Words of Worth

How Can You Tell the Difference?

May 27, 2011

Over the course of the last several years the way we travel has changed significantly. Long gone are the days we could carelessly toss shampoo, hairspray, and lotions in our bags. Now every item must be downsized and carefully measured into three-ounce containers and if you are smart, you will label each and every one of these containers identifying what’s inside. Recently as I packed for a trip, I poured and scooped and measured but I failed to label every item. So upon my arrival, I had two identical three ounce jars containing a white lotion-like substance. One was hair cream, the other was an antibiotic skin cream and I couldn’t tell the difference. I didn’t want to put medicine in my hair and I didn’t think hair cream would be an effective medical remedy. I stared at them for a long time. There were subtle differences, but which one was which??? How would I tell the difference?

That dilemma caused me to ponder another situation we often find ourselves facing. What is truth and what is false teaching? Sometimes they look and sound almost identical. On the surface only subtle differences might appear but failing to know difference could have devastating consequences. And though my predicament was brought on by the changes in airline travel guidelines, the problem of distinguishing between the truth and false teaching is not a new issue at all.

In Matthew 7:15, Jesus gives a sobering warning regarding false prophets. He says they “come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” So, much like my two similar looking containers, false teaching can actually look and sound a lot like the truth. Frightening indeed. It’s critical to recognize the difference between what’s true and lies that have been distorted just enough to sound like truth. Even Christians are being deceived! How will we know the difference? The answer is found in the next sentence, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)

Careful examination is necessary for everything you see, hear, and read. False teachers can be smooth talkers, seductive in their approach promising freedom when all they have to offer is bondage to lies from the pit of hell itself. The grace they present is cheapened by the importance they place on self worth thereby negating the awful and precious price Christ paid for our sins. So how will you recognize what’s false? By knowing the Truth. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Are you holding up everything you see and hear to the light of the Gospel of Christ? The fruit of false teaching can never compare to the purity of Christ and the perfection of God’s Word.

Looking for more words? Read Psalm 19:7-14 and reflect on the true characteristics of God’s Word. Ask Him to give you discernment to recognize false teaching.

By the way, after I carefully examined the two jars of white creamy looking substance, I finally determined which one to use on my hair by the very faint scent of oranges. Of course this reminded me of 2 Corinthians 2:14 which says,
But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”

Final application? If you are still wondering what’s true and what’s not, you might be able to “tell by the smell”. (CT)

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