It is now more important for Christians to have the gift of discernment than in any other time in history. The reason is because God is doing more in this day. It is necessary for us to know what God is doing, so that we might become workers with Him in accomplishing His will in the earth. Too often Christians are unaware of the movings of the Spirit. So we need the gift of discernment to discern the movings of God.
I Corinthians 12:7-11 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every
man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
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:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.
One of the gifts listed is the discerning of spirits. Let’s remember that these are gifts. They are gifts given by God to members of His Church for the benefit of the whole Body of Christ. So it is important to have the gifts of the Spirit functioning in the Church.
In this message we are going to focus our attention upon spiritual discernment. While the gift of discernment will enable one to detect demonic activity, it is far more valuable in enabling us to discern the Holy Spirit. Few Christians, even among the clergy, are able to discern the presence and voice of the Lord.
Jesus said there would be many false christs and false prophets that would arise and deceive many in this last time (Matthew 24:11). We need spiritual discernment, that we might recognize the presence of the Lord and be led by His Spirit. Only then can we function in the will of God and accomplish His purposes in the earth.
John 6:1-15 gives the account of Jesus feeding the five thousand with only a couple of fish and five loaves of bread. He already had a number of disciples following Him by this time, but after that miracle even more began to follow Him. They followed Him because He fed them. The next scripture tells what happened when He began feeding those same people living bread from heaven.
John 6:51-56, 60 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if
any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will
give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat?
53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.
60 Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it?
Why did the Jews have such difficulty in accepting the words of Jesus? It was simply because Jesus’ teachings seemed to be completely contradictory to the teachings of the Mosaic Law. Leviticus 3:17 says: It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood. Then in Leviticus 17:10: And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set My face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. This was a very strong doctrine among the Jews. They were not to eat blood! Then Jesus comes along and says, “My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.” That was too much for them; they could not accept His words.
John 6:66 From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.
They were willing to follow Him and be His disciples until He contradicted one of their doctrines. Then they rejected Him. They did not have enough discernment to know that He was the Christ, the Son of God. They were not able to discern the Spirit of the Word.
John 6:63 It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.
Jesus was speaking words of Spirit, but they were not able to discern the Spirit in His words. We find that the same thing is true today. When the Word of the Lord comes, many people are not able to discern the Spirit of the Lord in the Word. Consequently, Christians usually decide a man is speaking the Word of God according to whether or not it lines up with their doctrines. If it agrees with what they believe, then they will accept it. If it does not, they reject it. However, that is a poor way to determine if it’s really the Word of God. We must learn to discern the Spirit of the Lord within the words that are spoken. And if the Spirit of the Lord is not in the words, then we should be able to discern that also.
There are many truths that will come to light in the days ahead that we have not understood or known in times past. So if we are only going to judge the Word by the doctrines we know now, then we will not be able to accept the things that God will speak in the days ahead, even though they come from the Scriptures.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.
Jesus personifies truth. He says, “I am the truth.” Usually when we think of truth, we think of it as correct facts. However, biblical understanding of truth is not just a correct fact. Jesus said, “I am the truth.” In other words, if His nature is in the words, it is truth. But just because the facts are correct does not necessarily make it the truth. When He says, “I am the truth,” then He is saying, “If it’s the truth, it’s Me. I’m in that Word.”
John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Jesus also says that the devil is a lie. When the devil speaks, he is speaking from his own nature. In John 14, Jesus said that He was the truth. Then He says here that the devil is the lie. In other words, that which has the satanic nature within it is a lie. That which has the divine nature of Christ in it is truth. Now is it possible for the devil to speak facts that are correct? Yes, it is. But that does not make it the truth. In order for it to be truth the nature of the Lord has to be within that word.
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the
wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungred.
3 And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Notice what Jesus says here: Man shall not live by bread alone. Then what shall we live by? …by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. That is important; remember it, every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:5-6 Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and
setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 And saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.
Endeavoring to tempt Jesus, the devil quoted scripture. Now, is the scripture he quoted the Word of God? No, it is not! Even though he quoted scripture from the Bible, it was coming out of the mouth of Satan, not out of the mouth of God. That which comes out of the mouth of Satan comes from the satanic nature. Jesus said in John chapter eight that the devil is a lie, and the father of lies. So when Satan speaks, he speaks from his own nature. So even though he is speaking scripture, he is speaking a lie and not the truth. Truth carries the nature of the Lord, but the lie carries the nature of Satan.
Just because someone is quoting scripture doesn’t mean he is speaking the Word of God. Maybe he is, and maybe he isn’t. Is the Spirit of the Lord riding on his words? Some Christians seem to think that it is only necessary to quote scriptures. However, it is necessary for the vessel speaking the Word to be filled with the Spirit. How much of the Spirit of God is in you determines how much is in the words you speak. We will have to speak the Word of the Lord, and the Word of the Lord is filled with His nature. That is why Jesus said, “I am the truth.” He personifies truth. It is in Him. The lie is the devil. So speaking correct facts or correct doctrines is not good enough; we must be filled with His Spirit that we might speak a Word from God.
II Corinthians 3:2-6 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and
read of all men:
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.
4 And such trust have we through Christ to Godward:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;,
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.
Paul says that the letter of the Word kills. It ministers death, but the Spirit of the Word brings life. That means that it makes a difference who is ministering the Word of God, for that is the determining factor whether that Word is freighted with the Spirit of the Lord and ministers life, or whether it ministers death. Many of our preachers today are ministering condemnation and death instead of bringing life to the people. In fact, the letter of the Word cannot do anything but minister condemnation. It brings death. As Paul said, “The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”
There are more people preaching today than at any other time. Because of radio and TV, one can tune in and find someone preaching almost any time day or night. So many preaching so many different things presents another need for the gift of discernment. Is the word being preached the Gospel of the Kingdom? “Well,” someone may say, “they are preaching the Scriptures.” Maybe so, but is Christ in their word. It is not enough for it to be scriptural; correct doctrines are not enough. It is only enough when the Spirit of the Lord is in that word, and that is when it becomes the truth; that is when it begins to set people free.
Words alone cannot set a person free, even if they come from the Bible, without the Spirit of the Lord being in them. And the human vessel is the determining factor. Quoting or reading scriptures without a submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is the letter of the Word that kills. We have the responsibility to be filled with the Spirit and to inject the Spirit into the Word as we speak it, whether we are quoting it, reading it, or preaching it.
The apostle John was very close to the Lord. He is described in the Gospel as the one whom Jesus loved (John 21:7), and the one who leaned upon the bosom of the Lord (John 13:23). If anyone knew the Lord and had an awareness of His presence, it has to be the apostle John. Twice in the Book of Revelation he heard a voice and recognized the Spirit of the Lord. There was no doubt that Jesus was speaking to him. When John fell at His feet to worship Him, he heard the voice say, “See thou do it not, I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren” (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). John recognized the voice of the Lord, but when he fell down to worship Him, it wasn’t the Lord. It was one of the brethren. It was not Christ in bodily form, but it was Christ speaking through a brother. That is the way it should be today.
We are responsible to speak a Word from God. When we speak, the words must be words from the mouth of the Lord. That is why we must be filled with the Spirit. There are many preaching the Scriptures today who are not filled with the Spirit. And though they are preaching the Scriptures, it is only a dead letter that ministers death. Many people are deceived by that, because they do not have the gift of discernment. If Christians cannot discern the Spirit of the Lord, or the absence of the Spirit, in what is spoken, it will be very easy for them to be deceived, because the doctrines that will come from the antichrist spirit will be correct doctrines. But the spirit in those doctrines will lead people astray. They will not lead people into a relationship with the Lord. Rather, they will minister death. They will minister dullness and blindness. We must come alive unto God and receive the gift of discernment.
Copyright © 2003 by Henry DuBose