“DO YOU OPERATE IN SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT?”
I meet Christians who excel in their love for God but in the area of discernment and detecting Satan’s devices they remain easy prey to powers of darkness. Though these are sincere believers they are virtually defenseless in protecting themselves from deception and deceit. This cannot be the will of God. Spiritual Gifts, including the gift of “discerning of spirits,” are available to all of us. The Apostle Paul explained this availability when he wrote the Roman believers, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established.” Romans 1:8-11
Theoretically, what some Christians observe in daylight hours, they recognize well. When darkness falls, they are helpless as anyone else, easily victimized by "those who lie in wait to deceive". Ephesians 4:14. When the thief comes to "kill, steal, and destroy," some believers are quickly exploited. John 10:10. Deception tears good people apart. Families, individuals, even churches, frequently have long histories of wrong decision-making. This cannot be the will of God. He is not honored when the world makes fools of His children. God has provided adequate protection against this hazard through the Holy Spirit's gift of "discerning of spirits". I Corinthians 12:10. But this gift does not operate automatically; it has to be sought, nourished, and lovingly developed. A casual attitude toward it will produce superficial results; an earnest seeking of it will bring remarkable discretion and judgement. The choice is ours.
In the New Testament day, the word "discern" was a Greek medical term which meant "to cut and look below the surface". With this spiritual gift in operation, one does not merely rely on things as they appear but may know them as they really are. Yes, it is possible, for believers to operate in the revelations of the Holy Spirit. To Scripturally illustrate the operation of "discerning of spirits", I need to compare quotations of Isaiah 11:1-3, from both the old and New King James Bibles. You will observe that these two versions use very different language in translating the same word. Here is a partial quote from the original King James:
"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him ... and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord, And he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears." Isaiah 11:1-3.
Where the Old King James says, "Shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord," the New King James says, "His delight is in the fear of the Lord." "Quick understanding" and "delight" seem to be conflicting translation but both come from the same Hebrew word roo-akh which means “to breathe or smell” – “to perceive by smelling”. Which version is correct? Both are correct. The original King James, instead of referring to the act of inhaling, refers to the result of inhaling. In other words, the “roo-akh” makes the one inhaling to have “quick understanding”. This provides an astounding revelation about "discerning of spirits". It denotes a sense which is independent both of sight or hearing. and anciently was used of a sheep dog who could smell the presence of a wolf in the dark. Spiritually, roo'akh corresponds to the Holy Spirit's gift of "discerning of spirits", that is, the ability to recognize beings which may not be seen or heard.
For example: In ancient Israel, sheep herding was a vital part of life. During the day, it was easy for the shepherd to see a wolf and protect the flock. Nighttime was a different story; when darkness fell, the shepherd was powerless. Not so with the sheep dog. Even in the dark, when he could not "judge after the sight of his eyes or reprove after the hearing of his ears", the dog could smell a wolf. It was this usage of "roo-akh" which Isaiah said would typify the future Messiah. When the Scripture says, "The Spirit of the Lord shall ... make him of quick understanding," literally, "quick to smell", it means the Messiah or anyone anointed by the Holy Spirit would be able to "smell a wolf in the dark". That is the clearest, most poignant illustration of the Holy Spirit's gift of discerning of spirits that you will find anywhere in Scripture. It also means that those who operate in this endowment do not find themselves defenseless simply because night has fallen. Do I want this endowment? Absolutely! Can I have it? Jesus said, “Everyone who asks, receives.” The Apostle James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith.” 1:4-6.
Moses Lays His Hands Upon Joshua
“The Lord said to Moses: "Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him,” Numbers 27:18. “Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom , for Moses had laid his hands on him.” Deuteronomy 34:9. “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth.” Isaiah 11:1-4
Jesus Announces The Prophecy’s Fulfillment
“Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:16-22.
Besides exposing things that are evil and dangerous, the gift of discerning spirits also discloses the good and beautiful. Soon after my baptism in the Spirit in the late 1970's, I returned to a congregation in Florida where I felt isolated and in need of friends. One morning I went to a pastors' meeting in West Palm Beach and then to a large cafeteria for lunch. As I sat alone, watching people enter the dining room from the serving line, a young man appeared whom I had never seen before. In that instant, the Holy Spirit spoke, "He is your brother. I want you to meet him." The same moment, I was able to discern a godly presence upon him. When I finished my meal, I went to his table, asked if I could join him, and said, "The Lord told me you and I were 'brothers'." He gripped my hand, "Praise God!," He said, "I am glad to meet you!" Instantly, we experienced a fellowship as deep as if we had been friends for years. While we talked, the Holy Spirit told me to show him a business card in my pocket. It was one that another pastor had given me at the meeting a few hours before. Removing it, I handed it to him, "Do you know this man?," I asked. He looked and said, "Yes!, he is my prayer-partner and brother in the Lord. Where did you get his card?!" Briefly, I explained.
The significance of that event in the cafeteria was not about the man at the table, the card, or the person who gave it. Rather, the Holy Spirit was showing me how His gifts could bring new friends into my life, bless, protect, and direct me even in the smallest ways. He was demonstrating that I need never be afraid, feel alone, or think I was helpless. As with Philip and the Ethiopian, Acts 8:26-39, He could cause men to meet in the middle of the desert or in crowded cafeterias. Please hear this: Had that man been a "wolf" whom I was planning to trust in some vital way, the Holy Spirit could also have shown me that. In California one time, while praying for a man whose office was on Wall Street in New York City, the Holy Spirit accurately gave me names of two men in the New York office who were dangerous to his business. I had never heard of either of them but the man confirmed that both of them were there and he had already distrusted them. I am not saying that we will function perfectly in any of the gifts; I certainly do not. At best, we are imperfect vessels. What I am saying is that we can function much better than we are presently doing. Nor do we seek gifts of our own choosing. We seek the Giver, then we are free to tell Him the areas in which we feel our greatest need. Let me ask you a personal question: Have there been times in your life when you made imprudent, costly mistakes, because you depended on your eyes and ears and not your heart? The answer, of course, is yes. We are all guilty. Were there other times when you had a deep, deep "sense of warning" which you ignored? Again, all of us must admit that we have. Had you known that God had a provision to protect you from many of those blunders, would you have accepted it?
Before you answer, let me explain that "discerning of spirits", is only part of the Holy Spirit's package. Acts 1:4-8. I Corinthians 12-14. There are other endowments which come with it. All are wonderful, good, precious, blessings from Heaven. Even so, some well-intended, but wrongly motivated Christians scorn them. Not every church or denomination believes in the "package": The baptism in the Holy Spirit. Many churches have been victimized by deception, stripped of power, left in a spiritually-inert state --- but still adamantly insist nothing is wrong. Year after year, they continue their downward slide. Seemingly, they can see everything except the presence of this crippling spirit in themselves. In fighting spiritual gifts, we Christians merely wound ourselves. God says these gifts are real. More importantly, He wants us to have them. They are part of Jesus' provision for the Church. In our denial, we leave ourselves wide open for more deception by the wolf. Acts 20:29. If you want spiritual gifts, they are yours for the asking --- provided you will love them, treasure them, nourish, and encourage them. That requires submission to the total New Testament message. It requires time in prayer, fasting, communion with the Holy Spirit. Pride, ego, self-seeking, carnal ambition, must go. Turn loose, go with God. You will be glad you did. Genesis 1:1. Chas
MEN OF SCIENCE — MEN OF GOD!
DR. David Block is Professor of Applied Mathematics and Astronomy at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. Besides two Bachelor degrees, Dr. Block holds a Master of Science in relativistic astrophysics and a Doctor of Philosophy in Astronomy. Dr. Block is a world-renowned scientist, a consultant at the European Southern Observatory near Munich, West Germany, and the Institute of Astronomy, University of Hawaii.
"Both of my parents’ Orthodox Jewish families have their roots in Lithuania. And we certainly kept to all the traditions as well: My mother would light the Shabbos candles and we would have a traditional Shabbos meal together. I went to schul both on Friday night and Saturday. We kept Pesach. I fasted on Yom Kippur. I was bar mitzvah. We were practicing Jews. And I did all the things expected of a good Jewish boy. Actually, I felt that I was doing the best that I knew how to live out my Jewish faith ... While a student, I also became quite friendly with Lewis Hurst, then Professor of genetics and of medicine. He had a great interest in astronomy, if only from an amateur point of view, and he asked if I would give him individual lessons.
Week by week, Lewis and I would sit around the table and I would discuss the complexities of the cosmos with him and also explain fundamental terms in astronomy such as "black holes" and "quasars." It was a full but private course I was giving him. The friendship grew and I started sharing my feelings about the cosmos with him--that it is so beautiful, that God is so creative, that he’s made this stunning world. I even shared my doubts with him. ‘Are we,’ as Shakespeare said, ‘just a fleeting shadow to appear and then disappear’" What’s the raison d’etre for being here? Is there a Designer out there?’ Lewis listened thoughtfully and then spoke, "David, there is an answer to all your questions ... Would you be willing to meet with a dear friend of mine, the Reverend Mr. John Spyker?
"My parents had taught me to seek answers where they may be found and so I consented to meet with this Christian minister. Of course, in my heart, when I had put my telescope on Saturn, and saw it in all its majesty and splendor--its rings simply encircling that globe--I just knew that there was a Great Designer. In fact, I knew there must be a personal God. The Reverend Mr. Spyker read to me from the New Testament ...
"Suddenly it all became very clear to me: Y’shua had fulfilled the messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as where the Messiah would be born and how he was to die. While my people were still waiting for the Messiah, I suddenly knew that I knew that I knew that I knew that Jesus was the Messiah and is the Messiah. And I surrendered my heart and my soul to him that day. That was in October of 1976 ...
"It might seem strange to some that a scientist and a Jew could come to faith in Jesus. But faith is never a leap into the dark. It is always based on evidence ... As a scientist, I always think logically and I reason things out. That was how my whole search for God began. I looked through my telescope at Saturn and said to myself, Isn’t there a great God out there? And when I studied relativity, relativistic astrophysics, cosmology and all these beautiful areas of mathematics, they pointed me to the fact that this whole universe is masterfully made, finely-tuned and controlled by the Great Designer. The logical next step was to want to meet this Designer face-to-face ... The "Big Bang" was not a cosmological firecracker. As the physicist Freeman Dyson put it, the universe seemed to be acting in anticipation for the appearance of mankind (italics added) ... In fact, leading evolutionists, such as Dobzhansky and others have agreed that there has not been enough time for mankind to have assembled spontaneously within the time span of our universe ... (Italics added)
"We’ve astronomical evidence that demands a verdict. And I’ve examined this evidence, not from an emotional point of view, but from a logical point of view. "We’ve got historical evidence that Jesus, the Jew, lived and died and rose again from the dead.
When Albert Einstein was asked by a reporter if he accepted the historical existence of Jesus, he responded, ‘Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.’
"To the person who is seriously seeking today I would say, read the gospels from an objective point of view, as Albert Einstein did. As Isaac Newton did. Don’t let your emotions override or cloud your decision. Seek after truth and don’t let anyone make up your mind for you. It is far too important. It does matter what you believe." --- Dr. David Block