Spiritual Discernment and Relationship

Spiritual Discernment

Discernment and Relationship

“But he who is spiritual discerns all things,
and he himself is judged by no one.”
1 Corinthians 2:15

Discernment has nothing to do with intellectual prowess. True discernment is the aggregate result of an individual’s walk and life in Christ. Many today have confidence in their spiritual condition due to the overflow of teachings readily available to all. Any teaching that does not bring a corresponding measure of the “fear of the Lord” is bereft of truth. The foundation of a discerning life is built upon the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 2:3-13)

Discernment requires a walk and an abiding in Him; the things of God will always culminate in the character of Christ. The very essence of truth is Christ who is the Truth. Whenever an expression is in conflict with His nature or character, it will be exposed.

Discernment is a consequence
of our abiding in Him.

Discernment is a faculty developed over time (see note below). It is the natural function of a life which has grown in its relationship with Christ Himself. This sounds trite, but it is a knowing which is the fruit of relationship; not an accumulation of knowledge about Him on an intellectual level. A carnal familiarity with God produces pride, self-assurance and an inflated view of self, whereas a true knowledge of God fills the heart with the wonder of Christ Himself. It is from this place of vital, intimate relationship that all things are compared with Him who is true.

“Which things we also speak,
not in words taught in human wisdom,
but in Words taught of the Holy Spirit,
comparing spiritual things with spiritual things
1 Corinthians 2:14

Words, apart from the power and unction of the Holy Spirit, will leave people incapable of true discernment. Knowledge is a deceptive thing because it gives the perception that having a familiarity with the things of God alone is a safeguard. Words taught by the Holy Spirit produce a life of obedience which alone brings us into relationship with the living Christ. Obedience is the way into a life of friendship and relationship with God.

“You are my friends,
if you do whatsoever I command you”
John 15:14

A disobedient life will never have the true faculty of discernment because it is does not have an experiential identification with Christ. Friendship with God is revealed in an obedient life. Obedience is the fruit of a life that loves God more than itself. True discernment cannot be disassociated from obedience and the fear of the Lord.

Note: Discernment of a diligent believer is developed over time by its constant use from which a growing sensitivity to Him and His ways is fostered:

“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age,
even those who by reason of use
have their senses exercised to discern
both good and evil”
Hebrews 5:14

Brian Troxel

Spiritual Discernment – Familiar spirits

Spiritual Discernment

Familiar spirits

“A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit,
or that is a wizard…”
Leviticus 20:27

The term “familiar spirits” (KJV), mentioned only in the Old Testament, comes from the Hebrew word “owb” which originally meant “water bottle”. It was applied to mediums or “spiritists” (as we call them today) to describe those who presented themselves to the spirit world; the reference being the sounds a skin water bottle made when agitated (see below)*. The term “familiar spirit” was translated into the English language due to the means of their expression. They endeavored to deceive those who sought them out by imitating “familiar” tendencies of those who were dead. The term “familiar spirits” were applied to the mediums (not to the family or generational sins of people); deceivers who would by demon power provide accurate portrayals of the deceased though utterly false.

These same spirits can also come to people posing as someone who has passed on, someone with whom the person being deceived is “familiar”. This wickedness is not only deceptive but deadly. The term “familiar spirits” never referred to a family or a generational concept.

The New Testament Greek word for these same expressions uses the phrase “Pythonic spirit” which speaks of the same only it describes the nature of the spirit rather than the expression of the spirit.

In these last days we will see an increase in the activity of these deceiving ones. There will also be a release by the judgment of God a great deceptive power upon those who refuse the truth. They will be given over to the Lie in its diverse forms.

“Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie
2 Thessalonians 2:9-11

These deceptive expressions are even now invading the people of God to test them and to sift them as to whether they will hold to the truth or follow the Lie. These things will be accompanied by false teachings, pseudo prophesies and supernatural deceptive works. Only those who love the truth, obey the truth and abide in Him will be able to withstand the onslaught of these things.

“For false Christs and false prophets shall rise,
and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce,
if it were possible, even the elect
Mark 13:22

While many may think these will not be an issue because of their scriptural knowledge, personal associations and pride in their own “discernment”, Jesus said:

“But take ye heed: behold,
I have foretold you all things.”
Mark 13:23

In the world of security, specialists are taught to discern a counterfeit bill. They study and become so familiar with the real that, regardless of the form a counterfeit bill may take, they know when it is not genuine. So it is in the Spirit. We must live our life clinging to, abiding in and growing in our knowing of Him as our salvation and truth. If there be any reliance upon self, we will not stand in these coming days.

Even now there are those experiencing false visitations in the guise of a “familiar” prophet or teacher. The Spirit of God cries out “beware” and “take heed” to the peril which will follow all those who adhere to such deception.

May the Lord give us the humility of spirit to keep from the pride and self-seeking which leads many down the path to destruction.

“For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.…”
2 Timothy 4:3-4

*Note: “And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit (owb), out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust”
Isaiah 29:4

Brian Troxel

Spiritual Discernment – Wisdom

Spiritual Discernment

Wisdom

“Doth not the ear try words?
and the mouth taste his meat?”
Job 12:11

The wise of heart try the words they hear. Words abound in the church today and none are without intent. There are voices and intentions veiled within the speech of men. Though there may be many voices there is but ONE voice with whom we have to do (John 10:27).

“The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters,
and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.”
Proverbs 18:4

Words hold an intimation of deeper things. Whether perverse or godly there is a wellspring from which they flow. The common speech of daily life reveals the riddle and mystery of the heart of man; it cannot be hidden for long. What a man loves and desires will be expressed by his words.

“…for out of the abundance of the heart
the mouth speaketh”
Matthew 12:34

Wisdom is the pure fruit of the fear of the Lord. In its dominion men walk in the caution and prudence of God’s Spirit. It is the expert wine taster who discerns the quality of the wine, it is the chef who savors the food before him, and it is the wise who discern the fountainhead of the words of others.

“…a wise man’s heart
discerneth both time and judgment”
Ecclesiastes 8:5

Brian Troxel

Spiritual Discernment – The Manna and the Faith of Abraham

Spiritual Discernment

The Manna and the Faith of Abraham

“But be ye doers of the word,
and not hearers only,
deceiving your own selves
James 1:22

The Manna

The manna was to be eaten in the day in which it was given. The great provision of God was not to be held on to, it was to be eaten as the daily sustenance. So is God’s word. It is not given to be stored in the intellect. It is to be eaten and consumed through our obedience so that its substance becomes a part of our everyday life.

“And Moses said, let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them”
Exodus 16:19-20

The religious ways of men store up the sayings and words of the One who is the true manna. Just as the manna bred worms and stank so will His provisions if not eaten through the medium of obedience. The hearing of His Word if not coupled with obedience to that Word will bring deception and dishonor.

The Faith of Abraham

God spoke to Abraham to offer up his most beloved son and we see his faith revealed in his response to the word of the Lord.

“And he said, take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of”
Genesis 22:2

What was Abraham’s response? Immediate obedience. May we have just such a response in the obeying our Lord!

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him”
Genesis 22:3

The depth of our faith is revealed in the verity of our life. Jesus in talking to the religious leaders of that day declared:

“If ye were Abraham’s children,
ye would do the works of Abraham”
John 8:39

The Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus day had become deceived by knowing the scriptures and walking in the vain show of an outward religion; inwardly they had become “ravening wolves”. It was the pretense of an outward show of being spiritual rather than an inward reality. The great and penetrating question for us:

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord,
and do not the things which I say?”
Luke 6:46

Clarity of discernment comes to those by love obey and serve their God. It requires great grace to walk in obedience to His word and His way. Obedience is the path to knowing Him and the understanding of His Covenant.

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him;
and he will shew them his covenant.”
Psalm 25:14

Excerpt from the Spiritual Discernment and False Prophets Part One Writing

Brian Troxel

Spiritual Discernment – Self-Deception

Spiritual Discernment

Self-Deception

The foundation of spiritual discernment lies in the condition of our own hearts. If the fog and mists of deception cloud the verity of our own hearts the divine enablement to perceive error will be greatly diminished. True discernment will be as real and as sharp without as the objectivity with which we allow Him to examine our own heart. As we are honest within it allows us to have understanding and to see clearly the deception without. Purity of heart and freedom from our own agendas must be a reality in order for us to see peril in the lives of others. Obedience is God’s provision to free us from the contagion of self. It is there that presumption and delusion are met with the reality of our own condition. Those who never walk in the “faith” they hold live in a surreal world; their beliefs have never been challenged in the real world and the confidence of their standing in God is an illusion. Jesus sent out the disciples to walk in the substance of that which he gave them. It was in their actual handling of His life within the context of their own experiences that they learned their own inadequacy and their dependence on Him.

In our world today many Christians have not stepped out into the discovery of who Christ is in them. The knowledge about Him is not tempered by a life of obedience. It is a knowledge which is ethereal, unproven and conceptual. Lack of real and personal involvement in the things of the Son is in itself a deception that prevents the power of God from being revealed in the world around us. The deception of self is the greatest of all deceptions and requires diligence to prevent it.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence;
for out of it are the issues of life.”
Proverbs 4:23

Brian Troxel

Spiritual Discernment – Ananias and Sapphira

Spiritual Discernment

Ananias and Sapphira
(Acts 5:1-11)

They pretended to give all yet held back something for themselves. It was the pretense that brought the judgment of the Lord upon them. Had they held back a portion and stated so, their offering would have been accepted. It was the deceit of portraying that they had given all which was judged so severely. How we need to endeavor that our hearts be free of this great sin. This is a common sin of our day and is often overlooked for now. However, when we stand before our King such things will be brought to light for nothing will be hid in that day.

“For the Son of Man will come
in His Father’s glory with His angels,
and then He will repay each one
according to what he has done”
Matthew 16:27

Excerpt from the Spiritual Discernment and False Prophets Part One Writing

Brian Troxel

Discernment – Try the spirits

Spiritual Discernment – Try the spirits

“Beloved, believe not every spirit,
but try the spirits whether they are of God:
because many false prophets are gone out into the world”
1 John 4:1

The Day of God is upon us; it begins in darkness and culminates in the brightness and radiance of His Glory.

“And the evening and the morning were the… day”
Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31

The sifting of His Church has begun in earnest. There are many aspects of this great winnowing of hearts as God determinedly separates the wheat from the chaff; those who “serve the Lord” from those who serve themselves.

“Then shall ye return,
and discern between the righteous and the wicked,
between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not”
Malachi 3:18

The test of the hour is determined by our serving God, not a church, an organization, a ministry or a teaching. Serving God is a walk in vital communion with Him, where He leads us, speaks to us and we respond by the doing of His Will. The criteria for our life is determined by Him. We live to do His bidding. Our doing is not based on seeking agreement with those around us. It is in our submission to His Will alone whereby we are able to serve Him in truth. Those who seek the consensus of others will never know the joy and depth of communion and relationship with Him. The doing of His Will brings us to the “narrow way”, the way of the Cross of Christ.

Within the confines of the testing of the spirits, which so freely minister in the household of faith, the Apostle speaks to us of the necessity to discern the many voices of this hour. It is critical to note here where John speaks of testing the spirit and says “many false prophets are gone out into the world”, that we are introduced to the correlation between ministry and the spirit in which they are ministering. We must understand the point the Holy Spirit is making here. While many may think they can discern between the true and the false by an intellectual process or scriptural analysis they will actually be ill equipped to judge correctly in this Day.

John is stressing to us the necessity
to try the spirit of the expression
not just the content of it.

“Believe not every spirit…because many false prophets
are gone out into the world”

Excerpt from the Spiritual Discernment and False Prophets Part One Writing

Brian Troxel

Discernment – False Prophets – Balaam

Discernment – False Prophets – Balaam

Balaam the Prophet

This example is one which will require something beyond the discernment mentioned before. This is one of the highest forms of deception and one which will stretch the very limits of our walk in God. The church has been inundated with this high and unholy expression throughout her history.

It is with a certain amount of trembling that I share this for it must bring us to a place of total dependency upon our God. There is an element here by which our standing true is based in a most profound way upon the sheer mercy of God.

Balaam’s heart was totally perverse yet the prophesies which proceeded from him were in fact the infallible word of God. They are written in the scriptures verbatim for God overruled the false prophet with His own words. We are warned in the New Testament in the Book of Jude to understand the error and perversity of these expressions.

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear…
Jude 1:11-12

Jude’s heart for the people of God is to warn that these false expressions are “with us in our gatherings… feeding themselves without fear” in our very midst. Let us take heed to arm ourselves with the living Spirit of Christ to walk circumspectly in this day.

“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even NOW are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time”
1 John 2:18

Excerpt from the Spiritual Discernment and False Prophets Part One Writing

Brian Troxel

Discernment – Solomon and the Two Mothers

Spiritual Discernment

Solomon and the Two Mothers

Two women come to Solomon each seeking to portray themselves as the true mother of a child presented in Solomon’s court (1 Kings 3:16-28). Each claimed with great emotion that they were in fact the mother of this child. A perplexing situation indeed and one which presented a great test for the king! Those who would rule and walk in authority in God’s house must be schooled in the wisdom and council of God Himself. The spirit of discernment must work and rule within the heart of His own.

Solomon’s answer?

“Bring me a sword”!
1 Kings 3:24

Hallelujah! How can we not love the living word of God! It is a divider of that which is flesh and that which is of God’s Spirit. It is living, active and it is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the hearts of men.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do”
Hebrew 4:12-13

His living word is the sword of the Lord which pierces and divides asunder the very hidden workings of deceitful expressions and false pretenses, of seducing spirits and the presumptive expressions of false ministers in the community of faith.

These are but a few examples presented to us in the scriptures where the true and the false both seek to present themselves as true expressions. How we must grow into the place of abiding in Him for discernment and wisdom!

The purpose of all true ministry is to bring God’s people to the place of knowing and discerning the things before them. Without discernment God’s people have a very limited ability to pray, speak or react to the situations of life.

“And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.”
Ezekiel 44:23

Discernment is not only a gift of the Holy Spirit it is also a faculty which must be developed within the heart of every believer. The “strong meat” of the word of God is withheld from those in which the faculty of discernment is not developed.

“For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Hebrews 5:13-14

Ψ

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man”
1 Corinthians 2:14-15

Brian Troxel

Discernment – The Pythonic spirit

Discernment

The Pythonic spirit in the Book of Acts

“And it happened, as we went into a place of prayer,
a certain girl slave having a Pythonic spirit met us,
whose divining brought much gain to her lords”
Acts 16:16 (LITV, BLB)

What was this Pythonic (original Greek word used here) spirit declaring?

“…These men are the servants of the most high God,
which shew unto us the way of salvation”
Acts 16:17

To those who have had at least some experience with true spiritual warfare this is not surprising. The fact that these things are found in the scriptures prove that His people should have some knowledge of the deceptive nature of our enemy. In many places today such “prophesying” would be readily received to their shame and their own spiritual deception. It is imperative that we test the spirit that birth these expressions and not judge simply by the mere words of the utterance. It is here where many of God’s people are ill equipped in the discernment of things they allow in their midst. Spiritual ignorance is the product of a shallow and untutored walk with God. It is an indication of a heart which has not been open to the voice and the leading of His Spirit.

The Pythonic spirit is one of change, camouflage, deceit and is difficult to discern. The scripture describes its manner of working:

“There be three things which are too wonderful for me,
yea, four which I know not…
the way of a serpent upon a rock…”
Proverbs 30:18-19

Paul in addressing the Church at Corinth spoke hard words in order for them to stay true to the Gospel of God. Here Paul upbraids them for their willingness to receive false expressions over the true because they did not really want to embrace the truth of their condition.

“But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, so your thoughts should be corrupted from the purity which is due to Christ. For if, indeed, the one coming proclaims another Jesus, whom we have not proclaimed, or if you receive another spirit which you have not received, or another gospel which you never accepted, you might well endure these
2 Corinthians 11:3-4 (read the previous verse as well for context)

He is saying if one comes and presents another gospel or another spirit you might well endure such a one. Yet they had more trouble with Paul because he spoke the truth to them instead of nice smooth words. He actually cared for them with a godly love and jealously. It is because of these things the Church of God requires the Apostolic and Prophetic ministrations of God.

“Take heed to yourselves,
that your heart be not deceived,
and ye turn aside”
Deuteronomy 11:16

Excerpt from the Spiritual Discernment and False Prophets Part One Writing

Brian Troxel