Summary: This sermon examines the teachings of false teachers and how to counter them.
Introduction: There used to be a television game show entitled “Truth or Consequences.” Most people who are old enough to remember will associate that show with Bob Barker. He was the game show host for approximately twenty years. The contestants on the show were given the responsibility of determining the truth about people, places, events or things by answering questions. At the conclusion of each show they would reveal the truth about the topic of discussion. You and I have been given the task of discovering truth or facing the consequences.
In I John, John teaches us the importance of knowing the truth. “My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world. Here’s how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person—comes from God and belongs to God.” (I John 4:1-3 TMNT) John’s readers were facing false teaching. John encourages them to test the truth of what they are hearing.
Tests are common in many areas of life. Students must pass an ACT or SAT test in order to enter college. When I call my credit card company to make a payment or secure information they put me to a test. They ask for the last four digits of my social security number, my zip code and if they have any questions they ask for my mother’s maiden name. The test is designed to weed out inappropriate callers. Teachers are required to pass a teachers exam in order to get their teachers certification.
Joke: There’s a story of a young American engineer who was sent to Ireland by his company. It was a two-year assignment. He had accepted it because it would enable him to earn enough to marry his long-time girlfriend. She had a job near her home in Tennessee. Their plan was to put their money together and put a down payment on a house when he returned. They wrote often, but as the lonely weeks went by, the girlfriend began expressing doubts about his being true, exposed as he was to the beautiful Irish lasses.
The young engineer wrote back. He declared with some passion that he was paying absolutely no attention to the local girls. “I admit,” he wrote, “that sometimes I’m tempted. But I fight it. I’m keeping myself for you.” In the next mail, the engineer received a package. It contained a note from his girl and a harmonica. “I’m sending this to you,” she wrote, “so you can learn to play it and have something to take your mind off those girls.”
The engineer replied, “Thanks for the harmonica. I’m practicing on it every night and thinking of you.” At the end of the two years, the engineer was transferred back to company headquarters. He took the first plane to Tennessee to be reunited with his girl. Her whole family was with her, but as he rushed forward to embrace her, she held up a restraining hand and said sternly, “Just hold on there a minute, Billy Bob. Before any serious kissin’ and huggin’ gets started here, let me hear you play that harmonica!”
(Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, pp. 17-18. Contriibuted by: SermonCentral PRO)
Why is it important to test our beliefs to determine the truth of what we believe? Satan is a deceiver. We must know the truth!
I want to show you three tests that will verify the truth of what you believe. We should examine our faith by each of these tests.
I. The first test is to test false teaching.
The Message translation of verse 1 in our text clarifies this truth. “My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.”
From this verse two truths should be embraced.
1. We should be a student of the word.
2. We should evaluate all speakers, teachers and preachers by the word. Do not take what they say at face value.
What do we look for in a false teacher?
A. They will deny Christian doctrine. They will claim to have a new teaching or new revelation. Peter said “there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them”. (II Peter 2:1 NKJV). They will claim they are the only ones who hold the truth.
B. They will display an exclusive spirit. They will pull away from other evangelical groups. John spoke of this. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” (I John 2:19 NKJV)