Discernment or Slander?

False teachers, discernment, slander
With an air of superiority, he proclaimed, "I wouldn't read that person's books because I have discernment!" 

The person he referenced was solidly Biblical but several sensationalist websites had slandered him by taking things he said out of context.

It reminded me of times I've confused discernment with sloppy research. Decades ago as a new Christian, I avoided C.S. Lewis because of warnings against his teachings!* 

Instead of doing my homework on Lewis, I listened to a teacher who scrutinized minor, insignificant quotes from Lewis while ignoring his consistently Biblical teaching (1 Peter 2:1). 

I'm not saying that we shouldn't judge teachers who are not teaching Bible truths. But we can do that by examining their overall teaching and the way they live. We don't need to scrutinize and extrapolate minor details which don't accurately represent them. 

Yes, I've arrogantly thought I possessed discernment at times, but I was simply trusting others to do my research and my thinking for me (Proverbs 11:9) . 

Let's not make this mistake, dear Christians, because it's slander!

* No one is 100% accurate. We should judge error wherever it is found, both from Biblical and false teachers (Acts 17:11). But minor errors do not make someone a false teacher. ~ I don't agree with every detail of Lewis' teaching, but overall, his books accurately and stunningly present God, faith and the Bible. 

Bible Study

1. Right and Wrong Forms of Judgment 
We must judge false teachers and there are lots of them out there. But we must judge them biblically.

Many popular sites dedicated to exposing errors are full of sarcasm and mockery. And these sites usually take single sentences, often out of context, and explain what the accused person "means," something they cannot know. These sites are too full of "eye planks" to see other people's specks (Matthew 7:1-5).

This verse speaks to that attitude:
James 4:11: Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. ESV 

To read more about right and wrong judgment, see this collection of 1-Minute Bible Love Notes: Misunderstandings About Biblical Judgment 

2. Those who share rumors, gossip and undocumented information and those who pass it along are guilty of slander.

Exodus 20:16: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. ESV 

See also Mark 7:20-23 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

3. God expects us to get our facts straight.

Proverbs 11:9: With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered. ESV 

Psalm 19:14: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.NLT

Matthew 12:36: I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.. ESV 

Our words can do a great deal of harm to innocent persons.

Have you spoken against a Bible teacher, pastor, author, or speaker without checking the facts for yourself? You may be guilty of slander.
copyright, 2016, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
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