Thursday, January 31, 2013

1 John 4:1

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

I once heard a great preacher say, “What the church needs most is discernment.” Christians all too often lack the spiritual discipline of discernment. When we get to 1 John 4, John knows this and he instructs the church to become a discerning people. Often, however, spiritual immaturity becomes the seed-bed for toxic theology and faulty thinking. The longer I have Graham and Cecelia, the more I realize that parenting and childhood are simply two great parables of the Christian life. There is a lot that can be learned about yourself and your natural tendencies spiritually when you carefully watch a one-year old.  As babies grow and mature, eventually the “shovel technique” is perfected and they begin to grab anything and everything and shovel it into their mouths. Whether it is a cookie, or a toy, or a piece of garbage they find near them on the ground, anything and everything goes straight to the mouth. Babies, physical ones and spiritual ones, are a pretty undiscerning crowd. Without proper training both will ultimately be devastated by the ingestion of all sorts of strange things. Spiritually speaking, this toxic lack of discernment has been a filter-down side-effect of years of poor biblical interpretation and the inculcation of extra-biblical teaching. At times the spiritually immature are excited through the means of humor, empathy, or guilt, and are left with an emotional buzz. Perceiving this buzz as “the moving of the Spirit,” they then seek only the “high” that the buzz brought, and never actually feel the weightier things of truth that are presented from God’s Word. They find that their “favorite preachers” are the ones who bring this buzz. Sadly, the undiscerning walk away from the church-substitute “comedy hour,” invigorated and excited that they “have heard from the Lord,” but never truly changed or helped. For this reason, people must be trained. Theology must be learned. It is not good enough to attend church. You must learn what you believe. You must know what God says. You must understand His truth so that when a substitute is presented you can be able to easily distinguish it. You must learn what “the proclamation of God’s word” truly is and what it isn’t.

Food For Thought: Why do many people fail to realize that certain “preachers” are not actually preaching God’s Word?