As members of God’s Church, when we were called to live God’s way of life, we took the time to prove the true doctrines of the Church and disprove many traditional Christian doctrines that contain ideas not consistent with the Bible. Those of us who are second- or third-generation Christians also had to closely examine our beliefs before baptism and prove them for ourselves.
An important academic tool taught to students is critical thinking. This type of objective analysis is reflected in the biblical admonishment to “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
For those who are members of God’s Church, this tool is basically what we used when first confronted with God’s truth. We wanted to make sure we were embracing that truth, so we likely got books and computers out, studied the Bible, and by our research, we proved those things.
As we go through life and form our opinions and beliefs on issues in the world around us, do we use critical thinking?
We are exposed to all kinds of mainstream news, political agendas and theories from a variety of media sources. Newsletters and blogs are more popular than ever, and they can be convincing and seem right. Whenever we believe and embrace a stance on an issue of the day, do we honestly study both sides of the issue before believing it?
When we examine issues outside the Church and then do what seems right to us without proper biblically-based critical thinking, it can cause confusion, trouble and possibly lead us in the other direction from God. In our culture today, there is indeed a famine of truth! Notice Hosea 4:1-2. Ancient Israel, like many modern nations, allowed falsehoods and myths in their societies.
The originator of all deceptive teaching is Satan the Devil, and he holds sway over our world. If he can’t deceive us about God’s truth, one of his tricks is to get us to embrace falsehoods of the world. Without comparing what we hear to God’s Word and His ways, these falsehoods can cause us to have attitudes that are independent of God’s ways. This can result in us neglecting our calling to God’s Church, Sabbath services and causing division. This is the Devil’s snare mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:25-26.
In Matthew 24:4, Christ’s first end-time warning was for us to not be deceived. We can now see how serious that warning is!
Virtually all the letters of Paul, Peter, John and Jude urged brethren not to be led astray by false teachings of any kind (1 Timothy 1:3-4). In the last 20 years the Internet has been overflowing with theories and opinions of people on every extreme.
Take everything with a “grain of salt”—think critically about what you read so you can avoid deception.
Here are three ways God tells us in His Word how to avoid deception:
Love the truth (John 17:17)!
Notice how serious this is in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. The only real truth is God’s Word (John 17:17), and the truth makes us free (John 8:32). When you read or hear any opinion, examine it and think, “Is this compatible with God’s Word?”
Guard the door to your mind (Proverbs 14:15).
Just like a computer virus, we can ingest corrupting information that can lead us astray. Be informed without being corrupted.
Prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Notice this is not just in the realm of religion—it covers all things. Christ taught that we must use righteous judgment—not according to appearances (John 7:24)! That means learning all sides to an issue.
Like trusting sheep, it can be easy for us to be lead astray. Don’t be infected with Satan’s distractions, deceits and the polarized society in which we live. It is crucial that we examine everything we read and hear against the Bible. The Bereans “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). They provide a wonderful example of biblical critical thinking—analyzing what they are exposed to and comparing it against the Scriptures.
We know much greater deception will come to this world before Christ returns to restore all things—including truth. As our Lord Jesus Christ taught: don’t be deceived, guard the door to your mind, love the truth and prove all things!
Evan J. Chase