Do you have a teachable spirit?
When it comes to the Word of God, we live in a time where we are continuously bombarded with information from all sides. We hear one interpretation from our pastors or religious leaders. We hear another interpretation from the people we know or meet and then from everyone else on TV, radio, or cyberspace. In search for answers, we spend a small fortune in books, CD’s, and DVD’s or spend countless hours searching the internet. Everywhere we turn, everyone has a different interpretation of the Bible.
With so many different views and interpretations, whom can we trust to deliver the truth? Those who are in the Father and the Son also have the Holy Spirit indwelling, and if we have the Holy Spirit living in us, He is our teacher. He anoints us and teaches us the truth. He gives us discernment and 1 John 2:27 confirms this, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
However, when we are constantly exposed to the different explanation of the scriptures, how do we tell what is truth and what is not? That is simple; we will find the truth in the Word of God. Nonetheless, sometimes people still feel the need for a little help when reading the Scriptures and that is when we turn to others for answers. This is where we can encounter problems. To illustrate, I will be using the King James Version (KJV) throughout this article.
False teachers or confused Christians?
There are false teachers and then there are people, in Christ, that are just simply confused and mistaken in how they understand Scripture; there is a difference. A false teacher is one who disguises him or herself as a person of God and deliberately and erroneously teaches the Word of God with the intention to deceive and lead the Children of God away from the truth. They have a purpose and it is not a Godly one.
Sometimes the signs are evident and sometimes the lies are so crafty and convincing that they can deceive the best of us. Yet, the Bible gives us plenty of warnings. In Mark 13:22, 23, Jesus warns, “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.” In 1 John 2, the Bible warns in these last times there are many antichrists and we will known them because they deny that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:22-23).
But if a brother or sister in Christ is incorrectly interpreting the Word of God, should we not also call them a false teacher? Not necessarily. A person misinterpreting the Word of God when stating an opinion does not necessarily make them a false teacher. As I said earlier, that person could simply be confused and needs correction.
No man or woman, not one, has all the revelations. There are hidden meanings in the Bible and we are not all going to comprehend everything we read. Nevertheless, have faith because in due time, the Lord will reveal them to us.
Therefore, before we begin to make accusations or call someone a false teacher, we must first allow the Holy Spirit to lead us on how we are to proceed. Matthew 7:1, 2 says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Instead, we should reprove in love and always with the Scriptures. Do not just offer them your opinion. Intelligently try to explain why they are in error without trying to impress them with all your expert knowledge.
Detecting an unteachable spirit
However, if the person refuses to listen and will not accept correction, stubbornly continuing to hold on to their opinion, do not argue with them. God has a plan for those. Usually you see this flaw in those who are not mature enough in Christ. Hebrews 5:13, 14 says, “For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” This is also a sign of an unteachable spirit. If they continue to refuse scriptural correction, this is where they can tread into dangerous ground and false doctrine can take over. When they begin to teach and spread false information to others as if it is the absolute biblical truth, then it becomes false doctrine.
In Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul expresses his concern to those who have turned from the Gospel of Christ and warns them of the consequences. Paul says, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:6-9). Therefore, one must always be careful of what they are teaching.
There are also those who are full of head knowledge but suffer from spiritual malnutrition; they are what I call spiritually blind. In their lifetime, they acquire vast amount of biblical knowledge and become arrogant and oftentimes are inapproachable because of their display of a superior attitude towards others. There is a spirit of pride behind this behavior. These people are determined and set in their ways and will not accept biblical correction but are always ready to give their “expert” opinion and rebuke others. This is not only a sign of a religious spirit but a sign of an unteachable spirit as well. This haughty attitude can negatively influence their not too well-intentioned teachings, even if some of what they teach is correct. Since their motives are not right with God, they will bear no fruit.
Hearing, Humility, and Wisdom
Proverbs 15:31-33 says, “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.” Therein these verses may lay the answer to having a teachable spirit. The requirements are clear and they seem simple enough but it takes effort; they are hearing, humility, and wisdom. What can we learn from these three words?
- Hearing: Are we quiet long enough to listen and learn from what is being said or do we immediately take offense and protest in defiance? We need to first listen, then test the spirits. If it does not align with the Word of God, it is false doctrine. If what we are hearing does not oppose the Word but differs from what we believe, then maybe it is time to re-evaluate and rethink our beliefs. Pray for guidance and clarity then re-read the scriptures with fresh eyes.
- Humility: Are we willing to accept correction and admit we could be wrong? Does pride and haughtiness get in the way preventing us from reaching the next level in God’s Kingdom? Do we have a repentant heart and allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of our pride or are our hearts hardened to the extent that it alienates us from God? Sometimes we need to look into our hearts and listen to what God is trying to tell us, then come humbly to the Cross and surrender our pride.
- Wisdom: How does one get spiritual wisdom? One way at arriving at spiritual wisdom is through spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity does not necessarily come by walking with Christ for many years. I have seen Christians who claim to have been “saved” for many years yet have not matured in Christ. Then I have seen Christians that immediately develop an understanding and a relationship with Christ, and within a short time after accepting the Lord, they attain spiritual maturity. Another way to receive spiritual wisdom is to ask God for this gift. Remember though, God does not give us spiritual wisdom to serve ourselves but to serve Him. When we serve Him, we are to deny ourselves.
Therefore, those who listen, are humble, and have spiritual wisdom have spiritual maturity and a teachable spirit. They have spiritual maturity because they have a close relationship with God, and they have a teachable spirit because they also know how to listen, use discernment, and learn. If we are fortunate enough to meet someone like this, he or she will probably tell us in all humbleness that they are still learning even years well into their maturity in Christ and will continue in their learning up until the day they meet our Lord in heaven.
Do you meet the requirements for a teachable spirit?
Lord we humbly come to you today to ask that you forgive us for our prideful sinful nature. We only serve ourselves when we allow pride to lead us hindering our spiritual walk with you. We ask that you help us overcome this and make us better students of your Word. And as we open our Bible, please reveal to us the truth in your perfect Word and give us a deeper understanding of the Word. Grant us spiritual wisdom to better serve you and lead us in your righteous path. In Jesus holy name we ask.
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