Discerning True Doctrine
by Curt Klingeman
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John 7:16-17 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (KJV).
There are doctrines of men and devils (plural), but there is only one Doctrine of Christ. There is only one true teaching that comes from above, and the rest fall under the former categories. In the One True Doctrine, there are several principles that make up the whole, just as there is one Body with many members. We know that we have discernment through the Holy Spirit, but there are some things required on our part that are a major part of determining what is true and what is false. One major factor on our part will greatly influence whether we will know His Doctrine or will be blind to it: whose will do we desire to follow.
Jesus said that if anyone desires to do the Father’s will, he will know concerning the teaching, whether it is of God or if one speaks of himself. This is more important than some realize because the way people view spiritual issues, or life issues for that matter, will be filtered through their personal desires. If a person is more concerned with his own agenda than God’s, he will approach the Word of God dishonestly. He will be more interested in Scripture or teaching that coincides with his own personal lusts. This ties in with 2Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (KJV). Until that person repents, he will fail to discern the true Doctrine of Christ because he will not be interested in hearing anything that might counter his belief system. Until a person is willing to hear the truth, he will be deaf to it. If a person wants to know true doctrine, he will have to want to do the will of the Father. Therefore, a major key in knowing the true Doctrine of Christ is the complete surrender of our will and desires to God. This is where Matthew 16:24 comes to play: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (KJV).
Jesus tells us another clear way to differentiate between false teachers and those who are true is by whose glory they seek. Look at John 7:18, “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him” (KJV). A false teacher can use Scripture, which is loaded with truth, but there is spirit behind it that leads the hearer to the teacher instead of God. Much of what he speaks may sound spiritual, but the agenda behind it is not. There is a tendency to allure and manipulate people to follow and support him instead of following Jesus and supporting the things of the Kingdom. This is similar to determining whether someone is a false prophet or a true prophet of God. For example, just because someone prophesies something that happens as he said does not necessarily mean that he is a true prophet. Look at Deuteronomy 13:1-3, “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (emphasis added, KJV). The question, therefore, is when a person teaches the Word of God, is he leading people to Jesus Christ or to himself? Does he seek the glory, or does he seek to glorify God? Does he speak the truth in love? Perhaps some bigger questions that need to be addressed are: what am I listening to and why? Whom am I listening to, and where is he or she leading me? On final question to ask: do I desire His will or mine?
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