One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong.
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
~ Sesame Street song
Should we swallow anything anyone tells us, or should we be vigilant and on our guard at all times?
4 My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.
While The Message is a pretty loosey-goosey sort of translation, I think the above frankly and plainly illustrates the point. We are to examine, put to the test, hold up for scrutiny and analyze things using discernment.
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
The preceding verses indicate that the Church body is there to expound upon the Scriptures and keep us together in unity, but the main point I want to make is that it is a sign of spiritual immaturity to be jostled around by every doctrine that comes our way. The above makes it clear that controversies are created in order to deceive.
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
Our fallback position, however, needs to be the word of God. It was written down for a reason. Spoken speech is easily misunderstood, garbled with the retelling and subject to the whims and desires of the one doing the retelling. Written communication is more difficult to garble, although certainly not impossible. It takes more effort because copies will bear out the alterations. The Bible remnants left behind are in themselves remarkable, but I read somewhere once that 95% of the NT could be reconstructed just by using quotes from various Christian writers in the early centuries.
So, how is your discernment today? Do you really analyze what is being presented to you? Or, do you just accept someone’s words and let it go?
Case in point. Here are two links. Are they different? If someone was sloppy enough to substitute one for another, then how much credibility do they have on other matters?
This is by no means the only example I could pull out, but only discerning people will follow up and find those others. If you read certain sources but did not notice even this obvious one, however, then may I suggest your self-examination is not yet complete?
And, why ask me the obvious? You need to check up on me as well, after all.
“My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.” ~ 1Jn 4:1
Hebrews 5:12-14 is something I think about a lot in this regard: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
The analogy to what physical and consistent exercise to to strengthen our physical muscles and bodies is one of the things that really stands out to me with regard to the concept of having discernment developed (“reason of use”) by continually using (exercising) it. Of course, without God’s help, this is impossible, but spiritual discernment is something I consciously and specifically pray for daily.