Discernment. (a noun: the ability to judge well)
In 2005 I spent almost two months in hospital. My condition was life threatening and so for most of that time I was in a room of my own. It was a difficult and often lonely time, and the highlight of each afternoon and evening was visiting time when hundreds of people would flock through the doors making their way towards their loved one’s room or ward.
Suddenly the corridor outside would be filled with the noise of footsteps, and to my amazement I was always able to detect my wife’s footsteps in the midst of all the others. I could not describe, then or now, what makes her steps recognisable from hundreds of others, but I knew them when I heard them.
This could only be because by that time we had been married twenty-six years and I knew my wife.
If I became blind and a lady came alongside me who said she was my wife and even talked like my wife I would soon discern whether it really was my wife as her behaviour became clear. I know my wife’s heart and her behaviour, her likes and dislikes. Her silences and her laughter. I know the weight of her touch, how she holds my hand. An imposter would struggle to deceive me.
I wouldn’t have been able to say that with confidence when we were simply dating, but now, after spending time with her day after day after day, I can even detect her footsteps.
I’m sure that makes sense.
I go fishing. I’m still not a great fisherman but I love the excuse to get out to the countryside with my youngest son and spend quality time together. With twenty years of fishing experience under my belt I can tell you this. Anyone can catch small immature shoal fish, but it takes a very knowledgeable and skilful angler to catch the large, more mature individual ones.
For small fish you can put almost any reasonable bait on any reasonable sized hook attached to any reasonable thickness of line and they will recognise the food and swallow the whole package. In they come, one after another. They have little or no discernment.
Soon you get tired catching the small fry and you begin the quest to catch large fish. The bait must be what they really hunger for and the bait must be truth to them. Rubber worms might fool smaller fish but not the bigger ones. The hook must be strong yet be as small as possible, with as much of it hidden within the bait as possible. The line must be clear or camouflaged to blend in with the surrounding ground. Even the weights are often camouflaged. Even the angler on the bank is often camouflaged.
With some large fish the lengths which anglers must go to is extreme. Large carp are very difficult to deceive. They have developed a high level of discernment. At one time it was thought foolish to even waste one’s time trying to catch them. Then the ‘hair rig’ was developed. The bait, called a ‘boillie’ is like a marble made up of the various flavours that attract them. Now comes the twist. There is no hook at all in the bait! Large carp are too discerning for that old trick. Instead a ‘hair’ is run through a small hole drilled in the boillie and then the hook, attached to the hair, is left hanging an inch behind the bait. The large carp takes its time, feeling the boillie with its large lips, sometimes puffing it up off the ground to inspect it more closely. When satisfied that there are no traps it quickly sucks the boillie into its large mouth and hey presto the hook follows and the fight is on!
Can you see where this is leading?
One last story.
Many years ago I was asked to speak at a Sunday morning meeting down near the bottom of Ireland. My wife and youngest son were with me. The home we were staying in was right on the coast, so my son and I planned to get up at six in the morning and go down to the local pier for an hours fishing before breakfast. It was a beautiful Irish morning and soon we were making our way along the rocks that featured all the way along the right hand side of the pier. As we walked along the rocks close to the pier wall it became obvious that there had been a sea angling competition there the previous evening. Anglers, sadly, are not renowned for leaving the place spotless. As we looked ahead we saw seagulls swooping and swirling overhead, making a lot of noise. As we got nearer to them we saw that one seagull was flying close to the ground while the others were much higher up. Soon we could see why. The seagull’s throat was red with blood and a strong line emerged from its mouth and down to the rocks where the line was attached to a heavy lead wait. The angler who had been fishing there had left bait, hook, line and weight lying on the rocks when he had packed up. The hungry seagull had seen the fish, recognised it as food and swallowed it, only to find there was a hook hidden inside it, and was then unable to unhook himself.
We got to the line and proceeded to pull the seagull down towards us. Not easy as the bird, thinking we meant to harm it, fought us all the way. Finally I had the bird in my grip with its wings safely folded. With great difficulty we managed to get the beak opened but immediately saw that the damage would prove fatal and that there was no way we could unhook the bird without it incurring even more massive injuries. With great regret, I killed the bird, unhooked it, carried it down to the edge of the rocks and threw it in to the water. There it floated, while the other gulls swooped back and forth above it. They were free. It had been snared.
We turned and walked back, the fishing forgotten about. We were traumatised by the events.
Then I felt God speak into my spirit. The events were to be my message for that church fellowship. And so it turned out to be.
As a young Christian I always thought I could not be deceived. I thought satan would appear as the devil that he is, and I would spot him.
How wrong I was.
He fishes better than any angler, and the prey is us. God’s beloved. He knows that he must put a substantial amount of recognisable truth on the hook otherwise we would never consider drawing near. He must hide the hook and hide the line. Young Christians are easy. Older ones, and especially leaders are much harder.
Still he manages it.
Let’s look at some of the lessons from these stories.
The real Jesus only behaves like the real Jesus. Like the Jesus revealed in scripture of course, not the Jesus of your own shaping. (very common)
As you spend much time in commune with Jesus and when you believe scripture from Genesis to Revelation you get to know Him intimately, because of course He is The Word become flesh. You get to know His footsteps. Then when you see or hear of ‘Jesus’ doing things that are contrary to the real Jesus, you know to look for the hook.
Paul wrote to the young and somewhat carnal church at Corinth about the ease with which they were deceived by people preaching about 'Jesus' but not revealing the real Jesus, and a spirit manifesting that was not the Holy Spirit.
If you do not read of Jesus doing it in the gospel accounts, or if you could not picture the Jesus of the gospel doing it, drop it. Walk away. Better to be safe than sorry.
If you do not read of the apostles doing it, or if you could not picture the apostles doing it, walk away. Better to be safe than sorry.
For example, if you can read of, or picture Jesus, Peter, James and John having ‘fire tunnels’ for the people to run through, then go for it. If not, don’t.
Discernment is that simple.
A prophet is one appointed by God to bring His heart to man. As revealed in scripture, the true prophet is unpopular because he speaks against sin, against pride, against greed, against injustice, against friendship with the world. We are commanded to test the spirits because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
The true man of God will not hesitate to bring you the whole counsel of God. Especially the bits that your flesh does not like. The true man of God has no need to be popular, or famous, and no need to match the lifestyle of the wealthy. His only need is to reveal the whole will of God. The true man of God will speak of dying to self, of obedience to God, of living for others, of generosity, humility and integrity before God. The true man of God will teach that all scripture is God breathed. He will speak against sin and speak of the Blood.
Discernment is that simple.
Spiritual manifestations are not too difficult to discern. An angry spirit manifests anger. A lustful spirit, lust. A lying spirit, lies. A deceiving spirit, deception. Etc
The Holy Spirit, sometimes called the Spirit of Holiness manifests holiness.
Holiness is not the absence of sin, but is the opposite to sin.
As the old Welsh revival preacher Yorrie Richards said "If the God we are presenting is not a God of holiness, we don't have another God to share' (Video link at base of page)
When God draws close to a man, the result is that the man sees how unclean he is.
The sinless seraphim around the Throne of God cover their faces and feet crying out "HOLY HOLY HOLY" in the Presence of God.
When Isaiah saw the Lord there he cried out, "“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”"
Peter, when he had but a hint of the divine nature of Jesus, fell to his knees and cried out "“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
When God draws close to a man there is a reverential fear.
Indeed people may fall or have to lie face down in reverential fear. Like Joshua as recorded in Joshua 5:14. Like the priests in the Temple as recorded in 2nd Chronicles 5:14. Like John as recorded in Revelation 1:17
When I was a young Christian of less than three years I had a two month period where I saw both of these manifestations. Let me describe them.
I was asked to take a men's weekend at Portstewart in Northern Ireland. I had never spoken outside of a house group, let alone to a gathering of men, so I was terribly nervous. I wrote out every word of my two days of teachings, sat on a chair with my head down and read out my notes in a nervous self conscious monotone manner. I still had my stammer at that time, so you can picture how dry and potentially boring it must have been. Suddenly I was aware that something was happening. One by one the men, all from Presbyterian churches, began to lie on their faces. I felt nothing at all. I put my notes aside, since no one was listening and for an hour I sat watching traditional church men lie face down in reverential fear on a grubby brown carpet. It happened at the next session as well. And the next. The minister who had organised the weekend wrote to me saying.
Some weeks later I was asked to speak to a meeting of farmer's wives in a house in the countryside. I prayed asking God what I should speak on but I got no reply, so I decided to give my testimony. I got no further than one minute into the story when one lady started crying, then another and another. Some were on their knees on the floor. All were crying out to God in repentance. Again, I felt nothing. I just stopped speaking and stared for the next hour. I remember one lady, crying out, "Oh Lord forgive me for being so jealous of my husband's ministry" Eventually I felt so awkward I quietly left, but as I left a lady ran out after me to confess a sin in her life. I asked her why she was telling me that, and directed her back to the house again.
On both occasions I experienced nothing, so can say that other than being there I played no part in what happened. But I took note. I had seen the real thing.
The Holy Spirit, sometimes called the Spirit of truth reveals truth.
Truth that will always be confirmed by scripture.
I remember a lovely lady trying to persuade me to go to certain meetings but I would not. I had no peace to go whatsoever. I said to her that much of what I saw and heard reports of was nowhere to be seen or sensed in the Bible. She looked at me with some sadness and said “Don’t you know that these are special days when the Holy Spirit is moving outside scripture?”
Above all and through all The Holy Spirit will testify about Jesus, glorify Jesus, disclose the thoughts of Jesus. An unchanging Jesus. A Jesus who is the same today as He was yesterday and will be the same Jesus tomorrow. A Jesus who reveals His Father, 'who changeth not'.
The Spirit of God will never point to, testify about, or glorify Himself.
When the Spirit of God manifests in a western meeting you can hear people whisper "Jesus, Jesus" In Poland or Lithuania it would be "Jezus. Jezus.
He glorifies Jesus.
He does not glorify an experience. Nor does He glorify an angel. Or a person.
There is no fruit of the Spirit that has you out of control. The fruit of the Spirit includes self control.
Like Epaphras, a person may labour fervently in prayer for Christians and their ministries, or like Apollos, be fervent in spirit in teaching, or like Jesus have a fervent desire to see the plans of God come to fruition, but that spiritual fervency never breaks the boundaries of self control.
Therefore intercession is a rare jewel and there are rare times when the Holy Spirit may choose to intercede through a person for another person, or a people, or a grievous situation, and the sheer weight of the burden may result in great distress, weeping or groaning. This is often referred to as travailing prayer. (I heartily recommend the book Intercessor - the story of Rees Howell as a vessel of intercession)
I have experienced this deep travailing several times over nearly 30 years. For a non-Christian family whose three year old son was dying of cancer, for a very aggressive anti-christian lady who was within weeks, and then within days of dying from alcoholism, and for an elderly Christian lady who was in the final stages of cancer and wanted God to give her supernatural strength to get out of her bed in order to give her testimony one more time at church. The boy lived, the lady suddenly stopped drinking and lived, and the lady gave her testimony and then died shortly after.
However, if everytime a person prays or 'intercedes' they manifest uncontrollable body movements and/or sounds, then understand that this is contrary to clear scriptural understanding of self control. Indeed,
(1st Corinthians 14:32)
The Holy Spirit never draws attention to Himself - or to the person praying. Such constant manifestations in prayer - which draw attention to the person - may well be emotional, or, may be a spirit of deception which delights in drawing attention and admiration - and even increasing levels of authority - to the one manifesting.
Discernment is that simple.
In order to deceive a person you must have something that is close to the real thing. If I asked a thief to try and pass a £4 note in a store he would not even bother trying. However if I asked him to try and pass a good quality counterfeit £5 note he would know there was an excellent chance.
Satan does not try and pass you £4 notes. He always masquerades as the real.
You test the spirits by first getting to know the real, just as experienced bank tellers have come to know the real, so that when something ‘feels wrong’ you know to stop and thoroughly check it out.
The golden rule is recognising a tree by its fruit.
If the tree manifests the fruit of figs you know you have a fig tree. If it manifests thorns, you have a thorn tree.
Here is a sample of the real.
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. He is a Counsellor (or advocate) exactly like Jesus. He is our teacher. He reveals Truth. He testifies about Jesus. He leads us in paths of righteousness. He strengthens and encourages us. He comforts us. He intercedes for us and helps us in our weakness. He sanctifies us. He forbids. And He searches the deep things of God.
In the midst of a dying world, in the midst of an almost apostate church that has been persuaded by this godless world to have massive levels of unbelief in scripture, and in the midst of a church that is substantially sin ridden, lukewarm and almost devoid of radically committed disciples, we can rest assured that it is not one of The Holy Spirit’s offices to be an entertainer.
I have often seen The Holy Spirit release laughter in a person who has just been converted or delivered from captivity. (even this weekend as I write) Very Biblical.
Indeed, an individual touched by the Spirit of God may weep, or smile, or laugh or be silent, or kneel, or bow their head, or lie on the floor, or lift their arms high in wondrous worship, but leaders and their audiences laughing hysterically, staggering and falling down, for week upon week, sometimes for months at church services, unable to bring the Word of God, and claiming this to be the work of the Holy Spirit, has no match in scripture or church history. (Video link at base of page)
So we need to be discerning. Is it the Holy Spirit, is it soulish, or is it even the influence of another spirit?
Paul told the church at Corinth that when the gifts of the Holy Spirit were in operation in a church meeting everything should be decent and in order.
As the world grows darker and as the church weakens, do we sense heaven laughing?
Can you picture the early church, or the early church fathers behaving that way? Can you picture Spurgeon, Whitfield, Wigglesworth, or Moody behaving that way?
Can you picture the apostle Peter behaving that way?
Yet this manifestation is always claimed to be 'the joy of the Lord'.
When Peter wrote "yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory," (1 Peter 1: 8 NIV) do you sense that he was writing about hysterical laughter, staggering and falling down?
Can you picture Jesus behaving that way?
Do you sense that when Jesus was full of joy through the Holy Spirit His disciples witnessed Him manifesting hysterical laughter, staggering and falling down? His joy was God centred and full of praise and thanksgiving.
Type in 'joy' or great' joy' or 'full of joy' into your bible computer and see if any of the many mentions of joy in the gospel accounts could even remotely be aligned with the concept of uncontrollable, hysterical laughter and falling down.
As mentioned earlier, there is no fruit of the Spirit - such as joy - that has you out of control because the fruit of the Spirit also includes self control.
It is demonic that seeks to gain control over us in any way, including our emotions.
Simply putting a good-sized portion of recognisable truth on the hook does not mean the Spirit behind a new spiritual movement is the Spirit of God. Proclaiming scriptures, mentioning Jesus and being sincere does not guarantee that it is a real move of God.
However, where there is a real move of God, it can be bombarded with the false. The Azusa Street revival was a major move of the Holy Spirit which deeply impacted much of the world, yet Frank Bartleman, one of the key men that God used, wrote that the devil seemed to send in every wicked spirit and at times it seemed that the revival would be quenched by the evil one. They prayed the counterfeit out and the real remained. They had discernment.
How can you judge? As well as the keys above, it's a fair test that if all the reports from the audience are focused on Jesus and repentance and holiness you have the real. If all the reports from the audience are focused on signs, wonders and manifestations you have got a distraction.
A tree is known by its fruit so you judge by the fruit.
Is the church becoming more repentant, more aware of and more in love with Jesus, more obedient, more sanctified, more servant hearted, more generous to the poor, more mission orientated? more Bible believing? And more separated from the world?
Or merely becoming more and more entertained and fascinated with new spiritual experiences?
Derek Prince wrote..
I get regular newsletters from RTU (Reaching The Unreached) where brave young men go and preach the gospel where it has never been preached before. Mostly in Muslim countries. It is heartening to read about the regular signs and wonders as the evangelist's preach. Blind eyes opening, and the lame walking.
Likewise when I read of what the Holy Spirit is doing in Sub-Saharan Africa, where entire mosques are coming to faith, it does my heart good to read of the Spirit's work in producing truly sacrificial disciples.
In both of these sample cases it is like seeing the Book of Acts come alive.
In the west (and I fully include myself) we seem to be drawn to all that glitters rather than all that sacrifices. To comfort more than commitment. To knowledge more than duty. And that would seem to make us vulnerable.
A seminal moment in my walk with Jesus was in 1997 when I arrived back in the United Kingdom from a short mission trip to Lithuania. There I had encountered a faithful pastor and his family who were living in an unheated half finished house with winter approaching. He had begun to build a home for his family but then 'Peristroika' made his money almost worthless overnight, so for several years he and his family lived in what was basically a building site. While staying in a 'normal' house in Vilnius, I had to put on six layers of clothes to survive the cold nights, so I could only imagine what he and his family went through. As I stepped off the plane my heart was in pain for their plight and I was asking Jesus how we might be able to help them. The person who was waiting for me with their car excitedly told me that people at certain churches in America were seeing gold dust and getting gold fillings in their teeth so she was planning to save up and go on a trip to America to see if she could get gold fillings in her teeth.
Something felt very wrong.
Discernment is that simple.
Angels are a reality. The Bible is awash with angelic encounters in dreams, visions and live encounters. The world, and the new age followers have embraced the angel concept with delight. Some Christian leaders say that angels commune with them freely, not in a one time dream or vision, but appear to them regularly in live encounters, working with them, revealing their names so that they can be on first name terms. How do you know whether that is true?
The Bible reveals only two angel names to us. Gabriel the messenger and Michael the warrior. (The apocrypha speak of other angel names)
Jesus had only two experiences of angelic help. The first after His encounter with satan in the wilderness, and the second, the night before He died.
An encounter with an angel, not surprisingly, is often accompanied by reverential fear. Daniel's friends fled in terror and his face turned deathly pale and he was helpless when he saw a messenger angel. When Zechariah saw the messenger angel he was startled and gripped with fear. Mary was greatly troubled at the messenger angel's words. The shepherds were terrified when the angels appeared to them. The Roman guards at the tomb were so afraid of the angel who rolled the stone away that they shook and became like dead men. Cornelius stared at the angel in fear.
And of course on every occasion what the angel said came to pass.
When you hear leaders telling you that they shout 'WAKEY-WAKEY' to waken sleeping angels then you must decide whether this fits with the behaviour of Jesus, Peter, Paul, James, the early church, and 2000 years of historic Christianity. Angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation, but they serve us at God's behest, not ours!
Likewise, when you hear of angel feathers falling from above or appearing on the floor, you must decide if God has directed His angels to draw attention to themselves. This angel feather phenomena has no place in scripture or church history but is a well established phenomena in the New Age community which is awash with angels drawing attention to themselves by 'leaving their feathers'. (http://signsofangels.net/?p=981)
Discernment is that simple.
In the New Testament there are many accounts of 'signs and wonders' being done at the hands of the Apostles.
However, a sign or wonder happening at a church meeting where the elect meet is not a given guarantee that it is from God. It certainly can be, but all things should be tested. Remember though, that having tested, make sure to hold on to what is good. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water! Jesus warned His followers about false prophets and lying signs and wonders that could deceive even the elect.
The Apostle Paul warned the church, not the heathen, about signs and lying wonders being done by the coming of the lawless one. Few would doubt that we are in those days now.
The late Derek Prince wrote this warning about these end days that we live in.
Even in the closing book of scripture the warning is there.
So how can we possibly discern between one sign and wonder and another?
We can discern because what comes from God will always align with His known character. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. There is no record of Him putting on a show for the sake of a show. The signs and wonders done in Egypt, the Red Sea and the wilderness humiliated the might of Pharaoh and the Egyptian gods, enabled the Israelites to escape while drowning the Egyptian army, and fed His people in the desert. The mighty earthquake, wind and fire that Elijah saw at the mouth of the cave on Mount Horeb was to emphasise that God does not put on a show to get our attention but that He speaks to us in a 'still small voice'
All the miracles Christ performed had a benefit. The water to wine not only spoke of many things but blessed the wedding guests. The loaves and fishes not only spoke of many things but fed the hungry. Likewise all Christ's recorded signs and wonders had a benefit.
When the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus for a sign from heaven His reply was always the same. The only sign that would be given would be His eventual resurrection from the dead after three days and three nights.
When the crowds asked Him for a sign He gave the same answer.
The Jews were given the same answer.
However Jesus said that as His disciples went forth in His Name certain signs would follow. Signs that always had a benefit to people.
So all that gives us 'a feel' for God's heart regarding supernatural signs and wonders.
Angels are real, and scripture is awash with their activity, but is God today sending angels to sprinkle diamonds, onyx, gold dust, and oil upon his children?
These are real questions.
One preacher called Glen Smith was caught red handed dropping gemstones on the floor prior to his meetings. He admitted 'seeding' the gemstones. A very highly regarded lady preacher called Silvania Machado, one of the early ‘pioneers’ for the gold dust phenomenen was caught on film planting gold dust on a revivalist preacher Ruth Heflin's head prior to their meeting, then had her drop her head to reveal the gold dust. (web link and video link at base)
Charisma magazine reported that a sample of the flecks that cascaded from her head on the first night were sent for testing. A geochemist at the University of Toronto concluded the specks did not contain any gold or platinum but were some type of plastic film."
These people were caught, but how many others have got away with deliberately deceiving God's people? However, it would be quite wrong to say that all the gold dust or gold fillings accounts were fakes or mistakes. It seems from reports that a number of dentists have verified that some amalgam fillings have changed to gold. But is this God as the recipients so passionately believe?
We need to be careful.
Indeed the Queen of Heaven spirit continually has 'signs and wonders' of dripping oil, dripping blood, dripping myrrh, dripping tears etc flowing from statues or paintings of Mary, with many genuine testimonies of dramatic healing from these signs and wonders, (web link at base), yet no mature Bible understanding Christian would claim that these signs and wonders are from God. If you doubt this please read 'Is Mary the Queen of Heaven' in the Studies section.
This 'queen of heaven' has also taken at least two of the Medjugorje visonaries on a visit to heaven, purgatory and hell.
Gold dust is also a “sign and wonder” in the Hindu religion where it is regarded as a manifestation of the Hindu deities, and frighteningly, there is virtually no difference between Kundalini spirit manifestations and those we have seen in some churches in recent years. (Video links at base)
We need to take discernment seriously. Aaron's two sons Nadab and Abihu offered what the Bible calls 'strange fire' on the altar and died for it. Whatever this strange fire was, it seems that it was not regarding the holiness of God properly.
God doesn't change. He doesn't do gimmicks. He sent Jesus and Jesus sends us.
Discernment is that simple.
Can you see the Spirit of God manifesting in such a way as to have His people rolling out of control on the ground howling, roaring and barking? Can you see the Spirit of God influencing a leader to walk on his hands and knees like a dog, with a lead around his neck which is held by his wife. Is that really the personality of Jesus the Christ manifesting in His people? Can you see the Holy Spirit having people’s heads jerk and vibrate violently as they try to speak?
Or can you picture Jesus, Peter James and John falling about and laughing hysterically claiming that they were smoking 'Jehovah-uana' (likening the experience to drug induced highs from smoking marijuana) and calling it 'tokin the ghost' ? Or "smokin' baby Jesus", or "smokin' wood from the cross". John Crowder who leads the new 'mystics' claims regular miracles and healings at his meetings including deaf being healed. The manifestations that accompany him are the most unimaginably foul that I have come across, yet his following grows and his influence is spreading. (video links at base of page)In Acts chapter four we read of where the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem to question Peter and John. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. All avowed enemies of the gospel. When they cross-examined them the Bible says ‘they took note that these men had been with Jesus’.
When leaders start hyping the crowd with relentless chanting, extreme on-stage body movements and asking people to step into a 'spiritual vortex' that has just opened up in the room you must decide what to do.
If you can't envisage Jesus or the apostles hyping the crowd with repetitive chanting, having extreme body movements or talking about spiritual vortexes to jump into, then step back.
Discernment is that simple.
Do you see the avowed enemies of the gospel today noting that the people caught up in these recent extreme manifestations ‘have been with Jesus’?
The Spirit of God inspires holiness and humility, inspires mission, a love for the poor, a passion for the lost, a hunger for His Word, a hatred for sin and of course a deep obedient reverential love for Jesus. The Azusa Street revival, the Welsh revival and the Hebridean revival all testify to this.
Discernment is that simple.
When leaders speak (or are 'hinting') that all peoples will be saved because God's love could permit no less, then you must decide whether Jesus was telling the truth when He said,
The traditional gospel of dying to self, the servant heart, the sacrificial lifestyle, separation from the world and seeking to bless others has gradually changed to become the gospel of self gratification, bless me financially and entertain me with ever more amazing spiritual experiences. The gospel that our carnal nature did not like has been replaced by the gospel that our carnal nature does like.
We have 'apostles' focusing on angels of finance and money breakthroughs and calling it God's glory cloud. (audio link below)
One preacher boasted, “I just spent $15,000 for a dog. The ring on my finger cost me $32,000. 1 live in an 8,000 square-foot house, but I'm going to build a bigger one -- one Solomon would be proud of. When the people in my town see my big house and my Rolls Royce in the driveway, they know there is a God in heaven.” (web page link below)
God's heart and focus for His children could not be further in the opposite direction.
The real Jesus focused on the lost sheep, the lepers, the outcasts, the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame, the sick, the naked, the homeless, the prisoner, and the demonised. He asked Peter to feed His sheep and His lambs. He declared His focus loud and clear when He opened the scroll and read from Isaiah. (Matthew 4:18-20)
He declared His focus to us, His disciples. (Matthew 10:7-8)
He did speak of money, but except for the widow's mite, never in positive terms. We know His reaction to the commercial vendors in the temple, His remarks to the rich young ruler, His remarks about the rich man and the eye of a needle and His instructions to His disciples to 'not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts'
God knows our needs and He tells us what to focus on.
If it does not fit with the real Jesus, reject it.
Discernment is that simple.
If leaders speak of themselves as living daily in God's glory and bringing you power and revelation from that deep relationship, and it becomes known that they were at the same time living in gross sexual sin, or caught up in drug or alcohol addiction, or have an insatiable appetite for wealth then you must decide how much you will let them influence your life.
When leaders speak (or hint) that all faiths lead to the same God, and that believers in other gods will get to heaven without Jesus as their Lord and Saviour you must decide whether heaven is saying amen to that or not.
If leaders will neither model nor speak freely of the sacrificial lifestyle but model and teach a comfortable lifestyle you must decide if the Kingdom of God is being made manifest or not.
Discernment is that simple.
If worship awakens your spirit and makes you acutely aware of the Presence of God you are blessed. Satan hates God honouring Christ centred worship that is 'in Spirit and truth', so pray for anointed God honouring worship leaders. So many have fallen in recent years.
However, if 'worship' is nothing more than a loud christian pop concert which produces nothing but a soulish surface reaction you are not blessed. You can get the same from a secular show.
We are not called to mimic the kingdom of this world, we are called to model and proclaim the Kingdom of God.
Discernment is that simple.
The fire of God and the accompanying manifestations that are often mentioned in these movements bear no resemblance to the Holy Fire that I have experienced twice in twenty-four years of my walk with Jesus. The last time was when I lay wide-awake for several days and nights in intensive care in 2005. Despite the many tubes and wires attached to my body my hands were raised in worship right through the night watches as the Presence of Jesus filled the room with an intensity that I have only experienced once before. In my spirit I could see flames rising off my body and I wept with joy and a deep love of Jesus and I pleaded in prayer to see all of Ireland saved. I prayed with a passion I had never known before for unsaved friends. Many of the nurses who came into the room to tend me ended up talking about Jesus. It was the most holy, worshipful, reverential yet joyful hours of my life. And instead of dying as was expected, I lived!
An Indian doctor working in the hospital sought me out to ask me if my joy in the midst of as he put it ‘such a catastrophic situation’ was because of my faith. When I said that it was he asked me questions about the Bible and my faith for half an hour before my wife, fearing that I might be exhausted by the questions came and rescued me. He had noted that ‘I had been with Jesus’
I can hardly believe I am even having to write this next section. A subject popularly known as 'Grave Sucking'. The idea is that the anointing or mantle that famous dead saints had is still hanging around their grave and if you lie on their grave you may be able to 'soak up' and acquire their mantle or their particular anointing for yourself. So we have certain leaders and their followers photographed or filmed doing this very thing. The only scriptures that come anyway close to this are  when God took of the Spirit that was upon Moses, and placed the same upon seventy elders
(Numbers 11: 25 - note that all were alive and this had nothing to do with dead people)  The prophet's mantle (a double portion) was passed from Elijah to Elisha on the condition that Elisha was present when Elijah was caught up alive to God. (2 Kings 9-15- note this had nothing to do with dead people)  When a band of raiders threw a dead man’s body into Elisha’s tomb and it touched Elisha’s bones the man came to life and stood up on his feet. (2 kings 13:21 - note that the man came to life, he did not acquire Elisha's anointing) On the contrary scripture warns us at length to having nothing to do with those who have died. Simply put, all gifts, anointing or mantles are at the behest of God and come from God above not from below. We look to the living Jesus for such things, not to corpses.
Discernment is that simple.
Nineteen years ago I wrote this short plea to Jesus from the depth of my heart. I still remember the evening that I wrote it. I had just come back from a training run on a cold wet evening. I went upstairs to the bedroom, closed the door, wrote it out, and then put it into the Good News Bible that my mother had bought for Linda and I when she heard we had become Christians.
It is on a small piece of paper, folded in half, and it still resides in the same Bible. The opening line is on the outside cover, the main content is in the inside portion, with the concluding sentence on the back cover..
Let us not forget the simplicity that is in Christ.
Loved ones, may God bless you, and may you know His footsteps amidst the noise of so many other footsteps.
Other scriptures used as the framework for this editorial
Carter Conlon speaking on the laughing manifestations
David Wilkerson speaking on the laughing manifestations
An excellent article on angels
Video of fake gold dust being used to ascribe to God's glory.
Andrew Strom's videos showing a variety of manifestations and their Kundalini similarities.
A.W Tozer on the Lordship of Jesus