How do we differentiate between a true spiritual leader and a false one?

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“Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

God has given us tests to differentiate between a true spiritual leader and a false one:

(1) The spiritual leader of the church must confess Christ in life as well as in word “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:1–3). Also, he must acknowledge and confess Christ’s deity “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist who denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22, 23).

(2) The spiritual leader’s teachings must be based on the Scripture “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11); “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8, 9).

(3) The fruit of the spiritual leader’s life and teachings must be good “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matt. 7:18–20).

(4) The spiritual leader should have a good family record “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife… ruling their children and their own houses well” (1 Timothy 3:2, 12).

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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