“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11, ESV)

I planted a small tree today, but I know it will never grow any taller or develop any fruit. Fertilizing and pruning won’t help it grow. It’s fake. I was tired of trying to keep something growing in an empty spot by my house. Then I had a crazy thought. I’ll buy a fake tree and place it there. Unless someone stands close or touches it, they will never realize the difference. It will look real—at least from a distance.

While my little deception with the fake tree (or faux as the ad read) is harmless, it caused me to think of the precautions I routinely take to protect myself from fraud. I have alerts on my credit cards, am cautious about clicking any online links, and screen calls from unknown phone numbers. I installed virus protection on my computer and a camera doorbell for home security. I realize how smooth some cons are, so I try to stay vigilant to protect myself from scams.

This same caution must carry over into my spiritual life. The enemy is a smooth talker and will use his wiles to deceive me if possible. Second Corinthians 2:11 (ESV) cautions us “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” Ephesians 4:27 reinforces this when it warns, And give no opportunity to the devil.” We know that he is a master scammer, so we must be on guard.

How do we separate spiritual truth from falsehood?

We must compare what we hear to the Word of God.

Truth is consistent. It never contradicts anything in Scripture but aligns perfectly.

  • “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus  Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.” (I Timothy 6:3-4, ESV)
  • “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9, ESV)

I recently heard someone say that what we do doesn’t really matter to God. He loves us regardless of our actions. Yes, God does love us, but that does not mean He condones our sins. Even though this person identified herself as a pastor, her words contradicted Scripture. I knew what she said was a false teaching.

“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him” (I John 3:6, ESV).

Titus 2:1 tells us, “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (ESV). Sound doctrine is healthy, wholesome, and safe (Strong’s Concordance). Healthy doctrine makes us spiritually strong and productive. False doctrine allows us to become spiritually weak. Like my faux tree, there will be no growth or fruit.

How can we distinguish sound doctrine from false doctrine? By immersing ourselves in the Word. That’s what Acts 17:11 tells us the Bereans did. They examined the Scriptures daily to determine what was truth. When we do the same, we will be able to recognize any contradictions between what we hear and what the Bible actually says.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15, NKJV)

Lord, help me to stay alert and watchful so I will not be deceived by false doctrine. Help me to recognize the tactics of Satan so he cannot deceive me and lead me astray. Give me understanding to rightly divide the word of truth.

Author

Mary enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and spending time with old friends. Although directionally challenged, she would rather take the back roads with their discoveries than the boredom of the interstate.

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