An excerpt attributed to a renowned Christian apologist and author appeared in one of my social media feeds. Because I respect the person who shared the content and because the language reflected the author’s voice, I momentarily believed the quote was authentic.

About three sentences in, however, the passage’s overtly political bias caused me to question it. Minimal research revealed someone had fabricated and misattributed words in an attempt to spread propaganda under the guise of one of the most respected Christian authors of all time.

In 2 Timothy 4:1-7, the apostle Paul warned that a time was coming “when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

As believers in Jesus, we need to be careful to avoid the pitfalls presented in this passage. Just because an online post aligns with our personal views doesn’t mean it’s bathed in integrity.

To avoid falling prey to falsehoods and myths (2 Timothy 4:4), Bible scholar Colin Smith challenges us to ask, “Where does the message come from?” Smith points to 2 Peter 1:16: “We were not making up clever stories when we told you about . . . Jesus Christ.” Peter goes on to write that false teachers exploit with “clever lies” (2 Peter 2:3). So the true teacher brings out the truth of the gospel, while false teachers cleverly create lies for their own purposes.

Let’s aim to be known as believers in Jesus who examine a message’s source and trustworthiness before we embrace it as truth or share it with others. May God give us wisdom to see what’s true!

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 17:1-19