So Many Mixed Messages
Convolution has become the norm. Like a tsunami, words, news, ideas, theories, plots, and conspiracies incessantly crash down flooding our emotions. They drive us with force inland away from the open space of calm and serenity. Experts on top of experts with graphs and graphics all intended to influence us to one side or another on every issue. It might not be a problem, but so many of the significant issues of the day come at us from a plethora of directions. The right, the left, the conservative, the liberal, the religious, the non-religious, and everything in between. Everyone has an opinion of what is right and they all expect us to accept what they say and follow along like little baby penguins waddling behind their mother. But how can we know what is true? How can we be certain? Do we believe this anchorperson or that? This article or that blog, which is true? The Scripture warns us to test every spirit.
Are these things that seem to have no eschatological relevance really spiritual?
Everything in the Physical Originated and Exists Within the Spiritual
The simple answer is yes. We do not live in a world existent outside of the spiritual realm, but a world enclosed by it. Before creation was, the Spirit of God hovered over what was to come. The Bible says that everything has been made by God, who is Spirit. The Spiritual created what we see. The Bible also teaches us that God created a world and has always been involved in it. Adam and Eve heard God walking in the Garden of Eden. Angels and demons continually make an appearance throughout Scripture. Modernity has given scientific and psychological terms to phenomena arising out of spiritual activity, but we must never suppose our world and existence to be void of spirit. We are the physical manifestation of spirit. Our soul is eternal. The physical body we see simply houses our true self, that which is immortal and will spend eternity in the presence of God or outside the presence of God, but the spirit in us will never cease to exist. The Word of God, the Bible we read is described by the Apostle Paul as the breath of God. The word breath in the original language means spirit. Luke in Acts reminds us that every move we make is by Him and in Him, the God who is Spirit.
Not only this but we are taught that Satan, the once high angel now fallen, is the god of this age. The culture, the movements of society, thought, and philosophy is under the dominion of the Great Serpent still deceiving us to partake of the forbidden fruit. The old commercial State Farm commercial suggesting if it is on the internet, it must be true sarcastically taught us not to trust everything we see and read. We must test the spirits.
1 John 4:1-3
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (NIV)
Because everything manifested in the physical originates in the spirit, to test every spirit is to discern the origin of thoughts, ideas, philosophies, theories, and arguments. Once we discern, we are to take captive every thought, argument, precept, concept that sets itself against the Word of God. This is not always easy. Not only can we not blindly accept what we read and hear, but we also cannot blindly reject the same. We must educate ourselves. To form our opinion about a situation or moment in time based on one report, blog, or article is quite dangerous. How many times have you been led to believe one thing only to find out later there was more to the story.
Is the Intent Godly?
To know whether we accept or reject, we must look at the motive of a particular idea, theory, or news story. What is the intent of the information? What is the purpose of the theory? Is the goal God-worthy? In other words, if something is posted intended to create havoc, discord, fear, or hate, that’s easy. It’s not from God. I remember watching a video of one of the first reporters beheaded by radical Muslim terrorists. No doubt about the spirit behind this video. It was intended to create fear. But what about some other issues that are not so clear. Not all pieces of information that have good intentions are from God.
Satan is a master at presenting wicked thoughts shrouded with good intentions. Politics is a huge arena where we must test every spirit. Both parties want what is best for the nation, for the world. Both say they want to help those who need help. Let me give you an example. Conservatives say they want to work for peace, and so do the Liberals. However, conservatives tend to seek “peace through strength.” A build-up of the military to make sure our enemies know that any scuffle with America is going to go very badly for them and quickly. Liberals lean more toward “peace through reconciliation.” Working with those nations who have shown a history of hatred for America, sending money and incentives so they will see America differently and not want to attack. Both have good intentions. And either could be for God at different times. Remember, God does not always have hard and fast rules that are never to be broken. We are told to go to those who have sinned against us and talk it out, but we are also told that a wise man overlooks an offense. Sometimes, God wants us to confront, and sometimes, He prefers we let it go. Sometimes, we stand strong against our enemies, and sometimes, we befriend them. But how do we know?
Is the Methodology Godly?
If the intent of the idea seems good and right, then we need to move to the methodology at that moment. This depends on the people involved. If the manager of a business says he wants to make sure all employees get along, that is good. If his methodology is to encourage people to never say anything when another employee does something wrong, this is not from God. To end violence is good, but if the methodology presented to accomplish this leaves people vulnerable and unprotected, it’s not from God. Employing racism to end racism is unGodly. Techniques to deal with stress are many. Breathe deep, get drunk, get high, have sex, take medicine, pray, worship, suicide, watch a rom-com are all ways to deal with stress. Some of these are acceptable to God and others are not. Some of these ideas are still being whispered through the hiss of that Ancient Snake, Lucifer.
How is the Communicator Motivated?
Finally, we must look at the motive of the person communicating the idea or thought. Many times, especially in churches, that are Godly ideas presented with Godly methodologies, but the motive of the person is selfishness. The person is attempting to gain glory for themselves in the process. Selfishness hijacks God-inspired principles presented with holy methodologies in every area of life. In this case, we may not want to reject the idea or argument, but we do want to be careful of the potential deformation of all things good. From the preacher praying for the blessing of his congregation with self-aggrandizing emoting to the politician calling the nation to unity because he is the one that can pull us together, selfishness in the players involved can be very indicative of the caution we need to use as we move forward with them.
Seeing the complexity to test every spirit reveals to us that we will not always be able to make a quick judgment about people, things, or ideas. That’s probably good. Snap judgments don’t usually benefit us or those people or things we judge. Instead, we are forced to become more like God as well as trust in God. Learning to be quick to listen and slow to judge forces us to seek the Lord’s wisdom and insight being patient as we wait for the Lord. And we know that waiting for the Lord is faith in God. And the more faith we have, the more strength and the greater potential for God to work in our lives.
Don’t fall into the temptation of being like everyone else going off on rants based on political or religious views. Not everything is discerned easily and quickly. The Bible is clear that we must test every spirit. We must learn to be quick to listen, slow to judge, and pray for wisdom.
Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!