DISCERN : “identify the true nature of something”

Author: Joyce Yearsley

I study the Bible. A lot. An awful lot. Right now, I’m on a self-imposed break from Bible study, because it got to be a little, um, too much, right around Christmas. I also teach the Bible to women. A lot. I usually have around four studies going in my personal devotion time: the one we are currently doing in Sunday School, the one we will be doing in the near future, the one we are currently doing now or soon in Women’s Bible Study and another one I’m doing on my own, just for “fun”. Sometimes I lead studies that others have written and sometimes I write my own studies based on books of the Bible.

Because leading Bible studies puts me in front of women at church, I am often stopped and given an encouraging word or two. “Thanks for teaching, leading, studying, caring.” That sort of thing. It means the world to me. Unfortunately, due to my putting myself out there, I have also been the target of some pretty unfair and inaccurate criticisms. I have been told I don’t really care. I have been called a false teacher, a hypocrite, and worse.

I think this problem stems from the current obsession that believers have with discernment. There is no shortage of so-called “discernment websites”. Google that and you’ll find no less than a dozen websites, all purporting to have the truth and to have the ability and the right to bash every Bible study teacher that’s popular. No one is immune to their attacks. Their Sunday sermons consist of an hour of bashing yet another poor soul who once decided to teach the Bible. Makes me feel sorry for the poor people who have to listen to that. Personally I’d rather listen to an actual, real Biblically sound message from Pastor Chris. Wouldn’t you?

I have never been the victim of one of the major discernment websites. But then again, I haven’t sent them a copy of my Zechariah study. But if I should dare to choose a study for the women from among the teachers who are victims of these witch hunts, like for instance Priscilla Shirer, then by association, I am a false teacher. One thing I have noticed is that their attacks are often based on a quote from the Bible teacher, and it is almost always taken out of context, and put on a blog with a photo of the teacher allegedly speaking the quote. If someone was truly a false teacher, would we really need to take their stuff out of context and manipulate the situation to make it look worse? No.

On the other hand, there ARE a lot of false teachers out there! And there are many well-meaning teachers who simply haven’t quite got it all together yet. What are we to do? I would make four suggestions:

1—Turn off the discernment blogs and start doing the work for yourself. You aren’t really being like the Bereans if you just read the blogs.

2—OPEN YOUR BIBLE! Become intimate with it, spill your coffee on it!

3—Take yourself out the door to a local Bible study, Sunday School or LifeGroup. Enjoy the differences, enjoy the fellowship! God’s Word is meant to bring light

to the darkness and joy to the soul!

4—Pray, asking for true discernment, not the kind that tears apart.


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