The main issue facing the church is the lack of discernment. That is the main issue facing the church. The church doesn't distinguish between truth and falsehood. It has a defective immune system. It has a case of spiritual AIDS. It does not have the ability to fight error because it doesn't know the truth. It doesn't have enough truth antibodies to fight off error. The church is ignorant. It is blissfully ignorant and consequently it is victimized easily by error.
This is a serious, serious problem. Weak theology, shallow, superficial knowledge of Scripture, all kinds of uncalled, unqualified people standing in pulpits who were not sent by God like the false prophets Jeremiah talks about and don't have the Word of God and don't understand it, are inventing all kinds of things that the church is buying into. A superficial knowledge of Scripture, a weak theology, all kinds of error flooding into the church cripples discernment. And what makes it worse is that there is a movement to say that the tolerance of all of this is the purest expression of Christian love, right? And if you call these people into question and you call what they're saying into question and say it's not truth, it's error, you are unloving, you are divisive and you are striking a blow against the unity of the church.
And so, you have error flooding the church. The church is by its theological and biblical ignorance unable to fight against that error. And tolerance is being elevated as a supreme virtue which aids and abets the problem. And this is in contradiction to the command of 1 Thessalonians 5:21, "Examine everything carefully and hold on to what is good and put away what is evil."
The church has gotten itself into a position where it cannot distinguish between God's Word and Satan's lies. That's sad...that's sad.
Now let me go a little deeper into this issue. Of all the issues of discernment, and there are many, there's a lot of confusion in the church, there's a lot of error in the church about a lot of things. There are all kinds of views of the work of the Holy Spirit, the person of the Holy Spirit. All kinds of views about various passages in the Scripture, paradigms for sanctification, forms of baptism, spiritual gifts, views about salvation, about the purposes and work of God, about the sovereignty of God, about the human volition All kinds of views about all kinds of things. And the church not only lacks discernment, but lacks the will to be discerning.
But of all of the issues that are important, there is one that is at the top of the list. If we're going to be discerning about anything, there is one thing we have to be discerning about and it's this...who is a Christian? That's the most critical one of all. That is the most critical issue of all. At the top of my list in this matter of being discerning is we need to know who the true Christians are because if we don't, then we've invited the enemy into the camp.
Excerpt taken from a sermon delivered by John MacArthur at Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California. It was transcribed from the tape, GC 80-221, titled "Deliverance: The Neglected Doctrine". You can read the entire sermon here.