I’ve felt troubled for some time now over something I see running rampant in our church. It’s a spirit of fear, but it masks itself as a spirit of discernment. I see it when people point fingers at those behind the pulpit and leading worship, saying they’re led not by God, but the devil. I see it in memes in Instagram and Facebook that present themselves as sound warnings, but are often only flawed human judgment.
Yes, we need to exercise discretion and weigh what we hear against biblical truth. I’m familiar with the verses that warn against false prophets. And trust me, I’ve seen them. But I wonder how often we reject our own healing because we’re too busy feeding our suspicions. As my pastor aptly pointed out a few weeks ago, suspicion is not a spiritual gift.
How do we know the difference between suspicion or fear and real discernment that is empowered by the Holy Spirit?
How do we know if we’re being led by God and not by past hurt or our own brokenness?
As I asked myself these questions, God led me to some specific passages of scripture. I saw that our enemy’s ploy of making us question is not new. As a matter of fact, it’s one of his oldest tricks in the book. The problem is, we often don’t recognize this distraction for what it is.
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Genesis 3:1 NIV
Of course the serpent already knew what God said. His objective was to make Eve question it. And this is exactly what he continues to do with God’s children today. Except now, since we can approach God freely because of our redemption through Jesus, the enemy often makes us question God’s gifts, followers, or direction instead.
No, I can’t really be healed. Not through this person sharing the Word. They’re not trustworthy.
No, I can’t believe what this person is saying. They must have some sort of ulterior motive. Surely this gift of freedom isn’t for us.
Friends, I’m not saying people’s motives will always be pure. We live in fallen world, and a world filled with people who still follow the desires of their flesh rather than God. But the question we need to ask ourselves more often is “What is motivating me? Where is my heart, and do I really want what God has for me?”
As we do this, here are a few truths to help guide us:
1. The fact that something makes us comfortable doesn’t make it untrue.
As a matter of fact, if it’s making you uncomfortable, the truth of it may be very solid. The truth is supposed to propel us forward and motivate us to take action, not pacify us. And sometimes conviction feels a little uncomfortable at first. It causes us to examine our hearts, and may even make us want to hide.
We also may get uneasy over someone else’s reactions during worship or a speaker’s methods of communicating. Does this make the message untrue or the emotions invalid? Absolutely not. The Holy Spirit moves each of us in unique ways, and it is not our job to judge what he is doing. Our role is to move with him, and to edify and love his church.
2. Satan’s army knows the difference between truth and lies.
Fear is prevalent in the areas of spiritual or physical healing and prophesying. I understand this fear because I was held hostage by it myself, but here’s what I didn’t understand: The demons know the difference between someone who is of God and someone who isn’t. If the person God is using to heal or prophesy isn’t speaking in his Name, the spiritual bondage will remain.
“One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?””
3. If God is truly warning us, the direction will not be vague.
When it is the Spirit leading us, his direction is clear. He will not leave us confused and questioning whether we need to stay or go. We will hear the voice behind us leading us to the right or the left, guiding us in the right way.
Will we question his voice? Yes, often. But this is not because his direction lacks clarity. It is because we live in worlds filled with noise and distractions. Tune it out, friends. Get alone with him and seek him with all your heart.
He is trustworthy and worthy of our full allegiance. Let’s not let fear or suspicion get the final say. Let’s be willing to ask hard questions, and embrace the full life he has for us.
If you need to shift your focus from a struggle or worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“Abby’s gentle approach to life’s more difficult situations will be a healing balm to the aching reader’s soul. Filled with both prescriptive hope and a realistic understanding of what life is like when all does not fit within tidy, easy answers, Abby writes with an kind voice. Shift provides a respite to the weary traveler and a light with which to dispel the confusion.” -R. Hopkins
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.