Nearly all of us can recall a time in our childhood when other children pulled a prank on us or carried out a joke at our expense. Perhaps they sent us on a “snipe hunt” or on a “fool’s errand.” Most of us know what it is like to fall for incorrect information that leads us on a proverbial “wild goose chase.”
Even as adults, we may have been fooled by false, “too good to be true” advertisements that promised much more than was delivered. A shiny sugarcoating that disguised flawed and deceitful inner workings may have fooled us. A con man, a dishonest salesman, or a plain old liar may have deceived some of us.
Over time, most people learn not to blindly trust what others say. We learn to demand proof that we are being told the truth. Yet, despite lifelong experience, we can still be deceived. Even the oldest and wisest members of society, with decades of experience, can become victims of those with an evil intent to defraud. Life is filled with stories of the victims of lies, whether on a residential street, a main street, Wall Street, or today, the “street” may be the Internet.
When it comes to spiritual matters, we would like to think we are being told the truth. But religion is not immune to those with deceitful intentions—far from it, in fact. Religion is one of the major areas where people have been fooled.
Jesus Christ Himself warned, “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:5). He gave this warning for a reason. There is a great deceiver, “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). When it comes to religion, we need to be very careful that we prove the things that we believe.
In fact, God’s word instructs us to do just that. The Apostle Paul tells us in the New Testament: “Test [“prove” in other translations] all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
So, have you proved what you believe? For instance, have you proved that a Christian goes to heaven when they die? Have you proved you have an immortal soul? Have you proved that unrepentant sinners will go to an ever-burning hell? Is God a trinity? Or is there only one God? Did Sunday replace the Sabbath? Is baptism by sprinkling or immersion? Should an infant be baptized? Is repentance required? Can an unmarried couple just live together, or is sex before marriage a sin? Is homosexual conduct a sin? Can a woman be a priest or minister? Was God’s law “done away”? Must we obey God’s laws? Are religious pictures and idols forbidden? Is drinking alcohol a sin? Are priests supposed to be celibate? Should one pray to God only, or also to Mary, the saints, or angels?
What do you believe about these and other religious subjects? Are your beliefs true? Have you proved, by studying the Bible, what is the real truth about these subjects?
The truth is very important. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). And, we must “be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Most of all, there is only one, sure Way to the truth (John 14:6), and one inspired way of experiencing the freedom thereof (John 8:31–32).