Last week, I received a personal message on a social media site from a friend. While I thought it was odd that she was messaging me, I still replied. After all I had seen her a few days before. It seemed odd that she would message me to see how I was doing. I replied back anyways and asked how she was. I continued to get messages from her throughout the course of the evening and even though there was nothing wrong with them on the surface, something simply didn’t seem right about them either. There were even “spiritual”words and phrases, if you will, mentioning Jesus being our Savior and blessings. She sounded very sweet and concerned over me, but something felt off. Even though she is a very dear friend and very sweet, it simply did not sound like her. So I texted her to make sure that it was, indeed, who it was supposed to be. Turns out, it was not. Someone had hacked her account and was posing as my friend. Thankfully, I did not get too far into communication with whoever it was and blocked any further contact.
I have been deceived before. We all have. But I find this day and age extremely easy to be deceived with as much information that is available at the touch of our fingertips. This is especially the case when it comes to matters of our faith and beliefs as Christians. There are so many thoughts, opinions, along with various theologies and doctrines all competing for our attention and allegiance. Blogs, videos, social media posts, articles..you name it, all are available and all offer one way of thought, belief or another. If we’re not careful, it is very easy to be swayed by the wrong thing. Even things that seem good or the truth. As believers, we need to be careful. Jesus told His disciples to be wise as serpents and it is not any different with us. Certain ideas that seem to be Christian, or posed as such ,are often not of Christ at all and certainly not found in the Bible. They may seem good, but even the scripture tells us that Satan is disguised as an angel of light. We often are duped into believing that, as long as it points to a good thing, then it must be ok. Or that if the intentions are good then it isn’t as harmful. But how do we know that?
Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth and to remain salty. If sand gets mixed in with salt, even though there is still salt in the mix, it’s rendered useless. It is the same with truth. If truth gets mixed in with lies, it loses it’s power. So it’s important as believers to be able to decipher what is of God and what is an imposter.
How is this possible? It is simple. Know the voice of your Shepherd. Jesus said His sheep will know Him by His voice. Just like I knew my friend well enough to know that the messages that supposedly came from her, were indeed not from her. They sounded similar, but not quite. I was able to differentiate this poser from my actual friend and handle the messages accordingly. As the days get more evil and more chaotic, it is now, more than ever, important that we are able to do the same with messages that claim to be of God.
How do we know His voice? Another simple answer. We learn His voice by spending time with Him. I didn’t know my friend upon meeting her the first time. I have spent time with her. Intentional time. The kind of time where I actively listen to her and communicate. The kind of time that is regular and set aside just for her. It is the same with our Lord. We cannot learn His voice if we do not know Him and we cannot know Him if we are not setting intentional space aside specifically for Him. We learn to recognize His voice by being in His presence. By spending time with Him. We learn what He sounds like while we read His Word.
One other huge aspect of this, I want to mention, is discernment. Discernment gets thrown out there in prayers at time and it’s a part of the Christian terminology, but I think it gets tucked under the bed with other things we don’t know what to do with. Discernment is a spiritual gift that we should be asking for and seeking to hone our skills in. It is a key factor in deciphering what is of God and His Word and what is a false doctrine or belief. It can protect our hearts from being led astray. Just like this poser’s messages, certain things can seem harmless, but lead us into a dark place or at best a distracted place. I did not continue communication long enough with this person to find out what they were up to, but there actions were dishonest and therefore it couldn’t have been good. Discernment told me to reach out to my friend directly before any damage could be done.
God doesn’t change. His ways are right and just. His word is true. Nothing when held up to His light can compare. But we can be easily deceived left to our own devices. It is imperative for believers in this generation to grow in wisdom and knowledge of God.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.~ Matthew 10:16
“And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” ~ 2 Corinthians 11:12-15
“Jesus said: “I tell you for certain only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd’s voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out.
When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. The sheep will not follow strangers. They don’t recognize a stranger’s voice, and they run away” ~ John 10:1-5