The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil.
God's Word is the basis for righteous judgment. Is the person proclaiming the Word of God? Is it biblically true? Accepting the fact that God's Word is both foundational and central, however, is not the only criterion. Satan will quote Scripture. He even had the audacity to quote it to Jesus. Any organization can make up a doctrinal statement. I have even encountered hard-core Satanists who have infiltrated the church and occupied leadership positions in evangelical ministries.
Paul warned, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
I know of a false teacher who teaches the Bible. In fact, he teaches the Bible very well, but his moral life is decadent. Two of our seminary students were mesmerized by his intellectual brilliance. I personally wouldn't care to do intellectual battle with him, but I wouldn't want to battle Satan intellectually either. This man indulges the flesh in its corrupt desires and despises authority, which are traits identified in 2 Peter 2:10 as those of a false prophet.
I'm always amazed at how gullible some people are and how easily deceived. "He's such a wonderful speaker!" "What a charismatic person!" "I could feel the electricity in the air!" They're not judging righteously; they're judging by appearance (or worse, by how they feel). John wrote, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24); and "Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil" (1 John 3:7, 8).
Prayer: Dear Father, I desire the capacity for righteous judgment based on Your Word to deal effectively with the enemy's subtle schemes.
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