Testing... Good or Bad?
Written by Leland Ping on May 30, 2016
The apostle Paul writes, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” in I Thessalonians 5:21. Near the end of this important letter to these first century Christians, the inspired writer gives one final warning to the disciples regarding the kinds of things they heard and would potentially have believed. This powerful warning should serve as a reminder to 21st century Christians as well!
When Paul says that we should test all things, he urges us to “examine” or “prove” all things. As parents remind children to not believe everything they hear, so should each of us be reminded that just because something is written or spoken doesn’t make it true. A great deal of gossip is spread due to people simply believing everything they hear (and often want to hear). Similarly, a great deal of false teaching is “spread around” by careless listeners who haven’t heeded the inspired advice to test what they’re hearing.
There are times when, after hearing something taught, we’ll be able to prove it. After all, if something is backed up by the scriptures, we know it’s true. Our faith isn’t based on whimsical hope but rather on reading and hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17). Knowing that God’s word is the one and only thing that allows us to be complete and provides us with the knowledge of what to do to please Him, we can be sure that by reading His word and following Paul's advice we are holding fast to goodness (II Timothy 3:16-17).
When the apostle tells us to hold fast to the good, he is also informing us that we need to be ready to expose the bad. False teaching is harmful for those who teach it and those who believe it. When we test and examine something that is taught and find that we can’t “prove” it to be true with God’s word, it is our responsibility to not only not believe it but to do all that’s in our power to share its danger with others. Paul urges us to hold fast to the good and that must mean we should disdain that which is bad knowing its potential to bring spiritual harm to countless individuals.
We must never grow complacent in our service to God. As Paul closed his letter to the Thessalonians with such a warning, so should each of us be on guard against false teaching disguised as the truth. Let us be dedicated to holding fast to the truth, defending it, and spreading it to others for it is a good thing. Let us also be determined to always test, always examine, and always prove what is taught and be certain to be diligent servants of God who settle for nothing less than God’s pure word and perfect truth.