There is a wonderful letter from the apostle Paul to the church of the Thessalonians and towards the end he gives them some clear instructions for Christian living. They are to ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Again, and again I find I need to remind myself of this brilliant advice for my life. It is easy to forget and to slip back into old patterns of behaviour which are the opposite of this and fill one’s mind with grumbling, worry and negative expectations.
But the next four verses take us even deeper into Spirit -filled, Kingdom living, ‘Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil’ (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). Paul follows this by praying for the Thessalonian Christians to be sanctified by God and that their whole spirit, soul and body may be kept blameless in readiness for the return of Jesus.
We must ask ourselves whether we quench the Holy Spirit and don’t take seriously spoken messages from God and thereby miss out the blessing God intends for us. Are we asleep and not alert enough to hear what God is saying to us? Yet there is an equal danger of being too gullible and running the risk of being deceived by the enemy. In some churches there are Christians who are unable to detect that certain activities are spiritual in nature, but not of God. Maybe it is because few church leaders are knowledgeable themselves about these matters and don’t warn against them.
You may ask how we can test everything to see whether it is good in God’s eyes. I have known some Christians who went a bit crazy thinking nearly everything was evil when it was not. So, I like to give things the ‘Jesus test’. As we read the bible, we become more and more familiar with the teaching Jesus gave and we get to know His heart. We can know what pleases Him and what does not. We are then able to apply it to modern life.
In Hebrews 13: 8-9b, it says, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings’ … In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke we have the account of God speaking in an audible voice to Peter, James and John and telling them to listen to His beloved Son, Jesus (Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9).
So, if we hear a message which sounds similar to the things that Jesus spoke when He walked the earth, we should hold fast to it. It is good. It will help us to grow more like Jesus. Isn’t that our goal? Jesus warned His followers about the false, religious teaching of the Pharisees a set of rules that were impossible to keep, and which put people into bondage. Instead, Jesus invited everyone to come to Him and find rest and submit to His easy yoke (Matthew 11).
Jesus confirmed the teaching of God’s word, the law and the prophets as He continually quoted from it. For example, when He was asked about the question of divorce, He referred to Genesis.
Jesus taught us all we know about eternity, heaven, hell and Satan. We have no other reliable source of information on those matters. I have decided to test everything by what Jesus has said. How about you?
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank You so much for sending Jesus to show us what You are like. We thank You that He is our example and model of sinless, holy living. May we remember His words and use them as a plumb line for testing all things, so that we can hold fast what is good. In the name of Jesus, our Saviour and Lord, Amen.
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