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Discerning of Spirits: What it is and why it’s important to your local church body, and the church-at-large

The level of doctrinal Christian error and demonic activity in this present world is staggering. The spiritual war is cosmic and invisible. (Ephesians 6:12). But recently someone followed my blog on WordPress. In doing my diligence I perused her blog to see what they were about. What I found absolutely horrified me before the Lord, as much as it worried me for the woman’s soul.

The tagline to her blog is –

The writing of the Holy Bible continues, published by G.ROY. God dictated unto me the words coming out of His mouth through the use of his prophets and I wrote them out in this blog (web log of God) for the instruction of us whom ends of the world are come. Sometimes some highlights are thrown in to help people understand the context by which the prophecy was worded out. I am not deciding what is to be written and called a prophecy. God speaks, I write word for word what was said!

Immediately one praises the Lord for His patience in not doing to this writer as He did to Ananias & Sapphira, (Acts 5:1-11) or Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:7) for profaning His holiness. The unmitigated pride and deep demonic delusion evident in that blog’s About section is stunning. And yet there’s more.

The above is a screen shot of that particular blog’s archives. The earliest writings that are dated before blogs were invented were speeches taped on analog recordings and later transcribed to the blog when blogs came along. This lady has been actively working for satan for a long time.

It probably started slowly enough with her. One day perhaps the woman did as Henry Blackaby urges in his teachings, and opened her ears to listen for the voice of God. Or maybe it started as some of today’s younger female false teachers teach, to tune in for that “still small voice” and the “whisper”. Or maybe the woman decided as Beth Moore constantly says, (among other statements of this kind) that she “hears the Lord in my heart.” Maybe it was like the author of Jesus Calling Sarah Young explained, she yearned for more besides the Bible, and set out to actively seek a word.

Beth Moore began volunteering to teach a Sunday School class in 1984, started her incorporated, public ministry in 1998, and in 2002 she wrote a book called When Godly People do Ungodly Things. In the Preface she unknowingly states that she got the book directly by channeling it from an otherworldly force, a force she thought was the Holy Spirit. The satanic grip upon Moore has been there for decades but people either didn’t discern it or didn’t want to. Her slide away from biblical Christianity has been relentless ever since, and sadly inevitable. But the clues were there all along for anyone to see. It’s devastating that they weren’t picked up and dealt with during the period 1984-1998, before she began to teach nationally and her errors were local and contained- and possibly ‘repentable’. At some point the teacher becomes encased in their error like the metaphorical fly in amber, hardened, trapped and unable to repent.

At a certain point, the clues are no longer crumbs on the path but are boulders littering the highway. That’s how it goes when one opens one’s self up to “forces” and yearns for words not from the Bible. The discernment folks in your church are there to tell you about the crumbs before they become boulders.

Each church is filled with people possessing spiritual gifts, and some of those people possess the gift of discerning of spirits. (1 Corinthians 12:10b). I always liked the active term “discerning of spirits,” or “distinguishing of spirits” rather than the passive term “discernment”. The precise term as it’s used in the verse states there is a live enemy. We are distinguishing between the spirit of antichrist versus the Holy Spirit. (1 John 4:3).

These gifts are given for “the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). That is, the good of the local body into which the people are installed. The discernment people are the early warning system of the church. To use a secular metaphor, after an earthquake occurs, sometimes a tsunami warning is issued.

 A tsunami warning system (TWS) is used to detect tsunamis in advance and issue warnings to prevent loss of life and damage. It is made up of two equally important components: a network of sensors to detect tsunamis and a communications infrastructure to issue timely alarms to permit evacuation of the coastal areas. (source)

Discernment people in your church detect false doctrinal tsunamis in advance, having been given the skills to detect the conditions making a doctrinal tsunami likely. They (we) issue warnings to prevent loss of life and damage. Remember the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, (John 10:10), so false doctrine and false teachers do cause loss of life and damage. The discernment people are the network of sensors to detect tsunamis. We are the infrastructure the Holy Spirit gives to churches to issue timely alarms.

 Sadly in many cases, the warnings are not heeded. Would a coastal dwelling person say “You’re always so full of doom and gloom. I don’t see any tsunami.” Or, “I’ll wait until I see the tsunami before I decide anything. Meanwhile, keep calm and carry on.” Of course not. They take action.
Taking no action is a dangerous path. One day you’re using centering prayer, and after a time of uncorrected sliding you think you’re hearing the actual voice of God and writing scripture! Corrections need to come early and often. One of the marks of a false teacher, a demonic prophet, or a deluded unbeliever is that when their error is pointed out to them, they become angry, unteachable, or aggressive in defending their idol. If the teacher is true, repentance will result. If the teacher is false, hardening will result. You either become soft clay, or a fly trapped in the hard amber of your own error. (Revelation 2:21-23).
Source left, source right

I never like to point out something without offering a solution. In this case, it’s information about a good ministry resource. Please take note of the resource of Pastor Bob Dewaay’s Critical Issues Commentary. (CIC) I’ve linked to the site before, notably Dewaay’s examination of panentheism in Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. Finding good lessons on discernment that are NOT from the people using their gift unwisely is hard. So here is a good one. Here is CIC’s own explanation of their ministry:

Critical Issues Commentary is not so much a “newsletter” as it is a series of carefully researched essays on important theological issues. Since 1992 more than 80 articles covering more than 60 specific “critical issues” have been published. Each article contains Biblical exegesis as well as interaction with famous teachers and teachings. Our prayer is that God uses this effort to help readers grow in their faith and be strong in their witness.

Their essays are thorough and based on exegesis from the Bible. CIC is a valuable resource. For example, please find below excerpts from the essay titled, The Discerning of Spirits: The Objective, Biblical Means to Discern Spirits. Even if you have not been given the Spirit’s gift of discerning of spirits, it’s important to hone your own discernment anyway. Every Christian is responsible to ensure they are operating in tip-top condition. Here is the excerpt-

Beloved, 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. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

The first sentence shows how spirits speak: “false prophets have gone out.” They speak through people who are claiming to speak for God! So when John says, “do not believe every spirit,” he means for us to not assume that everyone claiming to speak for God really is. False prophets come dressed in Christian garb if their target is the Christian church. The spiritual source of their teaching may or may not be the Holy Spirit. They could be speaking from an evil spirit. The passage above is very explicit about this.

I have noticed that very few Christians take this warning seriously. There is a reason for this. They assume John is speaking about some obvious occult activity or a cult group like Mormonism. The fact is that most Christians are not fooled by palm readers and Mormons. John was warning first century believers about a danger that only has worsened as we come to the end of the age. Now, we need to discern the spiritual source of teachings coming through supposed evangelical Christians. If Christians simply used the objective tools given us in the Bible the deception in the church today would find no audience.

The falsely “prophesying ones” talk on Christian airwaves, speak in Christian pulpits, and write Christian books. They are not discerned to be of another spirit by their garb, their affiliations, their pedigree or the number of their followers. We have what we need: the objective tools for discerning spirits given us in the Bible. These tools will tell us if the “prophesying ones” are from God.

We live in the time of great deception and apostasy. It is a time when the Biblical tools for discernment are needed more than ever. We need to take these objective tools and apply them to what we hear being taught in God’s name. Each of us might be shocked to find out that we have been listening to spirits and not the Spirit of God. We must run to the gospel and begin building our houses on the rock.

Please read the full article. It shows from the Bible how to discern spirits in a solidly biblical way, not a mystical, subjective way. We need the former these days just as much as we do not need the latter.

For those who have been given the ability to distinguish between spirits but have become discouraged to the point where you hesitate to employ it, please take heart. The negative that Jesus gave most often in the bible is “Fear not.” He is with you, and if  He is with you you need not fear man (or his reactions to your news).

For the lay-person who does not employ their discernment gift, please remember that error is a process that only ever gets worse. I am sorry to use the poor, dear lady from the blog example I opened with, but left alone, error grows like a cancer. It’s gangrene, Paul said, and eventually it will kill you. Used wisely and in submission to the Spirit, it will keep you effective for Him.

(PS: Yes, I did reach out to the woman of the Thus Saith the Lord blog. Twice).


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

4 thoughts on “Discerning of Spirits: What it is and why it’s important to your local church body, and the church-at-large

    1. Hope that is a wonderful testimony to the Lord! Very well written and attributing all to Him. Your description of the incremental creep of deception into our lives is clear and on point. Thanks for being brave to open yourself up. I thank the Lord for women like you!


      1. Thank you! I hated being THAT exposed, but that was the only way to tell the story. My only hope is that others will listen.


      2. Thank you! I hated being THAT exposed, but it was the only way to tell the story. Hopefully, others will listen and heed the warning.


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