I believe one of the most discussed and argued topics in all of Christianity and Religions is, who is telling the truth and who is lying. Katy and I are not interested in debating with people on whose belief is right and whose is wrong. Our desire in sharing this message is to boldly and accurately explain how we allow our heart to identify false teachers, preachers, authors, and theologians. Why it is a benefit to identify what is true and false? To proclaim the simple Gospel of Jesus so that you are filled with security, peace and joy.
As always, God gives Katy and me a message to share. Many times we bock. But, His message continues to come into our hearts and out of our mouths. This is a topic we have written about in the past and have been led to take a break from the book we have been working on and write about a subject that is not being covered in the book that will be out later this year.
“You will fully know the truth about who you are and this knowing will be your freedom.” -John 8:32 MB
In the Christian community, we have heard people calling certain pastors and teachers “false teachers” and have experienced being called this as well. Over the last several years with more exposure to teachers, Pastors, and theologians through social media this appears to be happening more and more. Personally, most of my life I just assumed that if you had a title, were educated at some school, or came out with a book then you must be right.
Several years ago I was often questioned on what I was learning from Pastors in the grace community. So, after a few lunches where I was told my beliefs were wrong, I decided to study and examine what Jesus meant when He said, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” -Matthew 7:15-20 NLT
During this study it became obvious to me that not only did Jesus warn us to beware of false teachers but all writers but one of the New Testament Epistles also warned us to “be on the lookout for anyone that teaches us that God hasn’t loved us from the foundation of the world.”
Looking back on where Katy and I were when we first wrote about this topic a few years ago and where we are now, it is even clearer to me that our freedom comes from knowing our identity in Jesus. It doesn’t come from any religious rituals we have done in an attempt to have or get approval from God. No matter how hard we work to get approval from our Father, It does not matter to Him. For God, who has created us in his image and likeliness, has always approved of us. Jesus is our reminder of how much He has loved us from the beginning of time.
Quite simply, this is the Gospel. This is the too good to be news! At times it may be hard to wrap our brains around this truth because it seems too good to be true. But, when we hear the undiluted truth our heart jumps for joy!
“Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life” -Proverbs 4:23 NKJV. This biblical truth rings true in each of our lives. The life we live is a reflection of what we have planted in our heart or allowed to penetrate our heart. This is clearly what the authors of the Epistles and Jesus were talking about when they warned us to not fall victim to any smooth talker who dresses the part yet attempts to give us a check list of do’s and don’ts to stay in and be a part of God’s royal family.
When Jesus called “teachers of the law hypocrites.” -Matthew 23:13 NLT. I believe He was pointing out that no one can abide by the law. That is why He came in the flesh. To set us free from the diluted mind set and show us that we have always had the keys to the Garden of Eden. In Hebrew the translated word Eden means pleasure. We have the keys to the Garden of Pleasure, Hallelujah! ALL that have breath have Jesus living inside of them and this truly means ALL of us can live in ‘pleasure’ without any fear of messing up. Again, that’s good news!!
Notice what Paul told the Galatians when they had been approached and swayed by false teachers. “Galatians! Galatians! Have you completely lost your common sense? Can’t you see how the law bewitched you and blurred your vision to distort the revelation of what the cross of Christ accomplished in you? This was so clearly predicted in scripture. How can you not be persuaded by the truth? Please would you reason with me on this one issue; on what basis did you receive the Holy Spirit? Are we talking gift or reward here? What kind of message ignites faith? What a condemned sinner and failure you are as revealed in the law, or what God believes to be true about you as revealed in the Gospel. Let’s not confuse Law with Grace. Can you see how stupid it would be to start in the spirit and then for some crazy reason to switch modes back to do it yourself way again! As if your own works could add anything to what God has already done in Christ. Remember how you felt when you first encountered faith; are you prepared to exchange that for religious sentiment? All the ground you’ve gained would be lost. Would you accredit what you have received from God to something you did or something you have heard? Did God reward you for your high moral standards when he worked extravagant miracles in you and lavished his Spirit upon you; or did it perhaps have anything to do with the content of the revelation of the message of grace that you have heard? Faith is the source of God’s action on mankind’s behalf; our hearing is the conduit of what God’s faith reveals.” -Galatians 3:1-5 MB (emphasis added)
Jesus talked about knowing teachers by their fruit. He was telling us we would know those that preach the ‘too good to be true news’ of Him because the Spirit living in them (us) will produce love, peace, joy, kindness, and self-control. The fruit’s of the being in good the Spirit ( SEE Galatians 5:22)
Then, Paul also reminded the non-Jewish community “Jesus is what God believes about you! In him the righteousness of God is on display in such a way that everyone may be equally persuaded about what God believes about them, regardless of who they are; there is no distinction.” -Romans 3:22 MB
Identifying false teaching is extremely beneficial in our life because the truth is what sets us free! No other message. Faith comes from hearing. That is hearing the Good News about Christ and how wonderfully each of us were made.
Jesus is the Good News of our true identity. This is the truth that sets us free from guilt, shame, and condemnation! The Gospel is simple and life giving. It is never a message of what we need to do. It is always a celebration of the love God has for us. And this is proven in the resurrection of Jesus. “Hallelujah!”
When Katy and I hear the undiluted Gospel everything in our spirit leaps with praise and we naturally proclaim “Hallelujah!” This is “because out of the abundance of our heart our mouth speaks.” -Matthew 12:34 NLT. For us this heart praise has gradually happened over time. The more we began to hear the complete message of Jesus, the more we began to sense how much God loved us and continues to love us today.
Despite the flaws I saw, and the guilt and shame I felt at times, I know God loves me unconditionally and He really, really, likes me. This went against what I had previously been taught and heard. I thought that if I believed in Jesus I might stand a chance for eternal life but I was certainly going to get a butt whooping from God for everything I had done wrong…and boy had I done some things wrong.
Years of the wrong belief utterly sucked the peace and joy completely out of me. As I began to hear the truth and it resonated in my heart, I began to believe it over time. Everyone is really liked by our Creator….not because of what they believe, but rather because of God’s belief in them.
For me the fear, unworthiness, guilt and shame began to disappear. It was replaced with peace, love, joy, and praise. My heart was healing now knowing the real truth. Today I often weep with pure gratitude for the freedom I have found in the love of Christ.
Any message that puts our works in the place of our true identity in Jesus is not the Gospel. We need to be leery of planting, hearing or allowing any of that nonsense into our heart.
“It is an insult to the grace of God to prefer Moses to Jesus! If the law could justify you then Jesus wasted his time dying your death!” -Galatians 2:21 MB
How do we identify false teaching? The answer is simple, if it is not too good to be true, then it is not the Gospel. Why do we need to identify false teaching? To Guard our heart with all diligence so that we are able to live free, back in the garden of pleasure.
Kurt & Katy