litmus test

The Litmus Test of Teaching

litmus testA litmus test.

In chemistry, a litmus test is used to determine if a substance (gas or liquid) is acidic or alkaline. A pH of 7 is the neutral number between the two. A pH lower than 7 indicates an acidic substance. Higher pH numbers indicate alkaline substances.

For plants, their desired pH is critical for normal plant growth. If soil pH is too low, the plant won’t yield its full potential, even if the right amounts of fertilizer, seed, and water are given. But with the right pH and soil nutrients (our hearts), the seed can germinate and the resulting plant will grow and yield abundantly.

litmus testWhile being a Berean does not make one a chemist or a gardener, the same principle applies. Bereans were inhabitants of the city of Berea, located in Macedonia. When Paul and Silas visited there, the Bereans were eager to learn. They not only listened to what was taught, they took the time to search the scriptures “to see if these things were so.” (You can read about that here.)  These people were more noble than the others; they not only received information and teaching, they checked it out. That’s what we must do.

Be like the Bereans

They didn’t just believe what they heard hook, line, and sinker. They studied and “checked it out” to be certain what they heard was truth. These Bereans gave the teaching from Paul and Silas the litmus test.

We need to do the same. No matter who the teacher, preacher, or leader is, we must give his teaching the litmus test.

litmus testA litmus test from scripture.

John instructs us to do that in I John 4:1-6. There are three things we must ask ourselves when we want to know if someone’s  teaching is correct. We need to see if their teaching is plumb with God’s Word. Ask yourself these questions, and your answers will tell you what you need to know. These questions are the litmus test to determine whether or not what you are taught is correct. If someone’s word or teaching does not pass this test, you need to distance yourself from that teaching.

  1. What does he/she believe about Jesus Christ? (His divinity; He came in flesh).  Check  it out and compare their teaching with scripture.
  2. Does his/her “walk” follow their “talk” in following Jesus? Our belief is not merely defined by what we say, but also by how we live and what we do. Does he/she practice holy living?  It’s a True or False question.
  3. Does he/she accept and believe the teaching of the apostles? If they throw that out, then their teaching is false.

True or False?

When we honestly ask these questions and answer them just as honestly, we will know. We’ll know whether or not we can follow someone’s teaching, their platform, or their agenda. We will also know whether or not we can support their program or what they are doing.

Wisdom calls us to use the litmus test in choosing who we follow.

Litmus Test

Photo attribution to

Photo of seedling credit to J. Garget/Pixabay

Credit goes to my pastor Larry Martin; notes I took from his message kept me thinking about deciphering who is teaching truth and who is not.

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