Evaluating Religious Leaders

LeRoy Koopman

READ : John 7:14-24

Which religious teachers are true and which false? In recent years several religious leaders have led followers to their deaths by suicide. Several television evangelists have been shamed by personal scandals. How does one tell the difference between the true and the false? How do we know whom to believe?

Jesus gave us one good clue when he said, “He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true” (v. 18). False teachers draw attention to themselves. They want you to go away saying, “Isn’t he great!” instead of saying, “Isn’t God great!” They claim to have a unique understanding of truth. They say that if you criticize them you are criticizing God. They may hide or falsify their financial records.

“Do not,” said Jesus, “judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (v. 24). “Right judgment” is sensible, intelligent evaluation. Don’t be impressed by a big show. Don’t be deceived by personal charm. Don’t be duped by extravagant claims. Don’t be swayed only by physical attractiveness. Don’t be swept along by the enthusiasm of big crowds alone.

Jesus, you may remember, “had no form or majesty that we should look at him (Isa. 53:2) and was “a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity” (Isa. 53:4).


We need your help, Lord, in evaluating which religious leaders to follow, for we know it’s easy to be deceived.