18 April 2009

Test All Things Christian

What is happening to the local & universal churches discernment today? There are increasing difficulties because we haven’t separated ourselves from the world. On the contrary, we have allowed the world to shape the church instead. We have allowed postmodernism into the church in various forms including entertainment, secular music and television. Truth has all become ‘relative’ and what is good for me, may not be good for you, but that’s okay according to today’s religious philosophies. Many church leaders believe that we must adjust to the culture if we’re going to draw people in. Many things have been replaced with ‘new’ ways, and even the teachings are changing - to false teaching, by false teachers. We have become afraid to judge false teaching against doctrinal truth in order to unite people. The Word of God is His truth given for us to live by - we the church must have more discernment a Greek word “anakrino” which means to distinguish, or separate out so as to investigate (krino) by looking throughout objects or particulars," hence signifies "to examine, scrutinize, question, to hold a preliminary judicial examination preceding the trial proper" How do we do that? By using the Bible as the authoritative standard, and leaving no room for compromise when it comes to doctrinal truth, remember the Bereans "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." Acts 17:11

Where does the Authority of Scripture come in to play in your life?

1. We must put sound doctrine above all other things. Without the understanding of the basic doctrines of the Bible, we will be standing in our own strength without the protection of Jesus’ righteousness. Doctrine is the principle that will determine a sound and solid faith. We are to be like the Bereans and test all things against scripture. False teachers do not do this, and are driven by their own desires. In order to be aware of ‘wolves’ and false teaching, we must have the discernment which can only be had through proper study of God’s Word. There is a fine line when it comes to how far an issue may be pressed before you end up breaking fellowship with a fellow believer. We need to ensure that other convictions are respected if it is not fundamentally Biblical in nature. We must understand the word of Truth in all its entirety.

2. We need to be aware of false prophets, their wrong teachings and their so-called prophetic abilities. We need to be able to discern who the false teachers are by examining their background and their doctrine. We need to be aware of this because most false prophets will give people what they want to hear, and mix a little truth with the error. These many false gospels, false jesus’, and false doctrines will only lead to hearing “depart from Me, I never knew you” (Mat 7:23). We must deny the self and self-righteousness of the false prophets, pick up our cross daily and follow Christ alone. A true man or woman of God will deflect the fame and recognition away from themselves and give all the glory to a holy God.

3. We must be aware of any false miracles that come out of this and other movements, as these are from Satan. Many people today are practicing mysticism as a substitute for true and accurate biblical spirituality. Biblical discernment will bring us closer to God (Mat 24:24) and enable us to be able to tell a genuine miracle of God from a counterfeit. The changing power of the Gospel is supernatural all on its own - we don’t need miracles today to make people believe, we only need to preach Christ crucified. Unfortunately, many miracle healers today believe we all have the power within us to be healed if we only have enough ‘faith’. If we are not healed, it is because of a lack of faith on our part. Only God can heal, in accordance with his divine nature and only if He wills it (James 5:13-16).

4. We need to be filling our mind with the word of God. Parents today have allowed the Prince of the Air (Satan) to freely enter their homes via the television. The world’s entertainment has and will continue to shape our thinking. When we watch programs that do not honor the Lord in any way, we are allowing Satan to fill our minds with garbage and gain a foothold. Instead, we must filter carefully what is being put into our minds, because it cannot be erased (Phil 4:8). We must make proper use of our time and not allow Satan to take up residence in our home. We need to be discerning about all things in our lives so our children will be shown a godly example of living and not a worldly example.

5. We live in a society that wants people to be centered on themselves. Self-esteem is a huge issue and the world claims to be able to address it through outward change with plastic surgery, excessive exercise, and dieting that will get you noticed by others. People have become obsessed with appearances and this is starting from an ever increasingly younger age. We tend to look at people’s outward appearances instead of where we should be looking - the inner person of the heart. We as Christians should know better (1 Thes 5:23). We have been created a certain way by God, who is the giver of life (Psalm 139:13-16). The world says everything needs to change in order to be successful in life, but this is not what God says in His Word (1 Cor 6:19-20). We belong to God. We must glorify God in our body by accepting the way he made us, and taking care of what we have been given, not changing it drastically. We will get old and our bodies will die someday, but our soul will live forever, either in Heaven or Hell, depending on our relationship with Christ. We must glorify God with our bodies by listening to His Word and not the world.

6. We as Christians need to stay far away and flee from all types of evil, no matter how interesting or harmless it may seem. It is very concerning that even many Christians today tend to dabble in occultic behavior. When we do these things, we are entering Satan’s domain. We are not immune to the fact that Satan can tempt us at any time. There are many forms of occultic behaviours, from blatant sorcery and mediums to astrology, horoscopes and fantasy games, even fortune cookies. These are nothing but the false teachings of cults. The occult practices are even evident in many television programs today and passed off as mere entertainment. When we allow these things into our life, we are giving Satan a foothold in our lives which will interrupt our spiritual walk. This will keep us from doing the most important things such as prayer, worshipping, and meditating on God’s Word with a pure heart. We must not entertain this kind of garbage because we serve a risen Lord and Savior and not a ‘fallen angel’ (James 4:7)

7. We must have discernment in order to determine between what is good and perfect and what is evil. Many people today, thanks to television and movie entertainment, view ghosts and spirits as harmless and entertaining. Christians, however, must be careful to realize that these are not merely harmless ghosts, but evil spirits that work all around us. Also, contrary to popular entertainment views, angels are not all ‘good’. Only the elect angels in heaven are holy, all others are part of Satan’s army. They will do anything it takes to deceive - even appearing to be helpful or ‘doing good’ in order to convince you to trust them. Evil spirits will disguise themselves as ‘angels of light’ however, they are pure evil(2 Cor 11;14).

8. We as Christians need to do what the Holy Spirit leads us to do, and not rely on acting in the flesh. We must use scripture to identify problems, and not our own opinions. Does the Bible forbid movies, television, or drinking? Not specifically, however, we can use scripture to identify where these things are not always beneficial to either our physical or spiritual lives. Christians need to decide if they are going to be conformed to the world, or if they are going to take a stand and be separate. The Bible says we have been sanctified and set apart for the beloved Christ Jesus. We need to keep this in mind and test everything we do against scripture. We must examine our behaviors and ask ourselves if we are reflecting Christ-like character and living in a way that would be pleasing to a holy and perfect God (Phil 4:8).

We need to live a life that brings glory to our heavenly Father. We are to maintain a biblical standard of integrity in everything we do, whether at home, work, church or with friends. We must reflect the standards of Christ in our lives. We must always be willing to speak the truth in love, even if it means adverse consequences in losing friendships, jobs, etc. As we see in Philippians 2:4-6, we must always be caring for the interests of others more than our own. A self-centered Christian is one who is no better than the Pharisee or Legalist of the ancient days. With constant prayer and Bible study, we will be able to exercise discernment in all things, and live a life of Christ-like integrity before a closely-watching unsaved world.

"For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." John 3:20-21.

How are the Scriptures shaping your life today? Only you can answer that question.

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