On a flight from Phoenix, Arizona, a passenger was randomly selected to have her palms swabbed by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). To her dismay, the test came back positive for explosives, and she was taken to a private room and questioned. The positive reading was a mistake—a false positive—the result of too much Lubriderm hand lotion, which contained small amounts of glycerin, a component of nitroglycerin, used in explosives.
If there’s anything worse than a “false positive,” it’s a “false negative.” That’s when your medical tests come back with good news but only because the results failed to discover a deadly disease, one that could have been cured if discovered in time. Experts around the world —in medicine, law enforcement, drug testing, and in a variety of fields—are working to minimize “false positives” and “false negatives.”
False Positives in Doctrine
In the realm of Bible teaching, we also have to guard against false positives and faulty teachings. I believe every Christian should devote themselves to studying biblical doctrine in depth. Doctrine is systemized truth. Doctrine is the truth of the Word of God organized and categorized so that we can think clearly about the issues of life. If our beliefs are flawed, our behavior will be skewed. This is why Jude wrote, “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed … ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness” (Jude 1:3-4).
In His great priestly prayer, Jesus said, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Truth is objective, absolute, and grounded in Scripture. Truth is true whether anyone believes it or not. Truth is not touched by our emotions, opinions, or perceptions. Two plus two equals four whether anyone believes it or not. This is being lost in our culture today as society rejects the objective nature of God-given truth.
We’re living in the days predicted by Scripture: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
The Danger of Distorting God’s Word
We need to be sensitive to false doctrine that distorts God’s Word. God certainly wants us to have joyful and positive attitudes. He wants to meet our needs. He wants to prosper us with every spiritual blessing. However, our spirituality and happiness does not reside in our location on the economic spectrum or on where we live in this world but on our location in the realm of God’s grace. Our hope and joy isn’t based on circumstances. The apostle Paul said, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).
The Joy of Abiding in God’s Word
Christians who abide in God’s Word are great truth-detectors who are not easily fooled by the false positives of the devil. To be an effective truth detective, every Christian needs to seek a regular regimen of Bible study. Our mind must be braced by doctrine. Our heart must be filled with truth. Our soul must be strengthened by biblical knowledge. God’s Word mustn’t be perverted and peddled; it should be followed, rightly divided, and proclaimed. In John 8:31, Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed”—and that’s a sure thing. That’s the positive truth.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information on Turning Point, go to
Ellen Creager, “Hand Cream Can Set Off Airport Security,” Detroit Free Press, November 14, 2013. http://www.freep.com/article/20131110/COL21/311100139/creager-travel-q-a. (accessed November 22, 2013).
Made by a German company that’s been around since the 1700s, a particular sandal became popular with the rise of the hippie movement in the sixties and seventies in the U.S.— Birkenstocks. They appealed to “hippies, academics, and others interested in a more bohemian lifestyle,” and they were nicknamed “Jesus Sandals.”
 Margo DeMello, Feet and Footwear: A Cultural Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO 2009), 39.
I remember when a whole generation exploded in the 1960s, rebelling against war, materialism, and institutions of all kinds. Colleges were bombed, schools closed by sit-ins, students shot, and America came unglued. The epicenter was in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district (called “Hashbury” by the hippies), where disillusioned, long-haired youth adopted countercultural values, turned on to drugs, dropped out of society, and protested the “establishment.”Keep Calm and Carry On
The British government established the Ministry of Information (MOI) on September 4, 1939. Its mission was to generate materials to sustain the nation’s morale during World War II. Since bombings and gas attacks were likely, deaths inevitable, and invasion possible, the MOI resolved to bolster the British by disseminating information helpful to the war effort.
One of the Ministry’s first projects was a series of three posters. Each design was similar in style and appearance to the other two, with all of them printed on cardboard sheets featuring solid-color backgrounds. The crown of King George VI adorned the top of each poster, followed by a forthright slogan in simple font.
When you picture a desert, a prison, a hospital or a storm, it’s easy to see only desperation and hopelessness. But in fact, there’s good news to see as well. Dr. David Jeremiah offers wisdom and counsel from Psalm 107, to help you see beyond your immediate circumstances when you’re feeling helpless.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah