deception, discerning the spirits, exhortation, experience, eyes of the heart, feelings, fellowship, following Jesus, God's guidance, God's love, intellect, preaching, suffering, T.A. Sparks, teaching, true faith, Truth in Love
Let me begin with an analogy we all know. Imagine you see a small child that has not been fed properly by his parents. Instead, he was badly nourished and therefore grows slowly, even much slower than his peers. Maybe, his parents are extremely poor and cannot feed this child as they should. If this small child gets no help from others, sooner or later the first sicknesses will befall him and most probably, he won’t get that old, either. What is so sad to observe in the physical realm exists in the spiritual realm, too. Nonetheless, the difference is that it is easier to feed a malnourished child than a malnourished spirit being for we can see it immediately when a child is too lean, too pale, and very weak. But how can we discern a believer who has fed on the wrong spirits? Can we see the deception they have fallen prey to as well? 🙄
In order to come closer to an evident resolve that might help us protect our own spirits from being deceived, let us focus on the spiritual realm now. If we think we can discern deceived believers by our intellect alone or by what we feel when we are confronted with them, we might be deluded since we usually react according to our likes and dislikes, to our projections and prejudice. From hence, we might easily be wrong in our judgment of the one who is a real believer and the one who runs after false spirits, thinking it is the Lord Jesus Christ he follows. However, if we want to know whether someone is the Lord’s or not, we could try to listen to them for a while or delve into their writings. If we are attentive, we will find out that someone who gave God and Christ the first place in their life, they will quite often point to God and His goodness while they will never dwell on their own goodness (which does not exist anyway) or on what wonderful works God did through them. Instead, if God’s children really do good works, they will hardly ever mention them because they always forget about it immediately. Actually, when God can work through a Christian as HE wants, these people automatically recognize God’s hand in their doing and thus they will never take credit for that which belongs to God alone. Jesus warned us about these things as He said,
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Mt 6:1-4 ESV)
If you happen to meet such believers who act in and through their old self nature, thinking it is God’s will that they do what they do, you will quickly find out that they need man’s approval as a reward for their (good) works for God. Sooner or later, their self wants to be stroked and clapped on the back. And if nobody does this for them, they give themselves a pat. Alas, we are so used to this kind of worldly mindset that we hardly realize that there should be a big difference between a Christian and a worldly person regarding these matters.
Dear reader, we should know that boasting and immodesty is not Christlike. Furthermore, gossip and bashing is not Christlike, either. But speaking the truth in love IS! However, we should be aware of the fact that the truth sometimes hurts immensely when we hear it through a fellow Christian! It hurts even more the deeper the darkness of deception was we have found ourselves in. But should we therefore try to avoid telling others what is true and what is false? God forbid!!! If our loving Lord leads us to tell others, most kindly, about the deceiving spirits we have seen in their speaking or writing, we must prepare ourselves for their reaction. They might be mad at us and accuse us wrongly because their old nature feels offended UNLESS… God has opened their hearts and they can receive the truth with a humble spirit. In fact, how many people were offended with Jesus as HE told them the truth about their hearts? I am sure our Lord was never loved because of His honesty by those who wanted to keep acting independently from God’s guidance. The people, instead, followed their emotions, positively as Jesus worked healing miracles and fed them when they were hungry or they reacted negatively as they finally wanted to see Him crucified and dead. You see, there was no spiritual growth in these people although they had seen so many miracles before. Indeed, it is never that which can be perceived with our natural five senses that makes our faith grow. T. Austin Sparks said it so well,
We do not grow by teaching and information, by being filled up with the Bible and its doctrines and its truths, however wonderful and true and great they are. We only grow by love, and we grow by love in terms of spiritual discernment. “Love buildeth up” (1 Cor. 8:1); but love buildeth up because love gives us spiritual insight, and the simplest child of God, who has never been brought up in profound things, in the midst of a great wealth of teaching, but who loves the Lord, will make far greater strides in spiritual growth than those who have it all mentally and intellectually and not through the eyes of the heart. It is true. If there is an adequate love there will be no compromise with error, with wrong, no permitting of questionable things, no long-drawn-out shedding of things which, while they may not be altogether wrong, would be better not there.
No compromise with error, with wrong, no permitting of questionable things!
That might sound harsh to some who think they need to love others by being nice toward them whatever they teach and preach. But Sparks refers to our love for the Lord here, not to our human emotions that can be pretty moody. It is only this love of and for the Lord that enables us to obey God’s voice that helps us to discern between right and wrong, between true and false, between praiseworthy and detestable. Our relationship with God must come first – always! Jesus Christ should be our first love, even if we cannot perceive good feelings in our heart when we suffer according to His will. As I said before in another article, agape love is primarily obedience to His voice, not to our good or bad feelings. Whenever we try to do God’s work by loving other people with our natural resources and confuse our good feelings with the love of God because we like these people, we are deceived, since the love of God demands perfection which means we ought to love our enemies, too. Do not let us be misled here, dear brothers and sisters! We cannot have fellowship with one another UNLESS you and I have been connected to the Head first. From Him alone comes The Life and The Breath that quickens the Body of Christ. In fact, without obeying the Head, a believer is not connected to the Body and cannot be fruitful at all “[a]s the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” Jesus went on to say, ”I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” (Jn 15:4-6 ESV) T. Austin Sparks confirmed the necessity of the preeminence Christ ought to have in our lives. He wrote,
Relativity is the law of the Body of Christ. Relativity is holding fast the Head; and let us beware of trying to maintain the Body in its oneness along the horizontal line. You cannot do it. It is a hopeless thing, and we shall always be running round and making apologies. On the horizontal we cannot do it, but if we hold fast the Head, we shall find our gravitation is together. We cannot give Christ His place fully and absolutely and be at cross-purposes with another believer. Christ must have His place so that we do everything unto Him, all for Him, all for His sake. We cannot have an attitude like that and maintain a grievance with another believer. Holding fast the Head and everything being unto Him would demand an adjustment in our relationships and bring it about. We cannot love the Lord with all our hearts and not love one of His; that is a contradiction. So that the oneness of the Body first of all demands that we hold fast the Head.
Dear reader, if you happen to have fellowship with someone who does not hold fast to the Head, or when you are insecure if that is the case, ask the Lord about it. I am sure He will tell you the truth and help you break off contact with such people who, knowingly or unknowingly, have already done damage to your spirit and soul. I can tell you that it is VERY dangerous to fellowship with someone who is driven by the wrong spirits! You cannot be but affected by them and might even feel forced to submit to these invisible spirits who more and more will pull you away from God and Jesus Christ as the center of your life. If someone wants to dig deeper into the dangers of false fellowship and read more about this topic, here is the link to an older article of mine: