False Doctrine is Rampant.
I can recall when I first gave my life to Jesus and the overwhelming feeling of not knowing anything about Him. I wasn’t someone who was raised in the church; I did not come from a religious family. Prior to my pastor, I came in contact with a lot of people teaching about Christ, yet differently. This surprised me. I had been under the impression that if someone called themselves a Christian, they believed and followed the same things. Unfortunately, you and I know this is not the case.
Doctrine is defined as a set of beliefs. Every time you visit or listen to individuals preach or teach they are presenting a doctrine. While we are all using the same playbook, it still baffles me that there is such a great contrast of doctrines throughout the Team (body of Christ).
The Bible tells us there are many voices in this world, none of them without significance (1 Corinthians 14:10). I have always been very careful about what I allow in my ears and eyes, and I recommend that you do the same. The Bible warns us that in addition to the doctrine of the Father (John 7:16), there are doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1) and commandments of men passed as doctrine (Matthew 15:9). If we are not careful, we can find ourselves believing and living a false doctrine.
Be Sober and Vigilant Against False Doctrine.
As your teammate, I earnestly desire that you be knowledgeable. Living as a Christian is not a beach stroll in paradise. It’s a battlefield. The Bible said in the last days there would be many false Christs and false prophets (Matthew 24:24). It is Biblical that we consider what and who we receive in the name of the Lord. Look around, anyone with a smartphone and wifi can pass themselves off as a leader in the Body of Christ and promote whatever they want. Many are teaching and preaching Christ in error.
Understand, all error is not intentional or derived from ill motives. Some error comes from tradition, ignorance, or misunderstanding. Nonetheless, this article is intended to sharpen you. It will help you to avoid false doctrine whether it is rooted in deception or just plain human error.
Now, I’m not encouraging you to walk around suspiciously and fearful of engaging with other teammates. Love all people, but love and be wise. Every new person does not have ill motives, but the reality is, some do. One notable group of people who handled this well is the Bereans.
Who Were the Bereans?
“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” – Acts 17:10-12
The Bereans were introduced to the Gospel by Paul and Silas. They were already Jews but had not come into the knowledge of Christ. They were fortunate to come in contact with two real men of God, but they still tested the doctrine of Paul and Silas. There are three key points that I notice when studying the interaction of Paul, Silas, and Bereans. They are great pointers that can be applied to our everyday life:
1. Paul and Silas Spoke Openly in the House of God.
One thing that I observed in this passage is that Paul and Silas came to the house of God. That is not to say that all people who come to the house of God come with the right intentions. Nonetheless, there is something to be understood through this. Jesus never went into the temples of other gods. Likewise, neither should we.
In addition, the doctrine that was preached was heard by all. They did not force their doctrine. This means they had permission. Be careful of people who do a lot of things secretly. Jesus did everything in the open (John 18:20.) There are only two things that we are to do in secret – alms and prayers to our heavenly father.
2. The Bereans Had a Ready Mind.
I love the term God uses in His Word. According to the KJV, the passage says a “readiness of mind,” not an open mind (Acts 17:11). I thought this was so profound. Because deception is very high, I would never encourage a teammate to have an open mind. An open mind urges you to receive what is presented, no matter the content.
I would, however, say have a ready mind, which means a mind that is prepared. In that place, you listen but also test. If it’s God, then you receive it.
Being a believer does not mean that we should be passive and gullible. In fact, the Bible instructs us not to believe every spirit (1 John 4:1). Discernment is key against deception.
3. The Bereans Searched the Scriptures.
The Bereans were very wise people. They searched the Scriptures daily, in order to confirm what Paul and Silas preached. This is one of the greatest pieces of advice I can give to anyone concerning deception. As a preacher of the Gospel, I find no offense in anyone searching the Scriptures behind my teachings. In fact, I encourage it. If you notice from this passage, it wasn’t what Paul and Silas preached that caused the Bereans to believe. It was the fact that they were able to see it for themselves. When people are able to experience God for themselves, it builds a solid faith.
SO, WHAT’S THE PLAY CALL?
Teammates, these practices are things that we must all live by. This world is filled with many people preaching in the name of our Lord Jesus. Sadly, the harsh reality is that although many people are preaching, not all the preachers are sent by God. Some are sent by the enemy and others by their own agendas. Nonetheless, if you desire to stay away from error, these are some things that can help.
Above all, The Spirit of Truth, which is the Holy Ghost, will guide us in all truth (John 16:13). Look for the witness of the Spirit when discerning a matter. He will convict and alarm us regarding false doctrine, when things are not right. In the same, He will give us peace and His approval when things are right. Even if it takes some time, God will reveal the truth in any matter.
I pray this helps you.