What should our attitude be toward someone who claims to be a spiritual teacher? What about someone who claims to be a worker of miracles? John is direct is his admonition to be careful as to what we believe: “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” (1 Jn. 4:1). What is the test we are to run to check the truthfulness of one claiming to be a spiritual teacher?
The Bible lays out its own test of a prophet: “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22). If someone, supposedly speaking prophetically, predicts that something will happen, but it does not happen, then that prophecy did not come from God.
If somebody teaches something that clearly contradicts God’s word, even if that person supposedly performs some miracle in connection with their teaching, their teaching is to be rejected (Deut. 13:1-5). Teaching from God will not contradict God’s word already revealed to us in the Bible. Paul warned that even if an angel from Heaven were to preach a different gospel than that which has already been revealed to us in scripture, “let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8).
How can we know what is right, who is right? The Bible is God’s word; its teachings are right. We are to believe, go by, live by God’s word. We will not go wrong by so doing. Now, this brings us back to the beginning of this article. In order to be able to distinguish between genuine truth, and error that may be taught as though it were God’s word. we are going to have to have a reasonably good working knowledge of the scriptures. There is no way to get around our need to know the teachings of the Bible. And, there is no way to learn those teachings without, by one means or another, studying God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15).
How can we know? God’s word has the answer. Study the Bible, and you can know...