To discern means to understand, to really see, to fully know something. To discern between two or more things means to see, to understand, to comprehend the differences between the two things.
The word “spirit” can refer to the spirit world, and it can refer to the attitude of someone. For example if a person is of an honest or deceitful spirit [disposition].
To discern spirits means to understand the spirit, attitude or character of a spirit or person. To see through all pretense and attempts to hide the natural disposition or intent, and to clearly see and understand the true nature of a spirit or person.
The only effective way to learn to discern any counterfeit is to thoroughly study and KNOW the real thing; then anything that is different from the real thing is immediately discerned to be a counterfeit.
For example there are endless examples of different counterfeit dollars and one could make a lifetime study of them without seeing them all. How to deal with the counterfeit dollar problem? Bank tellers are taught all about the real true dollar in great detail; then they are able to instantly discern anything that differs from the real thing.
The Called Out are to do exactly the same thing! We are to learn the real thing, the whole Word of God; through diligent study, prayer and continual thinking and applying what we learn. Then we are to TEST and PROVE all things by the whole Word of God.
That is how a converted person learns to discern between the holy and the profane; by being diligent to learn what is the true real holy way, so that we can easily see anything that deviates from the holy.
Once we have a good knowledge of the whole Word of God; it becomes easy to discern between the Word of God and any counterfeit teaching; and of course the more we learn of the truth and the more practice we have in discerning false teachings, the better we get at discerning between the holy and the profane.
In terms of false leaders; they do not want anyone questioning and checking up on them because such checking would expose their differences with the whole Word of God.
The Word of God is a Great Light that exposes evil, and those who do evil want to remain in darkness.
Therefore they will constantly teach that we should blindly obey them without question, or that they have the authority of God to interpret God’s Word according to their own false traditions.
They teach the LIE that to question them is to question God; in order to deceive us into following them as our idols; when we are commanded to question and to prove them [ALL things] by the whole Word of God
Such teachers are profane counterfeit frauds; for they teach people to go contrary to the real thing, the holiness of the whole Word of God!
Stand on the holiness of the whole Word of God and reject all profane, vile, unclean, unholy things; which is anything contrary to the whole Word of God!
The gift of discerning spirits is a gift of the Holy Spirit, it is listed with the other gifts that we have been studying that Paul records for us in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10.
1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
The Greek word for “discerning” is diakrisis (Strong’s #1253) It means: distinguishing; hence: deciding, passing sentence on; the act of judgment, discernment. (Strong’s Concordance)
From Word Helps: a thorough judgment, i.e. a discernment (conclusion) which distinguishes “look-alikes,” i.e. things that appear to be the same.
God distributes spiritual gifts according to His sovereignty and in accordance with His plan to edify the body of Christ. Discernment is one of the gifts that is given to God’s called, those who have received the Holy Spirit. The spiritual gift of “discerning of spirits” is an extra measure of discernment given to certain individuals and they are to exercise that gift for the benefit of the whole body.
God gives discernment to those He is calling, and believers need to be able to discern the difference between good and evil; this too is a gift imbued by the Holy Spirit. Discernment in a believer is absolutely necessary to recognized and separate truth from error which enables the brethren to choose to follow the ways of God versus the way of the world.
We all need to be able to distinguish between what is righteous and what is evil and then to choose what is good. Every called-out child of God should have discernment, which should be ever increasing as he or she matures in the faith.
In Hebrews Paul reprimands the brethren for still being at the rudimentary level in their spiritual walk and had not grown in discernment that much, even though by then (when he wrote this) they should have been mature enough in the faith to be teachers of the Word of God to others; rather than needing the basics of God’s truth taught to them again.
Paul writes that even though they should have become very skilful in the things of God they were still living on milk rather on the deeper more profound principles of the Spirit. They had not done the diligent work of studying and learning and then practicing those things in order to be growing in discernment: distinguishing between good and evil.
Paul uses the metaphor of a baby who can only handle milk and is unable to digest (or process “strong meat”). Even though these people had been in the faith for a long time, for some reason they had stagnated and were not growing in “discernment” of the deeper things of God and how to apply them when it came to distinguishing between good and evil.
Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Paul said that solid food or strong meat is for full-grown spiritually mature men and women: those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good, noble, and excellent from what is evil and contrary to the righteousness of God.
It is by practicing discernment that it is possible to grow spiritually gaining even more discernment.
Paul uses the term “exercise” meaning, that just like muscles that are exercised grow stronger, we need to exercise our senses by diligent study, prayer, meditating, occasional fasting and practically applying every Word of God in our lives; and then when we do come up against those things that oppose God and His righteousness, we can instantly recognize that they are evil. We practice rejecting those things and we work at ridding ourselves of those things that are contrary to God’s laws. The more we overcome our own carnal nature the more we will be able to discern between the holy and the profane.
The opposite is true also, for if we know certain things are wrong or ungodly and yet we still tolerate them or compromise, we lose the discernment we had and start to lose our ability to be able to detect sin and false doctrines.
The more we exercise discernment by turning away from evil, the more sensitive we become to evil and to teachings that do not conform to sound doctrine, and the easier it is to spot them. If we allow ourselves to tolerate a little evil, we slowly get used to it and we acclimate to more and more evil.
Those of us who are older have seen this principle at work in our culture over the years.
Over time the entertainment industry and mass media began to loosen the values and the modesty that we did have, by slowly introducing and allowing more and more blasphemy and smut to enter the mass media outlets.
At first those things seemed shocking to us but over time the shock wore off and now the most degrading and disgusting talk and the most vile behavior is paraded in our movies, music, advertisements, books, magazines, video games, etc., and has influenced the morals and standards of the people, bringing them deeper into depravity than ever before. We are so acclimated to evil that we think nothing of letting our children be exposed to things that were unthinkable a generation ago. Regrettably the total lack of discernment between good and evil in these latter days is what is taking us down.
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.
Biblical discernment is the ability to properly judge certain situations or people according to God’s standards. It is right judging which involves making sound decisions about the virtues, qualities or character of whatever needs judging. An individual that can discern properly, especially in spiritual and moral matters, is considered to be perceptive and of good judgment; he often has deep insights in regard to the truth of things that are often overlooked by others.
Those whose focus is on the spiritual purposes of God can “see” things that those who do not have God’s Spirit have no clue of whatsoever. The Holy Spirit supernaturally imparts discernment to those who seek God and are striving to live by His whole Word.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Because the carnal mind is at enmity to the laws and ways of God, the natural man has no real clue of why certain things may be happening in his life or in the world. He does not recognize that there are spiritual cause and effect principles at work so he lacks the wisdom to choose wisely and then wonders why his life is such a mess.
The things of God are just so much foolishness to him for he has no discernment of what is right and what is wrong, what is the true reality of God and what is falsehood. Carnal men and women cannot comprehend with their own human reason, intelligence, or even with their numerous educational degrees the truth of God; apart from the Holy Spirit.
Only by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, are we enabled to understand the spiritual things of God. By divine revelation through the help of the Spirit, our minds are opened to the mysteries of the Bible and God’s Words of Truth, allowing us to discern what is truly important for living, to know right from wrong, or knowing the way to salvation, and God’s ultimate PLAN for mankind.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
As was mentioned in Hebrews 5:13-14 a believer who has matured beyond using just the milk of the Word, is able to discern both good and evil. A spiritually mature person, empowered by the Spirit of God, is able to understand the Scriptures which in turn teaches him the difference between good and evil; and between truth and error.
The people in Berea who heard Paul’s message, eagerly received it, but they still were wise in that they compared what he was teaching to the Scriptures to discern if his message was, or was not, in alignment with the teachings of God in His Word. This is admonishment for all of God’s people no matter who is giving a message.
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
The apostle John says that we are not to just automatically believe every spirit, but we must test every spirit and person, especially those who have influence over us like our leaders and teachers, whether he is of God or is of a deceptive spirit. This is a form of discernment that all God’s people are admonished to have.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 John 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
As a believer grows and matures in distinguishing the difference between what is of God and what isn’t, he also fine tunes his discernment to distinguish between what is good and what is more excellent. The more we focus upon the whole Word of God, the more we are enabled to be spiritually discerning, even to the point of choosing the better course from what is just considered good. God wants us to grow and mature throughout our entire lifetimes, to become perfect [complete] attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Paul prayed this for the brethren in Philippi, that their love toward God and His Word would increase and extend to its fullest; that they would grow in the knowledge and understanding of God that would lead to acute insight and comprehensive spiritual discernment.
He prayed that this discernment would help them to sense what is of true value and what is most important in this life. That they would accept and prize what is truly excellent and noble [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences between good and evil]. Paul teaches us that by discerning the holy from the profane and then choosing what is holy, is what enables a believer to be filled with the fruits of righteousness; the kind of righteousness that really comes by Jesus Christ; and by being so filled, it would bring honor and praise to God.
Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
The Spiritual Gifting of God
In addition to this kind of spiritual discernment that every believer needs to have and cultivate; there are certain individuals who are given an extra measure of discernment as an additional spiritual gift as per 1 Corinthians 12:10.
They, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are able to “distinguish between spirits” by quickly discerning if a teacher or prophet is being inspired by the truth of the Scriptures or if he or she is being inspired from the erroneous and deceptive doctrines propagated by Satan and his demons.
They also have a keen awareness of what kind of spirit is motivating those they come into contact with. We know that Jesus had perfect discernment in all things and of all people. Recall, when Peter tried to assure Jesus that what was prophesied for Him to happen would not really happen.
Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 6:22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 6:23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Jesus spoke to Peter but he was really addressing the spirit that was inspiring Peter to say such things, even though Peter was unaware of why he had said those things. In Peter’s mind it was out of concern for Jesus and he just could not imagine such awful things happening to Jesus. Peter was letting his emotions rule rather than believe in the plan of God; and Satan took advantage of that fact to try to get Jesus to believe in a lie by using Peter to say such things.
This is what Paul is referring to when he includes “discerning of spirits” in his list of the spiritual gifts that God gives to some, not everyone, but according to what God deems best.
Each believer will have his own individual gift and all the believers will work harmoniously with each other when they are using their gifts properly and for the purpose of edifying the body.
The purpose for the gift of discerning of spirits is to help keep the Ekklesia on track and to keep it from being deceived into embracing false doctrines and being misled by false teachers. You could compare this gift to a liver or to kidneys that filter out harmful elements (evil spirits and doctrines of demons) from infiltrating and corrupting the rest of the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
As the apostle Paul teaches in regard to the spiritual gifts, there may be diversities of equipping the different members of the body of Christ, but those diversities are meant for the edification and building of that body as a whole. And the success of that body (the Ekklesia) is dependent upon all the members of the body faithfully fulfilling their function in the body, as God has placed them (just like parts of a physical body). None of the spiritual gifts are to be used, including the gift of “discerning of spirits”, to lord it over the other members or to claim a special anointing from God for oneself. It is the members’ love for God and their [agape] love for one another that is the basis of how we use God’s gifts to build up and to edify each other in Christ.
We know from many episodes in Acts and from the warnings in the epistles that the apostles had this gift. They were responsible for using this gift to protect and warn the brethren of false teachers and prophets that were subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, making inroads into trying to lead the Ekklesia into embracing false doctrine.
The epistles are full of admonitions to reject false teachers, to put the leaven of sin out of their assemblies, to not associate with those who would pollute them with strange doctrines, to not let them into their dwellings, not even to bid them God-speed (a form of encouragement that was like saying “God be with you”, for God was not with these deceivers). (See Jude and 2 John)
We learn to discern right and wrong through asking for that gift and then diligently studying and learning the Word of God which is holy, right and true, and once we are fully grounded in the Word of God we are able to discern those things, spirits and persons who deviate from the Word of God.
Although we are all exhorted to learn spiritual discernment, and to be so is crucial to our walk in Christ, sometimes God gives an extra amount of this gift to some of his people.
God does not leave his true faithful without a warning and sometimes, when God sees it is necessary, He will give some an extra ability to “spot” the false teachers and their false doctrines so that they might warn their brethren.
False teachers and their false doctrines have plagued the Ekklesia since the time of the first apostles when these things began to infiltrate the assemblies in the very first century. In fact Satan was the first false teacher and deceiver when he approached Eve in the garden and deception has reigned on the earth since then. The ONLY way to discern between right and wrong is to stand on the Word of God through the calling of the Father and the indwelling strength of the Holy Spirit.
The Ekklesia still has to deal with false teachers and false doctrines to this very day, and that is why it is important for those who do have this gift to lift up their voice aloud to these kinds of things and warn the brethren when they are being abused by such deceivers.
God does expect those that He has given this gift to, to use it to help the people of God to see the false teachings that have been handed down to us; and to exhort them to believe and obey the whole Word of God rather than to obey the false traditions of men.
Examples are the false teaching of the Nicolaitan doctrine; teaching Sabbath pollution, using a false man-made calendar to determine the dates for God’s Festivals and High Days and setting up idols of men and looking to them for even when their teachings oppose what God says; and much more.
Those who have this gift of being able to discern between what is of God and what is false; use God’s Word to “test the spirits” to see what is in agreement with God and His Word; and what is in opposition to Him and His Word. They are so familiar with the Word of God and have come to thoroughly understand its precepts, that they instantly recognize when something or someone is contrary to it. They are like the bank teller who is so familiar with all aspects of a dollar bill that any counterfeits are instantly recognized as not being genuine.
The ones who have been given the spiritual gift of discerning between good and evil are those who have learned to “rightly divide the Word of Truth”.
It is by intense and thought-provoking study into the Word of God and by the mighty power of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within them that they are able to perceive when things are not genuinely of God. These are individuals who have immersed themselves into the study of God’s Word and have applied what they have learned to the experiences of life.
They have also learned by going through hard difficult trials and having to deal with the forces of darkness, learning how to use God’s Word to discern through practical experience.
Then when they are confronted by falsehood; their knowledge and experience, combined with the power of God’s Spiritual gift, they are often able to discern much more than just outward appearances and mere words being spoken. This is what Paul had to say about this very subject and how we are all to be training ourselves to rightly divide the Word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
How did Paul know this? I am sure that God inspired his words for this is in Scripture, but I believe that Paul could say this because of his many severe trials in life and by experiencing so much trouble with people who were constantly opposing him and trying to thwart his work for the Lord. He came to see that it was not really people he was dealing with, rather it was the spirits working through these people. These are people who are in rebellion to God and who are opposed to His laws and they become attuned to Satan’s mindset and then do the devil’s bidding without even realizing that they are being manipulated by him or by one of his minions.
We see that the apostles had this gift and they were responsible for using this gift to protect and warn the brethren about false teachers and prophets that were subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, making progress in trying to lead the brethren astray.
Peter discerned instantly that Ananias, and then later his wife, were lying about the amount of money they had received for a piece of property that they had sold.
Acts 5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 5:2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Peter was able to discern what spirit Simon Magnus was of when he wanted to give Peter money for the gifts of the Spirit.
Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 18:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 18:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 18:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 18:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 18:23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
Paul discerned instantly that Bar Jesus, who was also called Elymus, was a “child of the devil”. Here is what Paul discerned about him and came right out and told him “And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (verse 10)
Acts 13:5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister. 13:6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: 13:7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. 13:8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. 13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. 13:10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
Solomon Asks God for an Understanding Heart
Solomon, who was told by God to request one thing from Him, asked for an understanding heart for he realized the importance of the ability to discern and to be able to judge rightly, and knew that that quality would enable him to be successful in his position as King over Israel. (At least until he himself turned from God because of the influence of his pagan wives.)
1 Kings 3:5 In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. . . .
3:7 And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 3:8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 3:9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? 10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
The Hebrew word for “discern” is bin (Strong’s #995) and is translated: having understanding, to be discreet, to have discretion, to perceive, to consider, to be skillful, cunning, to deal wisely.
The Book of Proverbs is about applying wisdom, understanding and discretion to our lives. These terms can all be defined as having discernment.
Proverbs 15:14 The heart of him that hath understanding [a discerning heart] seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
Proverbs 17:24 Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; [a discerning man] but the eyes of a fool are [wander to] in the ends of the earth.
Proverbs 18:15 The heart of the prudent [discerning] getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.
Proverbs 28:7 Whoso keepeth the law is a wise [discerning] son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.
Proverbs 3:21 My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion [discernment]:
Proverbs 11:22 As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion [discernment].
The Latter Day Falling Away and How To Wisely Test All Things
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
This verse says that in the end times, deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons will cause some of the called out to forsake the faith.
In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul says that in the latter days there will be a falling away [from the faith]. For those of us who have been in the Ekklesia for many years, we have witnessed much apostasy in the Ekklesia in our modern times. The gift of discernment is vital in identifying false spirits and false doctrines. Discernment makes it possible see them for what the are and then turn away from them.
Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
We are warned by the Lord to test every spirit because many false prophets have gone out.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
How do we test the spirits? By comparing what they are teaching and prophesying to the teachings and prophecies contained in the Scriptures. They may at first seem to be speaking all the right things but if they are do not have the “fruits” of the Spirit we are to reject them as well.
To test anything rightly, we ourselves must be walking in the righteousness of God and have the fruit of God’s Spirit. We start by testing ourselves.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove [test and approve] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates [fail the test]?
We are to test our own words and actions by every Word of God to be sure that we, ourselves are living according to the faith and the sound doctrine of Scripture.
Galatians 6:4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
The Bible gives us the ways in which we are to test [try] the spirits and all their teachings.
(1) We are to test all teachings presented to us for sound doctrine and whether or not they are in alignment with the doctrines that are contained in the whole Word of God. (All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness – 2 Timothy 3:16)
(2) We are to judge according to how Christ tells us to judge. (Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. – John 7:24)
(3) We are to test all prophesies and anyone claiming to have special insights into prophesy. (And thou hast tried them which say they are apostles [or say that they are prophets, evangelists, church leaders, teachers, etc.] and are not, and hast found them liars – Revelation 2:2)
(4) We are to test those in leadership positions by looking at their examples to determine if their lives, words, and behavior exemplify the fruit of the Spirit. (Ye shall know them by their fruit – Matthew 7:16)
We Are to Test All Teachings Presented to Us
We are explicitly commanded us by the apostles to reject all false teachers, which are also called heretics, and avoid them. The apostle John warns that if we do not guard ourselves against them we could lose everything, including our crown.
2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. (See also Revelation 3:11) 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
Titus 3:10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
Peter warns us about, and to be on the lookout for, false teachers [heretics] who will come into the assemblies secretly introducing destructive heresies, and one way of doing this is by mixing error into truth.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the [converted] people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the [by denying the authority of Christ by teaching the people to follow men] Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
Jesus tells His disciples (which includes us) to take heed that many would seek to deceive us.
Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Paul tells us to reject those who preach a false gospel. He further strongly condemns those who would pervert the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. In our times, false gospels and those who propagate them are everywhere (outside and even within the Ekklesia) just as Jesus, himself, said there would be in the last days.
Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert [corrupt, distort] the gospel of Christ. 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed [anathema, devoted to destruction]
The Greek word for “pervert” is metastrephó (Strong’s #3344) and means: I turn, change, corrupt, pervert, distort. (Strong’s Concordance) The Greek word for “accursed” is anathema, (Strong’s #331) and means pledged up to destruction. (Word Helps)
Paul, admonished the brethren to even test his own teaching against the Scriptures and to prove all things. The Bereans did just that, and he commended them for comparing what he was teaching them with the written Word of God. In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul implyies that those who teach must not go above (or beyond) what is written..
1 Corinthians 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred [applied these things] to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, [Do NOT follow anything that is beyond or contrary to; what is written in the Scriptures] that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
Every one of us in the Ekklesia are to: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
And, again, we quote Acts 17:11 for this principle is so important in discerning between what is true and what is heresy.
Acts 17:11 These [the Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Why does God want us to test every teaching we receive by the Scriptures? Because we are commanded to take hold of sound doctrine and to retain it, no matter what; to stay faithful to the Word of God; and to follow and obey the teachings of the prophets, apostles, and our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Scriptures. We are not to accept someone who claims to be an apostle or prophet if he deviates from Holy Scripture (Deu 13).
It is because God loves us and He does not want us to fall by the wayside because of the trickery and cunning of evil men. Here are some of the many Scriptures that exhort us to hang on to sound doctrine and to stay away from those who want to enslave us to their false doctrines and traditions that are of men and not of God.
Jesus Christ laid down His life for us so that if we sincerely repent and STOP sinning, we may have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We are not to hand over the treasure God has called us to, for the sake of following cheap false Christ’s and false gospels; like Esau who gave up his birthright for a bowl of soup. We must learn to discern between the holy and the profane when it comes to who we allow to teach and to lead us!
Ezekiel 44:23 And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
Titus 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
Titus 2:1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you [deceive you] through philosophy and vain deceit, [to follow after] after the tradition of men, after the rudiments [vain worldliness] of the world, and [cause us to turn from Christ and deceive us into turning away from zeal to follow the whole Word of God] not after Christ.
Mark 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…..
John 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 10:5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
1 John 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 10:15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
When we have a close intimate relationship with our Lord and Master, we will come to know Him to the degree that, we too, will be like the bank teller, who when we come across fake gospels and false teachers we will instantly recognize and be repelled by any counterfeits. We will instantly run from them and into the arms of the our Good Shepherd who loves us and who laid down His life for us.
If we are staying close to Him and to His Word and are following whethersoever He goes, He will protect us. Pray for discernment, Brethren.
We are to Judge According to How Christ Tells Us to Judge
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 7:4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 7:5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Does this mean that we are never to judge? NO, of Course not! We not to judge others hypercritically, or by our own standards, or to be condemning; but are to judge righteously by the standard of the whole Word of God.
In Romans 2, Paul rebukes those who judge others while they, themselves, are doing the same things they are accusing others of; or as Jesus put it: to judge others for sinning when we ourselves are embroiled in sins. We are to first cast the beam out of our own eye before God can use us to judge others.
How do we cast the beam out of our own eyes? By being diligently zealous to LEARN and to KEEP the whole Word of God; and to judge, test and prove all things, by the whole Word of God!
Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2:2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 2:3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
To distinguish between the profane and the holy, the clean from the unclean, it is imperative that we judge; and God teaches us that we must judge, but our judging must be according to His righteousness and not according to man’s ways of judging.
Jesus commands us to judge; but we must not judge according to outward appearance, instead we must judge righteously. To judge righteously, we must use the gift of discernment based upon the whole Word of God to reach proper conclusions and then make wise decisions accordingly.
John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 3:7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. 3:8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
We are to learn to judge as God judges, for we are being trained during our lifetimes to be like Him. If we do not learn to judge (with godly discernment) properly, in the way that God judges, how will we be able to judge in God’s Kingdom when we are kings and priests ruling under Christ?
Isaiah 11:3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 11:5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
Deuteronomy 1:16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.
Proverbs 17:15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.
1 Corinthians 10:15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye [for yourselves] what I say.
We must learn to judge rightly, now, because someday the faithful will judge the earth and the angels with Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
We are to be lights and examples to those in the world and we are to speak out against sin and and preach the Gospel message to all nations. (Matthew 20:19-20) If they do not heed God’s warnings or the message of the Gospel, we leave them for God to judge. God says that He is their judge.
We are, though, to judge those in the Ekklesia according to the Word of God. We are also to judge what people teach and prophesy to the Ekklesia. God commands us to judge/test all teachers and their doctrine to make sure it is correct and that it in line with God’s Word.
1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
We are told by the Lord to judge those inside the Ekklesia because they will spread their sins and/or false teachings to others. We are to reject heretics and expel wicked men from the assembly of believers because if they are allowed to remain they will leaven the whole lump.
Judging others is often a misunderstood concept among the people of the world. Because “judge not, that ye be not judged” is taken out of context; most take it to mean that we are never to judge others or to speak out against their sins; and this statement is almost like a club against all who do judge righteously. But this is just not true, we are to judge and to use sound discernment when it comes to judging, for this is how we protect the integrity of the Ekklesia and our own personal lives.
We see this in the media and the Ekklesia constantly. The lie that we are not to warn those who choose unholy lifestyles; and those that do speak out, are viciously condemned rather than those who willfully live in vile sins.
Ironically, those who speak out and warn about the dangers and the judgment of God upon those who are living in sins, are themselves judged as divisive, critical and unloving, no matter how respectfully and truthfully the facts are presented.
And this is also happening inside the Ekklesia, for the ones that are wisely discerning the errors that are being taught and then alerting others to them, are judged as being critical, divisive and unloving as well. As a result, false teachings remain intact and the leaven is spread throughout most of the Ekklesia.
Pray for God to pour out more of His gift of discernment to the whole body of Christ at this time and to raise up more men and women with the gift of discernment to “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)
We Are to Test All Prophesies
We are to test prophecy and any one claiming to be a prophet of God, to see if what they say lines up with Scripture and if what they say comes true. A true prophet will be 100% accurate when he speaks in the name of the Lord, because God is truth and He would only inspire the truth among true prophets.
We must reject false prophets, pay no attention to what they teach and remove them from our assemblies. And we must expose false prophets for what they are for they dangerous to the body of Christ and they bring a bad reputation to the true work of God.
How do we discern and spot false prophecies? First of all, a true prophet will only speak according to the whole Word of God and if he deviates in the very least from God’s law then he is not speaking for God.
Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Signs and wonders are sometimes evidence that a man is from God, even Jesus used signs and miracles to prove that He was the Messiah, and many miracles were wrought by the apostles that showed that they were in deed apostles sent by God.
But signs and wonders are not the single criteria and are not a guarantee that the person is truly of God. Even if the most stupendous signs and wonders are being performed and what the prophet foretells comes to pass; if that person directs us to disobey God or to go after other gods, including exalting himself, then he is no prophet of God and we are to disregard him.
We know that false prophets have risen up and misled people throughout all ages and they are still very much a part of our world today. Even in the Ekklesia we have had many who have tried to appoint themselves as modern day prophets who take advantage of the brethren and lead the people astray.
We know that there are religious leaders to this very day who are speaking the most outrageous prophecies and claiming to be “great ones” and yet there are those who cannot see through them and are supporting and following them. We need discernment (and often just common sense) to see that these people are delusional and so false, and give them no credence at all, but rather to expose them.
Deuteronomy 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 13:4 Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 13:5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. [You must purge the evil from among you.]
Deuteronomy 13:8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: [we need to expose them].
Matthew 24:25 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
In the end times there will be a final false prophet that will deceive the whole world and he will be able to work wondrous miracles so that he might deceive even God’s elect. We have to ask how can this happen that God’s own people could be deceived? The following passage tells us why; we must passionately love God’s truth and then God will give us the discernment that will keep us from being deceived by the most deceptive delusions of all time that are going to come upon the earth.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 2:5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
We love the truth by proving all things by the whole Word of God before we accept them; and we put the things proven by God’s Word into practice in our lives.
The more we obey God and keep His truth and His righteous commandments, the more understanding (and discernment) God will give to us.
If we just leave our salvation up to our church leaders and pastors and follow men without proving those things, or if we know that they are promoting things that are not according to God’s teachings, but we follow after them anyway, we show by our actions that we do not love the truth.
This is very dangerous, Brethren; it behooves us to pray with all our hearts that God will show us the truth of His Word and that He will give us the courage to stand up for the truth; for we live in very perilous times and we know that the Ekklesia and the whole world is in great trouble; and it is only going to get worse until Christ returns to bring peace and order back to the earth.
Why does God allow false prophets to test His people; and we see it happening right in our own times amongst the assemblies? I won’t name names but most of you know of some that are saying the most ridiculous things about themselves and they give details of what is going to soon happen, except these details come from their own imaginations.
Some of these prophets are obviously delusional and we see them for what they are right away; but there are others who appear really good and their heresy is so subtle and is mixed in with true doctrine which makes it hard to spot. Why are they allowed to do such things? It is because we are being tested to see if we truly love God with all of our hearts, our minds and our strength, and to determine if we really do love the truth of God’s Word.
Again, we can go back to Deuteronomy 13 to find the purpose that God allows these false “prophets to rise up” and to seemingly get away with what they do.
Deuteronomy 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth [tests] you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 13:4 Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
If we are faithful to the whole Word of God, then God will keep us safe from false teachings by giving us His discernment. We show that we love Him by keeping all His commandments, statues, ordinances, precepts and judgments and by loving His truth.
John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
The Bible commands us in many, many Scriptures to love God with all of our heart, mind and soul, and all of our strength. We prove that we do this by zealously keeping all of God’s commandments and by not allowing any false god to become between us and the true God. We must reject heretics and false prophets along with their false prophecies and put them out of our assemblies. If we do not obey the Lord in this, we are proving that we do not really love Him.
Deuteronomy 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
Of course we do NOT put false prophets or false teachers to death in this age, but figuratively we put them to death (put them to silence or discredit them and prevent them from misleading others) by exposing them and removing ourselves from their “mailing lists,” not going to their Websites, not attending services or feast sites with them: we are to remove them from our presence so that they cannot reach us with their lies and nonsense anymore.
Deuteronomy 18:21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? 18:22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
Many Scriptures tell us that the Lord is against those who give false prophesies and that He will deal with them.
Jeremiah 23:32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err [lead them astray] by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit [benefit] this people at all, saith the Lord.
Jeremiah 27:15 For I have not sent them, saith the Lord, yet they prophesy a lie in my name; that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish, ye, and the prophets that prophesy unto you.
These prophets are dangerous to others for those who follow false prophets will share in their judgment.
Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means [by their own imagination]; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? [But on the day of disaster or their end, where will you then turn for your help?]
Jeremiah 23:31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that [falsely] use their tongues, and say, He saith.
Jeremiah 27:15 For I have not sent them, saith the Lord, yet they prophesy a lie in my name; that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish, ye, and the prophets that prophesy unto you.
Ezekiel 13:9 And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity [false visions], and that divine lies [speak lying divinations]: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord God.
God’s people are not to even listen to false prophets and to their false prophecies. How many in the Ekklesia go to others who are known for their false teachings, yet go to them to see what they have to say about certain prophetic events?
Even some of the most trusted “commentaries” are riddled with false prophecies or totally wrong interpretations of Bible prophecies. Some of the most highly esteemed scholars who give seemingly great and eloquent exegeses on what the Bible teaches, opening admit that they believe in keeping Christmas, Easter, Sunday worship and other totally non-biblical traditions and yet are looked upon as being Bible experts.
Jeremiah 23:16 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain [fill you with false hopes]: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.
There are still many who take the visions of the apparition of a spirit claiming to be “Mary”, seen by the three children in Fatima very seriously and look to these visions more than they look to God’s Word. Please take warning and have nothing to do with these false dreamers and thoroughly test those who say they have visions.
Jeremiah 23:25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.
Jeremiah 14:14 Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart [prophesy their own imaginations].
Ezekiel 22:28 And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lordhath not spoken.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
We Are to Discern the FRUIT of Those Who Say They Are Our Teachers/Leaders
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Another very telling test, is to compare the words, attitude, behavior, and lifestyle, of any teacher, church leader, or prophet with the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:18-25.
Even if a false leader has been successful in pulling off a convincing image of being a true man of God for a while, God will eventually bring him to light. If they have been mishandling God’s Word to seek advantage for themselves, or to gain a following for themselves, eventually their true works will be made evident.
Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
We are to judge and we are to carry that judging over to judging a person’s fruit, as well, for that is another way we can known of what spirit they are of. A person’s true nature (whether it is carnal or of God’s divine nature) will be seen by the spiritual fruits that are produced in his or her life. If a person’s “fruits” are according to the works of the flesh then we can know that we are not to look to them for sound teaching or leadership.
This is how we can discern whether a person is truly of God, or whether they are lacking in character and/or spiritual maturity, or possibly not even converted and may be a tare; or worse yet a thorn or thistle in our midst. As we saw earlier, the Bible has specific criteria on how to judge and how not to judge. To judge someone’s fruit all we have to do is go to the list of the “works of the flesh” and compare to the “spiritual fruits” in Galatians 5 to determine if someone is either living according to the carnal works of the flesh or is walking according to the Spirit. By this we can know them (we can discern) if they are false or are true servants of God.
Galatians 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit
If a teacher, leader, pastor, or even someone who says he is an apostle, teaches contrary to the whole Word of God, or exhibits arrogance, drunkenness, uses intimidation, is not kind and gentle toward those in his care or under his authority, is lording it over others, is greedy of money, has selfish ambitions, does not show the fruit of peace, joy, love, is not self-controlled, etc. etc.; then God is not at the center of their lives and God has not appointed them to be a leader or elder of His people. It is required by God that His servants serve as proper examples to those they are leading or teaching.
This is what God through Peter had to say about true leaders; the key here is that they are to be EXAMPLES of God’s Way and of His Nature and if our leaders are not being right examples, then they should not be regarded as our leaders.
1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
God will cut off anyone who does not bear godly fruit, which is a warning for ourselves that we need to be abiding in Christ and growing in the fruit of the Spirit; but this is also a warning to us against following those who do not have the fruit of the Spirit or who are not doing the will of God the Father. God is going to judge them and if we are supporting them or putting these people and/or their organizations before God, then God will judge us along with these leaders.
John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Romans 2:23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? 2:24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, [those who say that they are followers of Christ but live contrary to God’s Way] as it is written.
In conclusion, Brethren, we must understand that there are many false teachers and false prophets in the Ekklesia today, who bring in damnable heresies, who lack the fruit of the Spirit, and have been infiltrating the church since the early days of the original apostles.
They are a blight on the true way of God and on His true body of believers. But God is allowing it for the time and in the meantime we are being tested and proved; and if we remain faithful to God and all of His ways, it will all work out for our good!
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If we are seeking to please God with all our hearts (and come out from Laodiceanism that is so prevalent at this time) then nothing, not even false prophets and their false doctrines, will be able to thwart God’s plan for us.
It is up to us, though, to CHOOSE to put God first, before all else in this life, to seek to obey Him in all things and then God promises that He will raise us up. We may have to suffer and even die for the cause of Christ, but even then He will give us the strength to get through it and then raise us up to spirit to live forever more.
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing [do no sin]; and I will receive you.
The whole world is lacking in godly judgment and discernment, because they refuse to worship and to look to the true God in spirit and in TRUTH. We must seek for and pray for God to give us more discernment to divide the holy from the profane, and then we must separate ourselves from all those who would mislead us and all those who would attempt to influence us with their ungodly examples.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
James Malm and Constance Belanger
Note- Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2015, which I then completed for posting.