Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” Peter, Paul, Jude, they all say the same kind of thing. Beware of the false and trust in the truth.
Clearly, God wants us discern between what is true and what is false, what is from Him and what is not. Some people who do this are called watchmen. They keep an eye on the horizon for those who would either sneak in or bring on a full blown attack. We need watchmen. But what happens when those who are watchmen begin to lose focus, or sound the alarm when something just peeking over the hill kind of resembles an enemy, but really they are just a neighbor?
Babies and Bath Water
As I said, God wants us to be discerning and has called some to serve the body in that capacity. However, there is something that tends to happen to those who serve in that capacity. Over time they become paranoid, in a way. They begin with God’s word as their criteria for discernment. That’s good. They observe a person or ministry that begins to deviate from God’s truth in an obvious way and they let the rest of us know about it. Great.
Then they start to see the potential error in other individuals or ministries. “They said this which could be taken this way, and if that’s true then they are bad news.” At this point this servant should make contact with the entity who said what they said and verify what was said. If the truth was being proclaimed, then no need to sound the alarm. If there was error, then they should sound it. After a time, the watchmen stop confirming potential error and just assume the error. No investigation is done, no follow-up.
Finally, certain words or phrases become triggers. If a trigger is pulled, the gun goes off. If someone uses the word “emergent” for example, that person must represent the freaky extreme of the Emergent Church and they are a false teacher. Is that always ,or even usually, the case? I don’t think so. Judgments are made. Intentions are implied. Other trigger words are, “psychology,” “contemplative,” and “purpose.” If a pastor or writer uses one of these words, that person is added to the list of baddies. The discernment ministry throws the baby out with the bath water. They have actually lost the ability to discern and instead they react.
The Sky Is Falling
Something also can happen to those who subscribe to these discernment ministries. In the beginning, these ministries are trustworthy. And because they are trustworthy people accept what they say. Over time, people begin to put absolute trust in these ministries and accept everything they say. What happens when the ministries become paranoid and neglect the process of discernment? Those who follow them unwittingly share the same misinformation that was spread to them.
Something else that can happen is that the people who follow the ministries can also neglect their own responsibility to use discernment. They have entrusted this to others for so long that they don’t remember how to do it themselves. The ministry has become a crutch. In reality, the ministry has replaced the Holy Spirit in this roll in the life of the believer.
Bridge for Sale – $1
Acts 17:11 says, “[The Bereans] 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.” Don’t believe everything you read, unless it’s the Bible. Don’t believe everything you hear, unless it’s the Spirit. Learn to discern.