Sunday, December 6, 2009

THE REGRET OF DISCERNMENT



“But the manifestation of the Spirit is GIVEN TO EACH ONE FOR THE PROFIT OF ALL: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another DISCERNING OF SPIRITS, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually AS HE WILLS.” – 1 Corintians 12:7-11

A few months ago I prayed and asked God to give me the gift of discernment. I didn’t make it an earnest prayer. I didn’t beg God for it, or even become broken wanting to receive it. I just asked, and God gave it. The Bible says that He gives these gifts as He wills, and it pleased Him to give it to me.

Has I known then what I know now, I would have never asked for discernment. The old cliché holds true, “Ignorance is bliss.”

The spiritual gift of discernment is one of seeing what God sees on a spiritual realm. It’s one of being able to tell the truth from lies, what is fake from what is genuine, and what is good from evil. This has opened my eyes to things around me that have broken my heart and changed the course of my life. Because these gifts are given to each of us “for the profit of all”, and because it is so powerful, I have to share what God has shown me.

There will be those that think I’m a lunatic…and that’s okay. At the end of the day, there will always be some that understand us and some that don’t. But at the very end, I only have to worry about what ONE judges me to be, and in Him I will be found faithful.

All around us there are forces at work that are evil. Some are small, and some are great. But just as it takes a tiny rock to start paving a road of detour, the tiny evils are just as important to understand as the great ones.

In case you don’t believe there are evil spirits around us, let me tell you what the Bible teaches. Ephesians 6:12 says that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The question usually arises as to where they come from, especially since God looked on all He created and said that it was “good” (Genesis 1:31). These evil spirits are the result of a revolt in Heaven. Lucifer (a.k.a. the Devil) was created as the angel of worship (Ezekiel 28:11-15). But when he decided to try to become higher than the “Most High” God, he was cast out of Heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15). He took with him one third of all the angels of Heaven with him (Revelations 12:3-9), and those are the evil spirits we war against.

If you have doubts about any of what you just read, don’t go further. Don’t take my word for it – look it up. It’s important you believe the enemy is real, or you won’t see the battle and you won’t fight.

What God has shown me is that there is a war going on here on Earth. It’s a great war, but one not seen by human eyes. It’s spiritual, and it’s deadly. Because of it we see many evils in our world that otherwise would not exist. We see children killing their parents, parents killing their children, same-sex relationships, false religions, addictions, spiritual possession and oppression, and I could continue till tomorrow. In short, if it were not for the evil that surrounds us, there would be no news but good news to report.

The problem is because the enemy is not seen we choose not to fight. We deny the power of the force that is rising up against us, and we sit comfortably and silently on our sofa’s. Like I’ve already said, ignorance is bliss. But ignorance is also dangerous!

The overwhelming thread of what God has shown me is this: anything worshipped or held higher than God in our lives is evil. It may have its very roots in Christianity, or be something completely non-Christian. If it takes your focus off God, it’s evil.

So you went to church today. That’s great. But why did you go? Did you go because it was expected of you by your friends? Did you go to prevent a post card from your Sunday school class saying they missed you, or a call from your pastor? Did you go because you didn’t want to disappoint your pastor? What is good can be made evil. When an archer pulls back the string on his bow and sights in his target, it only takes a glimpse of something else to cause him to miss his mark. Likewise, even when we have worship in our target, it only takes putting anything else in our sights as a goal to cause us to miss our mark.

I have seen worship that is not for God but for man. Raise your hands, pray loudly and long, shout out to God…but if you do it for man to hear and not for God…you’ve missed the mark. Sing beautifully of the works of our Lord…but if you do it to get the praise of men and not of God, you’ve missed the mark. What was your focus at church? Was it on what you were wearing? Was it on what someone else was wearing? Was it on anything other than putting your heart in the hands of God and hearing what He has to say to you?

Paul said in Galatians 1:10 “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” We make ourselves a bondservant – a slave – to men by choosing to please them instead of God. When you choose to follow another, you oust God from the throne of your heart, and you place that other person or persons on that throne. Whoever sits on that throne rules over your circumstances. Do you really want to relinquish that throne to anyone other than God?

It may be you didn’t go to church today. Maybe you had a child that didn’t want to go, and you just gave in to not going yourself. Who sat on your throne today? Maybe you decided to go Christmas shopping instead of going to church. Who sat on your throne today? Maybe you were too tired from your Saturday night activities to give God your worship today. Who sat on your throne today?

Anything and any one that comes between you and Christ becomes your god. Look back at the Israelites during the times of 1 Kings and 2 Kings when the nation of Israel was split between Judah and Israel. God split the Israelites into two nations in the first place because Solomon chose to follow the women in his life instead of God.

When he married women who were pagans he took on the worship of their gods. He didn’t stop worshipping God, but he asked God to “share” the throne of his heart with those other gods. He worshipped Ashtoreth, Milcom, Chemosh, and other gods. But that small stone that paved the way to his path of destruction was his love for his pagan wives. 1 Kings 11:4 says “his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God.” Are you not worshipping God because your wife or husband isn’t? Who’s sitting on the throne of your heart?

When the Israelites had worshipped their idols and gods for a time, God’s jealousy finally grew into anger. He destroyed thousands because of their sin and tore down their elaborate cities and temples of worship. The book of Jeremiah tells of what God told Jeremiah he would do to the Israelite people because of their sins of worshipping false Gods. God warned them, pronounced their punishment, and delivered it. Punishment from God always comes with a warning.

Another form of evil in our world today is completely non-Christian. Perhaps you don’t realize the pagan worships that surround us today. They still exist, but many times are not recognized because we’ve stopped preaching against them. Here are just a few.

One of the oldest pagan forms of worship is astrology – the worship of the stars and moon. Deuteronomy 4:19 says “And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.”

Do you read your horoscope, which is based on astrological signs and beliefs? In God’s eyes, this is evil. You may say “but I don’t believe the horoscope, I just do it for fun!” God has said in Ephesians 4:27 not to “give place to the devil.” If God has pronounced this as evil, and you take part in it, you take part in something evil – regardless of whether you believe the horoscope or not. You’ve given it an opening to your mind and heart by reading it.

Another ancient form of pagan worship is witchcraft – which is the worship of spiritual things in the evil realm (a.k.a. satanic). This one is one that is sneaky! Paul himself said in 1 Corinthians 11:14 that satan himself will disguise himself as an “angel of light”, which means a Godly apostle. Witchcraft has many names, and many forms. The best way to define witchcraft is that it is the worship of any supernatural power that is not God.

Witchcraft is centered on tonics, spells (a.k.a. “blessings” or “curses”), and belief in the “energy” of things. There are those that believe certain stones contain powers or energies that can benefit them, and carry stones that are to provide energy, harmony, peace, or prosperity. You can even buy these rocks on the web with instruction booklets of how to “charge” your rocks! This is witchcraft because it is the pursuit and belief of supernatural powers other than God. Do you own such a rock? How about a magnetic bracelet that’s suppose to heal you? How can expect God, who made all the rocks, to sit on the throne of your heart if you believe these rocks can bring you supernatural power?

Witchcraft has become a religion that is growing in our nation today and taking many by surprise that it is what it is because it has been renamed to Wicca. (Note: Not all who practice witchcraft are Wiccan’s, just like not all Christians are Baptist!)

There are also those that visit or call psychics in search for answer, which is called Divination. God even warned against these things when He was describing the promised land to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 18:10-12 when he said “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.” A psychic, hypnotist, fortune teller, voodoo practitioner, tarot card reader, bone reader, tea leaf reader, herbalist, or anyone that presents themselves as being able to supernaturally tell you things about yourself or your future – which is called divination - is evil in the sight of God.

Owning the devices that are used and believed to provide these supernatural connections and powers is also evil because it gives an opportunity for evil in your life. Some of these are Ouija boards, tarot cards, books of superstitions, books of tonics (which are sometimes referred to as herbal remedies), and so forth.

Likewise, watching movies that are violent, horror movies and those that take part in evil acts are also a doorway for evil to enter into your life. Paul said in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Giving your mind over to evil for even a few minutes of watching these things gives an opportunity for evil to grow in your life! Ever watch a horror movie and wake up in the night terrified? Who is reigning over your circumstances then? Certainly not God!

I am amazed at the number of people I’ve seen since God has given me discernment that are Christians and yet they play in these areas that are satan’s playground! It breaks my heart because some of them are people I hold dear to my heart. There is no place in any of these for a Christian. They are evil and will lead to the same destruction that God brought up on the children of Israel in the Old Testament. Yet we as Christians do not take a stand against it. I myself was watching Wife Swap on TV one day when a family that practice witchcraft was brought on and was to exchange mothers with a Christian family. Of course, as Hollywood always does, the Christian woman was not your average Christian, but one that in all respects seemed to be deranged and bent!

You may see these things as small and insignificant. So what if you read your horoscope in the Saturday paper! So what if you watch horror movies at Halloween! So what if you visit the palm reader at the fair! Be forewarned. The path of destruction is paved not with large boulders, but tiny little stones.

I think the greatest challenge facing Christians today is not in fighting the fight against evil, but in understanding – discerning - that it exists all around us. We cannot fight what we do not identify as the enemy, and far too often when we do see it, we choose to remain silent and be “politically correct.” Unfortunately, being politically correct is often being wrong in God’s eyes because He has commissioned us to proclaim the truth. Who is sitting on the throne of our hearts if we sit silently when God has asked us to speak?

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