We're instructed to preach in His name and to be His followers. Thinking about getting led astray has been weighing heavily on my mind lately in listening or reading various sermons. Especially when I dig into the Word during my weekly morning trips to a coffee shop or quiet corner of a library to get out of my element I feel that the Lord is tugging at my heart to pay more attention to false teachers and distortions in His teachings. I don't count myself completely grounding in the Word, nor a great scholar of the Word, but I am a man who feels passionately about reading and talking about what He has given to me during the time I spend in the Bible.
In Galatians, Paul talks about those who preach in such a way as to steer the gospel towards selfish endeavors, rather than to preach what God has already spoken. Interesting to see that false teaching was even happening back in the Paul's time like it does today.
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I seeing the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:6-10
How can we identify the false teachings from His Word? In verse 10, Paul gives a summation about what is the easiest way to identify it. "For am I seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."
Preaching the gospel means that we will always find ourselves at odds with what the world things is better. There are so many compromises for our faith and not watering down what He has to say is an important piece. The truth is hard for them to take and no one ever wants to be told they're wrong, but the moment we try to subvert, hide or change the Word of God for our own selfish desires then we have been led or are leading others astray. We mustn't change ourselves or our beliefs to suit the times.
I've seen or heard about so many churches changing to fit a new style in some way that distracts from the real problem; they are changing to be more appealing. God is already appealing to those who called by Him. Though there is a sharp disconnect to want a church body to stay relevant and important in the community that makes us all want to change a small piece to suit the community. The initial change may seem insignificant and it does, but then that change creeps its way into our teachings. If we are not following His teachings then we may notice that the believers we do produce are weak in faith and easily fall away from Him when challenged.
The path we walk in truth is hard, but our strength comes from knowing His Word and standing by what it has to say. We can interpret how we like it, or ignore verses to suit our own agendas, but in the end God's Word only has one direction, which is straight to Him and not us.
"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36