My study today took me to I John 4, where John admonishes us to be very discerning regarding what we receive from others, whether it is true or false. I John 4:1-3 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”
We must be very careful who we listen to. There are some who are very cunning in the message they deliver. What sounds good may not necessarily be so. When I was first a Christian, there was a radio evangelist who, if you didn’t listen closely, you would think he was a born-again believer and preached straight as an arrow. But you had to really pay close attention to what he was preaching because he would say something that sounded like solid doctrine, but the message didn’t quite ring true if you lined his message with Scripture. One word can change the meaning of a passage completely, and if you aren’t careful, you can be led astray very easily.
This is the reason why we are told to test the spirits. Not everyone who says they are a Believer is. When I worked as a Correspondent of a Christian ministry, viewers would call or write and ask us for referrals to a church. While we couldn’t refer them to a church, we always made sure we told our viewer that whatever church they attended, to check what the Pastor preached against what the Scripture said. The Apostle Paul reminds us that we are to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15 NASB) The King James Version says we are to “study” the Word. We can’t be discerning of what someone is saying if we don’t know what Scripture teaches. We are to meditate on it “day and night”. (Psalm 1:2)
Scripture memorization has always been difficult for me. But I have had awesome mentors, Sunday School teachers, and Pastors, and they poured into me, helping me to grasp Scripture and retain it better. For me, I know the Scripture passage, but remembering where it is found has always been hard for me. I have been fortunate to work in Christian ministries that have also helped me in hiding God’s Word in my heart. That has been a huge advantage to me, and in dealing with our viewers and some programmers, I have been able to practice discernment at a greater level than if I had not been involved in Christian ministry.
My Pastor has spoken several times about allowing people to speak into your life. If you aren’t careful, there are some people who will prophecy over you things that are truly not meant for you, or will speak into your life words that are not according to what God has destined for you. My Pastor is very discerning about who he allows to speak into his life. Unfortunately, not every Christian is tuned into the Holy Spirit enough to know whether their “Word of Knowledge” comes from God or if they are being used as an instrument of the enemy to deliver messages that will, “kill, steal, and destroy.” (John 10:10 NIV) We must be so in tuned to God and His Word, that we can instantly know whether a message or prophecy is truly from God, and not someone’s pipe dream. Keep yourself in God’s Word, keep your relationship with Him close, get to know who He is, and learn to know His voice. These are ways we can know whether the messages we see and hear are truth.