In his letter to Timothy, a fellow Christian worker who was in a pastoral role, Paul wrote the following to urge him to oppose teachers of false doctrine in Ephesus.
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. (1 Timothy 1:3-7 NIV)
It is interesting to note what Paul says is the result of such false doctrines, myths and genealogies (spiritual pedigrees) is that it promoted controversial, or meaningless and empty, speculations. Instead of making things clearer, these things caused uncertainty, more questions and arguments.
In his commentary on 1 Timothy, theologian A.D. Litfin remarks that “Such speculations were to be avoided because they did not further God’s plan, which is grasped and implemented not by human imagination, but by faith. By contrast, human speculations tend to lead off down endless blind tunnels which serve only to confuse and obscure God’s truth.” Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of that going on at the moment. Thanks to social media, we are bombarded by a host of opinions and declarations from random people who claim to have the truth. We know nothing of these people’s character, beliefs or agendas aside from what they choose to show us. The problem of “fake news” is not merely a secular, worldly problem, so much of it comes from those who claim to be Christian, or who are in fact genuine believers but are misguided.
Paul sees the job of opposing false teaching as an important one. The goal of commanding people to stop with the speculations was so that they would have love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. I have seen how false teaching or misguided “revelations” have caused much grief and doubt in the hearts of sincere believers. Now, more than ever, we need to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves as we go among the wolves (Matthew 10:16).
We need to oppose “fake news” with the Good News of the Gospel. Let us measure every word against Scripture and where we lack the knowledge to evaluate a certain message, reach out to someone you trust, someone whose character you are sure of. Let us pray for discernment from the Holy Spirit and instead of getting caught up in the speculations and conspiracies, let us ground ourselves in simple, sincere faith, having a pure heart and good conscience before our God.