I often get asked by my Bible study group or people that know I’m a Christian what I think of Pastor X on the TV or Pastor Y who has a large following. Sometimes, I get asked about prominent national Bible study leaders and whether or not I listen/like/follow them.
Coincidentally, those types of questions have been lining up with our current Bible studies. As we talk about false gospel or religion and heretical teachings, our group is diving into scripture to see what the Bible says.
Satan is always roaming around seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). One of his greatest tactics is to manipulate Christians. If he can get us to start interpreting scripture to meet our needs rather than the true context, he’s got a foothold. If he can push us into sinful pride of wanting people to hear US as opposed to God, he’s gaining ground. If he can mislead us we, in turn, can mislead others.
Because of that, the Bible teaches us that we shouldn’t be surprised at false prophets who are around us. 2 Peter 2:1 says, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”
It happened in Biblical times, and it’s happening even today. At least 180 Bible verses speak to false prophets and how they will distort the gospel and teach false doctrine.
The Bible also gives clear direction on what we are to do when we hear pastors/speakers/influencers. We are not to just accept what they say but rather look at it, read it, study it, and examine whether it is biblical. If it is not, we should reject that which is evil.
“Do not quench the Spirit, do not utterly reject prophecies, but examine everything; hold firmly to that which is good and abstain from every form of evil.” –1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
“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
One of the best ways we can recognize false teaching is to be in the Word. I’m not talking quick devotionals that give us a pick-me-up. I’m talking the in-depth study and understanding of God’s Word. We need to be taking time to dive into the Bible. It’s how God speaks to us. I used to say that I didn’t have time, that I was too busy. And then my pesky iPhone started giving me my weekly updates! Learning you’ve had 5 hours of screen time during the week is obnoxious! That’s time I could’ve stepped away from Instagram or Facebook or YouTube and spent time reading the Bible.
I would also encourage you to pray and ask that the Holy Spirit give you discernment as you prepare to hear one of these speakers. The Holy Spirit is one of our greatest lines of defense! We underuse Him, and the Lord gave Him to us after Jesus left so that we could have the Helper within us.
Dear friends, we live in a time where heretical teachings are prevalent. We must be on guard and aware of those false teachers so that we do not blind ourselves into walking down a path that allows us to stray from God! I pray that the Holy Spirit gives each of us the discernment we need to see God’s truth!