Are there any old movie lovers out there? Raise your hand! I was raised on the glitz and glamor of “Old Hollywood”. Due to that, I was so sad to hear that Debbie Reynolds had passed away last week. Singing in the Rain was one of my favorite movies growing up. I loved the flapper costumes, the dancing and music and the glimps into the era of talking picture development.
If you have never seen the movie, let me quickly catch you up. The story line is largely centered around the transformation from silent pictures to talking pictures in the late 1920s. The big actress of the day was unmatched in silent pictures, but her voice was, shall we say, less than desirable, so exposing her in a talking picture would ruin the movie experience and her reputation as an outstanding actress. To solve the problem, it was decided that they would still allow their star act in the talking picture, but her speaking parts would be done by another woman’s voice. Basically, it was like lip syncing. One person was in front of the audience moving their mouth while the words were coming from another person behind a curtain. However, the viewer believed that the voice they heard belonged to the person they saw. They were being misled.
Has this situation ever happened to you in your Christian walk? You were looking at a man or woman of God, but the words coming out of their mouth were not God’s words. These people come to you claiming to be God’s messenger, but their message did not come from God. These people are known in the Word as false teachers.
It is so important that we learn to identify false teachers among us in order to protect ourselves and others from confusion, deception and lies.
How can we learn to recognize an authentic messenger from a fake one? I would like to share a few verses and some direction with you.
Does the teacher present the scripture within context? A preacher was delivering a sermon based on Psalm 37:4- Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. He said,” I can get drunk as often as I want! But because I find my delight and joy in God, I do not want alcohol. My desire is Him.” Then he laughed and said, ” I hope that no one pulls a sound bite out of this sermon or it will look like I am boasting being a drinker!” His congregation erupted into laughter because they knew the true heart of their pastor. However, he had a point. If anyone was to hear just that one sentence, they would have a completely different understanding of things. The same thing can be done with the Bible. It is important to not just take a few words or verses out of a chapter. Include the back story to guarantee that the content of the verse is kept completely within it’s intended meaning. Otherwise, we are at risk of being misled. I Thessalonians 5:21.
Does the teacher share from the Bible? This is not true in my church, but I am hearing of more and more Christian speakers and pastors not preaching from the Word. Yes, they are sharing about the things of God and are referring to Biblical scenarios and people, but they are not preaching from a well studied and prepared standpoint. God directs His shepherds down a methodical, organized and Biblically based path. For instance, you may be able to share several names, dates and details about World War II but does that automatically make you a history teacher? Have you been taught and directed with the correct message to share with students on the subject or have you merely designed a lesson of your own making and you expect it to be taken at face value? Ezekiel 13:6
Are all parts of the Bible being taught? “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. II Timothy 4:3-4. What a serious mistake this is. It is a disadvantage to God’s people to only talk of God’s mercy, grace, love and blessings. Yes, God does freely give us all of those gifts, but we are not our own. We have been bought with a price. As a servant of God, we must behave as servants. We have been given a free will, but should use our free will to choose surrender ever day. If topics like surrender, pride, consequence of sin, greed, sacrifice and rebellion are being avoided, it would be wise to really examine the teacher. He would be doing his congregation a huge injustice by only teaching on the feel good parts of the Bible. People need to be taught and reminded often about how the negative effects of quenching the Holy Spirit or the instruction to not allow bitterness to root in their hearts or that they are responsible to share the Gospel with others no matter how superior their lifestyle may be. Topics like these can step on some toes, though, so we find pastors and teachers picking and choosing which parts of God’s Word best suits their listeners.
So what is the best way to avoid being misdirected by one voice when you think that you are hearing the direction of God? Listen to the Holy Spirit. Pray for wisdom. Read your Bible to confirm what you have been taught. Do your part to protect your heart and mind from a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is a crazy world that we live in and there is an audience for all kinds of messages. Make sure that you are always sitting under the teaching of a messenger anointed by God. Sadly, the false teachers in our world are simply unfilled vessels.
These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. II Peter 2:17
Make a point to say a prayer for your pastor or Sunday school teacher this week. Their jobs are not always easy and there is nothing the enemy would live more than to derail their ministry.
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