“The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps” (Proverbs 14:15, NKJV).
Have you ever been confused about what’s true and what isn’t? I have. I read articles on the internet that make me wonder. Some sound plausible but others seem questionable at best, even ridiculous. Misinformation, or fake news, is more readily available and spreads faster because of our modern technology. It doesn’t matter the subject—politics, health, financial investments, God’s Word—false information comes wrapped in smooth words and impressive presentations. How can we determine what to believe?
Proverbs 14:15 warns us to be cautious about what we accept as truth. This is especially important when dealing with God’s Word and eternal matters. That’s why we should pray Psalm 119:66, asking God to “teach me good judgment and knowledge.”
Deception has been around for a very long time—back to the Garden of Eden when the serpent deceived Eve. We must be aware so we don’t fall into the same trap. “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3, ESV).
It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between fact and fallacy. So how do we determine what to believe? The following questions may help us.
What is the source and is it reliable?
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1, ESV). “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24, ESV)
Can the content be verified by at least two or three sources?
“This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (II Corinthians 13:1, ESV).
Is the message distorted, biased, or quoted out of context?
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute” (II Peter 2:1-2, ESV).
Is the message based on fact or just opinion?
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD’” (Jeremiah 23:16, ESV).
The Bible tells us that we are living in perilous times. Satan is working against the clock, and his time will soon be up. He would like nothing better than to deceive us so we accept his lies. But if we fill our minds with the pure Word of God, we will recognize his strategy. “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14).
Prayer: Lord, fill my mind with Your truth so that I will recognize the deception of Satan. Give me discernment so I will be not led away by smooth words or enticing promises. You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Your Spirit will lead me and guide me into all truth.
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