Deception number one
Separation of spirits or spiritual blindness? Learn how all believers may err in their judgments, even though they may consider themselves observant
In this writing, the term “Deception Number One” among Christians refers to the so-called (false) gift of distinguishing between spirits that is an imitation of the true gift of distinguishing between spirits given by God. It is evident when one deems himself to be especially “perceptive” and having “reliable information” when he is, in fact, so completely blind that he cannot recognize God’s workings; instead, this blinded person looks at God’s work but perceives it to be the work of the devil. He cannot see God’s active work to help people; he sees only their faults, not what is right. He acts like the Pharisees who did not understand the work of God, but blamed Jesus and accused Him of driving out demons by the power of Beelzebub.
Rick Joyner wrote about this false gift. He stated that the real gift of distinguishing between spirits can work only through love. He also stated that criticism lodged by a person who does not love the person he is criticizing should be ignored:
Religiousness is often connected with the wrong kind of a gift of distinguishing between spirits, which is motivated by suspicion and fear. This false gift looks for faults in other people instead of seeing what God can do to help these people go forward. A religious spirit using this kind of distinguishing between spirits can cause great harm to the congregation. Its actions almost always leave behind more damage and dissolution than healing, agreement and growth. Its wisdom comes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and even though the information might be true, it is brought out in a spirit that kills.
Suspicion arises from things like rejection, self-protection, or general uncertainty. The real gift of distinguishing between spirits can function only through love. Any other motive distorts spiritual understanding. Whenever someone condemns or criticizes another person or a group, we must not pay attention to it until we know that he really loves the person or group and is committed to serving them. (1)
Everybody can make a mistake. The first error that we make before salvation and after salvation is considering ourselves to be infallible. We may think that since we have been saved we are able to assess things accurately and will always be right. We fail to take into account the possibility that we might be wrong. We may think that others who have been saved are wrong but do not consider that this may also apply to us. “Others can make mistakes and erroneous assessments but not me – I’m so perceptive compared to others.”
Such an attitude arises from pride: a person raises himself to the same level as God and thinks that he has perfect knowledge – which is untrue. None of us possesses 100% reliable information; if we think so, then we are wrong. If we think so, we also think that the verses below are wrong. They show us that even the great Apostles made mistakes, and their knowledge and prophecies were sometimes faulty. If that was true then how should we have progressed any farther?
- (1 Cor 13:9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
- (James 3:2) For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
The history of the congregation also shows that known men of God repeatedly made mistakes in their assessments. They considered a movement given by God to be wrong and they failed to understand it. Good examples are F.B. Meyer and Oswald Chambers. They were both known men of God and authors, but they failed to understand that the Pentecostal movement was of God. They considered that wrong. Time has proven their evaluations to be wrong, however, and shown they were wrong. They were not right, even though they thought they were. This proves that we – any one of us -- can make a mistake simply because we are fallible, and our assessments are often faulty.
Let’s consider a related passage that was included in a book written about 100 years ago by Frank Bartleman (Azusa Street). It describes the experience of A.B. Simpson, a known man of God, who was attending a meeting. He, too, had the same view as the previous persons. Bartleman wrote that Simpson was deeply moved and began seeing the Pentecostal movement in a new light. Maybe he changed his views:
A meeting that would take all night was started in the convention the next evening. A young girl experienced the power, and her soul was taken to the throne. She sang a wordless tune that seemed to come from another life – it was so heavenly beautiful. It was from another world. I have never heard anything like it before or after. A.B. Simpson himself was there that evening, and the song had a huge impact on him. He had been greatly opposed to the Pentecostal movement. Clearly, this was God giving him testimony. (2)
ISSUES TO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT. As noted above, anyone can make a mistake. If even known men of God have made mistakes in assessing God’s activity, then the rest of us can do the same. Thinking that you are infallible is an expression of the wrong kind of self-confidence. The next passage describes the same kind of error: it shows how people can in their “perceptiveness” be completely sure about something even though they are actually suffering from spiritual blindness or even by religious hatred. It is likely that such spiritual blindness is the primary reason people of God get lost; it can divide congregations and Christian groups. Anyone can be overcome by such an attitude -- but it is possible to be released from it:
At that time of my life, there was no place for dissidents and even for love. There was only a hard demand of scholastic perfection. Behind my demand, there was not God at all but my own religious flesh. In that condition, all spirituality, which differed from my own standards was very suspicious for me. So, I preached diligently against other Christian circles and against forms of spirituality that I didn't understand. My role of the learning guard, although it had been sublimely assumed, rose not at all from fullness of my spiritual life, not to mention from the base of prophetic eyesight but from narrow and unclear spiritual vision and from the simultaneous need for recognition.
(...) It has been a shock to observe later how I was ready to call large groups of living congregations and servants of God idle and even worse on the grounds of my vision of that time (or its deficiency) and information that came by other hands. I was not able to discern the spirits in my own heart and service action. (3)
To what should we pay attention, then, when assessing an activity or a person who claims to work for God? What should be taken into account when making such assessment? Let’s consider those questions next.
Right doctrine. The presence of correct principles of faith is important, naturally. The principles should be visible in the activity. These principles include inspiration from the Bible, Jesus being the only road to salvation, His atonement at the Cross, His bodily resurrection, His physical return, His deity, salvation through grace without actions needed, the Fall, and that people are lost and hopeless without Christ. If these are not evident and salvation is not based upon Jesus Christ, then the activity is surely not of God. However, if these principles are expressed in word and speech, then you should accept the activity or person.
Positive and negative issues. One very common mistake made when assessing something is paying attention to matters that are abusive or negative and not to positive matters. This is because people do not want to study the positive issues or because their attitude from the very beginning is such that they do not even take the positive into account. If this is the case, then the person assessing the person or activity has not gotten a complete picture.
You should look at the big picture instead of being overcome by initial attitudes. You should read many references, study all the information available, try to find positive information as well as negative information. Both sides should be taken into account. This means that if others are teaching the same basic principles of faith, some will turn to God and change for the better can be seen in the lives of people, you should take these issues into account in addition to negative issues. Paul has written:
- (1 Thess 5:21) Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Advice from others. One mistake made by some Christians is that they do not listen to advice given by others. They do not take advice into account because they consider their views to be the best and most objective.
However, as stated above, it is easy to believe that you are perceptive and infallible but still be wrong. It is possible even if you had been saved and believed for decades. Anybody can be guilty of this, as history has repeatedly proven: the description of A.B. Simpson above is one example of this.
Therefore, sometimes we should ask for advice from others, and explore others’ opinions. We may be more perceptive and wiser than them in some matters, while they may be able to see other things more clearly and better.
Smith Wigglesworth described a situation that illustrated what harm can be done by holding such a wrong attitude. This was a situation involving the provision of guidance to a person who thought she could hear the voice of God but failed to take into account advice given to her by others:
On this, the information was incorrect. There was no bank open at 7.30 a.m., and research showed that the bank in question wasn’t even in this town.
How did this message affect her? The young woman listened to it. She paid so much attention to it that she did not listen to anyone else.
I tell you the danger in this: If you cannot discuss it, you are wrong. If you are right and everyone else is wrong, but you do not tolerate of any examination, or if your truth does not bear to be studied under daylight, you are wrong no matter who you are! You will be saved from many troubles if you listen to what others say. Do not say, "Naturally I know. I KNOW that I am right.” (4)
Fruit. Fruits of the Spirit should be taken into account because of what Jesus said: ”You shall know them by their fruits.” (Matt 7:16). This means that if the person is living in continuous sin and there are no outward signs of a Christian nature, you should be careful. However, if a person who is aggressive by nature shows signs of gentleness, a person who is naturally proud shows humility, or a hasty person becomes calmer, then the fruits of the Spirit are being seen.
What about other changes in people’s lives? If several people in a meeting experience the changes described below, it can be considered a good sign. It shows that the activity is of God. (It should be kept in mind, however, that Satan may bring people deceived by bad spirits, such as spiritualists, into meetings, and this may cause confusion in the work of God. Frank Bartleman describes such cases in his book Azusa Street.)
· Understanding about the significance of Christ and His sacrifice on the Cross
· Willingness to read the Bible
· Freedom from sins, bitterness and lust
· People being aware of their own wickedness and sinfulness: pride, anger, lack of love, lust, etc.
· People becoming humble and not thinking that they are better than others
· Worry about others being saved
· Deeper prayer life
· Deeper love of God and people
· Willingness to fulfil the will of God in everything (Rom 7:22: For I delight in the law of God after the inward man)
Attacks against others. There is still one test of a person doing the work of God that should be taken into account: the person’s attitude towards other servants of God and Christians who have different views. It is possible that the person is not doing the work in love, as taught by Paul. Such an attitude may be manifested as vehement attacks against other servants of God, as seen in a person’s dwelling on the faults of others by writing letters to the editor, or broadcasting their criticism through the mass media, or in a smaller circle of people, or in other ways launching attacks that are generally slanderous.
If a person is being used by God, it is likely that other people will speak evil of him. For example, Paul was a good man who was attacked by people who claimed he was an evil man. There are always people who would rather dwell on lies and enjoy them, even though the Bible teaches that such people will end up in a lake of fire (Rev 21:8, 22:15).
What does this mean, then? It means that we must, at least, establish the truth by asking the person himself ("Is this correct, is this what you meant?") instead of spreading rumors. Jesus’ advice in Matt 18 addresses this.
Some attacks may be caused by envy. There are people who have more than others; this makes envious people restless and angry. Saul’s attitude towards David is an illustration:
- (1 Sam 18:7-9) And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?
9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
The next quote is about this topic: it shows how even a saved person can become overpowered by such an attitude. He fails to understand that by attacking others he diminishes his own worth in eternity:
”I became so proud at the end of my life that I could not imagine the Lord would do anything significant, unless it was through me. I started to touch the anointed ones of the Lord and to damage His prophets. I was selfishly proud when the Lord used someone of my disciples, and I became envious when the Lord functioned outside my own service work. I used to search out whatever fault in them I could find in order to expose them. I didn't know that each time I did this, I reduced my own station even more.”
“I didn't know at all that you had done anything like that,” I said, surprised.
“I did not do it myself but I provoked my subordinates to find faults in others and to do my dirty work. I got them to snoop around closely so that some fault and sin would be found from the lives of others, so that they would be exposed. I became the worst a man can become on the Earth – a stumbling block, which produced other stumbling blocks. We sowed fear and disintegration in the congregation, all in the name of defending the truth. In my own righteousness, I went towards destruction. In his great mercy, the Lord allowed me to meet an illness, which caused a slow and humiliating death. Just before my death, I came to my senses and repented. I am very grateful that I am here. I may be one of his fewest here but it is far more than I deserve. I was not able to leave this room before I had a possibility to apologize to those of you to whom I did badly.”
(...) “And we always calmed ourselves truly by thinking that we did a service to God by attacking against His own children”, an understanding sound of the man was heard. “It is good for you to understand this because you can go back. Please, warn my disciples about the threatening devastation if they do not repent. Many of them have been called to be kings here but if they won’t repent, they will face the worst judgement of all – the judgement of the stumbling blocks… (5)
When others err. There are two extreme positions one can take when assessing spiritual activity: the first is taking something that is not the work of God to be the work of God. An example is considering people who pray to Mary and trust in the acts of saints (not solely in the acts of Christ) to be saved people. People who do not care to carefully consider and analyse things are, to a great extent, particularly prone to making this mistake. In their complacency, they may consider people as Christians those who are not reborn and who do not understand salvation. Jesus taught us about such things:
- (Matt 7:21-23) Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
The other extreme position is the one referred to here: a saved person who does not recognize the work of God in others, even though they are equally saved. Such a person may interpret others' activities to be deceptive and their communications to be false. Such an attitude is commonly held because of our imperfect understanding.
Faith, Hope and Love, which had grown at all levels along with our weapons, were now so huge that I knew people far away from the battle zone could see them. Their brightness radiated even among the prisoners who were still covered by a large flock of carrion-devouring birds. I was highly encouraged by the fact that they could now be seen. Perhaps the Christians being used by the enemy and the prisoners held captive by the enemy would understand now that we were not the enemy – in fact, that the enemy had been using them.
This was not the case, however, at least not yet. Those in the enemy camp who started to see the light of Faith, Hope and Love started to call them “angels of light” having been sent to deceive the weak and those lacking judgement. It is then that I knew that the deception and slavery in which they lived were far greater than I had understood.
However, those who were not members of neither of these armies – i.e. those who were not Christians – could see their light and started to approach the mountain in order to see better. Those who came closer to see them also started to understand what the battle was actually all about. This was a great encouragement. (6)
What should we do if other Christians have made a mistake?
We must study the matters in light of principles mentioned above. Furthermore – if possible – we should speak to these people in private, as did Priscilla and Aquila when explaining the way of God to Apollos:
- (Acts 18:24-26) And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him to them, and expounded to him the way of God more perfectly.
1. Rick Joyner: Viimeisten päivien taistelu (Overcoming Evil in the Last Days), p. 125
2. Frank Bartleman: Azusa-katu 312 (Azusa Street), p. 166
3.Veikko Pekki: Täynnä iloa ja Pyhää Henkeä, p. 21
4. Smith Wigglesworth: Hengen huuto, p. 55
5. Rick Joyner: Petos, taistelu, voitto (Final Quest), p. 95-97
6. Rick Joyner: Petos, taistelu, voitto (Final Quest), p. 27, 28
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!