Isn’t it hard these days to keep with the plethora of false teachers and the deluge of false teaching that are flowing into the church?? It used to be fairly subtle but now it’s an all-out war on biblical, historical Christianity. Personally, I find it incredibly discouraging. Never in a million years did I see this coming.
Last year I wrote a series on how we can learn to discern (you can find it here). I am placing this post at the beginning of that series because it provides a critical step we need to take in our efforts to discern.
People will sometimes ask me about a specific teacher and I am happy to do a little research and see what I can find out. It usually isn’t too hard to figure out if you know what you are looking for.
So how can we know what to look for? Who am I to tell you? Who is anybody to tell you?
See, this has become a very real issue in this world of strong opinions. On what opinion do you stand? And why do you stand there?
There’s really only one way to know and that is through complete and utter reliance on the Word of God and what it teaches. Before we can learn to discern–and as we are learning to discern–we must spend consistent, daily time in the Word, approaching it with humble submission and a spirit of obedience.
When we do this and when we take the Bible at face-value (literally) from beginning to end we will find it makes so much sense. Especially in light of what we are experiencing these days.
The Bible predicts a one-world religion. We are watching all religions–including Christianity–being funneled into a global religion even as I write this. This shouldn’t surprise us. God told us it would happen. (Revelation 17:1-18). This understanding gives us a framework, doesn’t it? Whether it happens tomorrow or in a hundred years, we understand Satan’s game plan. We know what he is working towards. (GodQuestions.org has a good (and brief) article on this here.)
We also find out in our Bibles that justification is by faith in Christ alone (Romans 10:9-10 and many, many other places). This means that any religion–no matter how “Christian” it sounds–is a false religion if it requires any works as part of salvation. We know that any religion is false if it takes the focus off of the finished work of Christ on the cross.
We find out in God’s Word that He condemns drunkenness, sorcery, homosexuality, rebellion, impurity, dissensions, fits of anger, impurity, obscene language (Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-9). Knowing this helps us intelligently discern in the world of entertainment and in living our daily lives. We not only know that entertainment that incorporates these things should not be regular part of the Christian’s life, but we also know that anyone or any organization that promotes these things is not the real deal. I’m not judging motive or eternal destiny here. People get confused. I am no judge. But what we can know is that they are off biblically and we shouldn’t follow them.
So these are three examples from the Word to show how it helps us to discern. You see, it is hard for me or anybody to keep up with all the false teachers that are out there. But if we are studying our Bibles with the right heart, we will be amazed at how God will open our eyes to what is going on. We will become more aware the more we study the Bible.
So what about the people who seem to study the Bible all the time and don’t discern at all? This has been a conundrum I have faced for a long time. How does that work?
There are so many things that can keep us from really seeing the truths of scripture, no matter how much we read it–
1. A proud heart. Many people approach the Word with their preconceived ideas of what they want it to say, what they wish it would say, what they think it should say. God will not give insight to the person who studies the Bible with preconceived notions. We have to humble ourselves and yield ourselves to Him and His message. (How arrogant of us to think we know better than He does? But we can all fall into this trap.)
2. A fearful heart. I believe another very real issue is that the ramifications of really believing what the Bible teaches is frightening. The way is narrow? My husband…daughter…mom & dad…are not saved and that means…? It is not a pleasant message. (But, as we all know, pleasantness is irrelevant when it comes to truth. Many people face the Bible’s message in a very different way than they would ever face an unpleasant medical diagnosis. Can you imagine ignoring a deadly disease and pretending it’s just not there??)
3. A heart that loves sin. This is probably the biggest thing that hinders believers in their biblical discernment. We Christians love our sin. And reading the Bible with a heart to obey means we are willing to give up our sin. But many are just not willing to do this. Whether it’s sexual immorality, sorcery, occasional drunkenness, ungodly entertainment, an unforgiving heart–whatever it may be–many of us hold on to these things for dear life, believing (mistakenly) that we can’t possibly be happy without them.
Do you have any of these attitudes as you approach the scripture? I know I certainly have had them and still do at times. This isn’t a black and white issue. We must be constantly checking our heart as we go before the Lord each day. We must be examining ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) on a regular basis to make sure our hearts aren’t becoming hardened.
Recognizing that scripture is our final authority and our only legitimate way to know who God is and what His plan is for mankind will be the first healthy step in learning to discern. As we get ourselves into the Word with a humble heart willing to turn away from sin, we will be surprised at how aware we become of all that God is ready and willing and wants to teach us as we study His Word consistently.