by Steven Chan
In order for us to be able to hold fast what is good, we need to be able to discern what is good. We need to “test all things” and not simply accept whatever is taught or told to us.
In 1 John 4:1, the Bible exhorts us to “test the spirits”: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” The church as Ephesus was commended by God for having “tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars” (Rev 2:2).
Again the Bible says: “do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”(Eph 5:17). Before we can do the will of God (Matt 7:21), we must understand the will of God. So, it is very important that we make every effort to understand the will of God in all things.
In order to be able to discern what is good, we need to “test all things” to ascertain whether they are good or evil.
How are we to “test all things”?
- We need to have a transformed mind; one that does not conform to the world. Rom 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
A transformed mind will enable us to be able to “prove or test or ascertain” what is that good and acceptable will of God. If our mind is not set on spiritual things, but is preoccupied with the things of this world (Col 3:1-4), then one would have great difficulty ascertaining or understanding the will of God.
Our mind is to be renewed on a daily basis (2 Cor 4:16) when we “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him”(Col 3:10): “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”( 2 Cor 3:18).
Jesus said in John 7:17: “If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God.” Do we have that desire to want to do God’s will? If we do not desire to do God’s will then we will be “ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of truth” (2 Tim 3:7)
When we are willing to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, then we will want to have a mind that is like that of Christ (Phil 2:5) and not one that thinks, acts and lives like the world.
- We need to be willing to search the Scriptures to ascertain whether the things that are taught to us are true indeed.
Acts 17:11: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
The test is that of conformity with the apostolic teachings just like the early Christians continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42): 1 John 4:6: “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” Gal 1:8: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”
- We need to grow and become spiritually matured so as to be skilful in the word of righteousness:
Heb 5:12-14: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Failure to grow spiritually will result in us being like “children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Eph 4:14). Do we easily get confused and are carried away whenever someone teaches a “new” or “strange” doctrine? The devil is actively sowing tares (Matt 13:24-30) and we are forewarned in 2 Peter 2:1: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies” and “from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.”(Acts 20:30)
Brethren, are we “testing all things” by the standard of God’s Word so that we may be able to “hold fast to what is good”? Are we able to ascertain that which is good? This is a personal responsibility of each and every Christian. We need to study the Word of God diligently (2 Tim 2:15) so that we may grow spiritually (1 Pet 2:2) and allow our minds to be transformed (Rom 12:2) as we seek to do His Will by setting our minds on spiritual things (Rom 8:5-8) – then we will be able to “test all things and hold fast to what is good”!