What Is Your Litmus Test?

The other day I was at a Christian Writer’s Conference for an afternoon session. During the couple of hours I was there, the teacher said something like this:

I love the book The Shack. Don’t you just love that? It was an awesome book. I know some people say it is blasphemous, but I just don’t really care. I just loved that book! 

She went on to talk about the beauty of the story. Now, this was a Christian speaking these words. Not once did she talk about the Word of God or why someone might say it is blasphemous when comparing the book’s message to what scripture says. (I’ll attach a few links about The Shack below, for those that may not already realize the danger.)

Her litmus test for truth appeared to be her feelings. Since her feelings gave her the “go ahead” to read, enjoy, and promote that book, no other test was necessary. And she is certainly not alone. I find that, today, most people’s litmus tests are their feelings and experience. This is true for even most Christians.

If it feels right, it must be true. If I feel happy and at peace when I do something, then it must be right.

But this can’t and should never be our litmus test for what is true and right. We know from scripture that we dare not trust our own thoughts, feelings, inclinations, and instincts–

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12)

This tells us the state of our hearts and minds and it isn’t a pretty picture. Our feelings, thoughts, experiences, and, above all, our hearts cannot be trusted.

Think of all the places we get led because we trust these wrong things–

• They lead us out of marriages simply because of discontentment (he’s not meeting my needs and I’m not happy)

• They lead us into new age beliefs about spiritual things (But this is such a wonderful and comforting message)

• They lead us into alcohol, drug, sexual, and even technology addictions (one time, one peek won’t hurt…)

• They lead us into not being the parents we should be (I am not going to discipline like I should because I don’t want my child to hate me)

• They lead to forsaken families and broken relationships (I will fulfill this dream at all costs and no matter who I have to hurt to get there)

• They lead to financial troubles (I must have that new thing, even if I can’t afford it)

Our feelings, desires, and thoughts lead us right off the straight and narrow and onto the miry and pitted path of worldly troubles–the kind we could avoid. For, as believers, God has made a way for us to bypass these pitfalls–but it’s only if we turn away from following our feelings and relying on our experiences, and, instead, submit to God and obey His Word.

But we so often don’t. Because we want so badly to trust our own selves. And the world tells us we should trust ourselves. We are told to follow our hearts and our dreams. And this appeals to us because we want our own way. We want to read that popular book or go to that questionable place or fulfill that selfish dream. Running any of it through the litmus test of scripture could put these things in jeopardy. Feelings are much more apt to take us where our flesh wants to go–at least where it wants to go at first. We rarely think of the long-term ramifications.

And so this is where we find ourselves. In a world where the Bible has little influence–even for most Christians.

During this same day where the woman promoted The Shack, I had the interesting experience of hearing people (who claim to be Christians) tell the group who their favorite non-fiction Christian author is. Not one--not one–was a biblically solid author. And this at a Christian conference.


It is because most Christians aren’t using the Bible as their litmus test, they are using their feelings. And most Christians aren’t holding the Word as the authority of their lives, for their experiences have that holy place.

I wanted to shout out to that group of people–what are you doing? Why can’t you see? But I restrained myself. I can’t fix this. You can’t fix this. God will open the eyes of His true children in His timing. I will take opportunities as He provides them, but I won’t force them.

All we can do is make sure that we–as a quickly shrinking remnant of Bible-believing Christians–follow the example of our Christian brothers and sisters throughout the ages:

1. Have the Bible as our final authority and only litmus test

2. Know the Bible and live according to what it teaches

3. Submit our whole lives to God and obey Him

4. Have the courage to stand for what’s right and according to scripture despite the slander, gossip, accusations, and hatred

5. Be willing to sacrifice our friends, family, material possessions, and even our very lives, if necessary



*Find helpful articles that compare The Shack to what scripture teaches here and here.



8 thoughts on “What Is Your Litmus Test?”

  1. So often people will ask what and who I’m reading. They don’t really want to hear that I spend most of my time with my Bible and selectively check out authors who can ‘rightly divide’ the word to provide additional insights that are consistent with Scripture. Your post strikes a chord of truth and a word worthy of careful consideration. Thanks!

    1. Yes! When I mentioned reading JC Ryle as my favorite author I am pretty sure everyone’s eyes started glazing over. People generally want new and exciting and popular.

  2. True! “Feelings” are the basis of many decisions I see being made. I’ve been guilty of a few myself. Thanks for the reminders! We are a hard-headed lot, so being reminded is a good thing!

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