful in our ministry because we trust God’s word, seek godly counsel and rejoice in spiritual fruit.