Disarmament or Discernment?
Cajoling the foe to disarm, thereby rendering him defenseless against his diabolic deceptions and dastardly designs of captivation, has been the ploy of the enemy for time immemorial, whether in the sociological systems of the world or the polity of the Church. Relative to the latter, Satan’s obsession is to disarm believers of the “weapons of our warfare” we’ve been issued by God. With the former, the doctrines of Marxism are replete with demonically inspired dogmas and idioms aimed at pacification of the masses to pave the way for totalitarian hegemony of submissive peoples achieved solely through ideological indoctrination and the total avoidance of militaristic resistance. Use sophisticated mind control tactics to disorient and disable your target is the underlying methodology of fascist guerrilla warfare. It’s a mind game, and no one is more skilled at conjuring and effectively utilizing it than the Serpent of old, the craftiest of all the beasts of the field God had made (Gen. 3:1). Psychological enslavement is his game and total dominion of the Creation is his aim! “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in fierce anger (fury), because he knows that he has [only] a short time [left]! (Rev. 12:12b; AB)
“At that time many will FALL AWAY and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Mat. 24:10,11,21-28).
(Note: This article was originally written/posted on June 21, 2008.)
As I wrote in the preceeding article, the fair State of Florida is an apostolic State, in that there is a long list of “firsts” relative to the history of the United States that transpired in Florida, even before it received its present name. Throughout human history going all the way back to the Garden of Eden itself, Satan has always had an uncanny “knack” at showing up wherever God is moving or about to move.
Such has been the case with the moves of God in the State of Florida. In so many ways, the Sunshine State is a “Garden of Eden” of sorts. It is no mere coincidence that over two centuries multitudes have been attracted to the pearled peninsula, whether it be its now 18 million residents or the multiplied millions of tourists who visit and vacation in the State every year.
Over the last hundred years or so, there have been a number of prophecies predicting mighty moves of God that would/will be initiated in Florida. I believe a great move of God is yet to originate in Florida. But, as I am already on the record as stating, I do not believe the so-called “Lakeland Healing Revival,” aka, “Lakeland Outpouring,” is the prophesied revival or move of God, nor do I believe it is a genuine move of God at all. The fact that supernatural signs and wonders are occurring at an event, regardless of its duration, is not and never has been the signature of God upon a move. As discussed in the previous post, the Bible warns us repeatedly about false signs and wonders authored by Satan. For some reason that fact is hard for some Christians to truly accept, and to acknowledge that not all manifestations of the supernatural are authored by God.
Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.” (Col. 2:8-10)
There are many voices in the world, the Word tells us, none without significance or impact, but not all are speaking on behalf of God (1 Cor. 14:10). There are many voices out there in the blogosphere now extolling the validity of the Lakeland outbreak based on the fact that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are moving in the midst of the assembled with healings, miracles, deliverances, and salvations. But, what those people fail to recognize is that those occurrences are not a fail-safe litmus indicator that the move or the principals involved in the move are operating through the auspices of the Holy Spirit, are sent from God, or that the persons and their ministries are approved by God.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority…. (Col. 2:8-10)
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will FALL AWAY from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron…. (1 Tim. 4:1,2)
The familiar passage that Jesus spoke during His fleshly visitation and ministry in which He described people who would prophesy, heal, work miracles, and cast out demons in and invoking His Name, but then astonishingly foretold in the day of judgment He would call them “workers of lawlessness” and command that they “depart” from Him, ascribing the cause for such severe treatment will be that “I never knew you,” is a hard to understand passage for many, considering the fact that Jesus in His omniscience surely “knows” everyone who has ever lived. But, the true meaning becomes abundantly clear when it is understood that the word translated in most versions as “knew” actually means “approved.” Jesus is saying that these people used His Name to elicit the results that Name, which is above every other name, produces, but that is a testament to the power and rank of that Name—the Name of Jesus—not to the person(s) using the Name. Approval of the person using the Name of Jesus is not predicated on the results he/she elicits through the Name, but rather it is based on who that person is—their life and their lifestyle. That’s what Jesus meant when he said that false prophets shall be known or identified by their “fruit.”
The Biblical term “fruit,” contrary to the teaching of many, is not results or the produce of someone’s ministry, such as how many salvations are attributed to their ministry during its history, or the number of miracles or other works of power recorded, but rather it is a reference to the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5), or the attributes of the Spirit that are manifest in and through their life along with the other mentions of “fruit” in the New Testament, such as James’ dissertation regarding the “wisdom from above” that he concludes with, “And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (Jas. 3:18). Whatever results any ministry has been given the grace by God to produce are not attributable to the minister or their ministry, but rather the working of the Holy Spirit through that minister or ministry.
Even in the case of personal salvation (and there is no other kind), we so easily forget in this age of Madison Avenue marketing hype and slick public relations campaigns that people are “born again…through the living and abiding Word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23), and they are drawn to Jesus through the wooing work of the Holy Spirit, and they are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves or any man (Eph. 2:8).
Miracles and salvations are not the work of any human, but rather of God Himself. So, miracles, even if they are from God, do not indicate God’s approval of the minister or the ministry through whom they are being manifest. In fact, in this day in which Jesus and the apostolic writers warned that deception would be at least prevalent if not pandemic, it is vital for us to be reminded that the Holy Spirit, who, after all, is the One behind all genuine “manifestations of the Spirit,” is sent to endorse, approve, or “promote” NO ONE, save Jesus, the Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! The supernatural of the Spirit — i.e., signs, wonders, miracles, healing, deliverance, prophetic, etc. — does not manifest to ratify any mere mortal’s selfish ambitions, self-aggrandizing agenda, or ministry, but rather it manifests only to exalt the Risen Christ and to demonstrate He is indeed alive, Hell and the Grave could not hold Him captive! He is alive! THAT is Heaven’s Message to the world! There is a MESSIAH; He is ALIVE! His name is JESUS! And there is no other name under Heaven by which all of mankind MUST be saved!
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. (2 Thes. 2:7-12)
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thes. 5:21,22)
With all of the false “fires” (purported moves of God), that are more a festival devoted to a pantheon of false gods, fraught as they are with a cornucopia of false manifestations, false doctrines, fallacious teaching about angels and angelic appearances, and New Age guided visitations into the Third Heaven and astral projection nonsense, and the like, it is more vital than ever before that the End-time church heed the many warnings in the Scripture to examine and test all things, hold to that which is genuine and true, and discard and avoid all that are nothing but counterfeits (1 Thes., 5:21,22; 1 Jn. 4:1-6; et al.).
Moreover, believers just need to use their common sense that God gave them to analyze and judge things to know if they be of God or not. Even the world knows that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck! That really doesn’t take much “discernment” at all. The fact is that to accept as being from God some of the ridiculous things going on today in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit requires the complete suspension of all normal reason and rationality, and that is a shame and a disgrace upon the entire Body of Christ. It also demonstrates the current the spiritual status quo of the Neo-Pentecostal church at-large. But, beyond that, and this may be the most vital indication of all, that this degree of spiritual naivete is so prevalent within the Neo-Pentecostal church is a strong indictment upon the entire realm of church leadership, because incontrovertibly the ultimate role of the Fivefold Ministry is the maturation of the church to the spiritual status in which —
“…we are no longer…children, tossed here and there by WAVES (false moves), and carried about by every WIND of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking THE TRUTH in love, we are to GROW UP in ALL ASPECTS into Him, who is the Head, even Christ….” (Eph. 4:14,15; emphasis and parenthetic explanation added)
Where are the leaders? Where are the spiritual fathers, fulfilling their spiritual duty to “raise up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord,” who know and are motivated by the Biblical principle that if a father does not DISCIPLINE (teach) his children, he HATES them? Where are they? I’ll tell you where they are: they’re off carousing around like peacocks in poultry yards, fanning their feathers, and trying to impress everyone with their spiritual superiority, authoritarian ascendancy, the expansiveness of their personal fiefdoms, and extensiveness of their personal wealth they have accumulated as “gain from the gospel.” That’s where they are! These people are not genuine spiritual fathers; they know nothing about fathering! It wasn’t modeled to them and they know nothing about it! What they are is “spiritual studs” (especially in their own minds), who prance about through the paddocks mating with every filly who will yield to their displays of dominance and verility, totally void of any sense of spiritual responsibility for the fathering of the offspring they sire. Any non-impotent male can sire offspring, but it takes a SON to be able to FATHER! Fathering is a verb, not a noun! It’s time for the true spiritual fathers to MAN UP! Take their proper place, and begin to FATHER! (Read related article: Reclaiming Fatherhood and Restoring Fathers)
But, I personally believe that our greatest need in this hour is a renewed awareness and understanding concerning one of the most vital yet often overlooked of all the Manifestations of the Spirit, or Charismata, which is the gift of the discerning of spirits (1 Cor. 12:10). The Apostle John, who saw and experienced about as much or more of the genuine supernatural as anyone who lived, especially of the New Testament era, admonished, “Test the spirits, to see whether they be of God.” Testing the spirits to determine their origin and essence is not something that can be done with the carnal mind. Spiritual matters and operations are spiritually discerned. Supernatural, as compared with natural, discernment is what is needed to assess and judge the nature and origins of supernatural spirits.
There are three kinds of spirits: 1) Divine (God); 2) human; and, 3) angelic, which are divided into two types—good (God’s) and evil (Satan’s), who are those who fell with Lucifer and were evicted from Heaven and cast down to the Earth with their leader. Though it is not the purview of this article to explain all about it, discerning positively what spirit is at work when the supernatural is manifesting requires the operation of the Holy Spirit through the gift of the discerning of spirits. Indeed, in a subsequent post I am going to begin discussing our great need for all of the supernatural gifts given to believers by the God-Head.
Though Pentecostals and Charismatics have talked about these gifts for a century, individual believers, churches, and whole denominations greatly underestimate their value and necessity in the believers every day life. When we understand what God intended in His giving of these gifts to us, it becomes clear how unfortunate our underestimation of the power and need for the operation of those gifts really is.
The following article, though it was written at the close of the previous millennium, makes some excellent points concerning our vital need to exercise discernment juxtaposed to the Adversary’s deceptive calls for disarmament.
PREPARED For The SLAUGHTER: The Disarming Of The Church
By John Green (1998)
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed…”
—Noah Webster of Pennsylvania, An Examination of The Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, Philadelphia, 1787
“[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually.”
—George Mason of Virginia: Virginia’s U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788
As history has shown, it is a common tactic for the oppressing force to gain control of a nation by seizing the means by which individuals might defend themselves. Once the citizenry are disarmed, it is a relatively easy matter to exert complete tyrannical control. It seems to me that the same principal holds true in the spiritual realm.
The New Testament is replete with warnings of false teachers and teachings, of lying signs and wonders, and of corrupt men who would seek to draw followers after themselves. God has not left His people defenseless. He has indwelt us with His Spirit of Truth, provided us with the example of Christ, His teachings, the teachings of the apostles, and all the other writings found in the Bible. There is a gift of the discerning of spirits given to some, but more importantly, there the ability to test all things and to be discerning, which is the responsibility of all believers. If the believer is to be armed against the deceptions of the enemy, and to remain free from his oppressive regime, then he must exercise discernment with continual vigilance. If this defensive weapon is seized and taken from you, then you are easy prey for any who would desire to take you captive.
Because of these things, it is very disturbing to me to observe a trend in the Body of Christ today. This trend is to scorn and belittle those who would exercise their God-given self-defense weapon of discernment. Those who would obey scripture and “test all things” are mocked and ridiculed from the pulpit, and labeled ‘Pharisees.’ It seems that the Church has fallen prey to the pluralistic, non-judgmental mindset of our present age. The one unpardonable sin is to question someone’s belief, or dare to say that it might be wrong. These new leaders demand you climb on the bandwagon, and if you cannot agree, then you must remain silent at all costs. They call for us to experience now, and evaluate later. Adam and Eve had no experiential knowledge of good and evil. The Serpent called their attention to the attractiveness and desirability of the fruit, and enticed them to experience for themselves. In their later evaluation, they knew that they had been wrong to ignore what God had said on the matter, but by then the damage had been done.
Those who would remove the defensive weapon of discernment are binding the hands of the Church. They are preparing God’s people for the slaughter. Why are they doing this? Why would they want to expose millions to the myriad deceptions of the enemy with no protection. Why do they take away what the Father has given? The Church is becoming a slaughterhouse slick with the spilled blood of saints who have been seduced by false teachers. The faithful plod forward to the killing floor, their trusting eyes fixed on their leaders. Error and deception runs rampant. Charlatans rule the bestseller list. Pseudo-knowledge is dispersed around the world, speeding through electrical synapses. Make no mistake. It is a battle, and much is at stake.
Let us examine the logic (or lack of it) behind what some of these leaders are saying: “You have to experience it yourself before you judge it.” This is pure nonsense. It is the method the Mormons use to get people hooked in (pray about the Book of Mormon and see if you get a ‘burning in your bosom’). You don’t have to experience suicide to know that it is bad for you. Christians are never commanded to authenticate a questionable spiritual experience by submitting themselves to it. “If you don’t jump in the River, then you may miss out on the move of God.” If you don’t exercise your duty to test everything and hold on to what is good, then you may be deceived. God is not in a hurry. If you are walking with Him, seeking to please Him, then He will guide you into all He desires for you. Just because someone proclaims something is a move of God, doesn’t make it so. Beware of the salesman who pushes you to make a decision on the spot. He may have something to hide.
“God offends the mind to reveal the heart.” I don’t know what this is, but it is not Scripture. It is true that God’s ways may be offensive to human wisdom. Often though, this quote is used to say that if you are offended by something going on in the Church, then your heart isn’t right. The real issue is, are you offended because what is going on is unscriptural? If so, then stand fast. “Don’t oppose what is going on, in case it turns out to be a move of God.”
This is the argument used by Gamaliel in Acts chapter 5. Although this argument worked in favor of the apostles, it must be pointed out that Gamaliel was a Pharisee making a pragmatic argument. His was not a directive from the Lord on how believers should conduct their discernment. If something is not from God, ultimately, it is true that it will not succeed. In the time that it takes for a false movement to run its course however, many lives will be damaged, and many souls deceived and damned. Look at the phenomenal growth and apparent success of Mormonism. Christians rightly oppose Mormonism on a basis that it twists and deviates from Scripture. Things which occur within Christianity should receive no less scrutiny. Or consider the works of Satan. We know that he will not succeed, but we certainly do not sit back and allow him to do his work unhindered. When souls are at stake, we cannot afford to sit back and do nothing.
“Don’t you want more of God in your life?” This is a sneaky one. Of course, any sincere Christian realizes that they need to grow closer to God, and they desire to do so. This should not lead us to embrace everything that comes down the pike however. Part of growing closer to God includes obeying His commands to test and be discerning. The desperation of some Christians reminds me of King Saul turning to the witch of Endor. He wanted an answer at any price. The price he ended up paying was his own destruction.
Look for yourself. See how many times the New Testament references false teachers, false teaching. Using your concordance, look up the commands to discern and test, to not be deceived. Shake off the chains of those who would seek to bind you. Exercise your “Right to bear arms” as a believer.
A.W. Tozer: “The healthy soul, like the healthy blood system, has it’s proper proportion of white and red blood cells. The red corpuscles are like faith: they carry the life giving oxygen to every part of the body. The white cells are like discernment: they pounce upon dead and toxic matter and carry it out to the drain. In the healthy heart there must be provision for keeping dead and poisonous matter out of the life stream.”###
This article may be reproduced in it’s entirety for non-commercial purpose as long as it contains this notice. Reproduction of this article for free distribution is permitted. (C) 1998 by John Green. Questions or comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Note: This article was originally written/posted on Kingdom Matters Blog, June 21, 2008.)