Jesus was constantly warning His disciples about false teachers; there are no less today as then and we have the same responsibility to be careful what we believe. The lesson Jesus taught to His disciple in Matthew 16:6ff is twofold: (1) there are false teachers and (2) it doesn’t take much error to hurt you.
“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees,” He told them. The analogy is intentional. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9), you see, so the fact that someone stays fairly close to the truth is not enough. As the old saying goes, “Partial obedience is complete disobedience.” Again, “Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.” Getting close to the truth doesn’t set you free, you have to know it (John 8:32). Evidently, Jesus believed we could and, frankly, if we cannot there is nothing left but chaos and a total loss of hope.
The only way to know God’s Truth is to get it from Him. The source of truth is consistent and the confusion with truth, as a rule, is in the misguided, misinformed and mistaken understanding of God’s Word. The puzzle is that God, who created humanity and knows all too well any and all limitations we have in understanding, providentially preserved the pure truth for those whose open heart will receive it. The question is the formula for knowing what is right.
Let the Scripture speak:
(1) “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
(2) “…whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
(3) Therefore, if “whatsoever ye do in word or deed, (ye) do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).
We can know what is right; and we can spot a false teacher a mile away. Knowing right makes the difference.