“The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death”
The words of the wise bring God’s people to choices. They clearly present the way of life contrasted with the path which leads to spiritual decay. Life itself is a series of choices and each choice has consequences. Jesus speaks of the narrow way which leads us to life. This narrow way is fraught with decisions that determine the depth of our apprehension of His Life and vitality.
“For narrow is the gate, and constricted is the way that leads away into life, and few are the ones finding it“
The presentation of truth as a fountain of life enables the hearer to turn from the “snares of death”. The Gospel is presented to equip God’s people to walk in truth, not just to hear the truth. The wise bring men and women to a place of reality with words that lead to righteousness. The words of fools make light of sin.
“The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving”
“The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom“
Lawlessness is the atmosphere of Satan himself. Chaos, destruction and mayhem is the short-lived expression of men without reason, hearts without feeling and actions without purpose. It is the justice of God to decree that every form of evil has within its own expression the deeds of its own destruction.
The followers of Mao were imprisoned and murdered by the very mobs they once were a part of. The Brown Shirts of Hitler brought their own destruction upon them by the very evil they perpetuated. There are many other examples of this one truth; one simply needs to read the annals of all civilizations to comprehend the days in which we live. History declares the sure end of all who walk in the ways of darkness. The sad testimony of history is that it ever rises to repeat its own sorrows.
Yet in the midst of all the darkness the power of the incomprehensible love of God is ever within reach to all who would come.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”
“The fear of man bringeth a snare…”
Discernment by its very nature demands objectivity. The effect of the workings of the cross in one’s walk will determine the measure of our discernment. Objectivity is the fruit of our dying to self. Wherever agendas, self-promotion and personal advantage are present, clear vision becomes impaired. Discernment is a very costly commodity within the heart of a believer. To see aright a heart must be rightin the “fear of the Lord”. To fear God is to be free from the fear of man.
When there is fear and undue concern regarding the opinion of another the ability to see clearly is compromised. Fear of a single individual or submission to group-think causes people to remain in a clique, sect or cult. These are critical days. It is of vital importance that men and women become free to live and walk in the fear of the Lord. The true ministry of God will always lead His Own to fear God and walk accordingly.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ”
A desire to garner the acceptance of others, speaking the right things to maintain a relationship, or a semblance of conformity to the dictates of a group, are the shackles of religion. The power of truth brings freedom; a freedom to live, speak and walk in the liberty of His Spirit to please and honour Him alone. It is from this freedom that men and women are liberated to assess and evaluate the subtler issues of life. This is the only means by which the true unity of the Spirit can be known; each member discerning all things by their own witness through the Living Christ in whom they abide.
Religion ever exerts a pressure to conform to the directives of men; truth is the means by which we are transformed.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”
It is in the transforming work of God whereby His Own are freed from the blinding influences of sects and ingrown heresies. Discernment is a gift and developed by the power of the cross. Many in this hour will freely use the Name of Jesus to hold sway over the lives of others; some may even perform outward signs and wonders in His Name (Matthew 7:21-23). They may appear spiritual but, in the end, they serve themselves and their own ambitions. They create divisions in order to have the pre-eminence. They distinguish themselves and their followers from others through the subtly of influence and fear. God’s promise to those who allow the washing and the fire of the Word of God is the divine ability to discern between those who serve God and 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 (read the context)
Those who serve God ever seek to minister unto others the pursuit of the “unity of the Spirit” through the development of each individual’s own walk in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
“A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke”
The wise hear the Father’s correction and instruction. A proud scorner cannot hear the reproof of the righteous. It is the heart’s condition that determines hearing.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life”
The issues of life are determined by our hearts; for life is about affection, desire and love. What the heart pursues determines the course and end of each person’s life. Those who love truth, will hear the truth. The self-seeking will hear only that which will promote them and their agendas.
Judas heard the words of Christ, he saw the wondrous works of the Father, and the love and grace of Christ, with no effect.
It is within the confines of loving truth, embracing truth and becoming true that His Own show forth the verity of His Salvation. Those who are of the truth desire it; even if it means receiving correction, admonition and rebuke. To love truth is to seek it out.
David cried out in the Psalms:
“Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil…”
The proud, the religious and the self-seeking do not heed the corrections of the Father. Those who love truth receive graciously the words of truth from foe and friend alike; therein is the promise of life and honor. God can use even the words of our foes for our benefit; words that search our hearts and cause us to take heed to our ways. The hungry in heart find instruction in all things for they know that all things are ordained of God for their learning.
“Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee”
The scorner (the proud of heart) hates reproof and correction whereas the wise one loves truth enough to receive those words as from the Lord.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”
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.
“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”
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.”
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.“
“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
“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”
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…”
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”
Excerpt from the Spiritual Discernment and False Prophets Part One Writing
“The fear of the Lord IS THE instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.”
Let the power and substance of this verse sink deeply into the very core of our being. “The fear of the Lord IS THE instruction…” His fear in our lives is what teaches us the true wisdom of His ways. It is in knowing “the fear of the Lord” where access is given to the “hidden wisdom” of His ways. Without the fear of the Lord, there is a limitation in understanding the wonders of His Covenant or the mysteries of His righteousness.
“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and He will shew them his covenant”
The fear of the Lord is His way of instructing us and keeping us free from the snares of man’s methods, ways, and teachings. It is His way of preserving us from the “wisdom of this world” and the folly of the religious ways of men.
It is the fear of the Lord that causes us to walk circumspectly and to consider our words, our thoughts, and the motives of our hearts. Without this hidden operation of touching His Holiness there is a dimming of the wisdom, understanding and spiritual discernment of our God. The religious ethos of any generation in which the fear of the Lord is lacking will be revealed in the lawlessness of “every man doing that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
“But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.”
This is not the description of those without, it is a warning to those within!
“they feast with you without fear“
Wherever grace is promoted at the expense of righteousness hypocrisy and worldliness will flourish.
Can we not hear the crying out of wisdom unto all who would be instructed in the way of the Lord? His way is the way of life and it is in our knowing the “fear of the Lord” wherein we are instructed to abide within the walls of His salvation.
“Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord”
“And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:…”
“There is a very cheerful emphasis on that word “once.” I know people who have so much grace that death seems to be attractive to them, and they really talk as though they would be willing to die half a dozen times. It is not so with me. I submit to the idea only because I have to. But, thank God, we die but once. We take seventeen thousand breaths in a day, but there will be only one last breath.
1. I remark, in regard to the first crisis, that it will be the ending of all our earthly plans. If Napoleon wants to fight Austerlitz, he must do it before that, or never fight it at all. If John Howard wants to burn out the dampness of the dungeon, he must do it before that, or never do it at all. The last moments will snap off all our earthly schemes. If our work at that time be rounded, it will stay rounded. If it be incomplete, it will stay incomplete, like the national monument on Calton Hill, Edinburgh — a row of pillars showing what the building was meant to be, but is not.
2. Again, I remark that the first crisis spoken of in my text will be our physical ruin. However attractive the body may have been, it must come to defacement and mutilation. Dissolution!
3. Again, I remark, in regard to the first crisis of which I speak, it will be the ending of all our earthly associations. From all our commercial, all our social, all our political, all our religious, all our earthly associations, we will be snapped short off.
4. Again, I remark, in regard to that first crisis, it will be the ending of the day of grace. Before that, plenty of bright sabbaths, and golden communion days, and prayers, and sermons, and songs; but at that point a messenger from God will stand with uplifted hand, bidding all opportunities of salvation “Stand back!” But I have given you only half the text. Is there anything after that? When our physical life is extinct, are we done? No! I am immortal. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.”In that one word of eight letters are piled up harps and chains, palaces and dungeons, hallelujahs and wailings of eternity.
1. I remark, in regard to that second crisis, that it will be our physical reconstruction. Paul will get back his body without the thorn in the flesh; Payson his, without the pang; Robert Hall his, without the lifelong excruciation; Nero his; Robespierre his; Napoleon III. his; the sot his; the libertine his. Some of the bodies built up into unending rapture, some of them into unending pang.
2. I remark, again, in regard to that second crisis, that it will be the time of explanation. Why is it that the good have it hard and. the bad have it easy? Why that the Christian mother is deprived to-day of her only child, and the household of the godless left undisturbed? I appeal to the day of judgment. On that day God will be vindicated, and men will cry out, “He is right — everlastingly right!”
3. That last crisis, I remark, will be one also of scrutiny. I do not know how long the last trial will take, but I am very certain that all the past will rush through our recollection. And just imagine it, how that man, that woman will feel when displayed before him or her there shall be ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years of unimproved opportunities.
4. I remark, again, in regard to that crisis, that it will be one of irrevocable decision. If we lose our case in the Court of “Common Pleas,” we take it to the “Circuit”; or, failing there, we take it to “Chancery,” or “Supreme Court.” If we are tried before a petit jury, and the case goes against us through some technicality of the law, we get a new trial. But, when the decision of the last day shall be given, there will be no appeal.”
Thomas De Witt Talmage
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness”
2 Peter 3:11