Charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. – 2 Timothy 4: 1-4
A hunger for knowing the things of God is great, but sometimes in our desire to know Jesus, we end up confused by teachers who are not ordained by God.
As someone who’s fallen into this a lot over the last couple of years, I want to share some things that I have learned.
We are told to be careful not to fall for false teachers, but how do we know whether a teacher is sent by God or has appointed himself or herself wrongly? Most every Christian can see this in one way or another – and many of us think that our particular view or denomination is right, or at least right enough to satisfy us. Maybe we already understand the problem with things like the prosperity gospel or the corruption of mega churches. Maybe we point at this denomination or that and think, “boy are they confused,” not realizing that we are confused too, just in a different way.
From what I’ve seen, as far as denominationalism goes at least, every group has a grain of truth mixed with a deadly lie. All are wrong in some way. Why is that? Well, that’s a discussion for another time, really. But, generally speaking, it’s because it’s God’s plan.
What do we base our decision on when we pick a church or teacher? Are we looking to hear doctrine that appeals to our lifestyle, or do we want to know the truth so we can know Jesus? Maybe we just go with what we were raised in and are comfortable with. There are countless influences that affect this decision for us. I want to encourage you to stop and think about this. What are your reasons for going to church or seeking a bible teacher? Do you really have a love for the truth, even if it might fly in the face of everything you think you know? Even if it means being shut down by everyone around you? Do you love Jesus enough to seek who He really is, instead of worshiping an idol that carries His name in vain? Sadly, that is what many of us worship. It isn’t God, it isn’t the real Jesus, and it is all in vain.
But, this is actually a digression from the original intention of this post – and that is to draw attention to:
false teachers that are outside of the traditional churches
Before I get into this, take comfort that Jesus said that his chosen would be deceived “if possible,” which to me implies that we cannot be deceived, at least not forever.
When you go looking for teachers who condemn mainstream Christianity, you might find a variety of flavors – each taking one singular truth, and adding their own brand of corruption. At first, when you hear them write or speak of the corruption of churches, the fact that Jesus can heal us from sin, and the necessity of the Holy Spirit, you might think, “this is great! Someone else who says the truth!” But, then as you learn more about them, you see a kind of malignancy that sticks out like a sore thumb.
[I originally wrote examples of these teachings, but decided against it for fear that it would lead someone down a wrong path of thinking]
On top of that, we are taught that we will know the true and false teachers by their fruit – a test that I’ve seen work time and time again.
Most who teach holiness and the Holy Spirit show that they are fallen for some kind of delusion, and all that I have seen claim to be prophets ordained by God. The first (false) one I encountered, I wanted to believe was a true teacher. I wanted to believe in one of the things taught, even though it went against the teachings of my original bible teacher who God led me to in answer to a prayer. We emailed back and forth a little, and after discovering a disturbing claim made by this person, I withdrew. But not before trying to understand where they were coming from. In the end, I stated that I could not believe that this person was true, and he actually said to me something like, “even if we were to show you signs and wonders, you would not believe.” Are you kidding?
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. – Mark 13:22
Some claim they can heal people, hear from God directly, and seem to “just know” a lot of things. I have spent time online with several others, each with their own flavor of pride and false teaching – all while claiming to be a Holy Spirit led prophet of God.
All this is disturbing, no doubt. But, like Jesus said, we would be seduced “if possible.” But, He also says,
For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? – 2 Corinthians 2:15-16
To those who are not of God, the truth has a flavor of death, while to those who know Him it is the flavor of life. So, do I feel a sense of malignancy from these teachers because I am among the deceived? I suppose it’s possible. Of course, we all think we are the ones who are right.
Through all this, there has only been one teacher I can keep going back to and refer others to with complete peace of mind and Spirit, and that is the one listed on the contact/resources page, and I have no more desire to look for others. Is this because I am holding to my own traditions? I suppose you’ll have to be the judge of these things, which brings me to the final point of this article:
If you take one thing away from Kindling Truth, I hope it is the understanding that false teachers abound, and you must work out your own salvation by seeking a personal relationship with Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him, and you will be full of light. There are so many out there who are created to deceive and destroy, and it’s reasonable to expect this to continue to worsen and get even more seductive. But, also take comfort in knowing that God is in control, and He will lead you to the light if you seek Him in Truth and aren’t looking to Jesus for your own selfish reasons – if you aren’t appeasing itching ears that want to hear pleasant words that justify things that are against God.