Five Tests of Spiritual Error: Part 2


Test #3- Spiritual error denies the Person of Jesus Christ!  The identity of the Second Person of the Trinity is not up for grabs.  The Bible is quite clear about His perfect deity and His sinless humanity.  We read in I Timothy 3:16, “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:  He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”  The universalist Philip Gulley says, “I believe Jesus had a special relationship with God and an important role in human history, though I'm no longer persuaded this required his divinity.” (If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person).

Test #4- Spiritual error goes beyond the Bible in forbidding the gifts God has given.  Paul tells us that faith-abandoners, who are nothing more than hypocritical liars with seared consciences, will “forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.” (I Timothy 4:3).  False religion doesn’t only appear in a form which encourages sinful conduct.  It sometimes says that a higher form of spirituality is to deny the physical gifts God has given us to enjoy.[1]

Test #5- Spiritual error has a low view of the Scriptures, substituting its own experience or reason for God’s Word!  Perhaps the most fundamental question in theological matters is the question of one’s authority.  What or who determines what you and I should believe?  Evangelical Christians affirm the functional authority of the entire Bible, all sixty-six books, properly understood and carefully applied.  A.W. Tozer, a deeply spiritual pastor, put it this way:  “Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it. Let me accept anything else instead of the Scriptures and I have been cheated and robbed to my eternal confusion.”

I challenge you, the reader, to go through the rest of the Pastoral Epistles to discover additional tests of spiritual error. 

Written by Dr. Larry Dixon Professor of Theology, Columbia International University Seminary and School of Ministry

[1] For an outstanding sermon on receiving marriage and food to the glory of God, watch John Piper’s sermon “Sanctified by the Word and Prayer: Saint Paul and C.S. Lewis on the Holiness of Creation,” a message delivered at the 2013 Desiring God conference and found at the website.

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