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Amy is co-host and blogger for both Stand Up for the Truth and Naomi's Table, two ministries that give her the opportunity to write and talk about Jesus all day long. She has written, produced and broadcast in the realm of television and radio news, magazine business journals and marketing materials. She continues her freelance work as a writer and social media consultant.

Five keys to Discernment

Tiny Snake (In The Sun)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (ESV)

These days deception is getting harder to spot. It’s been repackaged to look cute, friendly and humble.  Knowing who God is through His Word is vital for discerning between Truth and “almost-truth,” which is really no truth at all. Yet many people who read the Bible can still be deceived. So we must test everything we hear, read, watch and “feel” against the truth God gave us once and for all. What does it mean to “test the spirits,” and how do we do this? Here are some thoughts from Andrew Strom:

THE 5 KEYS to DISCERNMENT
by Andrew Strom

Some people say that knowing Scripture is the only real key to
discernment that we need. And yes – Scripture is very important –
especially in exposing false doctrine. But it is not only doctrines
or teachings that are the greatest danger today. It is just as likely
to be false `anointings´ or spirits – perhaps even “lying signs and
wonders”. And we may need more than just a good understanding
of Scripture to spot these things. Remember, a lot of the people
caught up in today’s “manifestations mania” actually know their
Bible quite well. And yet they could still be deceived. So what
are the things that can help us avoid deception in similar situations?

Some of the most basic keys to discernment that God has shown
me are as follows:
(1) Know your HOLY GOD intimately. (-When you have seen His
glory, His holiness and His love – by drawing close to Him in prayer -
then you can usually see through any “counterfeits” because you
know the ‘real thing’ so well).
(2) Know your Bible. It is very important to be able to spot teachings
that are either extra-biblical or directly opposed to what the
Scriptures
teach. However, it is important to remember that the Scribes and
Pharisees were extremely learned in the Scriptures and yet they
missed the very Messiah that was prophesied! So knowing the
Bible is important – especially for doctrinal issues – but we need
to be able to “discern the spirits” also.
(3) Be a “lover of truth”. This is very crucial. Are you someone who
will actually stand up for TRUTH – even against the crowd? Or do
you remain silent even when you feel something is very wrong?
(4) Purity of heart and Humility. Many deceptions only appeal to
us because there is something inside us that “wants” to believe
them. They are seductive because of darkness and wrong motives
in our own lives. We must search our hearts and root these out.
(5) The ‘inner witness’ of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to NEVER
over-ride this “still small voice”, as it will save us from deception
again and again. (-More on this below).

Did you know that even an unbeliever can often spot a ‘con-man’
or a snake-oil salesman? They get a kind-of “gut feeling” about
such things. And they are often right! In fact, they are often less
gullible than the Christians! (-Because we are told in the church-
“Do not judge”, ‘Touch not the Lord’s anointed’, “You have a critical
spirit if you do not join in”, etc, etc. This is the very reason why
Christians are often the most gullible and easily deceived). We
need to realize that the Bible says to “Test the spirits” and warns
very strongly that the Last Days will be a time of “seducing spirits”
and great deception. So how can we become more alert to these things?

I believe that God has placed within every human being at least a
measure of an inner “warning system” to protect us from being
easily deceived – just as He has given us all a conscience. It is
something that He has built into every one of us, in His mercy. (I
guess a lot of it is simply `common sense´). However, Christians
should have an even greater advantage in this area, because we
have the “inner witness” of the Holy Spirit, and the `still small
voice´ of the Lord speaking to us every day.

But what I have found again and again with people who give
themselves over to some form of deception is that they often
“override” these alarm bells. They go against their ‘better
judgement’. They ignore the little voice deep inside them that is
telling them that there is something wrong. Christians do this all
the time. That is how they get themselves involved in such foolish
deceptions.

This may all sound very obvious, but I am telling you, this one
basic area alone could wipe out half the deception in the church
right now. If only people would listen to these internal ‘alarm bells’
and act with common sense, half of it would be gone overnight.

The Bible is very clear that the Last Days are a time of such
widespread deception that it would “deceive if possible the very
elect”. It also shows that much of this deception will arise from
WITHIN the church – luring believers with “itching ears”. Do we see
evidence of this kind of thing taking place today? Certainly! In fact,
some of it is at a level that is truly shocking. And yet it is all
accepted as perfectly “normal” by many Christians.

One of the problems, of course, is that those who bring in these
deceptions are ‘trusted’ by the congregation. They have a reputation
and they put across some very convincing-sounding arguments
and surround the whole thing with Biblical terminology. And thus
the deception is harder to spot. (After all, if it were not “deceptive”
then it would not be called ‘deception’!) People see spiritual power
operating and assume that it “must be God”. But this is a very
dangerous assumption to make in these days.

As I said in a previous article, there is also a lot of “peer pressure”
involved as well. For if everyone in the church is getting into
something, then shouldn’t you just ignore those little ‘alarm bells’
and jump right in? This is what is happening all the time in the
church right now. And some preachers are very good at making
people feel that they are ‘hindering the Spirit’ if they do not get
involved.

So how do you avoid being deceived in this way?

Very simply, you do not go along to these meetings in a “gullible”
frame of mind. And you do not allow yourself to be carried along
with the crowd. You listen carefully to the preaching and make
sure that it truly is Biblical. Then you watch the ministry happening
down the front of the meeting and discern whether it really is of
God or not. You do not “override” any feelings of unease or any
‘alarm bells’ going off inside you. And you do not allow yourself to
be swayed by ‘peer pressure’. Even if the whole church is getting
into something, it does not mean that you have to. If you do not
feel quite “right” about it then DO NOT GET INVOLVED. If you
need to, make some excuse and get out of there! You do not have
to get involved in things that do not feel spiritually “right” to you.

A lot of people today will go down the front to get something
“imparted” to them by almost every visiting speaker – almost as a
matter of course. I tell you, in today’s climate this can be a very
dangerous thing to do. In fact, some of this ‘impartation’ business
has very flimsy backing in Scripture. Who knows what on earth
these preachers are imparting? And who knows where they picked
it up? I tell you, deceiving spirits are commonplace today, and
I believe they are being imparted to Christians on a large scale.

Let me give you an example. I received the following account from
a preacher in England recently:
“There were about 20 fellow ministers all gathered together in one
large room at a local minister’s house. We were introduced to the
special guest… The next 3 hours were the weirdest three hours I
have ever had to endure, we started listening to [her] testimony
which seemed very powerful, next she spoke of the times that she
meets with the Angel Gabriel and other spiritual beings, next we
moved on to portals between this world and the next and then finally
to how she was going to open up a portal to Heaven in the room that
we were all in. Now things started to happen, really crazy things
and strange noises… As [she] moved around the room ministering
to individual people they were crashing to the ground, bouncing up
and down, running around as if on fire and making all sorts of sounds.
When she came to me she had no prophetic words for me and nothing
happened to me so she just moved on. My Vineyard friend was the
first to crash to the floor. Since that day his church has taken on a
different guise, it is not the same church any more.”

Now, you should know that this ‘guest speaker’ was one of the very
people I mentioned in my “Naming Names” article. I believe that
this is a true account, because it is very similar to what I myself
observed happening under the same ministry. In fact, what I saw
was people making involuntary “bat”-like movements all over the
building and an eery ‘wailing’ noise filling the air. It was truly
awful.

Now, it should not surprise us that there are strong deceptions or
“powerful delusions” around today, for this is exactly what the
Scriptures predict will happen. All the way through the New
Testament we are warned of these days – over and over again.

However, one of the problems we have is that God actually does
‘strange and unusual’ things Himself. (-Think of the Book of Acts,
for instance). So we cannot simply throw out everything “unusual”.
Angelic visitations DO HAPPEN. Strange prophetic signs DO
OCCUR. And being a strong Charismatic Christian myself, I expect
to see believers speaking in tongues and moving in the gifts of the
Holy Spirit as well. Now, there is no doubt that many of these
things could be termed ‘unusual’ phenomena. So how do we tell
the difference?

Well, God never goes against His own holy character. Or against
Scripture. And as I often say, we may see Him do ‘unusual’ things
but I believe we need to draw the line at “weird” or ‘ugly’. Some of
the deception that is around right now has a ‘touchy-feely’ New Age
sense about it. Remember that the New Age movement majors on
“inner healing” and unusual spiritual experiences. I do not believe
in ‘guided visualisation’ or anything of that kind. And neither am I
very fond of the writings of Catholic mystics or the like.

However, I have personally found it very helpful to immerse myself
in the writings of past Revivalists and the accounts of great moves
of God. A lot of the men and women involved in these Revivals lived
very close to God and knew Him intimately. They knew His holiness,
they knew His glory, and they knew His love. And it is enormously
helpful to one’s discernment to immerse oneself in these writings,
I have found. I would recommend this to all Christians everywhere.

If you have been touched or involved in any way with manifestations
or experiences that you think may not have been from God, then
I urge you to utterly RENOUNCE (with your mouth, but also from
the depths of your heart and soul) any links or involvement with
that experience or ‘anointing’. Please do not put this off, my friends.
Some of this stuff is extremely dangerous. RENOUNCE IT today.

Original article here

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7 Responses to “Five keys to Discernment”

  1. J #

    These 5 points are good points for me to remember. I have printed this article off so I can look at it from time to time.
    Point 3 really has hit home too me. I've see some things I didn't agree with and pointed out my feelings only to get shot down. Now I have decided to remain silent if I see something wrong that I don't agree with. I realize that I have to answer to God for everything I do and say but at what point.

    April 25, 2013 at 7:50 AM Reply
  2. Sharon W. #

    Appreciate the post…many good and true things stated. So glad that Andrew mentioned once again the part on "peer pressure". I believe that this is one of the main ways our adversary tries to take advantage of us and if our steps are not corrected, it can very easily lead us down the path to a "spirit of error".

    It usually starts when we want to be liked, accepted and loved by others, so we go along to get along. This in and of itself is not always necessarily wrong…..How enjoyable is it to be around those who are constantly difficult to get along with?

    But if we were more honest with ourselves & most of all with God, many times it's about what we find in [John 12:42,43]…"they love praise from men more than praise from God". When we look into the surrounding passages of John, what happened as a result of those who persisted in rejecting the Truth?….they could not believe.
    Just as Andrew mentioned above…what happens when you continue to override "these alarm bells"? When you continue to quench the inner voice of the Holy Spirit?….a sure path to some form of deception or error.

    April 25, 2013 at 8:50 AM Reply
  3. Darrel #

    Alarming! a self-professed "Charismatic Christian" speaking about deception and the need for discernment. This may be the first known double oxymoron on record. It seems to have totally passed Mr. Strom that he himself is one of the deceived that he describes. One of the biggest problems in the church today is that all who profess Christ to be their Savior are accepted as such inspite of the fact that there is little or no evidence to support their claim. Another deception that has many followers is the "still small voice" that people are told is the actual voice of God speaking to them. Hebrews 1:1-4 is completely ignored so as to justify this belief. Believing such an inner voice is that of God opens one to many hurtful deceptions and leads to spiritual elitism that is found thoughout the "charismatic" world.

    April 26, 2013 at 9:34 AM Reply
    • Sharon W. #

      Darrel, I did not read in Andrew's post claiming to hear the actual "audible" voice of God. Is that what you believe he has written about? Why do you say Mr. Strom is deceived?
      He mentioned about the "INNER WITNESS" of the Holy Spirit…the still small voice of the Lord. I believe Andrew was using a "figure of speech", not a literal one.

      There are many scriptures which explain the ministry of the Holy Spirit who works in us and indwells within us . John 14:26 tells us the Holy Spirit teaches and brings to remembrance.The Holy Spirit is our Advocate, Counselor, Comforter, Guide and Helper [John 14:16]. The One who convicts us of sinful choices or leads us to all Truth within our heart….our spiritual hearts/our inner being.

      April 26, 2013 at 11:24 AM Reply
  4. Darrel #

    If Mr. Strom was not referring to an audible voice he would be unique to his self-professed "charismatic-christian" title. If it were a figure of speech that he was using, he should spell it out, for most (perhaps all) who use the phrase "still small voice" are referring to an audible voice.
    Mr. Strom's recall of the meeting with twenty other "ministers" pretty much says all that needs to be said about Mr. Strom's ability to discern. If he were a man of discernment as he wishes to teach others to be, he would never have endured the three hours of weird but would have stopped it dead in it's tracks or at least got up and walked out after a stearn rebuke of the false teacher that was allowed to speak to them.
    I have yet to encounter a charimatic who actually preached the Word of God and got the Gospel right. They have a gospel, a jesus christ, and meet in what they call a church, but upon closer inspection they are found to be false prophets, giving forth another gospel-Gal.1:6-9-that cannot save those who hear it.
    May it please the Lord to expose the evil and glorify His Name.

    April 26, 2013 at 11:53 AM Reply
    • Sharon W. #

      Yes Darrel, I agree that there is much craziness and deception going on in Charismatic churches, but I find that it's going on in many churches, in one form or another, not just the Charismatic.

      Not long ago, I was talking to one young man who claimed to hear the "voice of God". My first response with him was to get clarification…."Did you mean an audible voice?" When he said "yes", then I knew I needed to correct him.

      As to why Mr. Strom endured 3hrs. of weird? I guess it's best to maybe ask him.
      I know for myself, there were times I endured weird and times I got up and walked out or spoke up or never returned. Was my difficulty with lack of discernment? No, just by the fact that I knew something wasn't right, shows discernment. More often than not….it was a lack of courage or boldness. Or, I let fear grip me or I lacked trust in God.
      I believe the stories of the disciples that surrounded Jesus during His ministry on earth can reveal much about our own human shortcomings & failures.

      April 26, 2013 at 12:46 PM Reply
  5. Heather #

    Jesus told the Saducees they erred in questioning Him because they did not know the Scriptures.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:58 AM Reply

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