August 30, 2012

Revelation 2:20 “Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.”

Just because someone claims to hear from God or seems very “spiritual” is no reason not to examine them closely in the light of Scripture. There have been false teachers throughout history, and Jesus specifically warned against them. (Matthew 7:15-20) Jesus gave a very practical method for recognizing them, and that is to look at the results they produce. Sometimes those results are immediately obvious, and sometimes it takes a little more time. The latter, being more subtle, is more dangerous. That’s why it is very important to be fully familiar with Scripture, to recognize early on when some teaching or some teacher is off track. Having said that, I also need to point out the danger of refusing to follow God because “we never did it that way before.” That was a real factor in the opposition to the Charismatic Movement, because God pouring His Spirit out on “ordinary” believers threatened the power structure, just as it has through the ages. For the church in Thyatira, the give-away was that this woman’s teaching was leading to immorality. Throughout the Bible that has clearly been against God’s will, however much our flesh might desire it. We are not to reject every new teaching just because it seems new to us, but we are to examine both whether it is rooted in Scripture and whether those who teach it are genuinely Christ-like.

Having been involved in the Charismatic Movement for almost 40 years, I’ve seen both sides of this issue. I’ve seen a genuine move of God be opposed by established Church leaders, and I’ve seen some teachers who were real flakes. This is why such people as Jack Hayford are so widely respected: they have proved their obedience to God by their lives and the fruit of their ministry. That is of course my personal goal as well. I am not to go running after the “manifestation of the week,” but neither am I to reject something just because I had never thought of it before. The Lord opens up His Word to me more and more with new insights, and I am not to reject them. However, I am to be sure they line up with the totality of Scripture, and confirm that they lead me and others into closer fellowship with and obedience to God. There are indeed lying spirits out there!

Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You that I don’t have to be afraid that You are ever going to lead me astray. Thank You for the wider audience for my teaching that the Internet gives me. I have no direct control over how my words are received and interpreted, so I ask You to guide and protect each person who receives what You are saying through me, whether they are local or not. May Your words through me draw many into the fellowship and obedience that You desire, for their great blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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