S87P10 – The roots of falling short: a lack of discernment

1 John 4:1-3

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of 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 of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

At first he seemed like a pretty quiet and decent guy.  He got along well with most people and even began dating a young lady in our young adult ministry.  I was only a new Christian at the time, but there was something about him that seemed a little off to me.  I certainly did not want to gossip or cause any division, and I was not really sure that there was anything to what I felt, so I kept this to myself for some time.  Eventually, others in the ministry began to see what I had seen, and it became evident that there was one among us who carried a very different spirit.  When confronted by church leadership with the truth and a request that some things change, that young man left our fellowship very quickly.

Sometimes our discernment allows us to pick up on things we cannot specifically define, but there is always a concrete way of measuring whether a spirit is of God.  Our enemy can be very crafty with his words as we saw when he tempted Jesus Christ in the wilderness.  Whether we are confronted with doctrine that we are not sure is sound or whether we are prompted to do or say something which seems questionable, the measuring rod is the word of God.  If what we are facing does not measure up, then it is not of him.  Things might appear grey for a moment, but God will show the faithful seeker everything in black-and-white.  Those who desire not to be deceived will be kept on the narrow road.

The testing of the spirits is not necessarily a verbal confrontation with an obvious spiritual and otherworldly being.  We often will encounter these situations when speaking with people or while reviewing our own thoughts and dreams.  What is critical is to remember that we are in a battle.  There is one who wants to destroy our very souls, and he will stop at nothing to do that.  He will take every liberty permitted by God to try and lead us astray, and he remembers our weaknesses and faults.  If we are wise, we will heed this warning and be on our guard at all times and in all circumstances.  Father, increase our discernment and wisdom that we would remain on that narrow road and not be deceived.