Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
– Matthew 7:15
Turn on the television, and the assault begins.
The whole world appears to be shouting, “Look at me! Look at me!” Everyone wants to sell their worldviews, their products, or their validation.
The church isn’t immune to the hype. All That Glitters latches its bony fingers around the padded auditorium chairs of our freshly remodeled sanctuaries and pulls us into the latest spiritual fad. It can take the form of new revelation or recycled reformation from a source that looks earnest and sounds convincing. But beneath the façade lurks a familiar nemesis.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
-1 Peter 5:8
Satan seeks to deceive us, divide us, and destroy us.
His bag of tricks and sleight of hand are impressive trapdoors to disillusionment. He constantly roams the earth in an insatiable search for humans to devour.
But if our adversary is disguised to look like a friend, how do we keep from being tricked? The Bible gives us several crucial instructions for victory:
Be a fruit inspector.
You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
– Matthew 7:16
Learn from your mistakes.
But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
– Hebrews 5:14
Do your research on a teacher or group before subscribing to their teaching.
The good man brings good things out of his good store of treasure, and the evil man brings evil things out of his evil store of treasure.
– Matthew 12:35
Don’t ignore the warning signs of trouble, and be willing to confront it.
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
– 1 Corinthians 16:13
Know the voice of the Shepherd. Read His Word.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
– John 10:27-28
Those who belong to God recognize His voice and the fruit of His Spirit in the lives of others. If we are vigilant, we will not be taken in by appearances. We can discern truth from lies through the direction of the Holy Spirit who lives in us and by learning from our mistakes. If we do this, we will stand as conquerors in the battle for the hearts of mankind.