Most of us have heard the story about counterfeit money detection. The person who told it to me (after I’d read it several times) had the actual experience. He was given a tour of the mint and noticed a wall covered with fake money. He said to the employee standing beside it, “You must study this stuff for a long time so you can easily identify it.” The man said, “No, we don’t study it at all. We study the real stuff. By knowing it well, the counterfeit money is easily detected.”
The obvious application for Christians is simple; if I want to spot false teaching, I need to know what is true. When I do, the counterfeit will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. This is important because:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3–4)
Sound teaching takes me deeper into my relationship with God, but at the same time it has some temporary drawbacks. God starts the changes needed in my life using a large axe to cut away those obvious sins. My resistance is tempered by the relief of their absence. However, His pruning becomes narrower, sharper, deeper. Stuff that I didn’t think was sin is exposed and rebuked. Transforming my sinfulness to the image of Christ truly feels like a crucifixion process.
That pain could be one reason for itching ears. Christian people are destined for change, yet like everyone else, we fear and resist it. Our old ways are more comfortable even when that vague dissatisfaction with them settles in. I suppose that is why some will look for teachers who support their comfortable passions.
Fortner writes for today his opinion of popular myths that people wander into. All of them fall into the concept of universalism — the teaching that because God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to die for our sins, therefore everyone is forgiven and saved. This is not true, but can be shown by pulling verses out of context. Yet if the biblical message is considered in its entirety, clearly only a few will find that narrow gate. The rest will perish in their sin.
Another myth is the idea that God wants His people comfortable, even rich. I know a few very sincere Christians who cannot bear anyone to be sick. They reason that when He was here, Jesus healed everyone. The Bible points to Jesus as the great physician, yet it gives reasons why God allows sickness. It also says that the worst sickness involves being in bondage to sin, thus Jesus said He came to seek and save the lost, not to make everyone well all the time.
A parallel is also true for riches. God blesses some yet not everyone. His promises of prosperity are true for our spiritual lives, but not always for material things. People who wander into either myth have false expectations and eventually will be disappointed.
Lord Jesus, much more could be said about myths and false teaching. For now, I realize that the more time I spend in Your Word, the more I understand that Your plans and thoughts are far above and beyond mine. I also know that my ‘I-wants’ can severely cloud my judgment and make my ears itch. I’m thankful for the Bible. It says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17) Because this is true, I can count on Your Word to keep me on the right track. Myths might appear and even be appealing, but believe the truth is far better, even if it means some discomfort in getting there.