The Tests for Discernment
The Bible gives us several tests for discerning true and false teachers.
1. The Moral Test of Obedience
Ungodly lifestyles expose false teachers.
Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning (1 John 3:7-8).
2. The Social Test of Love
Unloving men expose themselves as false teachers.
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:8).
3. The Doctrinal Test of Truth
True teachers affirm that God became flesh in Jesus Christ. Those who deny that fundamental truth are false teachers, no matter what else they may do or say.
Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:22-23).
A teacher who denies the incarnation or only vaguely talks about Jesus, is a false teacher. Avoid his influence.
4. The Scriptural Test of Authority
True teachers submit to apostolic teaching. They affirm the 66 books of the Bible, and only those 66 books, as the inerrant Word of God.
We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 John 4:6).
That verse refers to the apostles, whom the Holy Spirit uniquely guided into the truth. True teachers don’t add to the Bible with church tradition, tongues and prophecies, or other religious books. True teachers uphold the Bible as the only authoritative word from God.
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book (Revelation 22:18).