Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves
Over the course of this study I have noticed that the faithful disciple is expected to live in moderation between two extremes. On the one hand we need to accept that disinformation and false truths are all about us, even within us, and so we must take any mortal testimony with a grain of salt. On the other hand, though, the virtues proscribed in Christianity include qualities like being hopeful and believing, not cold and cynical! So are we expected to be skeptical and trusting?
And as we see in the verse above, this is exactly the counsel Jesus gave to his disciples. They were being sent out as sheep among wolves. So yes, we are to be as wise as serpents, skeptical of any worldly message that hits out conscience the wrong way. But also we are to be harmless as doves, humbly trusting in any divine message that we feel comes from our Father.
For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil
For every thing which inviteth to do good, and to believe in Christ, ye may know it is of God
Whatsoever thing persuadeth to do evil, and believe not in Christ, ye may know it is of the devil
And this brings to mind another virtue that disciples hope to develop: discernment. The closer we draw to our Father, the more we know Him personally, the better we will be at recognizing what messages are spoken in His voice and which ones are not.
We will be able to tell which messages are inviting us to come even closer to Him, and which ones are craftily trying to pull us away. We will be able to cleave fast to the first and firmly reject the second. And in doing this, we will be sure that we stand in the truth.