Something’ was wrong. I didn’t know what it was, but could sense something happening in me. My ten-year-old body was becoming increasingly hot, like I was burning from the inside out. Which didn’t make sense because I wasn’t in the sun. The approaching evening, although not cold, was not hot either. And besides, I was in my bedroom. And yet, I could feel the internal fire growing by the minute. This was not good.
My thoughts flew from the fire in me to the sudden sounds of wild commotion coming from the kitchen. One of my siblings was crying. Maybe more than one. My mom was talking in a higher than normal pitch, And the sound of many small feet running across the wooden floor was accompanied by shrieks and shouts.
It didn’t take long to find out why. We had all been poisoned. All six of us kids as well as my mom. Everyone seemed to be reacting to the poison in slightly different ways. Whereas a few of us felt the fiery poison on the inside, some had no internal discomfort. However, their faces were turning increasingly red, and, as funny as it seemed to us at the time, the only indication of the poison flowing through one of my brothers was his two bright red ears.
My dad, who had just gotten home from work, drove us to the emergency room, where we were all given a small cup of something to drink. “To make you throw up,” the nurse told us. “That will get rid of the poison.” Everyone swallowed their cup of something. Everyone except me. I didn’t want to throw up. I didn’t like throwing up. And I didn’t like unknown liquids. So I held my cup, and wished I was anywhere but there.
As my mom and siblings took turns throwing up, I heard my parents discussing how it must have been the frozen homemade applesauce we had eaten at dinner. They were talking about something bad being in that applesauce. Maybe too much preservative. I don’t know. But whatever it was, we didn’t taste it or see it. And yet, it was definitely hurting us.
Finally everyone had purged. Except me. I still clung to that cup of strange liquid in spite of all the encouraging, shaming, bribing, and threatening my parents did. I could handle all that without caving in. What I couldn’t handle was the threat from the nurse: “If you don’t throw up by the time I get back, I’m going to have to give you a shot.” I dreaded needles more than strange liquid, so I downed the cup, and soon became one of the purged.
The next day, I looked suspiciously at the containers of tainted applesauce as my mom pulled them from the freezer. They didn’t look any more evil now than they had looked or tasted the night before.
“Mom, how do you know they’re poisoned? They look just like the good applesauce we’ve eaten before.”
“I know they’re poisoned because I reread the directions on the box of preservatives. I got the directions wrong.”
“Can’t we eat them anyway,” my brother asked. “They taste too good to get rid of. We can just go throw up again later.”
I understood what my brother felt. It did seem like such a waste of something delicious. But then I remembered the consequence of allowing the bad as well as the good into my mouth. So I nodded agreement with my mom as she told him, “Nope, not worth it, Better to make a new batch, and this time pay better attention to the instructions.”
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True story. I might have gotten the timing slightly off, but my mother did accidentally poison us with too much of a preservative in some applesauce she had made. She didn’t mean to, and she felt really bad about if for a long time. But it happened.
As does spiritual poisoning. Sometimes good sounding teachings actually contains poison that will hurt our spirits. Not all, but many of these teachers, preachers, ministers, priests, friends, whatever don’t mean to hurt us. They often don’t even know the poison is there. But if they use the Word incorrectly, such as taking scriptures out of context, they can contaminate their message with what I call holy poison. It looks, sounds, and tastes just as spiritual as the rest of that biblical teaching, except it’s not. We may not recognize it right away, but eventually all who ingest it will pay the consequences.
We can learn to discern holy poison by knowing what the Bible says. In a way, it’s like when I was learning to hunt shark teeth. At first I was frequently tricked by broken shells that looked like teeth, but the more teeth I found and studied, the easier and faster it became to discern between shells and teeth. The same hold true for God’s Word. The better we know the Bible, the easier to spot something that is contrary to it.
We also need to pay attention to the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Jesus said His Spirit would guide us into all truth. So, if we are listening, He will alert us when we come in contact with something poisonous to our spirits.
But what about the poison we may have already ingested? What about erroneous doctrines and ideas we accepted years ago that may be having an effect on our spiritual life now? It’s not too late. If we are sincere in our desire to be cleaned from the poison, and we ask God to show anything unclean in us, He will answer that request. If He reveals something, we can either allow the poison to continue to contaminate our beliefs, or we can accept His cup of antidote and purge it. Purging may not be pretty or dignified, and it will probably cause some discomfort, but – at least to me – it is better than something more drastic. Like a needle. God is a big God. I can only imagine how big His needle is.
Behind the Story
I wrote Holy Poison with the hope that it may help us, me included, to be more discerning of what we allow into our belief systems, and to ask God to reveal anything we hold on to that we shouldn’t. Years ago He had me examine what I believed, and I ended up I purging some big lies that I had grown up with, such as the belief that only Catholics were going to heaven. Recently He has started working to cleanse me from some subtler wrong beliefs that I’ve held in my heart for years. They sound and feel just as biblical as the rest of my beliefs – many even have scriptures to base them on – and yet they are not true. It turns out that those scriptures had been taken out of context. Facing those errors, and letting go of them, has not been easy or comfortable. But my greatest desire is to be completely pleasing to God, so I will continue to drink the cup and purge until I am clean.
What about you? Has God had you examine your own beliefs? If so, how? If not, how do you feel about the need to know what we believe and why we believe it? If you feel comfortable enough, please comment below. I would love to read your story!
Ps 51:6-7 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Ps 26:2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
John: 14:16-17 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you..
John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
1 Timothy 4:1a Now the Spirit expressly says that in the later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared…
1 John 4:1 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.
1 John 4:6-7 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Hebrews 5:13-14 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the world of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Philippians 1:9-10 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ