Sermon: Discerning the Spirits

Discerning the Spirits
1 John 4:1-6
May 11, 2014

On this day that we recognize our mothers — and the mothers of our children — we recognize the uniqueness of a mother’s role. And as you have reflected on the way your mother has influenced you, perhaps you’re asking the question today, “what makes my mother unique and gifted?”  I was thinking this week about what makes a good mother and I thought about all the questions they ask in order to serve their families:

  • Has the baby been fed?
  • Is the diaper dirty?
  • Who left that toy on the floor?
  • Is the door locked?
  • With whom are you going?
  • Do we know his parents?
  • Have you washed your clothes? (or cleaned your room or finished your homework?)
  • When will you be back?
  • Are you coming to visit soon?

But as I did a little googling about this topic, I discovered that while questions and mothers go together, more than mothers asking questions, the reality is that mothers are asked questions far more. In fact, one study found that the average mother is asked more questions per hour than an elementary school teacher or a doctor or nurse. Mothers are asked more than 300 questions per day, or about 23 questions per hour — one question every 2 min., 36 sec. (that’s over 105,000 questions annually). And if the mother has a four-year-old girl, she can expect to receive 390 questions per day. (If she has a nine-year-old boy she gets off easier — it’s only 144 questions per day.) Children might go to their fathers, but 24% don’t bother because they are routinely told, “Go ask your mother.”

So what kinds of questions are these inquisitive minds asking?

  • Why is water wet?
  • Where does the sky end?
  • What are shadows made of?
  • Why is the sky blue?
  • How do fish breathe under water?
  • Why are you so old?

So moms want to know many things about their children and their children want to know many things about them. But asking questions is how one learns. In a similar manner, a mature believer will also ask questions. A mature believer is discerning and he cultivates that discernment by asking questions. He doesn’t accept every teaching as true. He doesn’t accept every teacher as being right just because he is a teacher. He digs and queries and probes. He does this because he wants to distinguish between the true and the false, so with his questions he is conducting a series of tests. How can someone tell who is true and who is false? By giving tests.

 To be a discerning believer, test what you are taught.

In 1 John 4, John provides five tests to determine whether a teacher and his teaching are informed by the Spirit of God or the spirit of Satan.

  1. Does the Teaching Originate from God? (v. 1)
  2. Does the Teaching Exalt Christ? (vv. 2-3)
  3. Does the Teaching Oppose Worldliness? (vv. 4-5)
  4. Does the Teaching Honor Scripture? (v. 6a)
  5. Does the Teaching Elevate Truth? (v. 6b)

Download the rest of this sermon on 1 John 4:1-6.

The audio is posted on the GBC website.

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