There are millions and millions of people who follow different religions such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. Even within those who believe in Jesus Christ, there are many different denominations and sects with different doctrinal teachings and practices. What are you going to believe? What are you going to accept? Many people accept the religion or church of their parents and follow what has been passed down to them. Others go where they feel comfortable or where there is a good preacher or where they have good programs for the family. But heed the admonition in 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Since many false prophets have gone out into the world, you must not believe every spirit but test each to see if they are of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” There has to be a standard against which you can test the beliefs, teachings and practices of a church. That standard is the words of Jesus and His inspired apostles whose words are recorded in the Bible. Test the different doctrines by the word of God.
Another test that can be applied is to inspect the fruit of the prophet or teacher. Matthew 7:15-20 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. Â You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” A person may look like someone you can trust, but if their fruit or actions are bad, then you can confidently reject their teachings as well.
Look at what the Apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 2:1-3 “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” Even in the times of the apostles there were false teachers who held to heresies. One such group was the Gnostics; part of their belief was that Jesus did not come in the flesh. The Apostle John wrote about them in 2 John 7 “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” If there were heresies in the first century, it should not surprise you that there are many heresies in the modern churches that call themselves Christian. Based upon the writings of the early Christians in the second and third century, some of the doctrines taught by modern churches today were considered heresies by those early Christians. The Apostle Peter taught that some of the heretics were motivated by covetousness. In other words, the false teachers were motivated by worldly possessions or money. Some of that is true today. But there are also many very sincere individuals who are following false practices and false doctrines today. What should you do? “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) Test the different doctrines by the word of God.
The Apostle Paul described a major heresy that was to come. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” I am convinced the same principle applies to today. If you do not have a love of the truth, God will allow you to be deluded to accept false teachings.
The Apostle Paul admonished Timothy to hold on to sound doctrine. 2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” Those with “itching ears” are those who find teachers who tell them what they want to hear. I trust that you do not have “itching ears.” Love the truth and test all teachings by the word of God. Follow sound doctrine.
My encouragement to you is to love the truth and “test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)