How to identify strange doctrine?

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We are living in the age of confusion! There is so much information available, an ocean of knowledge, you can easily drown in it. Most everyone has easy access to the internet and books. This abundance of knowledge sometimes makes it difficult to discern truth from error. We also find people returning to their Hebrew roots. Here again we find an abundance of information, teachings and teachers. The question is: how do you know the truth from error? Error will lead to deception and losing the true way. What does the Scripture say about strange doctrine and how to identify it?

What is strange doctrine?

Strange doctrine is doctrine contrary to the Word of YHVH, for example the “preaching of another Y’shua.” A Y’shua who did not keep the commandments.

1 Timothy 1:3–4
3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of Elohim which is by faith.

2 Corinthians 11:4
4 For if one comes and preaches another Y’shua whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.

These people are said to be slaves of their own appetites. Don’t we see that in the world today?

Romans 16:17–18
17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Master Messiah but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

Galatians 1:6–8
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Messiah, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Messiah. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

1 Timothy 6:3
3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Master Y’shua Messiah, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,

Paul defines “a different doctrine” further in stating that it does not agree with sound words, those of our Master Y’shua the Messiah AND with the doctrine conforming to godliness. Allow me to put it plainly as I understand it; “a different doctrine” is a doctrine contrary to Y’shua’s teaching and also contrary to the Torah for the Torah teaches us godliness.

This is confirmed for us in Revelation where we see that the followers of YHVH keep the commandments and hold on to the testimony of Y’shua.

Revelation 12:17
17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of Elohim and hold to the testimony of Y’shua.

Sound words” or “sound teaching” can further be expanded upon by looking at 1 Tim 1:10. Paul gives a few examples of what is contrary to “sound teaching”.

1 Timothy 1:10
10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,

What are the fruit of strange doctrine?

1 Timothy 6:3–6
3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Master Y’shua Messiah, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.

Allow me to paraphrase 1 Tim 6:4-5 further according to my understanding. He is conceited (excessively proud) with a morbid(abnormal) interest in controversial (opposing ) questions and and disputes (arguments) about words, out of which arise envy (resentment), strife (bitter disagreement), abusive language, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of depraved (morally corrupt) mind and deprived (suffering a lack of a specified benefit that is considered important) of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

Don’t we so often see this amongst believers?

Paul tells us what the goal of our instruction must be: love from a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith.

1 Timothy 1:5–7
5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

Do not teach what you don’t understand, that is very important. We often hear a teacher teach and we just assume that he is sharing truth. We then repeat what we have learned without proving it against the Scriptures. Sometimes he may be merely repeating what he has heard. We must be very careful!

Prove all things!

1 Thessalonians 5:21
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;

Be like the Bereans!

Acts 17:11
11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

We should always measure ourselves against this.

Wrong doctrine is lying against the truth

How do you lie against the truth? You take Scripture out of it’s original context and build your own ideas upon it.

James 3:13–18
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Doctrine that cannot account for every verse in the Scripture is not a sound doctrine. You should be able to test your doctrine against scripture from Genesis to Revelation, without it once contradicting the Scripture. If it does, then I am afraid, it is just a theory.

YHVH often gave instructions and later repeated these commandments, sometimes in more detail or in a different context. Would that nullify the first given instruction or change it? To answer this, we have to look at the context. Let’s look at some examples from the Scriptures.

The mixing of seed and material

Leviticus 19:19
19 ‘You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.

Deuteronomy 22:9–11
9 “You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled. 10 “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. 11 “You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together.

Let’s look specifically at the instructions pertaining to the mixing of seed and the and the mixing of two kinds of material. What can we deduce from this? We certainly can’t say that the mixing of seed mentioned in Leviticus exclusively pertains to vine? Just as you can’t say that the restriction of mixing different kinds of thread only pertains to linen and wool. This is just my humble opinion, but it does not make logical sense to apply the instructions in Deuteronomy in a literal sense, thus limiting the instructions given in Leviticus.

The Sabbatical year

We can conclude the same regarding the instructions given regarding the Sabbatical year.

Exodus 23:10–11
10 “You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, 11 but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

Leviticus 25:2–4
2 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to Yahovah. 3 ‘Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, 4 but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to Yahovah; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.

The instruction for the Sabbatical year is first given in Exodus at Sinai, and later repeated when Israel was about to enter the land. The context is a repetition of the instructions when Israel was close to entering the land. However, through their unbelief, their entering the land was postponed with forty years. Here we see the commandment still being the same, but the context is different.clip_image002

Exodus 19-40 takes place at Sinai, with Israel arriving there in the third month after coming out of Egypt. They erected the Tabernacle on the first day of the first month of the second year (Ex 40:17). The book of Leviticus starts off with the instructions regarding the offers that were to take place in the Tabernacle as well as other instructions, all of which were given at Sinai. The celebration of Pesach, mentioned in Num 9:1 also took place on the fourteenth day of the first month of the second year. They were still at Sinai but departed soon afterwards to the wilderness of Paran. They were now very close to entering the land. Moses was given an instruction by YHVH to send spies to spy out the land. We know what happened thereafter…

I am doing this mini chronology to show you how close they were to enter the land when the commandment was repeated to keep the Sabbatical year when they enter the land. It shows us the adding of the phrase “when you enter the land” is in context with them soon entering the land. It was, in my opinion, not given in order to make the commandment exclusive to the land they were about to enter. See also a more detailed study on this “When you enter the land -understanding the context leads to better understanding.”

Other pitfalls in interpreting Scripture

You can take two or more 100% correct facts and still come to a wrong conclusion. One of the reasons would be ignoring the context, and another reason could be not understanding the grammatical composition of the verse.

A good example of this is Joel 2:18. We shall look at the phrase “will be zealous” and “will have pity” in three different translations.

The first quote is from the New American Standard Bible (NASB):

Joel 2:18
18 Then YHVH will be zealous for His land And will have pity on His people.

Next from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV):

Joel 2:1818
Then YHVH became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people.

Now the Young’s Literal Translation (YLT):

Joel 2:18
18 And let Jehovah be zealous for His land, And have pity on His people.

If you look at the morphology of the verbs “to be zealous”and “will have pity” we see it used in the imperfect form. Interesting to note how three different translations chose to interpret this verse. The NASB chose to use future imperfect; the NRSV used past imperfect, and the YLT used present imperfect tense. Reading this verse in context will reveal the problem to us. Has this taken place, is it taking place or will it still take place? Maybe all three are true based on your understanding of the context. Later on in this chapter Joel builds further on this by stating:

Joel 2:28–29
28 “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

As this refers to a time after Joel 2:18 we now need to make a choice. Has the time already come for YHVH to pour out His Spirit on all mankind? It is easy to argue both sides of this argument with Scripture to support it.  I am pointing this out to show you that interpreting of Scripture is not easy or straightforward. That is the reason why no one person can claim that he/she has the ultimate truth. We must therefor be gentle with each other realizing that there will be no doctrinal unity before Y’shua returns. We are therefor to strive for unity in love. We do not have the right to judge. Who says my version of the truth is truth or anybody else’s, for that matter?

James 4:11
11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

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3 responses to “How to identify strange doctrine?”

  1. […] Confession of sin is done in order to gain forgiveness and to restore a broken relationship. It is about making restitution, not only for our iniquity, but also for the sins of our fathers in order to break the curses which are upon us. Our repentance will restore our relationship with YHVH, and He will remember His covenant with us – His people. This repentance will lead to physical (Joel 2:19-27) and spiritual restoration (Joel 2:28-29). I see what was prophesied in Joel chapter 2 as a prophesy that has in part been fulfilled, but also as a prophesy that is being fulfilled at present and that will in the time of the end be fulfilled to completion. (We have gone in some detail on the grammatical tense used in Joel 2 in “Are you a follower of strange doctrine? […]

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