Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. John 7:16 – 18
The theological discipline that aims to teach people how to distinguish between truth and error is called “apologetics”. If you study apologetics you will learn about cults, sects, aberrant television evangelists and the great heresies that keep on appearing in different guises throughout the church ages. Google “apologetics” and you will find so many websites that your head will spin.
Christian apologists (called “heresy hunters” by their enemies) range from dull university professors to ecclesiastical vigilantes. They come in all shapes and sizes, and it is not unusual for them to turn on each other. Some of them, like the beloved Dave Hunt (no pun intended), have done legendary work in exposing deception in the church.
However, much of Christian apologetics would be totally unnecessary if we would simply heed Jesus’ words above. Firstly, they reveal the secret to discerning truth: An earnest desire to do God’s will. Secondly, they reveal the fundamental difference between the true and false teacher: The former is interested in God’s glory, the latter in his/her own glory.
The conclusion is clear: The person who seeks to do God’s will is sensitive to teaching that glorifies God, and so a natural detector of truth. Likewise, the one who seeks his/her own honour is attracted to teachings that can provide it, and to teachers who embody it.
Simple, isn’t it?