Things that make you go, hmmm.

hmmmLast week we took a break from spiritual gifts to celebrate the miracle of the resurrection. This week, we’re back to spiritual gifts and will entertain things that make you go, “Hmmm.” For example, where does the white go when the snow melts? Why is there an interstate highway in Hawaii? Do employees at Lipton take coffee breaks? What was the best thing before sliced bread? Why didn’t Noah kill those two sand gnats? Perhaps we’ll find out the answers to those questions and many more as we look at a passage of Scripture that has become familiar to us in this study.

Look at 1 Corinthians 12:6-11. What is the distinguishing of spirits? Again, we need to understand what the word means. Distinguishing comes from the word that means a clear discrimination, discerning, or judging. Spirits means breath or wind; it is invisible and powerful. This gift is most often referred to as discernment. Ahh, light bulbs going off in people’s heads everywhere.

As with the other gifts, Paul has made it clear that not everyone has the same gift. Gifts are given by the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation and are to be used for the common good of the body of Christ. Even though the gifts come from the same Spirit, all of us do not have the same gift. It is a mischaracterization of the purpose of God to define a person’s spirituality by what gift they are given to serve in the body of Christ.

We have several biblical examples that show us that we need the gift of discernment.

  • Acts 5:1-3 tells us the story of Ananias and Saphira. Peter knew they had lied about the price of the land.
  • Acts 13:7b-10. When you read that passage, you have to ask yourself, “Where did Paul come up with v. 10?” Paul discerned that Elymas was full of deceit and fraud.
  • In Acts 16, Paul knew that a slave girl had a spirit of divination, not a Spirit of God.Look at Acts 16:16-17. All this girl was doing was saying that Paul and his companions were servants of the Most High God. Wouldn’t every preacher love to have an “Amen” corner? I would. But v. 18 says that Paul discerned there was an evil spirit in her and commanded that it come out.

The spiritual gift of discernment is the supernatural ability to know whether any person, movement, teaching, doctrine, book is from God.

Is there a need for discernment? When you consider that there is still a battle for men’s souls, the answer is a resounding – YES! The battle rages between God and Satan for control of the universe, but the battle is not always out in the open, it’s not always obvious. And it is, “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” (2 Cor. 11:14-15)

In our world of imitation and articialiality (I made that word up) we have things like imitation clothing and artificial plants and trees. Imitation art and artificial jewelry. Imitation tools and artificial sweetener. Imitation food and beverages. Did you know that Velveeta is a cheese product and not real cheese? That’s because the FDA says you can’t call something cheese unless it contains at least 51% cheese. That means Velveeta doesn’t cut it. You can get orange juice, orange drink juice, or orange soda. What’s the difference? Orange juice contains 100% juice. Orange drink contains less than 5% juice, and orange soda has no juice at all. Interesting isn’t it? And who doesn’t love the yummerific chocolaty goodness of a Yoo-Hoo? It’s a chocolate drink, not chocolate milk.

In the spiritual realm, there are also imitation and artificial things. For the Christ there is the antichrist. For real prophets there are false prophets. For true apostles, there are false apostles. For wheat there are tares. For sheep there are wolves in sheep’s clothing. For the Holy Spirit and holy angels there are demons.

So how in the world do you tell the difference? Marketing gurus warn us to, “Beware of imitations.” For many of the things we purchase, labels differentiate the real from the fake. Unfortunately, the counterfeiters know how to fake the labels. The Bible is very clear about the existence of a spirit world. People seem to be more interested in the dark side than the godly side. More than 40 million Americans consult their horoscope available in over 2/3 of our daily and weekly newspapers including our own. There are over 10,000 professional astrologers in the U.S.  Just for comparison, there are about 3000 professional astronomers. Ghost Whisperer and Ghost Hunters are popular TV shows. Harry Potter and the Twilight series of books and movies are some of the most popular entertainment for teens and adults.

There is a spirit world and we need discernment because we may have to confront the affects of the influence of darkness. 1 Timothy 4:1a says, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith,” Fall away from the faith is a phrase in Greek where we get our English word apostate. The meaning is that they would apostatize from the belief of the truths of the gospel. It does not mean that, as individuals, they would have been true Christians; but that there would be a departure from the great doctrines which constitute the Christian faith.

How does that happen? 1 Tim. 4:1b-3 tells us they, “pay[ing] attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.” The bottom line is that, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) That’s why we need discernment.

When faced with the supernatural, you don’t want to mistakenly identify the supernatural with the divine and accept all spirits. At the same time, you don’t want to be overly critical and quench the Spirit of God. 1 John 4:1 says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Supernatural powers are not to be trusted, but are to be tested.

So what’s the gift? Every Christian has a responsibility to be discerning, but some are especially empowered to be discerning. This is the supernatural ability to distinguish between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. A person with this gift can discriminate between that which is raised up by God and that which pretends to be. There is a holy laughter movement along with barking like a dog. We need discernment to know that this is ridiculous. We have no example of Scripture for this. Of course there is Oprah spirituality. Oprah has been called the most influential woman in the world. Unfortunately, she has brought heresy to international attention by having people on her show such as: the Rev. Ed Bacon who focuses on peace, justice and human rights initiatives, including resistance to war, ending the death penalty, and supporting equal rights for gays and lesbians. (When does he equip the saints to do the work of the ministry?) And then there’s Eckhart Tolle. His spirituality is a vague, ethereal blend of spiritual theories and ideas, gleaned from all of the world’s major religions. Eckhart promises the attainment of inner peace and a higher state of consciousness by utilizing methods of meditation that plunge one into the now.  He also says that mankind is in a moment of crisis, in which the race must either achieve the next stage in its evolution by attaining higher consciousness, or destroy itself and the planet.

“Jesus,” said Oprah, “came to show us Christ-consciousness. . . Jesus came to show us the way of the heart. . . Jesus came to say, ‘Look I’m going to live in the body, in the human body and I’m going to show you how it’s done.’  These are some principles and some laws that you can use to live by to know that way” She concluded, “I don’t believe that Jesus came to start Christianity.”

Now we have the likes of Ray Boltz who after revealing he was gay said, “This is what it really comes down to,” he says. “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.” The person with the gift of discernment can spot even the subtlest hint of error. These things sound truthful and there are parts of truth in all of it. That’s what deception is.  There’s just enough truth to make it sound good.

I’m not bashing these folks, I am standing for what the Bible says. Truth is truth even if you don’t like it or it doesn’t make you feel good.

Discernment in biblical things can be a gift, but it’s also required of all Christians. You can be discerning by being a student of the Word. If you know what the truth is, you can spot the fakes. Discernment about someone’s motives and character are a different matter. When Ananias and Saphira sold the land, it was the Holy Spirit that revealed to Peter what their motives really were. The church at Ephesus was commended in Rev. 2:2 because it tested those that called themselves apostles. The church at Pergamus was rebuked because it was following the teachings of Balaam. The church at Thyatira was rebuked for following the teachings of the false prophetess Jezebel.

In the area of teaching, discernment works in two areas – the prophet’s ways and the prophet’s words. Either his life is phony or his teaching is heretical. In the case of Tolle and Oprah, their teaching is heretical. When the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on your door, pay attention to what they’re saying. Check out 1 John 4:2-3. Here’s a quick breakdown: Jesus refers to the man. Christ refers to His anointing, that He is the Messiah. Has come refers to a particular point in time. In the flesh says He took on human nature. 1 John2:23 says, “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father.” Oprah, Tolle, the Mormons, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses all deny the deity of Christ.

All of us can get to a point where we recognize heresy, but what about someone’s character?  Their motives? This is where the gift comes in. Someone with the gift will immediately recognize a problem; it might take the rest of us months or years to recognize it.

This gift is still present in the body today. Are you discerning? Are you gifted in this area? You could use this gift to warn leadership of impending problems. You can expose false teachers and false prophets. This gift is active in the church today and we really need it.


3 thoughts on “Things that make you go, hmmm.

  1. As a former born again Christian, and now a true follower of Christ, I love the teachings of Eckhart Tolle. I find him refreshing!

    So much of what organized religion says about God and Jesus is WRONG!. Let’s talk the gay issue first. I once attended the most conservative Christian church in America. Grace Community Church in Panarama City, ca, where Senior Pastor John MacArthur was just a little to the right Of Hitler and Rush Limbaugh.

    But you know, John said something that I will never forget. He used to yell, PEOPLE, IF SOMETHING IS REALLY IMPORTANT IN THE BIBLE, THEN JESUS WILL SAY IT. AND IF HE REPEATS IT, THEN REALLY TAKE HEED.

    So, WWJD. What did Jesus say in the bible about homosexuals. Look it up kids. Did you find it. Good.

    What Jesus said in the bible about homosexuality is NOTHING! GET IT! So what would Jesus do. Do NOTHING. Say nothing. Jesus would say to those, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. But what does the Authentic, LOL, church do. Exactly. Not very Christlike are they.

    Oh, I know, you are going to quote me Paul. Well guess what. I don’t worship PAUL. I worship JESUS!

    And you can love and follow Jesus, and you can also learn from Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, and even that liberal Billy Graham.

    It’s time to take back America for Jesus and away from those like George Bush, who had the “mind of Christ”, lol. How’d that work out.

    Authentic Christianity is living and following Christ. It’s not judging who is going to heaven and who is going to hell, and voting Republican and hating gays.

    peace out,


    1. Don, I could be wrong but are you yourself homosexual? Not judging, just discerning where you’re coming from. How does that relate to the argument? It seems to be the focus of your argument, although I realize that it’s not the only point you make. So to address those points I would like to address each comment that you make in turn so please be patient.

      First, people who identify themselves as “born again” are not “true followers of Christ”. Come now, even Jesus said that “one must be born again. Simply identifying with that Christ spoken phase is an attribute of a true follower of Christ. If anyone thinks other wise I would love to hear that argument.

      Second, that organized Religion is wrong in it teaching about God and Jesus. Blanket statements with out qualifications say nothing at all and lead to confusion. Seriously, this sentence does not say what is wrong in their teaching. Are you to have me believe that you think everything they teach is wrong? I don’t thing you mean that. I’m sure as a true follower of Christ you must agree on some things. How about the whole He is the Son of God, or that He died on a cross, or that He arose from the grave on the third day. Even different denominations of Christianity agree on at least these three things. If you don’t then the rest of this post will be meaningless to you.

      Third, that you compare John MacArthur with Hitler. Why stoop to such sophomoric tactics unless you feel the need to over exaggerate because you lack any proof, and feel that character assassination is your only way to discredit someone. I would expect better from someone who is true follower of Christ.

      Fourth, that you assume that if Jesus did not specifically talk about a particular sin then
      Jesus is okay with it and mandates that no one else should. Using the same logic I could say that if Jesus never said something was Holy then it’s not Holy. Jesus did say that marriage between man and a woman was designed by God.
      “Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; and large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.’ They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, “for your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.’

      “The disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.’ But he said to them, ‘Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.'” (Matthew 19:1-12)
      Not only did Jesus say that God created the relationship to be between a man and woman but said that there are some that are to be eunuchs, wether by birth or by choice. If you can’t stand to be in a relationship they way God designed then there is no other choice that Jesus gives. Absence of condemnation from Jesus is not enough to say its right, but confirmation from Jesus that there is only one way is enough to say its any other way is wrong.
      What about what Moses wrote about homosexuality. Should we throw away what Moses wrote about Sodom and Gomorrah?
      “They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Lot went outside to mee them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.” (Genesis 19:4-11). Also Moses writes: Homosexuality is sexual activity between members of the same sex. Leviticus 18:22 states, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman, it is an abomination.” (The Hebrew word “abomination” means loathsome, repugnant, abhorrent to God). Leviticus 20:13 prescribes the death penalty for homosexual acts also, “If a male lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”
      Well what did Jesus say about Moses and his writings? Jesus said: “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:46, 47)

      Fifth, quoting anyone else in the Bible is worship of a particular person. Now this statement is just silly. You quoted John MacArthur in your own argument to prove a point. How ignorant would it sound to say that because you have done so, you sir, worship at the alter of John MacArthur. I would make no such argument and you should not either. The Bible says that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; (2 Tim 3:16)

      Sixth, you try to make a comparison between Jesus, Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, and even that liberal Billy Graham. You have two groups of people that do not even remotely agree with each other on their religious beliefs. Billy Graham is the only one in agreement with who Jesus says He is. Sure you can learn about how to clean your home or what to do about autism by listening to Oprah. However this does not make her an authority on the teachings of Christ. And I’m Sure if you wanted to learn how to live in the now, one could listen to Tolle. This does not mean that living in the now is anything remote to living a life conforming to the image of Christ. Especially since neither Oprah nor Tolle agree with the only authority we have on who Christ is and what He taught. If you disagree with the last statement then I’m afraid that I can no longer argue the point further and can not understand how you came to be a true follower of Christ.

      Seventh, your last statement is absolutely true. HOWEVER, you are making an assumption about the thoughts of the persons blog that are wrong. You said, “Authentic Christianity is living and following Christ. It’s not judging who is going to heaven and who is going to hell, and voting Republican and hating gays.”
      I could easily say that “Authentic Christianity is living and following Christ. It’s not simply living your life by how you feel about God, remaining silent while others continue to deny Jesus and His teachings, and voting Democrat and hating people that believe being gay is a sin.”
      Never once did Pastor Ian ever say anything about himself personally sending anyone to hell. If you quote any author of a book it does not make you the author. If I quote “The wages of sin is death” I am no more responsible for their judgment than one who explains that adultery is sin.

      Explaining to someone that they are lost in their sin is a very Christ like thing to do. He did it all the time. And a true follower of Christ would try to be conformed in His image in every way, especially in His actions as well as he eloquently spoken Truth.

      Now that we have discussed all that would you like to discuss what the post was actually about, discernment?

      Thank you,

  2. Things that make you go hmmm. Why do so many who preach against sin, end up being caught doing the exact same thing. Jimmy Swaggert preaching against prostitiution. Ted Haggard preaching against homosexuality. Newt Gingrich preacing on family values while having an affair and leaving his wife for his young secretary. William Bennett writing the book of virtues and being a gambling addict. I could go on for the next week, but you get my drift.

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