Discernment: Turning Away From False Teaching (Deuteronomy 13)


“If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods”(gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,”you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer.”

“The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.” It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. …If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods”(gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them.”  Deuteronomy 13:1-8

We often think that idolatry is no longer a concern for us in our modern Western culture, but could this passage be a warning about other “gods”, such as a popular book or teacher? Often, popular spirituality seems good on the surface, but falls apart when tested against scripture.

After all, the original temptation in Eden started with the serpent’s words “didn’t God say?”

Satan is an expert at mixing enough of God’s words to make his lies credible. He wraps deception in some truth, hoping we won’t bother testing it, yet 1 John 4:1-6 instructs us to test everything to see whether it is from God. “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)

As scripture points out, even if our family and friends are inviting us to follow something that isn’t Biblical, we are to turn away from them, as hard as that may be. Choosing the narrow path is lonely and difficult, but it’s the path that leads to life instead of destruction (Matthew 7:13-20). God doesn’t ask us to discern and embrace truth so we can become targets for those who think we’re being judgmental or intolerant.

God teaches us to discern truth and stay away from false teaching, protecting us from the lies that can derail our faith.

We can also be encouraged in our quest for discernment, because true teachers of God’s word will welcome our questions and not be offended. In Acts 17, Paul commended the Bereans for verifying what he taught with the truth of scripture.

Discernment helps us clarify if the teaching is false or simply denominational/cultural differences. By seeking discernment from the Holy Spirit and checking everything against scripture, we can embrace truth and turn away from lies.

Read an earlier post by Cindy here.