Discerning Truth From Error and Its Importance



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  • Discerning Truth From Error and Its Importance

    The Seven Lamp Stands in RevelationsThere is a great deal of confusion in the modern church about discerning error from truth, and where the Holy Spirit draws a line. When surveying the whole of Scripture, and specifically the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelations, if any error was tolerated in their teaching or those they accepted alliances with, they were given a warning, then the Holy Spirit (lamp stand) was removed if they did not repent.

    Much of what Paul wrote was admonition to the planted churches, but much of the essential content was about dissemination of removing false teachers from among them. He wrote in Galatians 5:9 and 1 Corinthians 5:6 “A little yeast spreads through the whole batch of dough.” Or as the New Living Bible interprets “This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!” Which Christ also taught in Matthew 13:33.

    Its meaning is, that the embracing of the errors which they had adopted was to be traced to some influence existing among themselves, and acting like leaven. That the doctrines thus infused into the churches, had spread like leaven, until the whole mass had become infected. We could also look at it as, 90% truth mixed with 10% error is disqualified. Evangelicals correctly label the Mormon's, Jehovah Witnesses, Seven Day Adventist cults, because they exemplify extra-biblical writings above and over the Canon of Scripture. While a larger portion of their teachings are accurate, an unacceptable degree of their teaching aggressively departs from sound doctrine, fully disqualifying them as approved of God. Sadly, many churches have slowly eroded and departed from sound biblical teachings, preferring methods and doctrines that enlarge the man while reducing the holiness of God.

    I Timothy 6:20-21 is a powerful study to grasp the dramatic importance of holding only to that which is pure, and discarding that which is false. Paul wrote "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge"-which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith." And again Paul wrote from Miletus to Ephesus a letter stating “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them." Peter joins in with his warning in 2 Peter 2:1 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies…”

    Charles Haddon Spurgeon "Prince of Preachers" stated “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather, it is the difference between right and almost right."

    The grave problem in today’s modern post-Christian society is the “ecumenical” stance of embrace anyone's message or persuasion despite any unbiblical position. "Don’t rock the boat" simply love everyone without questioning their beliefs, whereas love always wins. Which is the primary heresy of Rob Bell's philosophy, a “Purpose Driven” doctrine of a casual walk down the wide path, where nearly anything is acceptable as long as it does not morally conflict with others. In summary, there is a general attitude in the modern church that every form of teaching is acceptable, nothing should be called "false." In the name of "acceptance" and being non-judgmental, there is a general distaste for calling anyone a false teacher or false prophet, whereas to do so is an exhibition of not having a loving spirit. Which in fact is completely the opposite of truth. Who would stand by while a loved one walks into a burning building? However, if we can’t see the fire ourselves, then we are as blind as the one walking into destruction.

    "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." 1 John 4:1. If you have ever watched religious television you know it is common for a preacher to tell his audience that he has the Holy Spirit, or that God personally appeared to him and told him to do or say certain things. Apart from the Scriptures and not subject to any verification, we can be easily satisfied with the man or woman simply says "I have the Spirit." Consider what the apostle John says here: "Don't believe all people who say they have the Spirit." This is a prohibition from an apostle, and he says, "do not believe." We cannot simply accept anyone who claims they have the Spirit; we cannot carelessly allow our minds to slip under the influence of any spirit, which is what we do if we embrace a teacher propogating error. The only way to know is to test EVERYTHING against the Word of God.

    Many of today's church leaders are like the religious leaders of Jesus' day, who could tell the difference between superficial things like pleasant and stormy weather, but not between truth and error as we read in Matthew 16:1-3. Many liberal churches have relinquished biblical ethics and doctrine, a deep reverence and worship of God, repentance over sin, humility toward God and fellow believers, and a profound understanding of God's character and work. These combined compromises has resulted in a low-level commitment to holy living. The apostasy shows itself by being in love with world, the comforts, pleasures, and pursuits. In contrast, God calls all true believers to pursue perfect conformity to the absolute, holy standard of His Word. To be of a single mind, heavenward, not earthward. If we are going to live a holy life that pleases the Lord, it's essential that we become spiritually discerning.

    Spiritual discernment is the spiritually mature ability to separate divine truth from error. First Thessalonians 5:21 says we are to "examine everything carefully." That speaks of testing something to reveal its genuineness. We as believers are to evaluate everything we come in contact with to distinguish what is true and false, good and bad, or right and wrong. That can be a difficult task. Why? First, we are constantly fighting the sinful desires of our fallen flesh. Second, we face satanic deception. The devil is doing everything he can to confound and confuse us. Third, we are inundated with worldly influences that seek to overpower us.

    Opposing the world, the flesh, and the devil requires us to "hold fast to that which is good" (v. 21). We are to embrace wholeheartedly what is inherently genuine and true. We are also to "abstain from every form of evil" (v. 22). That means we are to separate ourselves from every form of perversion as though we were avoiding a deadly poison. Pastor R.C. Lenski correctly wrote, "The worst forms of wickedness consist of perversions of the truth, of spiritual lies, although today many look upon these forms with indifference and regard them rather harmless”. There is a growing spiritual slumber in the church, which makes us indifferent about separating divine truth from error, largely due to the lack spiritual discernment.

    One of the main causes is the believers weakening of doctrinal clarity and conviction. Many have only a shallow knowledge of God's Word because the institution has yielded the trade and skill of understanding it to people who are ill-equipped to do so. Christian counselor Dr. Jay Adams aptly wrote, "Self-styled 'experts' in psychology, sociology, and education who hold Ph.D.'s in their fields and Sunday school degrees in Bible pontificate on Christian teaching and life on radio and elsewhere, setting themselves up as spokesmen for God.... Their teaching and unskilled use of the Bible often bear little resemblance to what the Scriptures, properly interpreted, really say.” Because experience and emotion have been elevated above divine revelation, many who indentify themselves as genuine "Christians" have no biblical basis for doing so. Clearly, not everyone who mentions Jesus Christ necessarily knows Him.

    Ecumenical Christians stress that doctrine divides. That's true! If you set aside biblical truth and remain silent for fear of offending people, conflict and opposition will disappear, but so will some other gravely important things like truth, holiness, and God's definitions about Himself. Jude 1:3-4 says we are to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed ... who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." Diluting doctrine and replacing it with mystical conjectures ends up making things easier for those who stealthily seek to victimize those who are easily beguiled in the church.

    Some teachers and pastors have also failed to interpret Scripture accurately, and this is a growing trend at a disturbing level. That's because, for the most part, we have become indifferent toward God's Word. Christians today will chase the latest fad writer, reading books written by one person or another, all the while neglecting the Word of God from which pure truth comes. There are no books written outside the Bible that are sufficient to guide us wholly into truth. The Bible must be the primary study, and all other writtings must be considered secondary.

    Sadly, some teachers in the church are not trained to study God's Word and end up with a wrong theology. Some are trained, but opt to tell stories or mix man-made philosophies with biblical truth. Others are simply too lazy to interpret God's Word accurately for lack of research. Still others arrive at what they believe is truth by some mystical intuition, experience, or emotion. In addition, today's church has elevated nearly everyone to the level of "expert" in interpreting Scripture, because the standard for accuracy has plunged and few know the Scriptures sufficiently to properly expound or defend. Interpreting God's Word is an exacting methodical science and gift of God’s Spirit that requires a honed skill and a yielded heart to the Holy Spirit in constant repentance. Unless the believer's heart is yielded to the Holy Spirit, has sat under good teaching, is well-read, or has learned to interpret Scripture from someone who knows how, it's unlikely he or she will be able to interpret Scripture accurately.

    The late John Murray, Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, who died in 1975 said “The difference between truth and error is not a chasm but a razor’s edge.”

    While we often think error is a gross departure of truth, such that is blatant and unacceptable, Satan set the standard for deception in the garden. He spoke mostly truth, but skillfully weaved in lies to persuade the flesh to abandon the Spirit of God. Indeed, the difference between God departing error and truth, is often a narrow margin, almost indiscernible, but the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth if we are fully yielded to him.

  • #2
    Such an urgent and necessary reminder for the bride of Christ! It is very sad to see Christians around us who have engaged themselves in conversation with the world, the flesh and Satan himself and therefore see the Scriptures and God himself from a perspective that is totally at odds with the Scriptures. A godly perspective is and should always be contrary to what the world offers, it should go against our flesh and against the schemes of Satan. This is difficult to grasp for those Christians that do not separate themselves completely from what could contaminate them, so I agree with you 100%!


    • #3
      Very good teaching, If the head is sick then so is the body. Most of those who attend the modern Church have only a shallow knowledge of the Scriptures. The Leadership have taught and trained them to be disciples of men and not disciples of Christ. Because the standards they use are flawed then how can they recognise true from false. I sometimes wonder that those leaders who promote ecumenical-ism maybe just looking for bigger markets to peddle their products.


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