1 Thessalonians  5:20-22  “Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject whatever is harmful.”

     This message was for the church.  It places the responsibility on every person to line up everything that is said and done within a community of believers  with God’s Word.  This is a job that can’t be left to others.  Everyone has to practice it and become competent in the practice.  It’s part of growing up and maturing  in your walk.  To not do this is to leave yourself in the position where you  believe what others tell you because ‘they said so’ and not because of what God says in His Word.  To not do this is to walk on the shifting sands of personalities and superstition – the way to idolatry.
     According to my dictionary, superstition is ‘a belief or practice founded on ignorant fear or mistaken reverence.’    Superstition feeds idolatry in two major ways; 1) being based on ignorance it leaves a person susceptible to opinions forced upon them by aggressive people as opposed to Biblical principles  and 2)  it creates a false reverence for magical thinking and magicians  – those who steal what isn’t theirs by deception and show.  Magical thinking is any kind of thinking that ignores reality, fails to remember past patterns and  relies on the power of persuasion rather than the power of God’s Word.  Superstition and cults are closely related social pathologies.

      One commentary  states; “There are few more important rules in the New Testament than the one in this passage. It shows what is the true nature of Christianity, and it is a rule whose practical value cannot but be felt constantly in our lives. Other religions require their votaries to receive everything upon trust; Christianity asks us to examine everything.” (Barnes Notes)   Scripture requires that authentic believers test everything for themselves!  You can’t rely on the elders or the pastor to do your testing for you.  Nor can you pass on your responsibility to only accept that which has been tested.  Today, we must do as the early Christians;  “they were carefully to examine everything proposed for their belief. They were not to receive it on trust; to take it on assertion; to believe it because it was urged with vehemence, zeal, or plausibility.” 

     What are the tests will show us what is worthwhile and true? Any prophecy must line up with the Word of God. If it doesn’t, if it contradicts God’s Word it is worthless and harmful. Jesus said; “`Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Luke 4:4) If a persons statements don’t line up with God’s Word then they cannot sustain us. In 2 Timothy 3:16 we are told; “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

     James 3:17 tells us the characteristics of wisdom; “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” This is an excellent checklist to use when testing the statements and claims that others would have you accept. Wisdom must have the purity of the Gospel’s purpose. It should lead to repentance and redemption. Wisdom brings peace and not strife. Wisdom is open to questioning. Wisdom does not cater to the privileged and has no hidden agendas. 

     Manipulators and deceivers cannot fool this checklist – use it!