The stakes are high. When it comes to discerning between truth and error, there’s no room for blunders. There’s room for learning, and for corrections, but the Bible offers no comfort to those who “wrest” (or pervert) the true meaning of the Scriptures. Perverting the plain teachings of the Bible can, and will, lead to destruction. It’s true that some things in the Scriptures are hard to understand, the apostle Peter acknowledged this, but he also warned that those who pervert the Scriptures, even though some parts of it are hard to understand, do so “unto their own destruction” (2Peter 3:16). So the stakes are high. Eternal loss is the result of twisting Scriptural truth into error.
This trilogy of posts will talk about ways to safeguard ourselves as we search the Scriptures. In my own life, I’ve lost friends who have been led astray and have become entrenched in fatal errors. It’s heart-wrenching, to say the least, and painful to watch it happen. So these first three posts are the result of my trying to understand what went wrong. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not so much about evidence for the truth, but rather an openness to the truth, which makes it a matter of character. Mountains of evidence for the truth can be given to no avail if the person is not willing to receive it and submit to the truth.
The first and most important safeguard isn’t a technique or method of Bible study. The first and foremost thing we can do to avoid being deceived is to receive the love of the truth. It’s a heart issue:
“… they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2Thessalonians 2:10-12.
The love of the truth is something that we receive. God will give it to us, but if we don’t accept it from Him, it only makes sense that we won’t be able to discern between truth and error. Did you notice the reason why people reject the love of the truth? It’s because they find “pleasure in unrighteousness.” They would rather cherish sin instead of letting God fill the heart with the love of the truth.
The same sentiment is expressed in the third chapter of the book of John: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:19, 20.
People go astray because they hang onto sin. It’s a character issue. They don’t want their sins to be reproved. Even if someone follows the best practices for Bible study, those best practices will not be a safeguard to them if sin is cherished in the heart. This is the first and most important element in rightly discerning between truth and error. We need to receive the love of the truth from God, and then be willing to be changed by it, to let go of every sinful act and every sinful trait of character.
Part 2 – Traits of Character and a Test