Let’s say someone invited you to join a gathering of people who call themselves Christians. That does not necessarily mean that you attend a church, a home church, a conference or a similar thing. Just imagine that you are going to meet people you have never met before and you want to find out whether they are honest and upright Christians – or not. The most common mistake we tend to make in such cases is the conviction that everyone who is friendly must be indwelt by God’s Spirit. Dear brothers and sisters, nothing could be further from the truth, since Satan usually “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14 ESV). Satan tends to be the nice guy who feeds the bunny a carrot first, but later he whips the stick out of his pocket. As wonderful as it is to meet friendly Christians who really radiate the light and love of God, as painful were my own experiences in the past when I had to deal with those other, in the long run, harmful encounters. Today I rather ask God for His wisdom to show me the truth so that I can more easily perceive who is ‘the real thing’ and who is not (cf. Js 1:5). Love bombing to win me does not work anymore as long as I sense the Lord’s gentle voice inside me saying, “Take care, Susanne!” and I simultaneously feel repelled by the presence of false spirits in those persons I am confronted with.
What might be helpful if we are insecure about how to judge other Christians as to the spiritual voices that speak out of them, it is both listening to what they really say and about who they really talk. If they are interested in us, they will not spring something on us in order to change our views because they know it all better. Instead, if they are honest and upright, they will listen to our concerns with a loving and understanding heart, even though we might tell them some “not-so-nice” details about ourselves. They will reveal the unconditional love of Christ and thus they will rather listen wholeheartedly than talk about themselves since their Christlike selflessness and self-forgetfulness compels them to do so. Lately I found out, that one of the most effective weapons that is often underestimated is to pray silently while listening. We do not know whether someone who remains silent prays and listens to God, has nothing to say, or is even bored stiff by what he hears unless their facial expression gives us some hints. Of course, we should not always only listen. When God nudges us, we should open our mouths and share what He gave us for others. Indeed, there are so many Scriptures that point out the importance of wisdom in speech, yet I decided to only paste the following.
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense. The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near. (Prv 10:11-14 ESV)
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense. (Prv 10:19-21 ESV)
With these verses in mind, we could also ask ourselves when confronted with others whether and how talking with them influences our feelings. Do we feel comfortable to be with them? Do we dare to open up our hearts and tell them more than others because we feel they can be trusted? Looking particularly at Proverbs, Chapter 10, Verse 11, I just saw that we need to feel ALIVE when a righteous person talks with us. And if we made a mistake, he or she would certainly cover any offense due to their God-given love. In contrast, if talking with someone makes us feel insecure, anxious, and we even feel the impulse “to run”, we should not underestimate such feelings since they can be from God, too. Not that we need to really run away in such moments (speaking physically). However, we should guard our hearts against demonic influences of “Christians” who do not have His Spirit – maybe, they do not even know it – and who try to submit our spirits to theirs through their natural self-will power. Take care, brothers and sisters! Or in other words,
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. […] They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 Jn 4:1; 5-6 ESV)