THE 5 KEYS TO DISCERNMENT

-by Andrew Strom

Some people say that knowing Scripture is the only real key to discernment that we need. And yes – Scripture is very important – especially in exposing false doctrine. But it is not only doctrines or teachings that are the greatest danger today. It is just as likely to be false ‘anointings’ or spirits – perhaps even “lying signs and wonders”. And we may need more than just a good understanding of Scripture to spot these things. Remember, a lot of the people caught up in the “manifestations mania” that we described in the last chapter actually know their Bible quite well. And yet they could still be deceived. So what are the things that can help us avoid deception in similar situations?

Some of the most basic keys to discernment that God has shown me are as follows:
(1) Know your HOLY GOD intimately. (When you have seen His glory, His holiness and His love – by drawing close to Him in prayer – then you can usually see through any counterfeits because you know the “real thing” so well).
(2) Know your Bible. It is very important to be able to spot teachings that are either extra-biblical or directly opposed to what the Scriptures teach. However, it is important to remember that the Scribes and Pharisees were extrememly learned in the Scriptures and yet they missed the very Messiah that was prophesied! So knowing the Bible is important – especially for doctrinal issues – but we need to be able to “discern the spirits” also.
(3) Be a “lover of truth”. This is very crucial. Are you someone who will actually stand up for Truth – even against the crowd? Or do you remain silent even when you are convinced something is very wrong?
(4) Purity of heart and Humility. Many deceptions only appeal to us because there is something inside us that “wants” to believe them. They are seductive because of darkness and wrong motives in our own lives. We must search our hearts and root these out.
(5) The ‘inner witness’ of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to never over-ride this “still small voice”, as it will save us from deception again and again. (More on this below).

Did you know that even an unbeliever can often spot a con-man or a snake-oil salesman? They get a kind-of “gut feeling” about such things. And they are often right! In fact, they are often less gullible than the Christians! (Because we are told in the church- “Do not judge”, ‘Touch not the Lord’s anointed’, “You have a critical spirit if you do not join in”, etc, etc. This is the very reason why Christians are often the most gullible and easily deceived). We need to realize that the Bible says to “test the spirits” and warns very strongly that the Last Days will be a time of “seducing spirits” and great deception. So how can we become more alert to these things?

I believe that God has placed within every human being at least a measure of an inner “warning system” to protect us from being easily deceived – just as He has given us all a conscience. It is something that He has built into every one of us, in His mercy. (I guess a lot of it is simply ‘common sense’). However, Christians should have an even greater advantage in this area, because we have the “inner witness” of the Holy Spirit, and the ’still small voice’ of the Lord speaking to us every day.

But what I have found again and again with people who give themselves over to some form of deception is that they often “override” these inner alarms. They go against their ‘better judgment’. They ignore the little voice deep inside them that is telling them that there is something wrong. Christians today do this all the time. That is how they get themselves involved in such foolish deceptions.

This may all sound very obvious, but I am telling you, this one basic area alone could wipe out half the deception in the church right now. If only people would listen to these internal ‘alarm bells’ and act with common sense, half of it would be gone overnight.

The Bible is very clear that the Last Days are a time of such widespread deception that it would “deceive if possible the very elect”. It also shows that much of this deception will arise from WITHIN the church – luring believers who have “itching ears”. Do we see evidence of this kind of thing taking place today? Absolutely! In fact, some of it is at a level that is truly shocking. And yet it is all accepted as perfectly “normal” by many Christians.

One of the problems, of course, is that those who bring in these deceptions are ‘trusted’ by the congregation. They have a reputation and they put across some very convincing-sounding arguments and surround the whole thing with Biblical terminology. And thus the deception is harder to spot. (After all, if it were not “deceptive” then it would not be called ‘deception’!) People see spiritual power operating and assume that it “must be God”. But this is a very dangerous assumption to make in these days.

As I said in a previous chapter, there is also a lot of “peer pressure” involved as well. For if everyone in the church is getting into something, then shouldn’t you just ignore those little ‘alarm bells’ and jump right in? This is what is happening all the time in the church right now. And some preachers are very good at making people feel that they are ‘hindering the Spirit’ if they do not get involved.

So how do you avoid being deceived in this way?

Very simply, you do not go along to these meetings in a “gullible” frame of mind. And you do not allow yourself to be carried along with the crowd. You listen carefully to the preaching and make sure that it truly is Biblical. Then you watch the ministry happening down the front of the meeting and discern whether it really is of God or not. You do not “override” any feelings of unease or any ‘alarm bells’ going off inside you. And you do not allow yourself to be swayed by ‘peer pressure’. Even if the whole church is getting into something, it does not mean that you have to. If you do not feel quite “right” about it then DO NOT GET INVOLVED. If you need to, make some excuse and get out of there! You do not have to get involved in things that do not feel spiritually “right” to you.

A lot of people today will go to the front to get something “imparted” to them by almost every visiting speaker – almost as a matter of course. I tell you, in today’s climate this can be a very dangerous thing to do. In fact, some of this ‘impartation’ business has very flimsy backing in Scripture. Who knows what on earth these preachers are imparting? And who knows where they picked it up? I tell you, deceiving spirits are commonplace today, and I believe they are being imparted to Christians on a large scale.

Let me give you an example. I received the following account from a preacher in England not too long ago: “There were about 20 fellow ministers all gathered together in one large room at a local minister’s house. We were introduced to the special guest… The next 3 hours were the weirdest three hours I have ever had to endure. We started listening to [her] testimony which seemed very powerful, next she spoke of the times that she meets with the Angel Gabriel and other spiritual beings, next we moved on to portals between this world and the next and then finally to how she was going to open up a portal to Heaven in the room that we were all in. Now things started to happen, really crazy things and strange noises… As [she] moved around the room ministering to individual people they were crashing to the ground, bouncing up and down, running around as if on fire and making all sorts of sounds. When she came to me she had no prophetic words for me and nothing happened to me so she just moved on. My Vineyard friend was the first to crash to the floor. Since that day his church has taken on a different guise, it is not the same church any more.”

Now, you should know that this ‘guest speaker’ is a woman who is very high up in the Prophetic Movement – well known and highly regarded (except by people with discernment). This is typical of the kind of thing that happens in a lot of the more “powerful” prophetic meetings today. People are so desperate for a ‘touch’ or a spiritual experience that they will fall for anything. I myself have been in one of her meetings and what I saw was people making involuntary “bat”-like movements all over the building and an eery ‘wailing’ noise filling the air. It was truly awful.

Now, it should not surprise us that there are strong deceptions or “powerful delusions” around today, for this is exactly what the Scriptures predict will happen. All the way through the New Testament we are warned of these days – over and over again.

However, one of the problems we have is that God actually does ’strange and unusual’ things Himself. (Especially in Revivals). So we cannot simply throw out everything unusual. Just think about the Book of Acts for a moment. Not only are there healings and miracles and demons being cast out right through the whole book, but there are also occasionally angels appearing with instructions from the Lord, and an abundance of dreams, visions and prophecies, etc. So we see that God is definitely a SUPERNATURAL GOD. He does “unusual” things. Angelic visitations DO HAPPEN. Prophetic signs DO OCCUR. But please notice that all of these things have a certain holy “character” about them. And that is the key right there. They have a holy character, because they come from a holy God.

Being a strong Pentecostal-type Christian myself, I expect to see believers speaking in tongues and moving in the gifts of the Holy Spirit – just like in the New Testament. But as I stated earlier, God never goes against His own holy character. Or against Scripture. And as I often say, we may see Him do ‘unusual’ things but I believe we need to draw the line at “weird” or ugly. Some of the deception that is around right now has a ‘touchy-feely’ New Age sense about it. Remember that the New Age movement majors on “inner healing” and unusual spiritual experiences. I do not believe in ‘guided visualisation’ or anything of that kind. And neither am I very fond of the writings of Catholic mystics or the like.

However, I have personally found it very helpful to immerse myself in the writings of past Revivalists and the accounts of great moves of God. A lot of the men and women involved in these Revivals lived very close to God and knew Him intimately. They knew His holiness, they knew His glory, and they knew His love. And it is enormously helpful to one’s discernment to immerse oneself in these writings, I have found. I would recommend this to all Christians everywhere.

If you have been touched or involved in any way with manifestations or experiences that you think may not have been from God, then I urge you to utterly RENOUNCE (with your mouth, but also from the depths of your very being in Jesus’ name) any links or involvement with that experience or ‘anointing’. Please do not put this off, my friends. Some of this stuff is extremely dangerous. RENOUNCE it today.

I hope this article has been of some practical help.

God bless you all!

Kindest regards in Christ,

Andrew Strom.

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Posted in Articles by Andrew on July 8th, 2011 at 1:30 am.

4 comments

4 Replies

  1. Ophelia.v Feb 9th 2012

    ive read on discerments yes it truth of all what I read…BUT idont believed in speaking-in-tongues?because the enemy ive seen some are not of GOD..ITS BEST TOPRAY AND SPEAK TALK TO HIM DIRECTLY TO MOST HIGH ‘GOD’HE HEARS US AS YOU SPEAK AND PRAY WITH A ‘HUMBLE HEART AND HE CAN LISTEN TO US AND HE ANSWER IN HIS TIME .WE THANK THY LORD FOR HE IS GOOD AND HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER AMEIN..PLZ PRAY FOR OUR 21 YEAR GRANDSON IN S,PHILLIPPINES IS BEING HIT WITH A EARTHQUAKE NOW…WE KNOW BE STILL KNOW HE IS WITH OUR ADRIAN AMEIN GOD BLESS YOU ANDREW AMEIN.ophel..

  2. Irene C Jul 4th 2012

    Thank you Bro Strom, I just finished reading your book, “secrets of the Early Church” And it is right on. These truths should be shouted from the house tops. I have been on a Christian Forum for about 12 years, and these are the things that I have been telling them.

    Most of them are of the Baptist beliefs. Can you imagine the names that I have been called? But God won’t let me leave yet.

    I agree that God does give us discernment and with me, if something is wrong, I get a real strong grieving in my spirit.

    Once while living in another state, I couldn’t find a Pentecostal Church that I felt I could go to. Then I met this Charismatic group that was having House Church, although I felt like some things were wrong, still God was blessing the group, so I kept quiet.

    Then they joined 2 other Pastors, with a building. The first time I went to this new building, I felt like things were not right. Then on Sunday Morning, as I was worshiping, all of a sudden I saw 3 your trees, saplings, leaning toward a mud hole. That’s all I saw.

    That was the first and only time this ever happened to me. I sat there and wondered what I should do. Do i just keep quiet? Or do I tell them what I saw, and they can make of it what they want, I wasn’t sure what it meant. But there were 3 young Pastors in the church.

    God wouldn’t let me alone. So I asked if I could say something, and told them what I saw. Making no comment to the meaning.

    The Pastors wife then explained it all away.

    The next meeting I went to, it was Charismatic through and through, complete with “name it and claim it” And when the praise team got up to sing, they told everyone to put their chairs to the walls, because we were going to have a great time.

    The more they tried to whip the people up into worship and dancing, the more grieved my spirit became. I quiet singing and went to the side and sat down.
    My Pastor came over and asked what was wrong. I told him, “This is a disgrace.” He looked at me strongly and asked me why. I told him, they more they tried to whip the people up the more my spirit became very grieved.

    He asked me, “Would you tell that to John?” He was one of the older men, that had been with us from the beginning. I told him, “Yes”
    I was very nervous, as I didn’t know what they were going to say. John listen to me, then he looked at the Pastor and said, “This lady has a lot of wisdom.” I was surprised, but it wasn’t my wisdom.

    That Church lasted less that 6 mo.

    I then came home to Ind. And started going to another church, that I thought was grounded more. It had been Oneness Pentecostal but went Charismatic. I got the same grieved spirit. And then when they listened to a “dreams and visions” evanelist,which they had coming back time after time, teaching if you don’t have dreams and visions you are on the wrong road, as well as spiritualizing receiving the Holy Ghost as if speaking in Other Tongues, was not for today.

    I left that Church about 12 years ago, and have not went to church since then. I have wanted to start a house church, but I am a shy person that don’t get out a lot, and you have to have someone to start it with you. I am 80 yrs old, but still would do it if I could.

    I walk the floor, grieving for the condition of the churches. And I have children and grandchildren, that need to be saved. But there is no where that I can point them to. And this country is in sad shape going down hill every day.

    I do a lot of writing, I’ve written a book on Prophecy, and see that we are headed for Tribulation.

    When I read what you said about a Reformation coming, I have two thoughts about that,…

    1. When the One World Religion rises, all the churches that don’t go along with them will get their doors closed. And true Christians will not join them and be persecuted. True Christians will be like China’s Christians.

    2. It there is another great Revival, it will make Satan so mad, that this will spark the One World Religion into action.

  3. mike molyneaux Jul 31st 2012

    In every discipline, including the area of spiritual knowledge and discernment, the experts eventually tend to become less teachable and spiritually stagnant too. Like most of us, they start out as humble, dedicated, passionate and teachable servants of God. But the more they learn and the more they begin to emulate their teachers the more self-confident, self-righteous and even spiritually stagnant they become!!! Any teacher who refuses to accept spiritual mentoring and to be part of a mentoring program will soon become spiritually stagnant and not worthy of the calling to be a teacher of the Way, the Truth and the Life. Discernment is both gifted and nurtured. The gift is from God; the nurturing is through discerning and gifted mentors. There is no substitute for good spiritual mentors. REPEAT- there is no substitute for good spiritual mentors.

    Until we start a permanent, organized and active program of spiritual mentoring for every member of the body of Christ on a global scale we will NOT be entering the Kingdom of God. That’s not my opinion, that’s the promise of God to His servants. I know the main problem is that the expert teachers eventually tend to become so self-confident, self-righteous and spiritually superior that they don’t believe there is anyone qualified to mentor them. That is a fallacy. The test I received as a spiritual gift measures the beliefs and insights of each individual against the mind of Christ which is the perfect standard. If we all make the effort to search we will all find a spiritually mature mentor. If you disagree then you contradict the scripture that says “Seek and YOU WILL find.”

    Some of the best among us may not find a single individual, who is spiritually mature enough to take us on, but in such cases of extremely mature Christians, the test I received can be applied to a group of extremely mature Christians and the test itself will provide good counsel and guidance to each member participating in the group. I suspect you may think I’m conceited or crazy to even suggest that but I’m not. God revealed this test to me as a gift to help with the important process of building up of the body of Christ until we all reach spiritual maturity. I don’t take offence or suffer loss if people don’t recognize or decline the offer of sound counsel and guidance. It just means God will use other people for His greater and more responsible tasks in His plans and purposes. I will be pleased and honoured to help anyone who looking for a good spiritual mentor in your congregation or area. Contact me at [email protected] +646274038561.

  4. Andrew

    I agree that the characteristic’s listed are very important for discernment, however as most have told me at one time or another, no one knows the entire mind of God.

    Actually going way out on the edge, it does say ‘we have the mind of the Lord’… within the will and purpose of our God.
    1 Cor 2:14-15 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned… but we have the mind of Christ.

    And again on the edge intuitively as you’ve mentioned, I believe God did place an emnity and warning within His own.
    Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers…

    But there may be one area we have difference, say the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and discernment, these may not all or in any part be found within all of the church-body. Specifically, I believe this discernment may often in fact be an individual… and most churches silencing this gift and person.

    This is another sore spot for myself in that I believe the church-leaders often hold back some of the gifts… seeming to me within most churches displaying no discernment at all.