In this post-truth era, it is not uncommon to hear Christians mock, slight, and even slander other Christians who do not subscribe or support the popular trends of the hour. This can be attributed to people, these days, more than likely accepting a viewpoint based on their emotions and beliefs, rather than accepting one based on objective facts. This sort of character among believers is not only unbiblical, but extremely dangerous. It opens the door for believers to be entertained by doctrines of demons, unbiblical speculations, and lying signs and wonders that weaken the church from within.
Nowhere in scripture are we forbidden to “use our brain.” In today’s celebrity driven Christianity, measuring things to the full standards of scriptures, can get one labeled as judgmental and even a Pharisee. There is a fine line between thinking biblically and being critical. While unjust criticism is prohibited by the Lord (Matt. 7:1–2), trying or testing is commanded (1 John 4:1). How can we examine or test a spirit, if thinking or judging is off limits? Consider two contrasting examples from the Bible. In the first example, we will see that the people had turned off their minds and stopped thinking for themselves. The second example, however, reveals a very different group of people who did not just accept what they heard and saw, and as a result, were commended for it.
In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul delivers a strong rebuke to individuals who were turning away from the only true gospel. He was shocked to hear this beloved church was moving toward a different gospel—one that would eventually lead the people to eternal damnation (Galatians 1:6–9). In the Greek language, there are two different words for the adjective another or different. There is allos—which means another of the same kind. The other word is heteron, which means another of a different kind. The word that Paul uses in these verses is heteron. In other words, when Paul confronts this different gospel that’s been accepted among believers, he is speaking about a gospel that looks and sounds authentic on the surface, but underneath, there are significant qualitative differences from that which is true. The reason this church had moved away was because they were not thinking biblically. This is confirmed in chapter 3 when Paul states, “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you….”
Note that the word “foolish,” as it is used in this context, does not mean one who lacks smarts or intelligence. It is, rather, a Greek usage of the word which means one who is not using what they know to think something through, or one who is not “using his head.” Paul, by the Holy Spirit, states that the reason the Galatians were being deceived is because they were not using their heads concerning unsound teaching and spiritual imposters. Instead, they were bewitched (being led by their emotions).
Let’s look at our last example. In the Book of Acts, Paul preaches to a group of people called the Bereans (Acts 17:10–12). The Bible says that when they heard Paul preach, they immediately went back and searched the scriptures to see if what they were hearing was true. Notice that neither Paul, nor the Holy Spirit, rebuked or condemned these followers. They, unlike the Galatians, were commended and called “fair minded.”
Has the act of being a Berean become sinful? Is this type of mindset now forbidden?
There are some valuable lessons that we can learn from the Bereans. They are lessons that could protect us from deception today:
1) They elevated scriptures above the apostle Paul’s popularity.
2) They used the Word of God, and not miracles, excitement and crowds, as the sole tool for determining if something is of God.
3) They had a readiness for the Word and did not seek out signs for confirmation.
4) They were ready to reject Paul’s counsel, regardless of his reputation, if what he taught contradicted the Word.
5) They had disciplines that prepared them to go back, reread and examine everything they were taught before accepting it as truth.
Paul didn’t reprimand them for searching or thinking, so why is it different today? Why do we believe that thinking or examining is now hypocritical? The enemy of our soul has a plan. And his plan is to remove the concept of thinking biblically or the idea of measuring what we see taking place around us with the scriptures. He wants us to accept the, sometimes, status quo of the culture as if this is God’s “new thing.” It is our responsibility to test the spirit just as the Bereans did. Those who don’t are as foolish as the Galatians whom Paul rebuked.
It’s time to take inventory of our lives to see if we are Galatians or Bereans. Only one group will see the Lord!