When I first began to learn about Jesus Christ (having come out of a Catholic upbringing), I was cautious. I didn't want to be fooled again and brought into yet another religious delusion.
I was learning about the Lord through a Bible Study hosted by a woman at my job and I also began to listen to taped sermons from her husband, who is a pastor. Although I had never heard the truth of the Gospel before, somehow within me I knew I was hearing the truth. There was some inner witness that what I was hearing was true. Although I didn't understand that at the time, I now know that it was the Holy Spirit witnessing with my spirit about the truths of the Word of God as He began to draw me to the Father (John 6:44).
The first time I met the pastor, I told him, "I don't believe everything you say just because you say it. I read the word for myself to see if it is true." He responded, "That's good. How has it been so far?" I answered warily, "You have been okay...so far." He got a good chuckle out of my comments, but I was dead serious.
"This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth." I John 5:6
I was reminded of this interaction recently due to a conversation with a commenter on this blog. The commenter implied that they had been in agreement with a minister at one time. Then they heard something reportedly said by that minister, causing them to consider that the minister was a false teacher.
Only one question stood out to me for that poster, "Where was the witness of the Spirit in their life?"
It was not of concern for me really whether the poster thought the minister was false or not. What was of concern was that there didn't seem to be any inclination to find and honor truth. If the Holy Spirit had once confirmed for them that this minister was preaching the truth, then why were they willing to so casually set that witness aside? And if the Holy Spirit had never confirmed for them the truth of these teachings, then why were they following them?
Again, this is not about man, for no man is perfect. It is about seeking to be led of truth in all things. The standard for a Christian must be the witness of the Holy Spirit. If not, we will fall into error every time.
"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered." Proverbs 28:26
We do not know our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9, Hebrews 3:12). As such, we will not know what is truly motivating us apart from the light of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 16:23; Luke 9:55). We can fool ourselves into thinking we are serving the Lord, but really be moving away from Him. This is why we cannot be led by what we feel, what we think, or what we want. The things which come out from us (words, actions, etc.) will be a product of what is in our hearts...whether clean or unclean (Proverbs 4:23; James 3:8-18).
Unclean spirits do not like to be found out. They hide in darkness, which is why darkness is often a cover for sin, particularly for Christians (Ephesians 5:8; II Corinthians 6:14; I Thessalonians 5:5; I Peter 2:9). One can outwardly appear to be a Christian, saying all of the right "code words" and posting Scriptures, but in the darkness of our hearts, what is really present?
This is what God desires to deal with, if we would but submit to His work (Psalm 51:6; Jeremiah 17:10; Matthew 23:27-28; Luke 16:15; Hebrews 4:12-13). When we fail to submit to that inner cleansing, we have no choice but to run to a religious delusion. We will deceive our own selves about our condition and God will leave us right there until we repent & submit to Him, so that He can take us further on the path He has for us.
Not only do we not know our own hearts, but others do not know their own hearts. There may be times when the Lord will show you that an unclean spirit is at work in another person. Even when confronted, the person may deny or justify, claiming that such is not the case. Will you dismiss the word that the Spirit has given you or will you hold to the truth, even while praying for the other person to be set free? There may even be times He tells you to break fellowship with someone because they do not want to give up an unclean spirit (I Corinthians 5:1-13). Will we stand by what He shows us, even when it means us making unpopular or hard decisions? Do we treasure God's acceptance over the acceptance of man or are we still seeking to be men pleasers (Galatians 1:10)?
As we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, we must be sincere enough before the Lord to examine what is really in our hearts. By His Spirit, He will search our inner most parts so that we can truly be vessels of honor.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24
God has a Path for You To Follow
What if God calls you to go and do what He has not called from anyone else around you? Will you still obey and follow Him? We must be able to discern God's voice in order to know these things as no one else can speak them to us (John 10:27; Acts 17:28; Colossians 3:3).
I often think of Ananias, when God commanded him to go lay hands on Saul so that he might receive again his sight (Acts 9:10-16). At this point, Saul was a great persecutor of the Church, attempting to imprison and sanctioning the death of many who named the name of Jesus Christ.
Scripture doesn't record that God made an announcement to the general church body that Saul was to be converted. Yet in a vision, God gave this message to Ananias. I am sure there could have been questions from other believers about what Ananias was setting out to do and whether he was really being led by the Lord, and maybe not all agreed. But he went anyway. Sometimes, the path God has for you is for you to walk alone because he is developing your faith in & dependence upon Him.
This is not to say that God cannot speak through people, for He surely can. However, even then we must seek the confirmation of the Spirit to know what is truly from the Lord and what is not. Years ago, God was leading me to minister to a particular young woman who was in sin. He had me working on a series of articles which would help to open her eyes and draw her closer to Him. However, a brother in the Lord rebuked me for not confronting the woman and demanding that she change. Out of a false sense of submitting to authority, I followed this brother's advise and as a result destroyed the testimony the Lord was using me to build with this young woman. It matters not what this brother intended in his rebuke. All that matters is that I rejected the leading of the Spirit in order to adhere to man's impressions of what I should do.
The word from others - including fellow brothers & sisters in the Lord - may not be God's word for you...and we must know the difference We must never expect any man or woman to do what the Holy Spirit alone can do - be the purveyor of all that is true. There are various men/women of God to whom I listen, but I always run everything I hear by the Holy Spirit.
If we are to follow God, then we must get used to knowing and heeding His voice as it is He alone who directs our path.
In These Particular Days, Deception is Rampant
|Article from Gay Christian Watch|
We need to make sure that the "spirit" we are receiving is actually the Holy Spirit. For example, the Scriptures warn specifically of "silly women" in the latter days, ever learning but not able to actually submit to the truth because they are filled with diverse lusts (II Timothy 3:6-7). Yet, these same are being raised up as "teachers" and "ministers" of the faith today, leading others down the path of damnation. They have a "spirit", but it is a false religious spirit.
One example of this is the recent testimony of Juanita Bynum where she acknowledges her previous life of sin, including fornication, drugs, and lesbianism. She then uses these experiences to promote her "inspirational" gospel about the "power of purpose." How does she move forward from trauma, tragedy, abuse, and sin? Was it through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ? No. It was by finding her "purpose & destiny" in learning that she has the power to change her own life.
If asked what spirit inspires her, Bynum would surely say that it is the Holy Spirit - and she may even believe this to be true - but it is not (II Corinthians 11:4). How do I know this? By the message she preaches. If we do not yield to the Holy Spirit in repentance from sin, then God will send us a strong delusion whereby we fall for a lie (II Thessalonians 2:10-12). This is where every religious delusion comes from, even in the world of Christendom.
Am I criticizing Bynum for being honest about her sin? Not at all. Do I mean to imply that the Lord cannot deliver even from lesbianism or any other sin? Of course not! He is much more than able to deliver us from all sin. However, I am trying to point out that - as the Scriptures say - if we do not turn from and on those perverse lusts that dwell in man's heart, then we will turn to a false "Christianity" as a cloak for our sin and ultimately deny Christ.
The telltale sign of one still filled with unrepentant lust is that they will not receive the truth, but will instead run to religious activity. They do not want the truth because they are not yet through with sin. I am not speaking about having issues in sin that you are seeking to overcome. I am talking about deciding to stay in sin and not being willing to turn from it.
You don't have to know what is going on "in the dark". Simply examine the word being spoken. Is the person promoting prosperity, kingdom living, self-empowerment, and a "purpose driven life" centered on our existence in this world? Then they are trying to pamper the flesh and its lusts. Why? Because they still love themselves.
Instead of denying self, they want to exalt it, being consumed with self-love and a selfish perspective on life (which is the essence of the sodomite nature). This is particularly an issue with the spirit of homosexuality and lesbianism because such is the fullest expression of self-love. Instead of turning from this sodomite nature, many are taking it to the pulpits (in churches and on the Internet) as they become self-proclaimed teachers of "the word". It is a road to reprobation that every single individual is on according to Romans Chapter 1, unless they have been born again in Christ so that God can renew the spirit of our minds. Even after salvation, we must continue to deny self or we cannot be a disciple of Christ (Luke 14:26-27; John 12:25).
Be careful who you receive from in terms of those speaking for the Lord. We cannot be in rebellion against God, disobeying what He puts His finger on in our lives while jumping up to be His "minister" or "prophetess". Can God do a "quick work" in delivering us from the bondages of sin? Yes, but such is directly tied to our willingness to submit to that work.
We must all seek to become vessels fit for the Master's use through sanctification from sin as empowered by His Spirit (II Timothy 2:19-22). In this way, we can be sure that the spirit within us is in fact the Holy Spirit of God and He will likewise confirm those who are speaking for Him (Acts 5:32).
We NEED the Witness of the Holy Spirit
We must never forsake seeking the witness of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Such witness is needed in order to:
- Acknowledge even what is in our own hearts so that we can turn and be cleansed from evil
- See what spirits are in operation around us so that we can be protected from deception and be an effective witness/intercessor to those who are bound
- Know the path that He has laid out for us so that we can fulfill His purposes (not our own) in this life
- Discern which spirit we are of by knowing God's voice from the voice of the enemy which aims to lead us away from Christ
In the Wilderness of Sin, many whom God brought out of Egypt died unable to receive the promises, except for Joshua & Caleb. Why? Because they possessed a different spirit (Numbers 14:24). While the others still nurtured the spirit of the world, Joshua & Caleb were filled with the Spirit of God. As a result, they were able to possess the land. Be honest before the Lord, and He will show Himself faithful to do all that He has promised in your life as He transforms, fills, and leads you by His Spirit.
You may also benefit by reading the following from David Wilkerson Ministries: A Different Spirit