Messages constantly bombard us. Movies, songs, commercials, books—they all have a message behind them. As believers, we are called to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:14–15). This means we cannot completely isolate and insulate ourselves from the messages that surround us. Instead, we must test every message that comes our way and hold fast only to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
In 1 Thessalonians 5:20–22, Paul exhorts believers to “not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” In the NASB, these verses are worded as “do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” Prophecies are messages from God. In Old Testament times, prophecies often foretold of things to come. Today, prophesying refers to proclaiming and explaining the written Word of God. With every message we encounter, whether from a sermon, a social media post, or even a conversation with a fellow believer, we are to test all things and hold fast to that which is good.
Believers are not to accept every teaching; rather, we examine every message against Scripture to determine its validity. The apostle John affirms Paul’s admonition. In 1 John 4:1, John writes, “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.” Believers are to test the messages they hear with God’s Word (see Acts 17:11). If the messages are not in alignment with God’s Word, they are not of God and are therefore not good. Believers are told to hold fast to that which is good, that which is in agreement with God’s Word.
To “hold fast to that which is good” means to “be diligent,” “cling to,” or “take a firm grasp of” that which is good. God’s Word tells us what is good and worthy of grasping firmly. Philippians 4:8 tells us to keep our mind fixed on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable.” We are also to hold fast to the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:20; Joshua 23:8), which means loving Him, walking in obedience to Him, and serving Him with all our heart and soul (Joshua 22:5). Believers continue holding fast to His Word until He returns (Revelation 2:25; cf. Proverbs 4:4; 1 Corinthians 15:1–2).
Holding fast to the truth of God’s Word allows us to stand firm when deception comes our way (Revelation 3:11). Those who hold fast to that which is good obey God’s Word and experience true freedom found in Christ. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32). Holding fast to the truth brings freedom from sin and produces steadfastness in us, which allows us to run the race of life with endurance (Hebrews 12:1).
Those who follow Jesus are mindful of the messages that vie for our attention. As we examine everything carefully to see if it aligns with God’s Word, we can choose to hold fast to that which is good and to abstain from every form of evil. In doing this, we can be a light for Christ in this world and “shine among them like stars in the sky as [we] hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:14–16).