within the Body of Christ
Firstly, let me say that this article is in no means intended to criticize any one specific ministry, or individual. I believe that the majority of people who call themselves Christians, and minister in the name of the Lord Jesus, are desiring to be obedient to the Lord and witness the full manifestation of His power, anointing and Kingdom on earth. However, because of the enemies plan to divide and weaken the body of Christ many are teaching and following heresy in these last days.
2 Peter 2:1-3
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
I also believe that we must be extremely careful once we begin to discern false teachings within the body of Christ so as not to fall into the sin of self righteousness, and pride ourselves. The path of the true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is a walk of love, humility and unity, and it is indeed very narrow, as the Lord told us.
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
To walk in the truth, we must be wise and apply a keen eye to the fruit of individuals, ministries and teachings because the Lord warns us that there are in fact, false prophets in our midst, whose goals are to devour us.
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
In this current season of my life I am learning more about "Discernment Ministries" who seek to expose false teachings within the body of Christ. This entire topic is echoing something the Lord, Himself spoke to my heart back in March of '05 when He put the topic of false teaching before me and made me question the truth of the teachings from many well known ministries, including things I was seeing on television. I saw so much Scripture in what they were teaching, but that did not make it right in the Lord's eyes. He explained it to me like this:
There is a lifetime of study and application necessary to knowing God, learning about the sound words of Jesus Christ and about godliness, and our growing in the character of Christ. When we teach or study other things, we focus on the wrong things and those teachings lead us astray. For example, thinking that godliness is a means of gain is error. If we focus on godliness being a means, we in our human weakness are drawn into temptation that leads to ruin and destruction.
1 Timothy 6:3-10
If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
The next verse tells us what our goal is to be.
1 Timothy 6:11
But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness,
godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
This is the road that the Lord calls us to walk, and the traights He wants us to be saturated in. This comes by continually studying and learning about Jesus Christ and what was accomplished through His life, death and resurrection. Anything else will lead us astray.
In the apostle Paul's letter to Timothy, he was instructing him to remain in Ephasus to instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines. (1 Tim. 1:3) The same is applicable to us in the church today! We might even look at the church's practice of celebrating the pagan holidays of Easter and Christmas instead of the Feasts of the Lord (Lev. 23) where this entire topic is concerned. At this point, however, that's an entirely different article :). I'm just throwing it out there for food for thought.
Back to the topic at hand....
1 Timothy 1:5
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Swerving from these leads to vain discussion. (1 Tim. 1:6)
We're to have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths, but we're to train ourselves for godliness. (1 Tim. 4:7) Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds the promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Tim. 4:8)
Christ died to give us so much! The first thing that He did was to free us to see our ungodliness, and give us a way to walk in His godliness (through the power of the Holy Spirit.) Because we are at war with the flesh, and we have a very real spiritual enemy this is a life long battle.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Thank God, in Christ we have been given the victory!
2 Cor. 10:3-4
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
That is why the apostle Paul tells us to fight the good fight of faith, in 1 Timothy 1:18. Walking in godliness and holiness as children of God is warfare! Faith is a mighty weapon by which we wage war!
It is because of this life long battle that we must keep our focus where the Lord wants our focus to remain. He knows our fragility. He knows our vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Thankfully, He is our hope and our example.
1 Timothy 4:10
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God,
who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
God has called us, as His church, to shine His light into this world. We're to set an example in speech conduct, love, faith and purity. (1 Timothy 4:12) We're to keep a close watch on ourselves and the teaching that we share and listen to. By persisting in this we will save both ourselves and our hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)
In other words, the teachings that we believe not only affect ourselves, but those we're ministering to. That's a huge responsibility and that is why I am writing this article. We are responsible to lead people to Christ. We are responsible to lead people to the truth.
What is the truth?
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life!
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father but through Me.
I want to challenge you to look at the teachings that you are receiving in your life. Are they teachings that move you to walk more as Christ walked? Are they teachings that are solidly founded in God's Word, or are they suppositions of men? Are they teachings based on single scriptures vs. what all of Scripture teaches?
I pray that as you examine this in your own life, the Holy Spirit reveals the truth to you and in humility, and His power, you are able to repent and turn away from that which is exposed as false.
May we each be so saturated with the knowledge of our Lord and Savior that we will be able to discern in an instant if what we are hearing are the doctrines of God, or of men....so that we walk lives of godliness and be built up...
..until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children,tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.