The Bible often compares Christians to sheep. Indeed, we do need a shepherd to take care of and protect us. However, that does not mean that we should follow everything we hear like sheep!
A lot of messages are published on the Internet, preached in churches, or widespread in Christian communities. Messages that are sometimes encouraging and exciting, but not always Biblical. Some messages, even if they are given by people with good intentions, are based on verses that are taken out of context. It is important to always check what we hear with the Word (even what you read on this site!).
This is what the people of Berea did with the message of Paul and Silas. Although the reputation of Paul and Silas was flawless, the believers of Berea received their message with joy and open hearts but took the time to verify with the Scriptures “to see if what Paul said was true” ( Acts 17.10-12 NIV).
No matter where you hear a message, even if it is given to you by someone you have followed for many years, it is your responsibility to check the accuracy of that message through the Word. When we say verify, it’s not to see if the verse used is indeed in the Bible. Satan tempted Jesus using verses from the Bible! What you need to verify is if the passage is used in the right context, or that the meaning given by the messenger is “accurate”.
You may ask yourself: “Does the passage really refers to what the teacher is talking about?”. For example, some use Genesis 2:18 to tell singles they must all be married, or at least that they can all hope to one day be married. However when God said it is not good for man to be alone, we must consider the historical context. Adam was the only human being and his “race” was not going to spread if he alone! So, a woman was created, but that does not mean it is against God’s will for man to be single. Otherwise, Jesus wouldn’t have followed in God’s will! Ridiculous!
You can also ask yourself: “Does this passage really speak to everyone or to only one person?” For example, some use Jeremiah 1:5 to say that we are all prophets. If you look at what God says in this verse, it’s for Jeremiah, not everyone! Otherwise, this would contradict Ephesians 4:11 which says that some are called prophets, some evangelists, some doctors, etc.
Remember that the grace of Christ came to abolish several traditions and laws from the Old Testament. So ask yourself if the message you hear is based on a law overturned by Christ or if these are precepts that remain even under grace.
If you find that part of a teaching is not consistent with what God’s Word says, don’t stone the messenger! They may have made a simple error, or you may have misunderstood… Just do not swallow that part of the message. Stick to the Word, but otherwise, if everything is confirmed by the Word, put it into practice! This is how you grow in wisdom.
Do not be spiritual zombies. Think.