“…always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7, ESV)
This context identifies men and women who flit from one false teacher to another
With all of the false teaching and the seemingly demise of solid biblical teaching how does one determine between the real and the false? The Apostle John was well aware of this danger even in his day. His response is can be found in his first epistle, the fourth chapter and verse one:
“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, ESV)
Being a Christian is not a license for gullibility. The attitudes, actions, and advocacies of these false teachers can be “tested” by a number of tests to see if their doctrine and conduct line up with the Word of God.
Allow me to suggest at least three tests to apply to Spiritual Teachers and their doctrine:
First Test – Love for God
1 Corinthians 8:1 says, “But if anyone loves God…” Remember the old saying, “to know me is to love me?” To know God is to love God. It is unstoppable and natural response. The more we come to know God and His character the more we will love God. A believer cannot know God without loving God. Believers love God because of the glory of His very being – because of who and what God is.
False teaching or doctrine will command a love for the false teacher or for oneself, or for the things of this world.
Second Test – Character Produced
False knowledge actually causes the recipient to become proud. The Apostle Paul warned the Corinthian believers that, “”…all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffs up – to inflate, to blow up, to swell up, or to become proud – but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1)
The true teaching of the bible builds Christ-like character. False teaching builds or develops character equivalent to that of the Pharisees.
Third Test – Zeal for Holiness
Jesus Christ was horrifically crucified on the cross. He was made to be a curse on behalf of sinners. God the Father imputed our sin to His own Son. He hurled the full force of His wrath and fury against His own Son as He bore the penalty for sin. God did not sacrifice His own Son to merely provide a “fire insurance policy” for your soul. Forgiveness of sins, the hope of heaven, streets of gold, and “mansions over the hillside” are not the immediate reason for salvation.
We read, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son…” (Romans 8:29, ESV)
We also read:
“But we all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory…) 2 Corinthians 3:18)
The Apostle Peter wrote, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it its written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16, ESV)
When you apply the test of holiness to your teachings, do they lead you to pursue holiness? False teaching or knowledge leads us to pursue sensuality. False teachers and false teachings are known by their drive to pursue the passions or appetites of the flesh.
Naturally one can develop a far more extensive lists of tests to determine the validity of truth or the exposure of lies. Let's start simple and begin with these three.