Most of us believe that we know ourselves but I am not too sure about that. Many times our view of ourselves is distorted by the mirror of our own opinion and preferences. The Bible reminds us that we can determine a better picture of who we really are based on what I am listening to.
Our lives are filled with a cacophony of competing voices. It could be from the people in our lives, the social media sources and just about everywhere we turn. What we often overlook is that the voices that we choose to give ear to are the same ones that shape our lives. I recently came across a verse in 1 John that reminded me that the voices that I listen to in life actually give me a more realistic picture of myself. The Apostle John wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”(1 John 4:1)
The Apostle reminds us that we need to be spiritually discerning in our lives. The simple reality is that every voice that claims to be Christian is not truly Christian. This was true in John’s day and it is still true today. John then provides instruction in the following verses on how the believer can discern which voices are from the Lord. I am not in any way ashamed of being a pastor but I do have pause when someone asks me what I do for a living. The reason for my hesitation is that many times, but not always, the person then tries to impress me with some form of spiritual talk. Now I enjoy genuine spiritual conversation from those that know the Lord. I also enjoy talking about the Lord with people that do not yet know Him. But what I prefer to avoid is someone trying to impress the “pastor” with spiritual talk. I cannot tell you the number of times that the other person would respond “I am a Christian too!” The sad reality is that there is nothing that I have seen in their lives that would lead me to that conclusion based on the way they live.
What is interesting about the Apostle’s focus in this passage is that one of the ways that we can discern those that are genuine believers is by examining who they listen to. John reminds us, “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6) Let me encourage you to read that verse again. John points out the obvious, “Those that are from God listen to those that are teaching Biblical truth.” A genuine believer is going to desire to be under Biblical teaching. It is part of the believer’s DNA. Those that have no desire to be under God’s Word need to question if they are a child of God.
The question I would encourage each of us to ask ourselves is, “Who am I listening to?” And, “What does it say about me?”
-Pastor Joe Parkinson