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Summary: I remember a fellow saying: "Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see!" I was only a teenager when I heard this bit of wisdom from a heart that had grown cynical. However cynical the person who spoke these words, I realized there

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Developing Discerning Spirits Or One Might Say The Spirit Of Truth And Error

Sunday, April 07, 2002

This morning I certainly hope that you all have your bibles with you as I will be using quite a lot of scripture in my sermon.

Let’s turn if you will to,

1 John 4:1-6

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

I remember a fellow saying: "Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see!"

I was only a teenager when I heard this bit of wisdom from a heart that had grown cynical.

However cynical the person who spoke these words, I realized there was some truth to his words.

There is reason for healthy skepticism.

One of the reasons is that we are dealing with the spirit world which none of us knows too much about.

The second reason is that we are in the Devil’s territory.

The Bible warns us against believing everything we hear because there are many false prophets gone out into the world.

Too many of God’s children have never developed discerning minds.

They don’t discriminate.

They judge what is said by how it makes them feel rather than truth.

How do you know when someone is telling the truth?

A lie, to some people seems to no longer to be a lie.

Of course, a great many other things seem to be what people want them to be as well.

We will try to avoid getting into them this morning.

But our question still remains.

How do you determine what is true?

And when it comes to religion or Christian experience, then the question becomes vital.

You see, if we do not have an ability to discern the truth from the error, we will quickly be led astray into something other than true Christianity.

There have always been plenty of people teaching different things.

There has certainly been no shortage of those who claim to speak for God.

There are many different denominations, religious movements, cults, and "isms" of all kinds.

How do you sort them all out?

How do you evaluate all of the claims?

In answering these questions, many people take one of two extremes.

The first is that some evaluate religious truth based solely on intellectual and academic considerations.

In other words, for something to be true it must pass all of the theological tests of accepted scholarship.

This is one approach.

The other extreme applies a purely subjective approach to evaluating what is true.

In other words, if something feels right it must be true.

If it speaks to my heart, God is in it.

If I feel the Spirit, that is enough to verify something as from God.

I say that these two approaches are extremes because each excludes the other.

Each needs the other, however.

In fact, they are really complimentary to each other.

The first taken alone often produces a dead orthodoxy.

We may be right, but we are dead right – we have truth that is not energized by the Spirit.

On the other hand, the second approach often produces a gullible person easily led astray into error.

What is perceived as the life of the Spirit may simply be the effect of someone playing on our emotions.

Or it may be that we are in an emotional condition that lends itself to manipulation.

We need both approaches in balance in order to evaluate what is true.

We want the life of the Spirit. We want more than cold logic.

Indeed, we must have more.

Christianity without the life of the Spirit is not true Christianity at all.

On the other hand, the Spirit never leads in contradiction to the revealed word.

So we should seek the activity of the Spirit in concert with the word.

And we should never hesitate to evaluate everything by the word to determine whether the apparent life of the Spirit is in fact the true life of the Spirit.

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