The nightly news is hosted by a respectable news anchor with a look that is so put together it practically screams, “Trust me!” Surely the guy with the pearly whites and perfectly shellacked hair would not steer me wrong…right? Maybe he wouldn’t intend to, but what if he did? What if his source is faulty? What if he has an agenda to push? Will his hair go out of place, or will his nose grow like that of Pinocchio’s? Truth or not, his appearance will not give it away. The only conclusion that we can come to is that we cannot accept his message based on his looks. What if he is your friend or relative? Would that stop it from being wrong? The only way that we can know for sure is to check the facts for ourselves. A false message will always be wrong no matter who gives it.
If the messenger is wrong, the consequences can be of eternal consequence.
Do you feel that you cannot be fooled? That you would spot false teachings a mile away? The enemy wants you to feel confident and to let your guard down, because he will give you lies in little doses and hide them in enough truth to make them believable.
We should be asking ourselves, “Am I accepting the message or am I accepting the messenger?” In the overall goal of getting to know our God, accepting the message based on the messenger is a dangerous habit to develop. Here is the bottom line: the message can stand on its own. It does not need us to make it look good or to help it stand. In the case of getting to know God, we have to become so familiar with the message that no one, no matter how polished or charismatic, will be able to pull the wool over our eyes.
“But I can’t memorize the entire Bible!” you say. The truth is that while that would be pretty amazing, it is not necessary! Here is the deal: with the system we have of book, chapter, and verse we can quickly jot it down, revisit it at our leisure and check it for ourselves. Eventually we will become so very comfortable and familiar with the scripture that we reach the point where it becomes engrained in us. You’ll never know until you try right?
In the letter of Philippians, Paul writes in chapter 1 verse 9-10, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.” Did you hear that? Real knowledge and discernment! Let’s break this down- Paul prayed for the people of Philippi to love one another in abundance, and to know, discern and approve (scrutinize) all “things that are excellent” (distinguish between good and evil). If this was told to those living in the first century who had the apostle still around to help them discern, how much more do we have to work at this? We should really take this teaching to heart people!
Here is an example of misused scripture:
Lev 9:29 “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.” Pretty clear cut that we are not to have tattoos, right? I am about to rock your world if you subscribe to that belief based on this verse. In the context of the chapter, we see a little something different, and it changes how we handle this verse. The context of the verse is dealing with pagan rituals and standing apart from them. During that time in history, it was common practice in some groups to mutilate themselves either by cutting or tattooing to honor the dead. It was a forbidden practice for the children of Israel so that they would not participate in rituals that were clearly a part of the world around them.
So can we use or claim this verse as a reason not to get tattoos today? Just because the words fit what you want to say, does not mean that they are not being taken out of context. It is our job to check these things! (Disclaimer, I am not advocating running around getting tattoos, but for very different reasons I think we should think it through first). Also consider that we are not under the old law; Jesus came and replaced that (Hebrews 8). So if we decide we want to follow that one part of the Law, then we are to hold fast to the rest of it.
Many times we repeat what we have heard and use excuses such as, “That is what I have always been taught.” or “This is what we believe.”, without any real understanding of what we are saying. The time for trying to sound Christian without having any real foundation is over my friends!
If I am stepping all over your toes, you are not alone. I struggled to get out of this comfort zone, still do in fact; however, discernment is a tool we all need to use daily with God’s word or we risk getting the message wrong. Are you willing to risk it? Real discernment comes with time and practice. It means asking yourself those tough questions and even being willing to get uncomfortable and question the messenger. It doesn’t matter if they are educated, self-taught, affiliated with prestigious schools or other entities, anyone can be wrong, and we shouldn’t be led like sheep to slaughter.
The real question my friends is, are we willing to become discerners of the Word? Are we willing to put the effort into it? If you are reading this there is a good chance that you want to know God better and are capable of doing this! Next week we will go over examples to give you a chance to practice discernment and to become better at it in real life. Until then my friends, stay in God’s Word!
by Fee Rocha
Fee is a Christian wife and mother who lives in Sidney, Nebraska. She loves to work alongside her husband, Dustin in the ministry. She home schools her three children and loves a good nature documentary. Her biggest accomplishment is learning how to drive in the snow which serves her well as she drives her own version of the joy bus on Wednesdays and Sundays.