As I am reading through Paul’s epistles to the early churches, one of the themes I see over and over again is the warning against false teaching.  Often it is in reference to the increase of false teachings as the end times approach, but it is a general warning for all times as well.

After my first son was born, I went through a lengthy period of time where I battled postpartum depression.  I was awake many, many hours during the night with a premature baby who needed to be fed regularly, but did not wake easily.  As my husband snored beside me, I would turn on a Christian television station.  God used the programs on that station to lift me, and remind me of His constant presence with me.  Yet I was bothered by the extreme flashiness of the shows and the people on them.  The jewelry they wore looked large enough to tip people off their feet.  The rings alone certainly had to weigh enough to make lifting their hands in praise to God a literal work-out!  The furniture was covered with gold.  It was a virtual paradise!  Perhaps they were broadcasting straight from heaven itself!  They obviously had plenty of money, but still they would plead for more to support their ministry and their missions.  I’m sorry, but are you kidding me?????  Sell your jewelry and your fancy furniture!  Use something more practical and you won’t need to beg for so much assistance…is our money even going towards a ministry and mission?  Or is it going to line your pockets and create a life of ease for you?  Where is your heart?

In 1 Timothy 6:3-10 (NCV) Paul warns Timothy to watch for those who teach things that are against what Christ taught and use them to become rich.  “Anyone who has a different teaching does not agree with the true teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that shows the true way to serve God.  This person is full of pride and understands nothing, but is sick with a love for arguing and fighting about words.  This brings jealousy, fighting, speaking against others, evil mistrust, and constant quarrels from those who have evil minds and have lost the truth.  They think that serving God is a way to get rich.  Serving God does make us very rich, if we are satisfied with what we have.  We brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out.  But, if we have food and clothes, we will be satisfied with that.  Those who want to become rich bring temptation to themselves and are caught in a trap.  They want many foolish and harmful things that ruin and destroy people.  The love of money causes all kinds of evil.  Some people have left the faith because they wanted to get more money, but they have caused themselves much sorrow.”

God taught me this lesson long ago.  While He used that “Christian” television station to comfort me, there was always a question about their true faith, and their motives.  I am grateful that God allowed me to discern the falseness in their teachings.  It is vital, especially today as we see the time of Christ’s return upon the horizon, that we cling to our Bibles and seek the wisdom and discernment of the Father when it comes to the teachings we are exposed to.

I listen to Christian radio a lot during the school year when I drive from school to school, some more than an hour away.  I am always cautious of what I am hearing.  I weigh it against what I know of God’s Word, and what He has taught me through the Spirit.  If I hear something that is suspect, I take the time to check it out.  I look in the Bible for verses that support what was being taught, and I pray.  When I hear consistent false teachings from a radio pastor, I turn them off!!  And I don’t go back!  I do not want to open myself up to teachings that would lead me astray.  I must guard myself with the “belt of truth,” the “shield of faith,” and “the sword of the Spirit!”  I expect you to weigh my words in the same way.

Be careful, too, of the specifics of the false teachings.  Is it a particular Bible verse that is taken out of context, but still teaches truths that align with the teachings of Christ?  Then perhaps it is a simple matter of the teacher misunderstanding the leading of the Holy Spirit.  These times happen to us all because no one understands fully the entire truth of the Scriptures.  We learn as we go, and as the Spirit reveals those truths to us.  Are the false teachings occurring consistently?  If this person teaches falsely on a regular basis, it is time to shut them off.  They are not led by the Spirit, and so the teachings are not of God.  How serious are the infractions?  Recently I learned of a prominent teacher who has declared that Jesus quit being the Son of God when He took on our sins.  This is huge!!!!  That would mean that He was not God, that the Trinity became a duo, that Jesus, as God, ceased to exist!  Uh-uh!  No way!  I don’t care how many other good teachings this person gives.  This is major, and I will not open myself up for more.  Finally, what are the motives of the teacher?  Is there evidence to show that their heart is to follow God’s leading and not a personal desire for fame or fortune?  Be careful!  Use the noggin God gave you, with a healthy dose of His wisdom and discernment, and the Bible and Holy Spirit as fact-checkers.  God doesn’t want you to be led astray.  If you seek Him, He will guide you on the right paths.

One additional note for those who are, or have been led to believe that becoming a Christian will automatically bring you into a life of wealth and abundance.  You are being deceived!  This is a false teaching!  God never promised wealth and abundance in return for your belief in Him!  He promised forgiveness of sins, salvation from eternal damnation in hell, and eternal life with Him in His glorious presence.  If you look back at the passage from Timothy that I copied above, you will see that Paul says the richness we have in serving God is being satisfied with what we have.  If we have food and clothing, and are satisfied, then we are rich.  Choose to believe in and serve God for HIS promise of eternal life, not for a man-made deception of earthly wealth that will decay, and be left behind when we leave here.

May God bless you, and guide you to His truths today!