1 Kings 13
This is one of those chapters which leave me with a million questions. If there was a prophet in Bethel, why wasn’t he speaking out against the idolatry there? Why did he purposely seek to deceive and lead astray the man of God? Why did the man of God believe him so easily? Was the prophet turned back to God in repentance when he realized his lies had led to the man of God’s death? And, as always, what does God want me to learn from this account? “All scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:15-17
The first lesson that comes to mind is a cautionary tale about taking someone else’s word for what God has said. While we are given teachers and leaders to shepherd us, we are also warned in 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Today is no different! There are false prophets seeking to profit off of easily-beguiled followers. There are those who follow the enemy and purposely masquerade as servants of God to lead His children astray. But even more, there are well-meaning teachers, preachers, and believers who are led astray by their own interpretations of scripture. God’s Word is inerrant, but our understanding of it is often in error! Consider how often throughout the two centuries since Christ’s resurrection God’s Word has been distorted to support oppression and abuse. If you don’t think that still happens, just turn on the TV on a Sunday morning and you will find both truth-tellers and snake-oil salesmen.
Whether we are sitting under the teaching of a famous preacher with a lifetime testimony that is unblemished, or reading a blog like this of someone with no theological education, who simply reads God’s Word, prays for Him to teach me from it, and shares what I think I’ve learned, we must test the spirits! Please don’t ever take my word for it. Read the scripture that is being referenced. Pray that God would give you understanding both of what you read in His Word and what you are hearing from the preacher/writer. Ask hard questions about whether they are aligned. Consider whether the teaching aligns with the entire counsel of scripture or takes verses out of context. Does the teaching move you to a greater understanding of God’s holiness, sovereignty, love, justice, and most of all, His plan of salvation through Jesus, the Christ.
The man of God had a word directly from the Lord, but he let someone else’s word countermand the Lord’s direction.
“13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14