1 Timothy 1:3-7, 18-19; 4:6-7,
3 “As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, 4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies. Such things promote useless speculations rather than God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith. 5 But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 6 Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently. 18 I put this charge before you, Timothy my child, in keeping with the prophecies once spoken about you, in order that with such encouragement you may fight the good fight. 19 To do this you must hold firmly to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck in regard to the faith.” 4:6 By pointing out such things to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, having nourished yourself on the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 4:7 But reject those myths fit only for the godless and gullible, and train yourself for godliness. 16 Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”
2 Timothy 4:3-4
the “time will come when [believers] 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.”
Not one of us has perfect understanding. Our faith and doctrine are daily being made clearer as we look into the mirror of the perfect word of God. Sometimes the latest spiritual insight can be couched or clothed in an appealing exterior. Or sometimes heresy slips in unnoticed – creeps into our pews and our minds. There is inherently some truth within each errant doctrine, which creates confusion. This calls for discernment – we perish without it.
It can appear very judgmental and intolerant to discern that something is not true. Having absolute truth is viewed as inflexible, yet the solution of relativity leaves us without a constant compass and ultimately down a path toward destruction. We must reject the doctrine which is not based in God’s wholly revealed word and cling to the simplistic Gospel message which is still more able to save than the latest Christian trend or technique. Movements come and go and sometimes we acquiesce to them without knowing it.
Whether it is the prosperity movement, which overly emphasizes God’s blessing for believers, or the grace movement which can be imbalanced in its application of grace by minimizing the very real judgment and accountability we still have, the believer today still needs to avoid all extremes. Paul modeled the reality of a believer living in plenty and scarcity. Either way, He glorified God and learned the secret of contentment in the midst. He did not name or claim anything, other than the fact that he was chief of sinners and grateful for the grace of God. James well understood our need for grace, but also spoke of lives which reflect that grace by works done in humility.
We cannot avoid the reality of the life of Job while embracing the supposed modern prescription today for a blessed life. No more than we can ignore the very real suffering godly men and women have encountered but still glorified God in. The greatest stories we have ever heard are stories of those with faith who have overcome. Joseph suffered unfairly, but was also blessed immeasurably. Countless others stand as witnesses of what the truly blessed life in Christ is – salvation from an eternal damnation we deserved.
Perhaps it is our definition of what a blessed life is. Not a perfectly comfortable life without pain or hardship, but a place of refuge and unmerited acceptance. When faced with a new teaching, we must fun to the filter God has given us – His Word – as our Guide. We must be like the Bereans, who did not just swallow the word shared to them, but searched God’s word intently to gain understanding. Each one stands alone before the judgment throne – we cannot allow anyone to define for us what we believe.
Lord, help us to discern the truth and remain faithful to You. May we never stray from the beautiful simple truth of Your salvation and live lives that help others to know You, too.