By Nathan Washburn
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Greenbrier
Not all discrimination is bad. Sometimes it’s appropriate, even necessary. In general, when speaking of excluding someone based on gender or skin color or ability, then yes, discrimination is not good and doesn’t glorify God, who’s made all people with His image imprinted on them.
But when it comes to the words and beliefs put forth by those who purport to be speaking truth, we must filter what they say through the Word of God. We must discriminate. Just because someone has a winsome personality and a speaking platform doesn’t mean he or she speaks truth. Not every preacher who stands behind a pulpit also stands behind the cross. Some may in fact stand in front of the cross and obscure it so badly that the gospel is unrecognizable in their preaching.
Filter what you observe and take in. John says that we are to “test the spirits” (I John 4:1). We cannot coast mentally and spiritually in this world. The enemy is at work constantly, producing slick new subtle truth-like lies meant to dupe even the followers of Christ. They’re woven into the entertainment we bring into our homes, they’re woven into the news reports and political speeches we hear, and they’re even shot right into our own heads and hearts at times in the form of fiery arrows. Taking up our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-20) we seek to actively guard our minds (II Corinthians 10:5) and our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) by filtering what we hear and see through the Word of God.
Test spirits and beliefs by the person of Jesus. When John wrote in the first century, he did so in the context of a popular false teaching called Gnosticism. Gnostics held the belief that the spiritual realm was good and the physical world was bad, so Jesus must not have really been a physical human, but only appeared to be a human. They defined Jesus by their beliefs rather than defining their beliefs by Jesus. This is why John puts such a heavy emphasis on the incarnation of Jesus (I John 4:2). He really was a human, who was a real baby, who grew into a real man, who died a real death on a real cross. Anyone who says otherwise is not from God (I John 4:3).
Reckon yourselves as overcomers. When confronting anti-Christ ideas or beliefs that are widely held in the culture, we are not only going up against the culture, but against the spirits of evil that are behind the culture. And make no mistake, it will not go unnoticed. We will feel the pushback by both the culture and the forces behind it. And we are not more powerful or wiser or stronger or more winsome or persuasive than they are. However, we know One who is, and He has not left us alone. The Holy Spirit of God lives within us, and He who is in us is “greater than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4). Therefore, we reckon ourselves having already overcome those who set themselves up against Christ and His kingdom.
We are not indiscriminate believers, gullibly shuffling through this life pushed around by every wind and wave of worldly doctrine. Instead, we are lovers of the truth, fiercely sifting through everything we see and hear by holding it up to the person of Christ and fearlessly holding forth to those things that align with Him and His overcoming kingdom.