In our recent studies through 2 Corinthians (chapters ten and eleven in particular) we have encountered some eye-opening discussions having to do with false teachers. It seems many believers were more impressed with them than with Paul who simply preached the gospel simply. The false teachers were not only skilled communicators, but also had the ‘wow factor’. For those more interested in eloquence than substance, Paul’s speech was regarded as contemptible. While Paul may have lacked charisma, these other so-called teachers lacked honesty. In stressing this point, Paul cautions believers to give great care when it comes to measuring truth. In short, we’re not to be fooled by goose bumps.
These crucial lessons from the Apostle Paul bring to mind a certain fellow I know who has become quite popular as an itinerant speaker. Some years back, infidelity and other reckless behavior disqualified him from ministry. With the lapsing of time, he has managed to bury his indiscretions beneath tall tales. The stories he shares are fascinating. They are cleverly designed to wow and pull heart strings. While this “preacher” is an artful communicator, truth-telling is not one of his strong suits. But that doesn’t seem to matter. In a culture hungry for inspiration, fact-checking remains low on the priority list, even in mainstream churches.
Sadly, there will always be those who prefer eloquence over substance. Lies are friendlier. I don’t want to hear I look sixty. Convince me I look thirty-nine. I’ll accept truth elsewhere, but not here. A chill up the spine feels better than a pierce to the heart. When addressing my flesh, “Tell me lies, tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.” as the old Fleetwood Mac song goes.
The church does not exist for the edification of our flesh. Our purpose is spiritual edification, and the spirit demands truth. It is a grave mistake to measure truth by what appeals to the flesh. We will only be deceived. The goose bumps and chills must always be held suspect. The heartstrings that are tugged and the ears that are tickled must be ignored. These are merely palpitations, not validations. Paul warned his understudy Timothy:
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 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.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)
Let’s face it, fables promise more goose bumps than preaching, reproving, rebuking or exhorting. However, fables do not promote spiritual growth. They stunt it. This is why we must watch out for those who rely upon fables to draw an audience. We must keep our emotions in check, and pay more attention to what is said as opposed to how it is said. If it appeals to the flesh, chances are it’s fable. If it offends, there’s a good chance it’s fact. We’ll never know if we go solely on feeling. We must do as the Bereans did with Paul and other traveling preachers:
“These [the Bereans] were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660