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Spiritual discernment is the ability to tell the difference between God and demons, good and evil, true and false. We don’t rely on a bunch of sensual feelings and mystical rituals to do this—instead, we look to the Holy Spirit for guidance whenever a question arises.
Now many Christians are taught that the Bible is equivalent to the Holy Spirit. What a crock. The Bible is a mere created thing. Nothing created can ever be used to take the place of God in our lives. But when we are taught wrong, we start hanging on every statement we find in the Bible as if it is some timeless truth. The problem with this system is that there are many absurd statements in the Bible. God Himself has put forth several discernment tests in the Bible that simply don’t hold up. Why does He do this? Well, for starters, God isn’t talking to YOU in the Bible—He’s talking to other people in other situations who are wrestling with some specific concerns. When we ignore the original context of a verse, we end up drawing all sorts of wrong conclusions. When we ignore other passages which counter the conclusion we’re trying to draw from a single verse, we also end up going astray. When we ignore current events which further disprove what we want to believe, we’re just being foolish. If we’re going to be helped by the Bible, we have to keep it in perspective as a tool of limited use. The Bible doesn’t come anywhere close to being our all-sufficient guide in life, nor should it be used as a litmus test for truth. It’s God Himself that we need be putting our faith in, not a pile of paper.
Today, the Church is filled with false prophets, false shepherds, and other kinds of false leaders who are all after your soul. They want to lead you off into a land of dangerous delusions and get you to give them all of your money and loyalty. But before they can do that, they need to earn your trust. Some of the most effective strategies false leaders use today only work because you put way too much stock in the validity of three biblical tests for discernment. By learning how flawed these tests really are, you can become less vulnerable to the wolves.
#1: YAHWEH’S TEST FOR A FALSE PROPHET
You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord? If what a prophet proclaims in the Name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. (Deut. 18:21-22)
According to Yahweh, if someone predicts future events in His Name and those events fail to come true, that person is a false prophet. Under the Old Covenant, Yahweh ordered such a person to be publicly executed.
It’s a good thing people had become so slack about upholding Yahweh’s Laws by the time Jonah came along, because according to God’s own test, Jonah was a false prophet. He prophesied that Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days. Well, it wasn’t. Today we blow off this shocking example of Yahweh contradicting Himself by saying, “God changed His mind.” So what? God knows the end from the beginning. He said that if a prophet delivered any message in His Name which didn’t come true, THEN GOD HAD NOT SPOKEN THAT MESSAGE. There’s no loophole here. Yahweh’s test is a black-and-white scenario. It leaves no room for God changing His mind. Yet the fact remains that Jonah WAS speaking for Yahweh when Yahweh said He would destroy Nineveh in 40 days. Yahweh didn’t add any conditions to His prediction—He didn’t say “unless Nineveh repents.” He said the city was going down, period. He said she’d be destroyed in exactly 40 days. Then He didn’t do it and He made His legitimate prophet look like a poser. So much for a test we can count on.
#2: JESUS’ TEST FOR A TRUE BELIEVER
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in Your Name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in My Name can say anything bad about Me in the next moment, for whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:38-40)
So according to Jesus, anyone who performs a miracle in His Name must be a true follower of His. And no one who performs miracles using His Name can possibly say anything bad about Him right after. What ludicrous statements. “In Jesus’ Name” and “all glory to God” are two of the most abused phrases we have in the Church today. False shepherds are always throwing Jesus’ Name around when they do their miracles in public. Granted, many of their miracles are staged, but others are legitimate.
In Matthew 7, Jesus blatantly contradicts His own test by saying:
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name and in Your Name drive out demons and in Your Name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’” (Mat. 7:22-23)
Jesus is talking about eternal judgment here. In this little speech, He openly acknowledges that there are MANY who go around pretending to be loyal to Him when they are really His enemies. God performs legitimate miracles through these posers while they fling around Jesus’ Name and mock Him in back rooms. Clearly miraculous power doesn’t indicate anything about a person’s true spiritual status. So despite what Jesus implies in Mark 9, when it comes to discerning good leaders from bad ones, miracles are meaningless.
#3: PAUL’S TEST FOR TRUE BELIEVERS
Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:3)
If you try to take these words literally, you’ll end up in a mess. As Jesus demonstrated in Matthew 7, His enemies love claiming loyalty to Him on earth. They even go around doing good works. “Jesus is Lord,” “I’m a Christian”—today such phrases are utterly meaningless. The reality is that Satan has no problems with telling his followers to attend church and claim Jesus as their Lord. Demons also love using Bible quotations to lure you in to a false sense of security. Certainly the Holy Spirit could silence the tongues of all liars, BUT HE DOESN’T. Instead, He helps false shepherds rise to power in the Church. He equips them with charm and charisma. He surrounds them with devoted fans. At the same time, He grinds the faces of truly devoted Christians into the dirt so long and hard that many of them end up cursing Jesus in frustration. So Paul’s test is utterly useless. The best we can do for him is to assume that he meant no one can SINCERELY say “Jesus is Lord” unless they were aligned with the Holy Spirit. But what good is such a test for you? You can’t see into a man’s soul, so you never know if he’s being sincere or not.
Without realizing it, Christians today are relying far too much on these three tests and others like them in order to discern good shepherds from bad ones. As soon as some prophet appears to give an accurate prediction of the future, Christians decide he must be legitimate, and then they start hanging on his every word. As soon as some Bible toting healer or preacher comes along who shouts praises to Jesus and constantly throws His Name around, Christians park their brains at the door and gulp down everything the man says as gospel truth. This is such a dangerous way to live. You can’t just hang your faith on a handful of passages in the Bible. Open your eyes. Look around you. The Church is full of con artists who are robbing people blind while at the same time encouraging the flock to worship them as alternate gods. Bible verses are not going to protect you from these vultures. You have to be praying and seeking God directly. You have to be on your guard. The Church has become so corrupted that the only way to play it safe today is to assume that someone is lying to you until God convinces you otherwise. This is reality: there are far more bad shepherds than good ones. There are far more lies than truth being tossed out from the pulpit. You CANNOT put your trust in created things—and that includes people and a religious textbook. You have to put your trust in GOD ALONE. Your Shepherd has not left you stranded in some field with only human shepherds and a book to guide you in life. He is with you at all times. He WILL give you discernment IF you submit to Him as your only Source of truth. But if you refuse to run things past Him and you insist on blindly believing whatever some mortal being tells you, then God will let those people eat you alive. If you insist on building a rigid theology off of a handful of verses that you selected out of a book which you are irreverently viewing as God’s equal, then He will use that book to turn you into a spiritual moron. God will NOT reward you for giving Him your loyalty leftovers. If you want true wisdom in life, you must rely on Him alone. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you all that HE wants you to be.