This is the last post of a three-part series to bring you ways you can increase your discernment – Part One is here and Part Two here. It’s an appendix in the book Another Jesus Calling by Warren B. Smith and have supplemented it in some cases with my own opinion from my experience – which you’ll find in italics.
Before I close out this series I need to go back and clarify two issues from Part Two.
In #5 in which Mr. Smith says “Do not seek signs, wonders, and spiritual experiences.” I stand by what I said originally but want to clarify: I absolutely believe that God still speaks in signs, wonders, and spiritual experiences. God will use anything and anyone to get His message across. For me, He has used people, songs, birds, and even secular books to solidify a point. My faith has been built on His Word and the spiritual experiences He’s given to me. What I want to stress is to be careful in interpreting any sign, wonder, or spiritual experience you encounter.
I’ve known people who have become so fixated on a sign that they stop looking to Jesus Himself. I’ve had friends tell me that they asked for a sign and then God said “this” in a cloud but the next morning He said “that” in the waves of the ocean. Our God is not a God of confusion. Just like the issues I have with Jesus Calling, He is and was and always will be – unchangeable. As much as we should test the spirits – test the signs you think you see. This is why we need to continually grow our discernment.
Secondly, I stated under point #7 that I don’t believe angels are spirits. A dear friend pointed out that in Hebrews 1:14 when the author is comparing Jesus to angels he says:
“Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits sent out to serve those who are going to inherit salvation?”
That also reminded me that all demons were originally angels fallen from God’s grace. So I stand corrected. Angels are spirits too. Somewhere along the line I guess I just made an internal decision that angels (good) spirits (bad) and that vernacular leaked out into the blog. I should be more careful! Mea culpa.
Now – on to the last example to heighten your discernment:
9. Gird up the loins of your mind. Take every thought captive for Christ. Fight the good fight. Contend for the faith. Let God’s truth continually preserve you.
Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter 1:13
… since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses. ~ 1 Timothy 6:12
Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. ~ Jude 1:3
Teach me Your way, Yahweh, and I will live by Your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name. ~ Psalm 86:11
Lord, do not withhold Your compassion from me; Your constant love and truth will always guard me. ~ Psalm 40:11
Take every thought captive for Christ. Guarding your mind is so vitally important! When I read the book Another Jesus Calling I was overcome by compassion for my friends and other Christians who have been reading (and loving) Jesus Calling … a book I believe is not at all from Jesus. Within one day I heard Ms. Young was releasing another new version and my heart sank. How many Christians (fans and/or followers) are being held in the grip of this spirit who is speaking for Jesus?
Please be wary about anything that comes into your mind that is not of God or godly. Learn to see it and oust it before it starts working on you.
I was listening to a talk by Jenn Johnson (Bethel Church) recently and she reminded me about viewing everything with a Kingdom perspective and to not let yourself get mired down in the negativity that has become our society these days. She’s right and it’s a word we all need to hear time and time again.
This is a post from my friend Ben Nelson, author and blogger, who writes almost daily on his blog Another Red Letter Day. Ben has this beautiful way of taking stories from the Bible and writing them in first person – becoming a character in the story – and this is one of my favorite stories. In fact, he has a book out the walks you through 40 days with Jesus. It’s remarkable. Please enjoy.
There is no way to get rid of this kind of
demon except by prayer.
Help My Doubts
Father of a Demon-Possessed Boy
I remember the doctor saying to us, years ago, “Keep a record of his bad days.” My son—my eight-year-old boy—Enoch and I visited the doctor often in those first days. It’s been another eight years since we stopped going to doctors. For seven of them, we’ve found it easier to record the good days than count the bad.
The first sign the demonic attack has begun—we now know it’s a demon—is Enoch’s eerie silence. His eyes glaze over and it seems like he has gone away. He can’t hear—or at least he doesn’t respond to sound—and never speaks.
In the beginning, we thought he was sick. My wife, Havah, and I took him to our family doctor in the village. At first, this demon did not awaken while we were with the doctor, so he didn’t know how to help. Enoch, couldn’t tell the doctor much. He couldn’t remember what happened during his episodes. He just fell—no—not fell—it was like being thrown to the floor. Then he rolled around the ground as stiff as a board, foaming at the mouth. If there was anything dangerous nearby, like fire, or water, or a steep drop, he’d head right for it.
Our third visit to the doctor was after a furious episode where Enoch found his way right into an open fire. It scorched more than half the skin on his left side. The doctor said he could treat the burn, but he told us we should see a priest or rabbi. He didn’t think Enoch had any disease.
“This boy is possessed by a devil, and I can’t help you,” he told us as he gave us some salve for his burns.
After that, we went from rabbi to rabbi, each one shrugged his shoulders and wished he could do more.
It’s been seven years of rabbis and priests. We’ve given special offerings at the temple and paid for professional intercessors. We’ve gone to every house of prayer in Judea. Once we even traveled up to the temple at Shechem in Samaria to see if they could help us.
About a year ago, I started hearing stories of a rabbi from Galilee who was casting out demons and healing the sick. At first, I didn’t want Enoch and Havah to get their expectations aroused, but as the stories multiplied my heart began to hope.
One of my neighbors returned from a visit with some family up north near Tiberius. He told me of a pair of Jesus’ disciples going through the town. They were healing the sick and casting out demons in the streets. I’ve know Ari for many years, and he wouldn’t repeat these stories if there were any doubt in his mind. He was there. He saw men and women healed before his eyes, even some possessed by demons like my boy.
That’s when I started planning. I didn’t tell my wife, or even my son, what I was really up to. I didn’t want to lie to either of them. I just told Havah I wanted some time alone with my boy. I started planning for a trip with Enoch to find this Healer. I would tell Him my boy’s story. If He refused or couldn’t help, the disappointment would only fall on me.
I learned that He had been seen teaching and healing near Cana up in Galilee, so I packed our things and Enoch and I headed north.
Traveling with Enoch is no holiday. Everywhere we go, we have to be prepared to deal with his oppressor. This trip was no exception. In fact, the spirit’s brutality the first night made me think we were might be headed in the right direction. The vile captor in Enoch’s young body protested more than ever. We didn’t sleep at all the first night we were on the road. Before I even had the fire burning hot enough to cook some dinner, he was flailing around and smothered it, at great cost to his own flesh. It was a grueling three days and two nights.
When we got close, someone told us the Teacher was on Mount Tabor. So we followed the road down from Cana to the east. As we approached the mountain, we found crowds at the base. I expected this. The accounts I’ve heard always have large crowds around this Healer.
It was nearly sundown when we came upon a few of the Healer’s disciples surrounded by dozens of on-lookers. They had just healed a couple of blind men. Next, they were laying hands on a lame woman lying on a sort of mat in the middle of the group. As we pressed our way into the center of the gathering, we saw this woman on the bed getting to her feet. Then she started jumping and running around the circle of spectators.
The disciples looked almost as stunned as the no-longer-bedridden woman. One of these men called out, “It’s the name of Jesus that heals the sick and delivers anyone in bondage.”
We had found Him.
I started waving frantically, crying out “My son, help my son!” I must have looked a little mad myself. I began to tell my son’s story to the one they were calling Andrew. There were three other groups like the one I was in, each surrounding what looked like a few disciples.
“I’m Andrew,” said the man who was speaking, “and this is Simon the Zealot.”
As soon as I began to describe Enoch’s condition, my son flew to the ground. I had my back to him, so I didn’t see the warning signs. I would have steered him away from the crowd before he went it to the full display of fury that is my son’s daily reality.
He was rocking back and forth, jerking up and down, six inches into the air and then slammed down again, rolling over so the foam covering his mouth was full of the Galilean dirt. Andrew and Simon hurried over to him and began to command the demon to come out.
“In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, come out,” they called.
Nothing changed. They said it a little louder. “In the name of Jesus, come out.”
They asked others in the crowd to hold him still while they prayed for him, laying their hands on his head and chest.
He thrashed and freed his arms. Then began slashing at them with his fists and scratching with his fingernails.
Andrew and Simon called two of the other disciples over to them and they started out the same way.
“In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, come out.”
I have to say, they didn’t give up. The sky grew fully dark and the air chilled as this failed exorcism went on into the night.
Finally, sometime after midnight, I took Enoch away from the crowd and we found a quiet place to get some rest. He had been in full manifestation for hours, and when he finally calmed, he was ready to sleep.
The sun was already well above the horizon when we awoke. The commotion that woke us was the arrival of Jesus and three more of his followers. They had apparently spent the night on the mountain. I’d never seen anything like Jesus. He was glowing—glowing! It wasn’t just the sun shimmering off his robes. The light emanated from Him.
As we approached Andrew called to Jesus, “Here they are Mater. We did everything you taught us and nothing changed.”
Once I realized that Jesus was right there, I said, “Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn’t.”
Jesus said “What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.”
Andrew took Enoch by the hand and led him to the Master.
The demon in my boy did his worst. He slammed him to the ground with no warning whatsoever. He pushed him right into a nearby fire. He convulsed and foamed and moaned, teeth grinding and eyes wild.
Jesus asked, “How long has this been going on?”
“Ever since he was a little boy,” I replied. “Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”
Jesus’s eyes looked eager. “If?” He responded. “There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”
That brought me up short. “I do believe;” I blurted, but then I wondered if I did, so I added, “Help me with my doubts!”
I think the crowd knew something big was about to happen because they started to press in. Some just realizing that Jesus was back, others hearing the conversation. Everyone wanting to see what He would do.
“Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!” Jesus spoke directly to the spirit who had tormented my son—my whole family—for the last eight years.
Enoch cried out, lifted off the ground and then fell back down with a thud. This time not rigid, as in times past, but more like a rag doll, begin tossed away. He lay there for what seemed an eternity. The crowd started murmuring.
“He killed the boy.”
Jesus walked over to Enoch, leaned down and grabbed his hand and pulled. At that moment, Enoch’s eyes opened, the color came back into his face. He nearly bounced up off the ground. With his hand in the hand of the Healer, he looked more alive than he had since the evil first took him. The joy was back in his eyes, the joy of a child with a future.
The two days traveling home seemed like a dream to both of us. In every village, at every meal, we shared our story with everyone we met. We were not just witnesses to a miracle. We were changed by our short visit with Jesus. His Words changed my boy and turned my hope into an unshakable faith.
My Havah could hardly believe her eyes. One look at Enoch’s countenance told the whole story. My son was bound, but now his chains are gone. His captivity is over. He’s free!
Messiah truly has come in our day.
To read the original story, see Mark 9:15-30. Quotes come from the Message Bible.