“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you” (Galatians 5:7-8 NIV).
Since there are many who seek to persuade us in the areas of spirituality, ideology, and philosophy today, we would do well to adapt the message of Galatians 5:8 for use as a question. When others look to influence us with their beliefs in these areas, we might ask if such persuasion comes from Him who calls us. This approach can help us as we consider the various teachings and worldviews we encounter today.
For instance, here are a few questions we can use to evaluate different teachings and belief systems to help determine if they come from the One who calls us or if they originate somewhere else…
- Does the message direct us towards Christ or does it direct us towards a person, an ideology, or an organization?
- Is the teaching focused upon what we should do to help ourselves or does it encourage dependence upon Jesus and His ability to facilitate growth?
- Does the teacher or minister seek to help others understand and apply the Word of God?
- Does the teacher or minister dwell upon a few preferred subjects to the exclusion of others? Do the same themes continually appear within that person’s teachings even when the Biblical context does not support it?
- Do the proponents encourage others to study the Scriptures independently or depend upon a group or individual for guidance?
Although the Galatians started well in their spiritual journey, they eventually came under the influence of others who guided them off course. Their example should prompt us to consider the instruction we receive from various sources and the videos, books, websites, broadcasts, and other types of media that occupy our time.
Remember that false spiritual teachings represent the visible fruit of a tree that is rooted in something other than Christ. To borrow an analogy from Jesus, a bad tree cannot bear good fruit (see Matthew 7:16-20). In a similar manner, the teachings of the legalists of Galatia were not rooted in Christ. Instead, those teachings found their origin somewhere else.
With this in mind, we would be wise to prayerfully evaluate the influences we allow into our lives, for repeated exposure to questionable teachings may grow into something spiritually dangerous if we are not careful to focus upon the Word of God.