I once knew someone that was involved in the ministry. I was actually pleasantly surprised when this person decided to go into ministry work. That was because although this person was brought up in a Christian church, they rarely talked about their faith, and often, in my viewpoint, they didn’t quite exhibit behavior that indicated that they were Christian (sorry if this sounds a little judgmental, it’s not meant to be). The level of their spirituality surprised me when I read the things that they wrote for the congregation, they really sounded like they had a very strong relationship with Christ – and perhaps they did, since we don’t really know what takes place in another’s heart. The buzz words were all there, with all the right phrases, the enthusiasm was there. And, many, if not most, of the members in the church were thrilled and excited about the new ideas that this person brought. But, something didn’t sit right with me, I had this nagging feeling that it was all an act. Eventually it was found out that this ministry worker had been unfaithful to their spouse with another member of the church, and in addition, the ministry worker had been actively making suggestive remarks to other members of the church. The ministry worker was dismissed from the church in disgrace.
That nagging feeling that I had is called discernment. Discernment is the ability to sense when something is not right. When we discern that things are wrong, it may just be a nagging feeling, as was in my case. You can’t quite figure out just what is wrong, you just know that it’s wrong. Or perhaps you are able to “read between the lines” about something that someone has said and attributed to the Lord. It’s not often that I would say that God has given me discerning insight into situations. And, the latest spiritual gift inventory that I took confirms that the gift of discernment is way down on the list – it’s number nine out of twelve. But, in that instance, my feelings that something was not right in this situation, was dead on.
Jesus, himself, warned us when he said “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” (Matthew 24:10-11, ESV). I looked at John MacArthur’s notes on regarding the verse and he states that those verses suggest that those who fall away may never have been believers at all. Now I happen to really like the things that John MacArthur has to say in his commentaries, but I think that statement may be overly judgmental. Especially since not all of us have that gift of discernment. Satan parades around as an angel of light, and his followers supply just enough truth to make whatever they present seem like it’s the truth.
New Christians may fall victim to this since more easily. But, Satan’s ploys are slick and even well seasoned Christians, like you and I, can also fall prey to schemes. If we are approached by someone, and they tell us that the words they speak are from God, we need to be able to discern whether these words are true. So what do we do? We turn to God. We turn to God’s Word. Look up what the person spoke over you, see it it lines up with what God says in His Word. God will never ever contradict Himself.
“But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.” (Job 32:8, ESV)
“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11, ESV)