As I mentioned yesterday, error has been around as long as the church of our Lord. In fact, Jesus said, “False christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). Jesus also condemned hypocrites who would teach “as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7).
I do believe, as I wrote yesterday, that the church should be encouraged by the temporal nature of error. Yes, error has been around long before the days of Jesus; in the first pages of Scripture, we learn that Cain worshiped improperly, kings of Israel and Judah led their subjects into error, and Jesus combatted the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees. Yet, truth has always—and will always—triumph in the end. Even in the midst of damnable heresies spewed from Satan’s own mouth, the church can rest assured that the Lord will have the final say.
But, lest we be “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14), we need to make sure that we can recognize and keep ourselves from error. The best possible antidote for error is the Word of God itself.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). That “breathed out” Word of God is “profitable for teaching”—aka doctrine. I need no man-made creeds, no church manual, no interpretation from a well-respected brother; all I need is that Word of God which will make God’s child “complete.”
Anything I hear needs to be checked by that infallible standard. The Jews in Berea “received the word [Paul and Silas preached] with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The Bereans refused to accept the preaching of Paul and Silas as gospel truth without first examining that teaching in light of God’s infallible Word. If they examined the words of inspired men that carefully, should we not even give more care to checking the words of uninspired men?!
Many years ago, John wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). While the error John addressed is different from what is currently in the world, his words deserve attention—don’t believe everything you hear, but test what you hear, for many false teachers have gone out into the world. Spend time in God’s Word that you might identify error.