August 10 I Wednesday
“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” —Matthew 24:24
When we study the letters of the apostles to the early church, we will find that about 10 out of the 21 epistles confront false teachings in the church. Particularly in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, the church had been infiltrated by false teachers and prophets who were drawing the people away from the teaching of the apostles into a new teaching—a false teaching. These people referred to themselves as super apostles, undermining the authority of Paul and the other apostles.
Paul writes, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the snake’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Paul speaks to three things in that verse: deception, disorientation and devotion. He is worried that just as Eve was deceived and led astray, where there was disorientation concerning the commands of God, that the Corinthian church itself is being deceived and led astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
All false teaching starts at its core with an attempt to lure us away from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ, away from abiding in Jesus into abiding in something else. One of the ways to examine whether a teaching is false is to ask, “Is this teaching leading me to a greater sincerity and purity in my devotion to Christ, or is it taking me away from that? Is Jesus increasingly the centre of this teaching and my life or is it something else?”
Paul warns, “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (2 Corinthians 11:4). Paul instructs the church that people can use the name of Jesus and preach about Him, but they can be preaching a different Jesus, fueled and animated by a different spiritual power leading them towards a different gospel altogether. As we look out over church history and in our culture today, we see the truth and reality of what the Bible is warning us about. There are all kinds of “Jesus” proclaimed in our world today, such as in Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are thousands of small movements that have Jesus in their language, but it is not the Jesus that we learn of in Scripture.
May we make it a daily commitment not only to know but also to root ourselves in the true Jesus, revealed by the Holy Spirit, proclaimed in Scripture, so that we will not fall into false teaching.
Prayer: Precious Jesus, thank You for Your Word that allows me to know You more. I want to commit to reading Your Word every day. Please deepen my worship and devotion to You. Praise You!