We cannot engage demonic forces and evil opposition until we have first discerned the nature and intention of what has come against us – what stands at our door. Discernment is given by God, through His Holy Spirit. It is received through the insights of a mind that has been renewed by God’s word. Discerning believers will seek to grow in their understanding and knowledge of God’s truth – they will not hide or run from it.
Here is biblical definition for discernment we can use to keep our context and focus.
Biblical discernment is the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong, good and evil. It is the process of making careful yet decisive distinctions in our thinking and perceptions through our knowledge and relationship with truth. In other words, the ability to think and perceive with spiritual discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically when demonic forces and evil opposition are standing at our door.
According to the New Testament, spiritual and biblical discernment is not optional equipment for the believer - it is required – and for good reason.
1 John 4:1
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.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible IS light.
Obviously, discernment is for our good, for our spiritual health, for our protection, and for our ability to overcome all that is evil and seeks to overcome us.
But even more importantly, so that we can righteously engage with Christ in the distinction of what is good - and in exposing what is evil; to resist it, cast it out, to overcome the deception of what is demonic and evil.
To find movement forward in our understanding of biblical discernment, we start with Christ Jesus at the center, as the source, and the fullness of power; then, the Holy Spirit alive and active in us as the revealer of truth, the work of righteousness, and witness of fire. Because of our surrender and submission to these two, biblical discernment then follows to become the lens, the sensor, the locator, the illuminator, the engagement qualifier. If we are locked in here - we can see, sense and know (discern) demonic forces and evil opposition with clarity even long before they arrive - because of the presence of Jesus - the Word of Truth, and the revealing work of the Holy Spirit in us.
Here is my best way of explaining…
Biblical discernment is like the High Def Magnification Rifle or Spotter Scopes used by long distance marksmen and snipers. The high-end scopes are fully capable of giving vision and precise detail for distances, elevation, and windage up to a mile and more. The scope can discern the target - identify what it is, and the conditions around it. What you need then is the right rifle, ammo, and of course the right marksman to engage the trigger.
To continue in that context…
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
I said last week that demonic forces and evil opposition need a nest – a “Heartbreak Hotel” if you will… ironically, evil mirrors the goodness and mercy of God, in that it attaches itself to people, places and beliefs (ideologies/values). Not in righteousness - but rather in rebellion; those people, places and beliefs that deny and reject truth, devise false narratives (lies), create confusion and communicate fear, initiate division and distraction.
True Biblical Discernment gives the follower of Jesus the ability to think clearly about all areas of life so that we are not compromised by those forces of evil influence and opposition. Without active biblical discernment in our life, we and those we love are vulnerable.
Big statement… so take a moment.
Here is our desired response. We resolve by faith, that this is not our path today! Yours or mine. We will NOT leave ourselves and those we love, vulnerable to demonic forces and evil opposition.
We are learning and acknowledging the power and authority we have over ALL demonic forces and opposition through our submission and surrender process to the righteousness and truth of God in Christ Jesus!
It is Just Time for Christians everywhere to use the gift and weapon of discernment that God in His wisdom has provided for us through His uncompromised and unchanging truth!
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever, they sound like the truth.
Discernment must continually cross the path of our journey of faith to keep us in conscious awareness and understanding that we are living in one of the most spiritually and biblically relevant times in all of history.
Can you sense that?
If so, then you can see that the need for the gospel of Jesus, and the message of hope and redemption is maximized by our times.
Let’s shift our focus but not our context…
Sociologists and cultural experts have long maintained that each era has a unique spirit, a nature or climate that sets it apart from all other eras. More than a vibe – more like defining ideologies, philosophies and values.
For example, In Germany, during the take-over attempts of the Hitler’s Third-Reich, such a spirit was known as Zeitgeist, from the German words Zeit; meaning – time, and Geist; meaning spirit.
It refers to the spirit of the times, or the spirit of the age. In other words, it is the attitude, intent or mood of a culture during a particular time period that gives rise to its unique values and beliefs. Some will insist that the true zeitgeist of any era cannot be known until it is over, and that only the artists, musicians or philosophers can discern it - so the writers can document it.
I disagree – biblical discernment is available to followers of Jesus and people of faith at all times and all places if they are spiritually and biblically present and emotionally available in that moment for God to speak and the Spirit to reveal.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
1 Peter 5:6-11
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
From the biblical perspective the zeitgeist is not an abstraction or speculation – it’s real man!
Literal spirits—with power, demonic spirits—from their high places actively pushing a deceptive agenda by attaching themselves to reasonable but deceived people, places, and beliefs (ideologies and values).
There is an interesting way in which the zeitgeist of each era most often seems to find itself in opposition to the Christian or biblical worldview. There is a consistent theme of loathing and antagonism for Christ and all that He stands for.
This hatred is both implicit and explicit. This is what John meant when he warned about “the spirit of the antichrist, which . . . is already in the world” (1 John 4:3).
A demonic and evil zeitgeist sets itself against Christ. Everything Jesus taught and represented is its enemy. And this is how Christians (you and I) end up in the crossfire.
Daniel Kolenda writes, “demonic forces and evil opposition have no teeth. They only have a silver tongue. The weapon of evil and demonic force is deception. He works through the minds of men with the ideas of men to influence the world.”
Let’s push that through a biblical grid of truth from…
1 Thessalonians 6:1-4
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.
It is the knowledge of the word of truth and seeking first the righteousness of God that allows us to discern what is evil and demonic - the more truth and knowledge of God’s righteousness we know – the more discernment of evil opposition we have.
Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
There are more than enough warnings for us to be spiritually sensitive and biblically aware of the times and seasons and of strategic demonic forces and opposition that currently exist and has attached to our world. The call to righteousness faith and biblical discernment is given to us in Christ to prevent full exposure to a deception meltdown, dangerous or foolish vulnerability and a tragic outcome.
Biblical Discernment intersects the Christian life at every point. And God's Word provides us with a needed discernment for every issue and circumstance of life. Before engaging the enemy - this is where we must begin - Discern.
2 Peter 1:3-4
God has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
One of my favorites Aleksandr Solzhenitzin once said…
“The thin line between right and wrong – good and evil runs right through all of us.”
Because this true, and because coming against evil for the follower of Jesus must start in submission and surrender to Him. We need to be precise – not sloppy. We need to be knowledgeable not ignorant. We need to be - biblical not secular. And, we need to be faithful, humble and responsible – to discern for not only ourselves, but for our families and to our communities. This is message is not about the COVID. The COVID is real and it is a deal. But we ARE moving forward – that is what the Church of Jesus does, and we are His Church.
MOVING FORWARD WHILE USING BEST PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING RESTRICTIONS.
We are moving forward to discern and engage demonic forces and evil opposition that have used the COVID-19 Virus to attach themselves to people, places, and beliefs that pose a threat even more lethal than our physical health and well-being. I’m praying for you and I know you are praying for me.
Do these FOUR THINGS with me this week…
Pray with Understanding – Intercede in the Spirit
Listen More Closely – Speak More Cautiously
Read Widely – Read Wisely
See Evil Driven from You – Give Witness to What You Have Seen
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