Updated: Mar 29, 2022
They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. 1 John 4:5-6
Right and Almost Right
Charles Spurgeon once said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” Today, we live in a world where an overflow of information is literally at our fingertips, and fake news floods our screens all day long. At times, it can be overwhelming to sort through what’s real and what’s not, especially in this society of relative truth. For Christians, this can also be true when it comes to what is being preached as truth from the pulpit. If we are anything as Christians, we are essentially people of the Truth, and there is no room for reckless faith, ignorance, or gullibility in God's true church. As Christians we know the worst form of wickedness consists of perversions, distortions, additions, and subtractions of God's Truth. Thankfully, as true believers, we have the discerning power to sort out what is inherently good and true from what sounds good but is really crooked and evil. But even as true believers, we must still be careful and hold fast to the Word of God in this world's sea of deception.
Satan’s goal in false teaching is to distort God’s Word, as well as our view of God and ourselves. He works day and night to suppress the Truth by replacing it with countless deviations of the truth. Often times, Satan keeps people from God’s divine wisdom by mesmerizing them with high-sounding theological nonsense or empty secular philosophies; things their itching ears want to hear. People with itching ears are those who are always searching for something that's fascinating, intriguing, or speculative. These people will find teachers to suit their own passions and will fall away from God's absolute Truth, getting lost in nonsense without even knowing it. "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us" (1 John 2:19).
Do Not Be Foolish, but Understand the Will of God
Satan will do anything to get us to put our trust, time, and dedication in anywhere else other than the Word of God – the place we learn what God's prescribed will (commanded will) is for our lives and what it means to be true disciples of Jesus Christ, walking in the light. “This world is passing away along with all its desires, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Satan's main goal is to steal people's souls. Therefore, he keeps people away from sound doctrine by captivating the gullible through smooth talk and pseudo-intellectual theories that only appear to be profound. Satan wants people to sink themselves into false doctrine, investing in their own wills and the ways of this world while being ignorant of God's will for their lives.“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). "For this is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
Satan's Different Doors of Deception
Satan tries to suck people into any religious teachings that twist, add to, or take away from Scripture, the purity of the gospel, and the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan also tries to securely trap unbelievers through secular teachings that are diametrically opposed to Christianity altogether; teachings that utterly degrade, directly go against, and reject God's absolute Truth and the teachings of Jesus. One example would be Scientology, which teaches its paying members that they can become their own gods, erase their memories, and restore their own physical and mental health and analytical functioning to a state of perfection. (I'm not even sure how to explain Scientology it's so off the wall. Although it can be beneficial to understanding how satanic belief systems work, my time is much better spent studying the Truth). Another example would be any cult-based program that teaches its paying followers that there is no absolute truth, no good, no evil, no right or wrong, no sin, or no meaning to life except what you give it yourself. These types of teachings are prevalent in the new age and in humanistic self-help programs, and they are completely incompatible with Christianity. These types of teachings have belief systems that are based on satanic principles, therefore are antiChristian. The truth is that you cannot be both a Christian and a Scientologist, nor follow a cult and a be a true believer of the church. Christ says His sheep hear His voice, and they will not follow the voice of another (John 10:4-5). True believers will not be led into damning teaching, and if they are, the Holy Spirit will convict them, and God will bring them back to His flock.
Living in the Grays Versus Living by the Word of God
False teaching is a sticky web for those who are undiscerning and open-minded to whatever feels right, based on their own personal standards and what "works" for them. The problem is we live in a culture that is unwilling to think antithetically. That is, many people don't want to think black or white, right or wrong, true or false. These types of people prefer to think and live on some sort of spectrum of relativity based on their own finite wisdom and personal preferences, which stem from ignorance or pride. To these people who live their lives in the shades of gray, there is no definitive right, there is no definitive wrong, there is no definitive truth, there is no definitive false. Everything is subjective for them, and they take whatever sounds good from whatever sources or teachers that intrigue them, move them, or tickle their ears. See, biblical truth is the farthest thing from living in the grays. God's Truth is absolute. It is objective. It is sharp. It is black and white. It is antithetical to all that is lies, deception, and error.
God's Word and His true believers are the light of the world, shining light and truth into the darkness and exposing error, falsity, and evil. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot comprehend it" (John 1:5). "Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them" (Ephesians 5:11). The same God who first shined light into the world is the only One who can shine the light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ into our hearts. It's only by the power of God that people will have the ability to see the light of the gospel in Jesus Christ and come to true saving faith. With true faith in Jesus, we are able to discern right from almost right and not be led astray by lies. As believers we are filled and satisfied with the Truth. "Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection" - John Calvin (I am not a calvinist but I like Calvin).
For God, who said, "Let line shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6)
To continue reading, check out: "Discernment is a Gift From Above - Part 2"
His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:15-18
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15-20
For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions,
leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 30:9-11
Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Colossians 2:20-23
When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. John 10:4-5
and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them (Ephesians 5:10-11).