I know a guy in Mississippi, a family friend, who learned a costly lesson a few years ago. He’s an experienced man, old enough to have acquired plenty of wisdom. He is a man whose knowledge of farm and rural life had endowed him with powers of discernment. One day, he pulled into a gas station and bought some items from the convenience store, then filled up his new truck. For whatever reason, he had not taken the time to practice the discernment he already knew how to use. As he pulled away from the gas station, he was confident that all was well and that his day would end comfortably as it always did. But it didn’t. A few miles down the road his new truck met its fate. He had put gasoline in his diesel engine.
It’s not an uncommon mistake. Diesel and gasoline are pumped from machines that are very similar in appearance. Diesel looks like gasoline. In their unburned states, they smell somewhat similar. The nozzles that dispense the fuels, on first glance, appear identical. But all of this is only appearance and not reality. A diesel nozzle is larger than a gasoline nozzle so that you can’t fit it into a gasoline vehicle. On the other hand, because it is smaller, a gasoline nozzle fits far too easily into a diesel tank. Diesel is also a lubricant in addition to being a fuel, so it will often have a black oily residue on it’s pump and nozzle. A diesel pump is almost always painted green, and labeled with big letters that say DIESEL.
But none of those differences matter if you don’t take time to discriminate.
The world of bible teaching is similar to the diesel problem, with one big difference. Diesel is a good fuel that is meant for running certain kinds of cars. False bible teaching, is destructive fuel meant to damage any person interested in learning about Jesus or true spirituality. Unfortunately, the bad bible teaching often comes from a “pump” that looks, smells, and feels o.k. at first glance. But the apostle John knew better, and warned his students to test every spirit to see if it comes from God (1 John 4:1). He gave them a test to help make that discernment (1 John 4:2-3). John argued that a teacher who didn’t pass that test wasn’t from God, but was instead a kind of antichrist. So look carefully at the pumps where you get your spiritual fuel. If you don’t practice discernment, you’ll break your spiritual engine.