Bible Study Notes:


Spiritual Weapons: # 14
Discernment, Part 2


These notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible Study on Thursday Nights at 8 PM at Bible Study Chat at churchusa.com.
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ALL FALSE DOCTRINE CONTAINS SOME TRUTH - the test of discernment is to find the LIE in it!


Praise the Lord forever! What a way to ring in the new year - studying God's Word together! Hallelujah! God is so good! When we go through hard times, or hard drive crashes, I'm so glad He cares and is there to fix all the broken places in our lives. Praise the Lord! Father we give you glory and honor and praise tonight for WHO you are, and special thanks for all the wonderful gifts we've received this season, especially the glorious gift of your Son! Jesus thank you so much that you came to earth to die for us. Words cannot express our gratitude, but we adore you from the heart. Holy Spirit, thank You for coming to earth to convict us of sin, lead us to repentance, teach us about Jesus and guide us in the path of life.

satan you are rebuked, bound, and cast out of these rooms, before after and during the lesson. We declare that you are a defeated foe and have nothing in us. In Jesus Name and by His blood.

Holy Spirit we look to you as our teacher, guide, counselor, helper and friend. Help us to focus on the lesson tonight and hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. In Jesus most precious, holy, glorious Name AMEN

These lessons are a continuing series of lessons on spiritual warfare that grew out of our verse by verse study of Ephesians. We have studied topics as: What is a Christian Soldier? The Christian's armor, preparing your heart for war, and so far 14 spiritual weapons.

Last time we began our study of "Discerning Deception", learning how to use discernment as a spiritual weapon both to protect us from spiritual harm and to perceive what blinding spirits are keeping others bound.

First we talked about using discernment to keep you from being entrapped by the devil, or using it as a defensive weapon. Offensively, we talked about using discernment to do spiritual warfare on behalf of others. Tonight we will get into discerning false doctrine so we can avoid falling into its captivity.

You could call Weapon # 14 – Discernment, "spying" on the devil because it allows us to see his schemes and traps before he can trip us up with them! Discernment is the ability given to us by God to tell good from evil. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to "Test all things; hold fast what is good."

Discernment is more than a weapon, it is a survival skill. Discernment allows you to "spy on the devil" and thwart his stratagems and devices BEFORE he can put them into action. Discernment is basically being able to distinguish good from evil.

K-Man - Yes, and sometimes things we discern can grieve us very much

Discernment is a process of judging or discrimination between good and evil, not only in our own hearts, but in the lives of others and in our society. Last time we spoke about some of the things in our society that we might be blind to that can plant "evil seeds" in our hearts to draw us away from Jesus.

We also discussed the difference between discerning and condemning. We are not to criticize or condemn others, but Jesus told us to judge their fruits so that we could pray for them and avoid being trapped by the devil.

K-Man - Yes, or discerning what spirit is driving a person to do or say what they do or say, for satan comes in much disguise and sometimes even as an angel of light

For example, a lot of people are telling you that only THEIR doctrine is right, and if you don't join THEIR group, you're going to hell. How can you tell if they are right or not? By discernment. I should mention that discernment is a skill we learn by practice and by being sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

K-Man - One example would be someone who befriends you and then you later found out it wasn't your friendship they really wanted but something else from you, God knows the heart of each one, through discernment we too can know the motives in someone's heart, without it we cannot

John tells us to test the spirits. I John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

The fourth chapter of John contains a lot of wisdom about discerning of Spirits. How do we test spirits to see whether they are from God? By the WORD. Let's look at some of the principles found in I John 4 for testing doctrine, but discernment of spirits is not limited to this passage.

Tonight we are specifically looking at some of the points found in false doctrine. All false doctrine contains SOME truth, otherwise no one would "fall for it". The task of discernment is to see the LIE in it, OK?

Another form of discerning of the spirits is to test doctrine or prophecy to see if it is genuine. The Apostle John in I John 4:1 tells us to "try the spirits" to see if they are from God. Sometimes the deception in a prophecy or doctrine is well hidden and it takes spiritual discernment to root it out.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

If we don’t use discernment to examine every doctrine or philosophy, what can happen?

K-Man - We can be deceived!
Biblegirl - You might get confused on what doctrine is true

Right! If we don’t use discernment to examine every doctrine or philosophy, what can happen? We can be taken captive and will do the will of the one who has captured us instead of doing God’s will.

Don’t think that because you’ve been brought up in Church, or know something about the Bible that you will automatically know when you are being deceived. If you KNEW, you wouldn’t be deceived, right? As I post these verses, be asking yourself: What is the test in this verse for discerning false doctrine?

I John 4:2-3 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

Justme - And don't just listen to what people say about what is in the bible, but search it out.... don't take anyone's word for it

AMEN Justme! Test all things by the Word!!! That's my motto! What test does this verse talk about?

Justme - OT there is one who visits the board who says Jesus has come in the flesh, yet doesn't believe Jesus as God... so can this be a clarification here?
K-Man - If any doctrine cannot be backed up with the word of God it is false, and also many twist the scriptures, we must know our Bible and the true meaning not to be deceived!!
Justme - his doctrine other than that sounds perfect.... but the very foundation is rotton, true?

Justme, haven't seen that one, but remember that ALL the Bible tests must be true for a doctrine to be true. It might acknowledge Jesus as coming in the flesh, as you've stated, but deny that Jesus is God.

Antichrist of course is the really bad guy that is going to rule in the last days for a bit. However the spirit behind antichrist is already in the world, and one way you can recognize this evil spirit is because it denies Jesus Christ and opposes all that Jesus stands for.

Another point here Justme - as I said before, ALL FALSE DOCTRINE CONTAINS SOME TRUTH - the test of discernment is to find the LIE in it!

One doctrine in this respect is that Jesus did not really come in the flesh - either he was not fully God, or he was not fully man, or that he is just a myth or legend. There are a lot of false ideas about Jesus being promoted today. This is why it is SO important to read the Gospels and be familiar with the true Jesus, so when a false "jesus" comes along you'll know it.

K-Man - What about someone who says that God no longer speaks to us except through His written word, The Bible, I know this is not true , yet this person stands firm on this, yet scripture does not back this up

K-man, remember discernment is for two purposes: to protect you from the false, and to give you the knowledge to pray for those that are deceived or deceiving... so I'd say, don't argue, pray for them.

An example I gave last time: Bank tellers are taught to recognize counterfeits by studying the REAL THING so minutely that they have it imprinted on the back of their eyeballs. So when counterfeit bills come in, they compare it to the image in their heads, and are able to discern it right away. In a similar fashion, we must know the WORD so intimately that the false will "stick out like a sore thumb".

This is why it is SO important to read the Gospels and be familiar with the true Jesus, so when a false "jesus" comes along you'll know it. Not every one who says they worship "jesus", worship the one who was born of a virgin, walked the earth as a man for 33 years, was crucified on the cross, and was raised from the dead 3 days later. Not every "christ" that is presented is the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.

Many newagers speak of a "christ consciousness" or a "christ matrieya", which is not the Jesus we worship at all! Just because they say they worship "jesus" or "christ" or even "the lord" means nothing. It's a good idea to ask people exactly WHO this "jesus" is that they worship.

If they can't confess that he is the same JESUS who was born of a virgin, walked the earth as a man for 33 years, was crucified on the cross and was raised from the dead 3 days later, and who ever lives to make intercession for us - well there you have the spirit of antichrist.

OK, look at the next verse, and see if you can tell me a characteristic of false doctrine from it:

I John 4:4-5 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.

So false doctrine speaks from what viewpoint? according to this verse?

K-Man - From the viewpoint of the flesh
Biblegirl - they speak from the world's point of view

Right False religions are going to speak from the viewpoint of the world, that is, they are going to try to appeal to values held by the world or coerce you into belief by the standards of the world.

For example, becoming wealthy is the chief goal of our society. A false religion could appeal to your desire to become wealthy to entice you to join. We live in a sex-saturated culture, and many cults seek to entrap you by sexual involvement.

K-Man - Yes, the money point is big these days, but false!!
Justme - so is the sexual orientation thing...

There are more subtle ways that false religions can enslave you, by appearing to be good. There are many newage cults that have the appearance of spirituality and appeal to your desire to save the environment, protect animals, to feed the hungry, and so on. Now these things are good in themselves, you just need to be aware of what the organization’s ultimate goals are before you get involved. Many legitimate Christian organizations have the same goals. This is where discernment kicks in: ask the Holy Spirit to show you which things to get involved with - not just go by whether they "ring your chimes" emotionally.

"The world listens to them". These groups are popular! They are the kind of things that your nonchristian neighbors think are great ideas. But we have a greater ONE inside of us who directs us in to all truth. Whenever you are tempted, requested, or coerced into joining one group or the other, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you whether this group is of Him or not.

Justme - works oriented? makes one feel good about "self"

OK, so two "tests" for false doctrine are 1) What does it say about Jesus? and 2) Is it worldly - appealing to the fads, fashions, falsehoods of this world, instead of promoting God's point of view? Ok, let's look at the next verse, and see if you can find a test for doctrine in it.

I John 4:6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

K-Man - What about a lot of this so called, rock gospel, I cannot stand that stuff, it just seems blasphemous to me, it looks and sounds just like hard rock music but with different words??

K-man look at the doctrine, not the way of expressing it --- of course their lives must line up with the Word also.

I John 4:6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

These worldly groups that we were just discussing promote a spirit of falsehood. When you try to point out scripture that contradicts their views, they "won’t hear you". They will either deny the validity of the Bible altogether, or will lead you down "pig paths and rabbit trails" in the scripture, twisting it to fit their views.

Justme - Truth will cause believers & followers to respond with a listening ear and the one who refuses the truth is in error....

The is an unprecedented attack on God's Word as never before. You've got to be rooted and grounded in it to be able to defend your heart from doubt and fear.

K-Man - God's word says be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, doesn't it?
Sherry Grace:) - I have a question you said love does not have fear right?

OK, how about this verse? I John 4:7-8 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

PJ - There is no better defense than the Word of God.

Love should be the hallmark, the identifying characteristic of the Christian. Here the Greek word used is Agape, which we’ve studied in some detail. This is a humble, self-sacrificing love that is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and is proof that we have been "born of God". There are a lot of cheap substitutes in the world for love – and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Justme - knowing about Him isn't enough.... We gotta have that Love IN us, oozing forth for the world to run to or run from!!!
Servant - I have learned that this kind of love is just given to you to share

In the long run, though, true agape will "go the distance", will put your needs first, and reveal its’ true nature. False religion promotes a false love that will wither under adversity. And will reveal that its followers do not truly know God.

So the next 2 characteristics of false doctrine are 3) Denies the authority of the Word of God/truth and 4) Involves a substitute for agape - the true love of God.

K-Man - Isn't that a growing process, Old Timer, when someone first comes to Jesus, they have to grow in the spiritual like a newborn has to grow in the flesh?

That is correct K-man and discernment is part of the maturing process OK, now let's look at the next verse: I John 4:9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

One of the false doctrines that we can come easily entangled in is "IF God REALLY loves us, WHY doesn't God do this or that…? Sending Jesus into the world to die for us is proof enough of God’s love.

Pearl Merchant - What are some examples of genuine and artificial love?

There are three words for love in Greek. In English we h ave one all-purpose word that we use for everything from "I love Pizza" to I love God" The lowest form of love is called eros, where we get our word "erotic". This love is 100% selfish, self-centered, uses people for its own ends. The closest English word for this is lust. Our culture has a real hard time distinguishing lust from love, don't you think? So this would be "false love" from God's point of view - because it is selfish.

The second type of love is phileo, which is better than eros because it is a 50/50

kind of thing, friendship, partnership, etc. Kind of "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine".

But although phileo is better than eros, it still lacks something. Because when the relationship becomes "one-sided", that is you're doing all the giving, you'll probably take a hike, because your needs aren't being met. So it's still too selfish to qualify as godly love.

Sherry Grace:) - Can eros love and phileo love go together?

Sherry, we all are a mixture of the three I think. The job of the Holy Spirit in our hearts is to lead us deeper into agape and weed out the others.

Justme - because phileo love has a root from self, it has an end to it...
Pearl Merchant - And sexual love is selfish.

But agape is the God kind of love. The love that is 100% unselfish, unconditional, flowing to all alike, regardless if it's returned or not, sacrificial.

Pearl Merchant - Good explanations, OT. Makes you want to watch your tongue--only say, "I love you" of you really intend too.
K-Man - OldTimer, what does it take for a person to reach the place where they have agape love, like truly putting other peoples feelings and wants and needs before our own and doing this with a pure heart without feeling like we are being cheated out of what is really due us, ??

K-Man, yielding to the Holy Spirit, because He spreads, sheds, pours out, or gushes forth this agape into our hearts. God showed His love for us by giving us His Only Son. Jesus showed His love for us, for while we were YET sinners, He died for us. Pearl Merchant - IF you really intend too. The Holy Spirit shows His love for us by coming into this sinful world, striving with sinful man towards repentance, and being willing to do the "dirty work" of making us holy! Hallelujah, what love!

PJ - That is true love OldTimer...to Love us THAT much before we even existed!!! PTL

So the question, if God REALLY loves us, He would (whatever) is a sign of doubt and false doctrine. He has already proven His love for us beyond our imagining!

I John 4:10-11 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

K-Man - Yes, but truly, Old Timer , I have seen very few Christians, with this type of love, does that mean many Christians are failing everyday, I have seen a few like this but not many!!
Servant - and he cares what we think and he cares about our needs individually that's my Jesus

K-man we all fail in many ways, but God hasn't given up on any of us! Agape is a growing perfecting process. Our duty is to yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him love THROUGH us.

Pearl Merchant - Well, there are times that I need to SEE the reality of it, OT. I need to see the Living Christ in someone to remind me that it is for real.
Servant - when we are willing to be used of him despite our faults he will love through us
PJ - K-Man, I think it means that we as Christians just need to strive DAILY to be more Christ-like.

PM, there was a man in the NT like that, his name was Thomas! LOL Blessed are you who have NOT seen and yet believe Jesus said.

There are many varieties of false doctrine that says that Jesus blood did not atone for our sins, and therefore we have to work to earn our salvation, or that Jesus blood did not atone for ALL of our sins, therefore some sins we have to atone for by shedding our own blood.

K-Man - I was including myself, I have not reached that kind of love, at times it seems I am able to do this but other times, I cannot, I must need much more growth!!!!

Also notice that God started the salvation process - He loved us first. Any doctrine that would allege that we must make our way to God, or do something on our own effort to initiate salvation is false doctrine.

PJ - we all need more growth!!!! I know I do!!
†Cowgirl† - PJ I agree with you I believe we all won't graduate the school of the Holy Spirit till Jesus comes back or we go to Heaven
Pearl Merchant - Sometimes believing without seeing can get you in trouble too, though. Thomas at least had the miracles to go by to know that Jesus was the Christ. There were some things he had already witnessed with his own two eyes.

PJ we all do - none of us is perfect - we are all striving to be more like Jesus! So two more tests of false doctrine 5) Doubting or questioning God's love for us and 6)Jesus blood is not sufficient to atone for all our sins

OK, next verse, what test for false doctrine do you see here? I John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

If you have a group that claims to have seen God, that is God in the form of Elohim or something just walked up and appeared to them visible to sight and told them to change the doctrine of the Word, that is false doctrine.

K-Man - What about those who say if you are not baptized in water, you cannot go to Heaven, isn't that taking away from what Jesus did for us on the cross?

Yes K-man it is, they are confusing the grace that saves us, with obedience to the Word. K-man, a lot of Christians seem to get "hung up" on one doctrine and that's all they talk about, whether they are right or wrong. My desire is to know the FULL counsel of God as revealed in His Word.

PJ - OT...do you think that it is too much to ask of ourselves to strive for perfection...once we have been saved? I guess I'm asking to you think God expects that of us?

The word usually used for perfection in the NT is teleos, which means to bring to a desired end, to mature. Perfection is our maturing process - not total sinlessness or perfection from man's viewpoint. I am content to let God make me what HE wants me to be. I don't fret about it, just yield to the Holy Spirit.

PJ - OT...I know with all my heart that grace saves us...but I believe we are commanded to repent, be baptized and live a Christian life.

Right PJ, we are saved by grace through faith not of works lest any should boast. The outward proof of our salvation is our obedience to the Word. OK, next verse - look for the test here: I John 4:13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

There is much false doctrine about the Holy Spirit. Some say that He is just a divine force floating around out there, an inspiring process, but not a person of the Godhead. Some say that the Holy Spirit stuff was for the early church and doesn't apply today. Some don't believe that the Holy Spirit lives in us and guides us. And so on.

The important thing is to get your doctrine from the Word... don't take any one else's word for it - read it for yourself and ask the Holy Spirit, who Jesus sent to be our teacher, and who inspired the Word, to explain it to you.

I John 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

False doctrine testifies that Jesus either has not been sent by God and/or that He is not the Savior of the world. Variations on this theme include the idea that some are born to be saved and some are born to be damned, or that salvation can come for some by other means.

I John 4:15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.

How do you acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God? Clearly false doctrine says that Jesus is not God, or that He is a lesser God, or some variation thereof. But to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God involves more than just mental assent to this fact, but is a total acceptance of this in every walk of life, and a relationship with Him, "living in Him". Here false doctrine relegates a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to a secondary position, perhaps below following a set of rules or performing a set of rituals.

I John 4:16-17 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.

The love referred to in this passage is agape, the unconditional love that God has for us, and that is shed abroad or poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. False doctrine emphasizes lower forms of love, particularly eros, the satisfaction of sensual desires. This is not the love that gives us confidence before God on the day of judgement.

nasGailleanEolas - OleTimer..How can a person who dearly wishes to love Jesus know when he truly loves Jesus?
†Cowgirl† - When you really fall in love with him you will know ... boy it is something... when you are willing to do whatever he asks of you because you want to not because you have to right

A person knows he really loves Jesus when he loves the people for whom Jesus died. "Whatsoever you do to the least of these my brethren you do it unto me".

I John 4:18-19 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.

Doctrine or prophecy based on fear and not love is false doctrine. We must be very careful to tell the truth about punishment that is awaiting the ungodly, but not manipulate them through fear. Jesus draws by love.

redeemed - you know something, I think I would question that, P.M., I think I see what you are saying, but I really don't think our obedience has much to do with salvation. I see it more as the obedience of Christ securing our salvation, not our obedience. Phillipians 2:8 says, "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! " So, even though, like you say, our obedience is important, it's not what obtained salvation for us. It was actually the obedience of Christ that brought about our salvation, would you agree?

I John 4:20-21 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Any doctrine or prophecy that promotes hatred is a work of satan, and makes you as big a liar as the devil is. How many groups promote hatred of another group on the basis of creed, race, doctrine, or some other earthly measure? We can name the KKK here as an example - of hatred based on race. This is false doctrine.

guitarman524 - Then do we love groups, such as the KKK that are clearly in conflict with the scriptures?

We don't love "groups" gman, we love people, whether they are on the right track or not. God does not give us the liberty to hate anyone.

guitarman524 - Do we love the people that are in conflict? say there is a racist not part of the KKK just a racist a bigot do we welcome him?

Yes gman, we love everybody... we don't have to follow them, or agree with them, but we don't return evil for evil, cursing for cursing.

†Cowgirl† - Amen OT when we can love our enemies then we know we are maturing.

Also there are other passages of scripture that teach us how to discern false doctrine. Consider what Paul wrote to the Colossians and tell me what principles of false doctrines are revealed there:

Colossians 2:18-19 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

What principles of false doctrine are revealed here? false humility, worship of angels, "visions", unspiritual and idle notions. And what has caused this person to come up with this nonsense is because he has lost connection with the Head, Christ. People who separate themselves from other Christians, and follow "rabbit trails and pig paths" through the Bible often come up with strange notions, sometimes accompanied with "visions" and erratic interpretations of scripture.

K-Man - What do you mean , rabbit trails and pig paths, I don't understand??

By rabbit trails and pig paths - people that take one verse here and there out of context from Genesis to Revelation, and use them to support an unbiblical doctrine.

Colossians 2:20-22 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.

Paul goes on to give more information about such cults - what is another characteristic of them? They are full of rules and regulations based on human commands and teachings. You see these people all about you - dressed a certain way with all kinds of ritual laws and dietary restrictions. Why are these types of cults so appealing?

Colossians 2:23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Why are these types of cults so appealing? Because they have an APPEARANCE of wisdom, because of self-imposed worship, false humility and the harsh treatment of the body, but in actuality they do nothing to restrain the flesh.

Paul also warns Timothy about false doctrine: 1 Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

TA - OT - what you are saying then about the pig trails, etc, is God has no right to reveal himself in a different way than he ever has before.
guitarman524 - But OldTimer would you not agree that some of the cults actually claim to follow Jesus?
Pearl Merchant - Not in a contrary way, TA. God must be consistent with his own nature.
TA - How do we know that God in this time will bring forth things that men have never seen. He did say that we only see in part. If that is so then there are more things to be revealed.
K-Man - I heard of a church that had a set of scales and weighed the women and told them if they thought they were too heavy , that they had to lose weigh to come to their
church, talk about doctrines of man

That's the reason it's so hard to discern them gman, they DO claim to follow Christ. TA, new revelations are fine as long as they don't violate the integrity of the Word or promote false doctrines, as we've been discussing.

Melzer - Yes, they use Jesus' name to draw people. They appear as angels of light. Remember Jimmy Jones
guitarman524 - I mean even as distorted as there views are the KKK claims to follow the bible

gman, that's the point of this study! We've got to have some guidelines to test doctrine by. Test all things by the Word. This was a message given to Paul by the Holy Spirit for "later times". What does it say that false doctrine is here? Following deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, causing one to abandon the faith. This means that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will be deceived and be lost.

1 Timothy 4:2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

What else does the Spirit reveal about these false teachers? They are hypocrites - what they teach does not line up with what they do, they pretend to be something they are not. They have refused discernment and violated their consciences, until their consciences - their ability to discern good from evil - are burned and no longer functioning.

1 Timothy 4:3-5 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

Some other things revealed as characteristics of false doctrine: forced celibacy, and strict mandatory dietary laws. Does this mean it's a sin not to marry? Not at all, if God has called you to be celibate. But to be forced NOT to marry to be saved, or to be taught that marriage is unholy is false doctrine.

Does that mean it's a sin if you do not eat certain foods? Not at all, if you abstain for reasons of health or preference. But if you believe that your salvation depends on you abstaining from meat, for example, that is false doctrine.

1 Timothy 4:7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.

There were a lot of myths about gods and goddesses and their alleged powers in Paul's day. Ironically we are seeing a lot of that today again. But these things have nothing to do with godliness. We need to get rid of myths and old wives' tales - false traditions and legends about the Lord, and concentrate on learning to be godly.

1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

In Paul's day as in ours, there was a lot of attention placed on the body. The Greeks and Romans loved all kinds of spectator sports, and idolized their sports champions. As today, you were judged on how physically fit you were, and the outward appearance was emphasized.

And Paul says there is some value in physical training - after all we do need to keep healthy. But too much emphasis on the body is another sign of false teaching. Our emphasis must be on training to be godly, developing discernment and other godly characteristics.

1 Timothy 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Why is discernment so important? We need to watch OUR OWN life and doctrine closely and persevere in it - to keep using discernment to weed out false things if they creep in and to protect ourselves from the bombardment of demonic teachings that has been set loose in the world. Not only is that necessary to save ourselves from this danger, but also those who listen to us.

This is also why teachers are judged more strictly - because their lives influence so many for good or ill. redeemed, you shouldn't teach something you can't live.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves.

Peter also had something to say about false teachers. What characteristics can we find in this passage? They are "among us" - they seem to be Christians but are not. The "secretly" introduce destructive things that are against the truth, even to the point of denying Christ who bought them with His blood. Their doctrines bring swift destruction.

2 Peter 2:2-3 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

What are some other characteristics of false doctrine? Many will follow them, unhappily, and their destructive doctrines will cause the truth to be brought into disrepute. These false teachers are greedy and use their made-up stories to suck you dry of your goods. They bring condemnation and destruction. Popularity does not equal truth or godliness. Peter goes on in this chapter to compare them to the sinners in Noah's day and in Sodom and Gomorrah. And then he goes more of their characteristics:

K-Man - I have found just the opposite, Old Timer, those who speak the truth are usually very unpopular!!

2 Peter 1:10, 12a This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings… But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand…

So what else do we learn of false teachers? They follow corrupt desires and despise authority. They are bold and arrogant, slanderous and blasphemous, without true understanding.

2 Peter 1:14, 16b With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed--an accursed brood! …. who loved the wages of wickedness.

The prey of false teachers is the unstable - those who are doubting, who are walking in unforgiveness, who are wounded and seeking revenge, those who are uncertain of their salvation and ignorant of the Bible. They are seduced by false teachers through adultery and greed.

2 Peter 1:18-19 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.

The prey of these false teachers is also those who have just escaped from a life of sin and who do not understand that we walk by faith, not by sight. Therefore they are easily taken captive by empty words that appeal to their lustful desires, and so are enticed into a greater depravity than they were in before.

OK, I've given you all a lot of information tonight to think about ... and digest. Distinguishing false doctrine from true takes discernment and the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a vast range of false doctrines, from very subtle to extremely outrageous. Just remember, they all have SOME truth in them, but you must have the Holy Spirit's help to discern the lie.

K-Man - Jesus spoke the truth always and He was hated, the same is true today, speak the truth and they hate you

One more point... Discernment is a sign of maturity and growth, a skill that we exercise and become more proficient in as we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember that the GOAL of discernment is to 1) protect you, and 2) give you knowledge to know how to pray. And in our discerning, we don't want to get into condemnation - this is why I don't make a list of this group or that group -

OlePappy - but if just one learns to love Jesus then it is all worth while

Finally - as we fine tune our discernment, we not only weed out false doctrine, but are able to distinguish between good, better and best...

Discerning between better and best: Philippians 1:9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able TO DISCERN WHAT IS BEST and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.

Father God bless all assembled here. As we start a new year, help us to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and in His love, abounding in love for one another, and for those who are lost, groaning for their salvation. AMEN

God bless you all. Happy New Year! At least you've started out on the right foot - in the Word!!!!

 

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned! And put it into practice.

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Original lesson 12/31/98
Revised: May 03, 2001