The Apostle Paul gives the key mark of a genuine servant of Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians chapter thirteen. This is the seal all of us should bear to prove we belong to God the Father through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 2 Corinthians 13:8
This statement should be true of everyone who believes in, knows and loves the Lord Jesus Christ. All of us who have been born again by the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ and belief in the gospel of our salvation, that Jesus Christ died upon the cross for our sins, according to the Scriptures, was buried and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures, we know the One Who is the truth, Jesus Christ, and we are indwelt by the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we should all be zealous for the truth, just as our amazing Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, proved to be zealous for the truth during His earthly ministry.
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 19:37
Jesus Christ bore witness to the truth, and we can do no less. Jesus Christ said those who are of the truth hear His voice. Jesus Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit will always lead us into all truth. The Bible is the only source of truth that Jesus Christ has left us. If we want to hear His voice then we must know the source of truth which is the Holy Scriptures. Any other source, masquerading as the truth, originates with the devil no matter how it manifests itself. If we love Jesus Christ, then we must love His truth, which is the Bible, to do less reveals a fleshly heart still bent on rebellion.
Beloved brothers and sisters the Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of truth, will never ever lead us contrary to the truth of the Scriptures. We cannot justify our fellowship with those who despise the truth by saying we must be led by the Spirit. The Spirit will guide us into all truth; God’s Word is the truth. If what we do is contrary to the Scriptures then it isn’t the Holy Spirit who is leading us.
14 “I have given them Your word: and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” John 17:14-17
16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17
13 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15
God’s Word, the truth, belongs to Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit guides His children into the truth with the Bible. The Holy Spirit leads us into the truth in order to glorify Christ Jesus. Any teaching or manifestation that doesn’t glorify Christ is not from the Holy Spirit and does not have its origin in the Word of God, the Bible. My beloved brother and sisters, we must turn away from all appearances of evil, especially in the realm of doctrinal error.
If Christ dwells in our hearts through faith then we will love the truth, its doctrines and its practices. If we disregard the truth and live after the flesh, then we should consider that we might not belong to Christ. Paul exhorted us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith, and the one way to know is to experience the life of Christ is us. He will reproduce His love for the truth within our hearts which will bear the fruit of godly, holy, living.
5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:5
Can genuine believers be misled to disregard the truth and live in an ungodly manner? Based upon the testimony of the Scriptures, that answer has to be yes. But how does this happen if we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and Christ dwells in our hearts by faith? It happens when we entertain the heresy of false teachers. This has been a stumbling block to genuine believers since the inception of the church.
2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!…13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. 2 Corinthians 11:2-4 and 13-15
The fact that Satan has sown his tares amongst the wheat of God is proven by Christ in His parable in the gospel of Matthew. He makes it clear these false workers are present, and will influence His children, through their deceitful scheming and plotting, but will not keep them from salvation.
24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 “But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”….37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seed are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 13:24-30 and 37-43
So since these evil workers are going to be cast into hellfire, why should we accommodate and assist them in their evil work? Shouldn’t we instead know God’s Word so that we can expose their error and reprove our brothers and sisters who are being misled by them? That is the purpose of the ministry of the leadership within the church, and also those who are under their guidance. If anyone thinks differently they are disregarding a huge portion of Scripture to their own hurt and humiliation.
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16 from who the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:11-16
If we are taught by God ordained shepherds, then we will speak the truth in love to one another for the edification of the Body and the unity of the faith. It is the deceitful plotting and scheming of wicked workers that causes divisions amongst us and leads us into greater and greater fleshly living that brings reproach upon the name of Jesus Christ, rather than the glory He is due. Some may justify divisions by saying there are different interpretations of the Scriptures. However, Peter, makes it perfectly clear that Scripture has but one interpretation, that given by the Holy Spirit, and false teachers use their own ungodly interpretation to lead God’s children astray, and to keep the lost from knowing the truth.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 1 But there were 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. 2 Peter 1:19-2:1
God our Father commands we do two things with regard to false teachers, to avoid and expose them. We must turn away from all false teachers, no matter how popular or esteemed they are by the ones they have deceived. We must declare to our brothers and sisters that they are false teachers, mishandling the Word of truth, urge them to avoid them and also warn others.
17 Now I urge you brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. Romans 16:17
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. Ephesians 5:11
If Christians do not obey God’s Word, the Holy Bible, in these commands, then it is highly likely they are rebellious is other areas also. If Christians are comfortable with false teachers, excusing their error by alluding to interpretations of the Scriptures, and if Christians are not ashamed of the godless living that will ensue because they disregard the truth, then an examination is supremely justified. For repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, holding fast to the truth of His Word is very much preferred to the alternative…damnation in fiery hell for eternity.
11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather is wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Matthew 3:11-12
Lord Jesus Christ, as Your called out ones, as Your saints, may we be ever diligent to be workers who do not need to be ashamed by rightly dividing the Word of truth, avoiding the tares and exposing their wickedness, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Great God and Savior. Amen!