How do we discover false teaching? Do our teachers glorify God or themselves? Do you glorify yourself in your own teaching?
14 But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. 15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” 16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
I’m thinking to the previous dialogue Jesus had with His followers about making a spectacle of Himself during the holiday. Since they wanted Him to parade around showing off (and they wanted to be a part of it), He had them “go on ahead” and join in the festivities and later He slid into the temple low-key and unannounced. One thing that comes to mind about this is that because He didn’t attract attention into the temple, it insured that the people in the audience were only people who really wanted to hear teaching in the first place. I think of the alternative: He wanted to teach, so He shows up performing miracles and showing off and they all follow Him into the temple for teaching. The temple becomes crowded with all these people seeking amazement and wonder, not truly seeking out any sort of truth or teaching. They want to be entertained, not actually develop their relationship with God. Allow me to try to draw a parallel to a similar type of people: independent contractors.
I speak coming from over 6 years of independent contractor work with the government. It has been an understood concept that contractors are “always looking for the next contract.” Why is that? There is no security in contracting, especially for the government. People are always looking for a bigger paycheck, a change of pace, or even a way out of this lifestyle (living from contract to contract). When a contractor lands a new contract with a company, it doesn’t take long before they start looking elsewhere. It could be for more money, for a different type of job, because a change in family status, or many other reasons. I’m not saying here that it is good, bad, or anything else. My point is that they are not fully committed to the company they work for. They are floaters, here today and gone tomorrow.
If Jesus would have wanted to attract all sorts of people to listen to Him just for Him to be heard, then He would have gone up to the feat with His buddies turning water into wine, healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, etc. Rather, His focus was on teaching those who wanted to be taught. He in fact lays this out in verse 18, if we slow down enough to pay attention to what He is saying.
There are quite a few times throughout the bible when it is made clear that all things done of God are purely to be for His glory. If it is caring for orphans and widows, teaching a Sunday school lesson, or raising your kids, if it ever becomes about the person doing it, then it does not glorify God and therefore falls short. What I find most intriguing is verse 17 he will know of the teaching. So, if someone seeks God’s will, he or she will know if the teaching is a God honoring teaching or not. Why is this? How is this? We know the difference because the human element is removed. If anything is for man’s own glory, it will be exposed and evident because nothing can glorify man and God at the same time. Just like a man cannot serve two masters.
What does this mean for us? It means we must be careful of false teachers, but also that we have the ability to know if we are listening to a false teaching. In using the bible as our guide, we can compare what others are saying to what God tells us through His Word. If we study His Word enough, we learn more about Him, thus making it easier to tell the difference between false teachers who try to lift exalt themselves through their teachings and those who enhance our relationship with God.
Who is teaching you? How are you teaching?