Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

DISCERNMENT

Discernment is the ability to judge well - that is, to determine whether something is good or evil. The following are some Biblical instructions about discernment:-
  • "Test all things; hold fast to that which is good" - 1 Thessalonians 5:21
  • "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." - Hebrews 5:14
These verses imply that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we must be careful about the way we live. Here are some things to be careful about.

The regular disciplines of Christian living

From the Bible, we learn that God wants us to give importance to the following:-
  • Reading and studying God's word, the Bible. The importance of studying the Bible cannot be over-emphasised. Just as we have food for our bodies everyday, the Bible is our spiritual daily bread (Deuteronomy 8:3). The Bible is also our safeguard from temptation and falsehood.
  • Prayer: Prayer is two-way communication with God. Take time to talk to God, and also to "be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Prayer strengthens us, helps us to take wise decisions and avoid giving in to temptation (Mark 14:38).
  • Fellowship in your local church: Try to attend all the meetings of your local church and participate actively in their ministries. If you are unhappy with the conduct of the other members, try to be the change that you want to see.
  • Stewardship: Our time, money, energy, etc belong to God. But we are handling them; we will one day give an account of how we used or spent them.
Take care to ensure that nothing pushes these into the "back seat" of your life.

Cults

Cults are groups that claim to be Christian but differ from the Bible in the "doctrine of Christ" (2 John 9-10). They tend to have a much smaller following than world religions and are manipulative. Joining a cult is a recipe for wrecking your life spiritually, emotionally, sometimes even financially, physically and sexually. This is because cults not only teach false doctrine, but manipulate their members. This may involve control over members' finances, life choices, etc. Some cults are also characterized by physical and sexual abuse.

You can keep yourself away from cults by cultivating the regular disciplines of Christian living mentioned above. Also remember the following features of a Local church:-
  1. It is local
  2. It is autonomous
  3. It has a plural leadership

All cults violate these rules and therefore are not churches in the Biblical sense of the term - prudent believers will drop them like a hot brick.

The following are some prominent cults:-

False Doctrine, Tendencies and Movements

The New Testament warns us to stick to what is true and avoid false doctrine (Colossians 2:8, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3 John 4, Jude 3, etc).

In elementary math problems, there is one correct answer and infinitely many possible wrong answers. In the same way, for every subject, the truth is singular and the falsehoods are innumerable, so it is not worth researching all of them. The Believer's Page contains the truth, without devoting too much space to all the falsehoods out there. I urge you to go through those articles and examine them in the light of scripture. Nevertheless, here are some of the common false doctrines and tendencies that are doing the rounds today.

Psychology: Psychology is the study of human behaviour. As far as mere observation is concerned, there is nothing that opposes the Bible. But psychology does not stop at observing human behaviour. It also has the following objectives:-
  • Deciding whether certain behaviours are intrinsic to humans or acquired
  • Deciding whether certain behaviours are right or wrong
  • Determining why people behave in a particular way
  • Deciding how you can overcome your worries and have love, joy, peace, and abundant life.
These aspects of psychology intrude into Biblical territory. Psychology seeks to solve the same problems that the Bible claims to solve using mutually contradictory theories based on anti-Biblical premises. Therefore, believers should not try to solve their emotional problems with psychology (even if it poses as "Christian" or "Biblical" counseling). Take the help of spiritually mature people in your church, and the disciplines of Christian living. Further discussion

Ecumenism: The Oxford Dictionary defines ecumenism as the principle or aim of promoting unity among the world's Christian Churches. It sounds like a worthy aim. However, note the following:-
  1. Ecumenism seeks unity among all people who have a "Christian" label. This includes Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and Liberal Christians who do not believe the Biblical gospel and therefore are not even Christians in the Biblical sense of the term.
  2. Ecumenism seeks unity among various denominations. The Biblical approach would be to do away with denominations altogether, because denominations (and their member churches) are not churches in the Biblical sense of the term.
  3. Biblical unity does not have to be created because the Holy Spirit has already created it - it only needs to be maintained (Ephesians 4:3). 
  4. The basis of Biblical unity is not a label or a vague claim of "loving Jesus" or "having Jesus". Its basis is the one faith that all true, Biblical Christians share (Ephesians 4:3-6).
Thus, ecumenism is an anti-Biblical movement and will be shunned by believers wanting to please God. One step "beyond" "Christian" ecumenism is "inter-faith ecumenism", which aims to unite all the religions of the world. The image shows Pope John Paul II's "inter-faith prayer meeting". He invited not just liberal and orthodox Christians, but even Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, and indigenous religious leaders. The only people unwelcome there were Biblical Christians. Further discussion on ecumenism. Beware of music being used to promote false doctrine.

Separation from the world

Believers are sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11) - set apart from the world and all its corruptions. Once we believe in Jesus Christ, we are no longer "of the world" (John 17:14). Our conduct in this world should reflect this position that God has brought us into. Examine what you wear, talk, watch and hear, and check whether it is worthy of the calling with which you have been called (Ephesians 4:1).
 
In John Bunyan's classic, The Pilgrim's Progress, Christian and Faithful visit Vanity Fair, which symbolizes the world, with all its allurements. Bunyan illustrated Christian separation from the world by showing how Christian and Faithful were a great contrast to Vanity Fair - and they didn't want to buy anything from there.

Conclusion

If we avoid turning to the left or right from the Bible, we will prosper spiritually (Joshua 1:7); we will not mess our spiritual lives (1 Timothy 1:19). We will have the joy of a fruitful Christian life like Paul did (2 Timothy 4:6-8) and can look forward to meeting our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.