Yesterday I outlined one possible application from John’s purpose in 1 John. That application, focus on the truth and you will recognize error. By the way, those who prosecute counterfeiters do not study counterfeit bills, they study and are intimately familiar with the real thing – same principle. I learned this the hard way.
When I entered the Air Force in the early 70’s I found myself surrounded by Mormons. As a new believer, I was interested in sharing my faith with them. Although they present as a Christian – sect for lack of a better word – Mormonism is not Christian. In multiple conversations, I had with those in my unit, we hashed out our differences on the Bible and the elements of the gospel. I begin to study books about the cult. I read extensively about its founding. In my Bible study I looked for passages that would help me share with my Mormon friends more effectively. In the margins of the Bible I used back then there are notes about how a passage would answer a question a Mormon might ask.
After some time I realized I was no longer studying for myself. I was studying to better interact with the Mormons in my unit. I was convicted. My time was not refreshing with the Lord but searching for answers to questions that I knew that they would ask. I put away the books. I refocused my study on getting to know my Lord.
Years later I was at the campus of the University of Alabama in Birmingham. A group of us were working at starting a collegiate ministry there. We were taking pre-evangelism surveys with students during lunch. One of the students and I got into a lengthy discussion. He was telling me about a Bible study that he was attending. The more he talked the more something about the study did not seem aligned with Scripture. I ask permission and briefly drew out an illustration of the gospel for him. He told me that what I had shown him was not what they were talking about. I suggested to him that he might want to look for another study and gave him the information about the studies we were starting.
Truth Reveals Error
The group that he had found himself in was the Way. It was a cult that was moving through college campuses in the late 70’s. I had never heard of it. I had no idea what they were teaching. All I knew was what the Bible said, I knew the truth. When he shared what they were studying, it was immediately apparent that it did not align with the Bible.
I found out in later conversations more about that cult. But I never studied it. I did not need to. Knowing the truth is all that is needed to discern error.