“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” – Romans 16:17-18
From the very start of Christianity emphasis had to be placed on the using of discernment for the fowling of satan’s deceptions and the protection of both the saints and the purity of the doctrine (or teachings) of Jesus Christ. Like all gifts, there is an office and an operation. For example, the order of ministry offices mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28 list “Healings” as an office. This means that God will anoint and ordain certain people to move strongly and predominately in the gift of healing, causing them to easily obtain regular results. However, not being called to that office does not excuse the rest of us from fulfilling the commandment to pray for the sick nor does it prevent us from seeing results. It just won’t come as easy or naturally for us. It may not be our gifting but it is still our commandment and responsibility. We are expected by God to put forth the effort and step out in obedience, press-in in prayer, push through with fasting, and through faith and the acting upon of that faith heal the sick. We may not be called to make a ministry of it but we are still called to do it if there is a need, even if it’s harder for us then for others. The same is true for discernment. There is a gift of Discerning of Spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10) and those that walk in this gifting have great discernment and are invaluable to the ministries they serve. It comes naturally to them, it seems like their discernment is always turned on. However, just like healings, everyone can and must use discernment, it just takes a bit more effort.
Pray earnestly for the gift of discernment as the devil will always come in through lies and deceit to thwart God’s will for a person, family, or ministry. Jesus warned us to be watching for “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and to examine and judge all people by their fruits (the evidence of their lives and actions) that you might be able to identify false prophets. If you take the time to truly seek God He will show you all things. He loves you with a jealous love, spiritual adultery burns and breaks the heart of God. He will keep you from being seduced by other spirits if you will keep your eyes, heart, and trust placed fully on Him. Seek Him, spend time with Him, talk to Him, and know Him that you be not deceived.
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?” – 2 Corinthians 11:2-7
Paul, having a great gift of discernment, had to continually warn others of false prophets, teachings, spirits, and so on. He was ever pleading with the churches to use their own discernment. As believers we must take everything before God in prayer and in the Word. Beware of men or spirits that preach themselves more then they preach Jesus. Know that Satan wants to be worshiped as God, so think it not strange that he might counterfeit God receiving the praises of men while discrediting and defiling the Name, Word, and Character of God. Run from anything that contradicts or is not found in the Holy Scriptures. John tells us that Jesus is the Word, therefore we must be reminded that to reject the Word is to reject Jesus.
In the above mentioned versus Paul had to address the church of Corinth, who had been deceived by false prophets. The first tactic of these evil men were to begin to turn the hearts of the people against Paul who had ministered to this congregation selflessly from it’s founding. The devil knew that he had to cut off the churches source of truth if he ever hoped to replace it with lies. However Paul, through the pointing out of his good fruits toward them, the exposing of his love for them, and the pricking of their hearts and awakening of their minds with harsh words and ugly truths, brought them back to understanding.
Paul, being a good shepherd, did not tolerate wolves killing his sheep. Perhaps because he loved them with the love of Christ, that is to say, a jealous love. Or perhaps it’s because he knew the scriptures in Ezekiel 3:18 that says: “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” Or maybe it was like Jeremiah chapter 20, a fire shut up in his bones that he could not contain. Whatever the reason, He always dealt with them quickly and scripturaly. He spoke truth openly, he reproved, rebuked, and exhorted (2 Timothy 4:2). He protected his sheep and stood in defense of the purity of the bride of Christ knowing that Jesus is coming back only for a faithful, pure, and spotless bride.
In all of his writings, teachings, preachings, and actions, Paul holds nothing back for fear of offense but rather, because of his great love for God, souls, and truth, he exposes all. Even down to the very spirit behind the men that were deceiving the church in Corinth, and we ought to do the same. His address continues as follows:
“But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” – 2 Corinthians 11:12-15
The devil will always bring deceit and God will always bring truth. However, when it comes to truth, though God may force you to face it, He will never force you to receive it. Once deceived we will always find ourselves with a choice. Humble ourselves, acknowledge our sin, our weakness, our necessity for total dependence on Christ and repent. Or else cling to our pride, trusting only in ourselves, and in our own abilities and knowledge. In this case the person choosing to turn away from the truth is also choosing to turn away from the one trying to give them the truth, therefore He must also turn away from them… It’s that serious.
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2
“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; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” – 1 Timothy 6:3-5