Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
I went to Wal-Mart yesterday and used my debit card to pay for my purchases. I was using one of those “self service” lines and I got some cash back. There was someone behind me in the line, so as soon as my transaction was completed, I grabbed my receipt and my change, stuffed them both in my wallet, grabbed my bag with my purchased items, and headed out the door.
Pretty typical scene, huh? Well, in Tim Challies’ book “The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment”, he reminded me of something that I neglected to do during that purchase. Actually, I neglect it a lot. Okay, to be honest, I don’t think I EVER do it. The “it” I’m referring to is examining the money I got back to ensure that it is not counterfeit. Do any of you do that? It really never entered my mind to check my currency for anything other than whether or not I got the right amount of change. As Challies points out, though, “It is wise to test currency, for once I have accepted a piece of currency, I am responsible for it.” That means if you accept a counterfeit $100 bill and take it to your bank to deposit; they will identify it as counterfeit, take it from you, and destroy it, leaving you $100 poorer. Ouch! That got my attention. Then Challies goes on to show the parallel in the Christian life:
The same is true when it comes to spiritual discernment. When a doctrine or teaching is presented to me, I may examine it and mull it over. I may compare it to Scripture and seek to understand whether it is consistent with what God has revealed about Himself. But once I accept that doctrine I am responsible for it. If the doctrine is false and I choose to believe it, I can expect God to hold me accountable for believing something that is false. … And so I must exercise great caution and great care in ensuring that I accept and approve only that which the Bible teaches. I need to test everything that is presented to me.
You’ve probably heard the old saying that bankers are taught to identify counterfeit money by studying the real currency. Then they are so familiar with the true currency that anything fake is easy to detect. Likewise, let us be such good students of the Word of God that we can identify counterfeit teaching easily.