Contrary to popular belief, not all false teachers drive in limousines, fly in Lear Jets, or live in Hollywood mansions. They do not all promise you riches, problem-less days, and endless joy on the way to heaven. What all of them do have in common is an ability to get what they want by exciting your interest in their destructive teachings. Whether it be (and this is a shortlist) the prosperity gospel, the pseudo-science of theistic evolution, the myth of spirituality through higher learning (or no learning for that matter), miraculous gifts that come to nothing, or the endless claims of receiving a personal ‘word from the Lord,’ it all comes to the same end: Destruction by confusion. Satan is expert at combining facts with emotions. He has a simple manoeuvre that I have dubbed: ‘The Experiential-Lockdown.’ That is where a person accepts a fact as being true while experiencing great emotion. Don’t get me wrong, truth should generate great emotion. The problem comes when ‘truth’ is inserted ‘during’ great emotion. Thus, the facts are automatically Locked-down within the person as being ‘true,’ because they were ‘felt’ to be so. Believe me, the devil is just as effective at tempting us into false doctrine in our cool, calm and collected congregations, as he is in a highly emotional church settings.
The saintly ‘deep and quiet emotions’ type is just as susceptible as the ‘high octane emotions’ type—they are all the same to the devil. “Do not believe every spirit” is the Christian’s starting point. As we are listening to religious classes, sermons, and discussions, we are commanded to “test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false teachers have gone out into the world” (1Jn.4:1). Nothing has changed in 2000 years. When taking the gospel to our neighbours, it can be hard to convince someone that they have gone “beyond what is written” (1Cor.4:6) when they believe that it was given to them directly from the Lord—something they literally ‘felt to be true.’ Remember, such people may have been taught by false teachers, but are sincere in their beliefs. Treating them as false teachers is not the best way to start a conversation. Try telling them why you believe and how Jesus has impacted your life for the better. Invite them to test your convictions from the scriptures. The Lord will work in all this. If both of you are honest seekers of God’s will, He will guide the way. But don’t kid yourself, you may be caught in “The Experiential Lockdown,” too. The same Word examines us all.