Tuesday, March 10, 2015


The issue of relationships in connection with discernment and deception is important, because it goes to false christs, false apostles, false prophets, and false teachers, as well as our common everyday relationships at work, school and the marketplace.
Earlier, I talked of the fruit of the false prophets Jesus mentioned in Matt. 7:15-16a.

I tried to show how the things we normally call fruit seems to miss the mark.

One of those things is doctrine. We tend to think that false doctrine is bad fruit.

On the surface, that appears to be correct.

But, there are two things that we seem to demand from our pastor/teacher that keep us from recognizing actual error:
  • Doctrinal unity 
  • Doctrinal purity.
The second, doctrinal purity is a pipe dream, for none of us possess ALL the truth as yet. 

We may try as honestly as we know how to arrange our doctrine according to the Bible, but, in our humanity, we will most likely overlook some important point. That point may be in agreement, may be a balance, or may be a complete contradiction. That will not matter, though, if we have missed it in our preparation of building the doctrine.

The first, doctrinal unity, is an exercise in futility, for it demands that we all agree on everything; and we all know when that will happen.

The problem with these two is that we are quick to judge any doctrine we don’t agree with as false.

What we need is a better understanding of “doctrine.”

The simple definition of “doctrine” is ‘teaching.’ It is not necessarily the systematic, or systematized explanation of a particular theme such as the end times.

A single teaching (doctrine), given within the confines of the Sunday morning sermon, can be bad fruit.

This is the arena in which I find so many Christians woefully inadequate in their exercise of discernment.

The first two—doctrinal unity and doctrinal purity—have been shown to be less than desirable.

There is a third option, however, that I believe every person, educated or not, can demand from their teachers and exercise discernment as to its reality.

Scriptural Accuracy.

I define scriptural accuracy as presenting the sense that is obviously contained within the passage.

I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but with today’s preaching style of reading a verse and then talking about something, people no longer have the opportunity to truly get the sense of a passage.

For the most part, the pastor comes up with an idea of what he wants to talk about, goes to the Bible to find a verse or two to support his idea, and then he prepares his talk.

The following is an example from my own recent experience (summer 2015).

The preacher/pastor was upset with something that had occurred while he was away. (I will share the details in a future article)

He began by taking us to Acts 2 and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

He very deftly and quickly turned that powerful experience into something that “had to be harnessed before it got out of control.”

Later on during his tirade, he took us to Acts 19 and the story of Demetrius the silversmith, who was upset that Paul was getting people converted from their pagan worship. (Acts 19 23-29) Demetrius stirred the people up against Paul and a riot ensued.

The pastor said, “This is the church,” referring to the confusion caused.

To be clear, he did NOT mean that the gospel will cause problems. He was preaching against someone in the church whom he thought was trying to divide the church.

Both those examples provide a clear illustration of a lack of biblical accuracy.

Anyone can see that.

Most of the people in the church that day saw it.

This however, was not the only occurrence of his ability to twist the Word to suit his sermon—only the most recent with which I am familiar.

Plainly, this man’s ‘fruit’ is up for inspection.

Can you see how this has nothing to do with the fact of using a different translation? There can be as many different translations in use as there are people in the congregation, but the sense will be consistent; and any person who can read can follow that sense.

Demanding scriptural accuracy is not asking too much of anyone who would deign to speak before God’s people—professional or not.

It is the little things that we overlook that cause us the most trouble down the road (Song 2:15).

Leaven is a very small thing. We call it yeast. If you’ve never seen yeast, go to the grocery store and buy a single packet just to open it and observe how small it really is.

Jesus and Paul both warned us to watch out for leaven.

Jesus called it hypocrisy (Lk. 12:1). Paul also referred to it as hypocritical in 1 Cor. 5:6; but he called destructive teaching “leaven” in Gal. 5:9.

Watch out for it, because it is VERY small, but can do a large amount of damage.

Peter spoke of “damnable heresies” (2 Pet. 2:1), which lead people away from the truth that is in Jesus. These heresies are brought in secretly, or craftily, meaning just a little bit at a time until everyone is thoroughly poisoned.

As I close this section, let me try to illustrate this point with a fictional story.
The sermon is about marriage relationships. It is well-crafted, uses a couple of verses to anchor the general premise, and is generally a nice talk with no major problems. The people are on board, because they know the speaker and trust him.
But then this little bit of leaven is thrown in:
“And I’m not just talking about your marriage, or their marriage. I am talking about ANY marriage can enjoy these benefits by applying these principles.”
That is just enough leaven to begin the poisoning process.

Few will catch it. Fewer yet will challenge it.

Of those who do sense something, most will ignore it with, “Well, I know what he meant.”


What you tolerate, persists.

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