From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. Matthew 16:21-23
Have you ever noticed the very last line in this passage? In rebuking Satan, who is the focus of the false teaching put forth by the Devil? It isn’t God and His interests, but is isn’t Satan and his interests either. Satan sells his deceptions by putting them in a man-centered package! If Satan had whispered in Peter’s ear “Hey, tell Jesus you hate Him and want Him destroyed” Peter would have recoiled in horror immediately understanding the temptation had come from the evil one. But whispering a man-centered (a Peter-centered) idea into Peter’s ear, it went in Peter’s ear and came out his mouth. Mission accomplished!!
Understanding this gives us one of the easiest signs to look for when examining a teaching to see if it is Biblical or if it is false. Ask yourself, “Is what I am hearing/reading focusing on me (man) or is it focusing on God?” One of my favorite teachers/authors Michael Horton has a simple question he asks when examining a teaching. He asks “which way is the arrow pointing?” The Word of God, and Godly teachings always have the arrow of focus pointing toward our Lord. If what you are hearing is pointing toward you (or what you must do) then the arrow is pointing at the interests of man, not God. For example, the book “A Purpose Driven Life” starts out with the line “It’s not about you”. Good start! But then the rest of the book discusses you and what you must do. So I ask…which way is the arrow pointing? At you, and what you must do, not at God! Another example would be to look at all the new mystic prayer techniques that are becoming so popular. Which way is the arrow pointing? They describe how you must do this, and then do that. You must think these thoughts and get into a certain spiritual state, and then you will experience intimacy with God. The arrow is pointing solidly at you! The focus is what you must do so you can experience something you want.
So let me encourage you to start carefully examining the sermons and books that you allow to speak into your life. False teachings often sound so appealing and logical, but that is because they are focused on man and his desires, ego, ambitions and insecurities. The arrow of focus will always point to our Lord and what He has done when you are hearing a Godly teaching.
Watch the arrow folks… watch the arrow!!