When I was young, my family lived in a house with two large trees in the backyard. Every year, these trees brought forth an abundance of berries. I think that they were wildberries, but, looking back, I’m not completely sure. All I know for certain was that they were red and black in color.
One summer day, I had a stroke of ten-year-old genius. I rushed out to the berry trees and picked as many berries as I could. I figured that berries were berries, and that they should be good to eat. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to ask my mother if it was alright to eat the berries before I devoured the juicy berry goodness. She promptly filled a bowl with water and made me soak the berries for thirty minutes before I could eat them.
Slowly, my eager anticipation turned into nauseated horror. My face turned as green as the tiny worms that were now floating around all of my precious berries. Those wildberries had been full of parasites– parasites that went unseen until they were cleansed in the water. On that day, I learned just how deceiving appearances can be.
The same principle applies to the preaching and teaching that surrounds us. False prophets will never get up and announce to the world that they’re spreading falsehoods and ungodly messages. False teachers will never state outright that they’re spreading lies. Their messages will always be made to look attractive, reasonable, and intellectual on the surface. But on the inside, those messages are rotten and useless. We must always be on guard against them.
By way of example, look at all those that teach the prosperity gospel. I have heard men claim in all sincerity and seriousness that if you give them ten dollars, then God would eventually reward you with twenty dollars. The fruit of this teaching is rotten. It doesn’t teach Godly giving and generosity as set forth by God’s word, but instead plays upon mankind’s selfish nature and greed. This speaker is one that should not be followed.
As Christians, we have to be discerning about everything that we see and hear– and this is supremely important when it comes to listening to preachers and teachers. Don’t be fooled by the superficial glamor of the messenger, probe deep for lies and half-truths. Compare everything that you hear to the truth of God’s Word. If you do that, then you won’t be left with doctrines that are full of worms.
Devotional by Pastor C.J. Armstrong