Who Do You Follow?
by Stephanie Olson, Co-Founder Set Me Free Ministries
I had an experience awhile ago. I followed a certain Christian teacher/speaker for years. I enjoyed this person's speaking style, and I believed what this teacher was saying was Biblical. I trusted the person. Why wouldn’t I? They said they were following Scripture. They quoted Scripture. They loved Jesus. I began to see things differently, however, when someone I respected challenged this person. I must admit, my first reaction was one of offense. How in the world can you possibly say this person of God is not following Scripture? How can you possibly say this person of God will lead me astray even slightly? Well, maybe not intentionally. But the truth is, there are well-intentioned people who will deceive you.
So, I started digging; digging in the Scripture. When I started digging, I found how easy it is to twist a Scripture if you’re not reading that Scripture in context. I learned how critical it is to read Scripture in its historical and contextual background. That’s not always easy. It takes time, effort, and work, but it is so essential. I had to admit, the person I had been following was not always sharing Biblical truth.
God gave us His Word so we would know His character. God gave us His Word so we would know the truth. When we understand the Bible is God’s true Word, literally breathed by Him, we then can understand how vital His Word is to our lives.
There is a tremendous amount of deception in the church today. Matthew 24:4-5 says, “And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.’” (NKJV)
Now, if some guy walks up to you claiming to be Jesus, you probably won’t be deceived. It is pretty clear that this guy on the street is probably not Jesus. But, what if you have someone preaching a slightly different cross to you? What if you have someone preaching a slightly different Jesus? The only way we can know if we are hearing about the Jesus of Scripture is to know Scripture.
Anyone can tell you they are speaking truth. But unless you are in the Word, how do you know what they are saying is truth? It comes down to this question: Who do you follow? Do you follow man or Christ? Paul warns us of this very thing in 2 Timothy 4:3-4. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (NIV)
It is so easy to find ourselves following a man (or a woman, as the case may be) we respect instead of Jesus. In this day and age where some pastors and Christian teachers have practically become rock stars and icons, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of following someone we admire so much. Let’s face it; the truth of the Gospel isn’t always easy to hear. Isn’t it easier to listen to someone who shares a Gospel that tells us that everyone gets to heaven, life will be wonderful as a Christian, and sin isn’t that big of a deal? Yet, when we follow man, we run the risk of becoming deceived. Proverbs 14:12 tells us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” When we follow Christ, and only Christ, we can’t go wrong.
I now find myself being very cautious when it comes to what teachers I expose myself to. If I have a question, I run straight to the Word of God. God gave us His Word “for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16 NIV) It’s great to sit under teachers who can help explain the Word of God, who love the Lord, and who love sharing His Word. For heaven’s sake, I’m one of them. But with every teacher, pastor, or speaker, check what he or she is saying against the only source we can truly trust–the Word of God.
Who do you follow, man or Christ? I pray consistently to be kept from deception. When we follow Jesus, and only Jesus, we have this assurance from His own words, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27 NKJV) Thank you, Jesus!