Mistaken spirituality lacks discernment
Read 2 Timothy 3:16-4:1-5
"They will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Where do we turn to determine what is right, not only about morality and ethics but even about God himself? Today our search for truth, meaning, purpose, and understanding of God has taken us down a road where truth becomes individualistic and personal. There is no external standard of truth; the truth is what is right for me. We become the arbiter of truth. On a broader scale, believe in personal truth then becomes truth determined by popular opinion. If truth is subjective, then as a society, we determine truth merely by taking a national poll. Truth is determined by the majority as people turn to human reason as the final basis for truth.
But this is not new. Paul warns us that the time will come when people will reject truth governed by God's moral laws as revealed in his word. Instead, they will pursue a truth that fits their own opinions. Thus he writes, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). This is what we see today. With all the various beliefs today and the proliferation of different churches, we can easily find a church that tells us what we want to hear. Instead of seeking a church that is grounded and driven by Scripture, anyone can find a church that rejects and rationalizes away any teaching that we disagree with. We determine what church we will attend by how it corresponds to our thinking rather than how it compares to the teaching of Scripture. For many, the Bible is no longer the authoritative and inspired Word of God; instead, it is a collection of religious writings containing spiritual insight but contains errors.
Furthermore, we identify the error based upon how it agrees with my perception. If it does not fit my perspective, then I justify rejecting it by labeling it as one of the errors. Ultimately we make ourselves gods because we determine right and wrong rather than any authoritative word from God. We trust ourselves rather than God. Instead of having discernment, we become driven by the latest religious trends.
Paul gives Timothy the answer to this mistaken spirituality. The answer lies in the nature of Scripture and our allegiance to it. In 3:16-17, Paul affirms that all Scripture (every word and every letter, see Matthew 5:17) originates from the mind of God. Therefore, to avoid the snare of rejecting the truth and pursuing our own self-deception, Paul tells Timothy to rivet his life and teaching on the Bible (2 Timothy 4:2). This is what brings us back to the importance of discernment. Discernment does not come by looking inwardly to our own reason; it comes by reading and following every instruction from Scripture. Discerning between the truth and the myth comes when we understand and live by the Bible. It is true, for it comes from the mind of God, who is truth, and he cannot lie. If you find yourself disagreeing with the message and teachings of the Bible, then surrender to its instruction.
Not only must we following the Bible to gain discernment, but we must also know the Bible. Ignorance is not bliss; it is self-destructive. When we are ignorant of the Bible, then we will follow them wherever the moral winds of society direct us. Spend time reading the Bible not just to know the Bible but to be able to understand what is right and what is false.