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 the second post of a three-part series to bring you ways you can increase your discernment – Part One is here. It’s an appendix in the book Another Jesus Calling by Warren B. Smith and I have supplemented it with my own opinion or from my experience – which you’ll find in italics.
5. Do not seek signs and wonders and spiritual experiences.
But sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation demand a sign? I assure you, no sign will be given to this generation!” ~ Mark 8:12
In this passage, the Pharisee’s were harassing Jesus to prove over and over again that He was who He said He was. He was done with their demands for a sign. In my experience, I’ve found it’s quite common to ask God for confirmation of something you believe He’s telling you. If it is He who is doing the telling, He will give the confirmation. We are not to test God in anything other than tithing. Malachi 3:10 is the only place in the Bible where the Lord says we can test Him.
When we start asking God for signs, we run the risk of asking God to confirm what we want – to bless our will – rather than seek to do His will. We can also develop a type of tunnel-vision by focusing on the “sign” that we become unable to even hear God’s voice in the matter.
I do believe that God still speaks in signs, wonders, and experiences to us – but not when we ask for them. We need to keep our hearts open always to hear from Him.
6. Do not get involved with undiscerning believers who are listening to and heeding deceptive spirits (or consulting with familiar spirits).
Do not turn to mediums or consult spiritists, or you will be defiled by them. I am Yahweh, your God. ~ Leviticus 19:31
No one among you is to … practice divination, tell fortunes, interpret omens, practice sorcery, cast spells, consult a medium or a familiar spirit, or inquire of the dead. Everyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord … ~ Deuteronomy 18:10a-12a
What can I say? If your best friend is the Long Island Medium, I’d say good-bye. Lots of people dismiss the authenticity of mediums, psychics, and other seers but I can’t because by warning me away from them, my God tells me they exist. I mentioned last week that I used to go to Psychic Fairs as a kid because they were fun. Many of the “seers” there were just making stuff up, but on a couple of occasions, I could tell the person really had a gift. Today, you would not catch me within a mile of such a place. The temptation is always there but my God gives me the ability, through His Holy Spirit, to not succumb to the temptation.
In today’s society, if people you know are gravitating toward these types of spiritualists, do not consort with them. You may have to break all ties, but Satan would like nothing better than for you to disobey God. Your eternal home is on the line.
7. If you’re confronted with a spiritual presence test the spirit and pray for wisdom and discernment from God. You may also, by faith, ask God to take the presence away if it’s not from Him because “greater is He that is within you, than he who is in the world.”
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you know the spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now. You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. ~ 1 John 4:1-4
Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. ~ James 1:5-7
I love the Holy Spirit but, in general, I don’t like spirits. I don’t believe there is any reason for a “good spirit” to be on earth. I also don’t believe angels are spirits – they are angels – a separate entity altogether. There have been many times when I’ve felt evil emanating from a person, and many times I’ve asked God to rebuke and remove the devil and his demons from my presence. There have also been a few times when I’ve felt an angelic presence.
The latest was during a late night stop at my post office box. The parking lot was empty but lights burned brilliantly inside. I’d turned off my car and immediately felt a presence. I actually looked up on the roof of the post office believing I’d see something but saw nothing. Somehow I had the distinct impression that this was a protective angel. Still in my car I peered out into the night realizing that there were many nooks and crannies in which someone could be lurking. The ‘feeling’ of the presence hadn’t gone away and I checked the roof again. I prayed quickly to God thanking Him for his protection and made my way quickly into the post office. I didn’t linger there and walked as quickly back to my car. The angelic presence was still palpable which interested me because I believed I was “safe” back in the confines of my locked car. I started the engine and made my way back to the highway, and home. The presence continued to stay with me for about five minutes of the drive and then abated. I often wonder what he was guarding me against and why he stayed with me even after I left the Post Office. I’ll never know, and that’s okay by me!
8. Love the truth. Be valiant for the truth. The Bible warns of the consequences concerning those who do not have a love of the truth. They can become deceived and fall away.
The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders, and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved. ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
I believe this is what we’re seeing today. It’s not that a Christian wakes up one morning and declares, “I’m no longer a lover of the truth.” It’s the itching ears syndrome (2 Timothy 4:3). They long to hear God but turn to other books and experiences instead of the Bible to hear Him speak. Christian, please remember that the only truth is found in the Bible. The Scriptures are your true North – nothing else.
I’ll be back on Monday with one last tip and to wrap up this series. Thanks for hanging in there. Have a wonderful weekend and please let me know if you’ve ever had to test the spirits!
This is the first post of a three-part series to bring you ways you can increase your discernment. I found this list as an appendix in the book Another Jesus Calling by Warren B. Smith and have supplemented it in some cases with my own opinion or advice which you’ll find in italics.
I was rebuked in a comment last week for boasting about my gift of discernment. I hope I truly didn’t come across as prideful. I use this gift for the edification of the church – to warn you from what I see happening under our noses. I am committed to lifting up the Church and certainly don’t want any of my brothers and sisters in Christ to be swayed in these last days.
That being said, here are some ways to be more discerning:
Be sure you are in the true faith following the One True God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and the One True Savior, Jesus Christ.
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless you fail the test. ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5
We are to continually test ourselves. The words ‘test’ and ‘examine’ in this Scripture are in present tense meaning it’s something we should do consistently. Ask God to show you if you’ve strayed off the mark.
Measure everything by God’s word.
… they [the Bereans] welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. ~ Acts 17:11b
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17
This is the easiest way to see if you are within the adversary’s target. So very often he comes at me with a saintly voice, even quoting scripture. It may take a minute or two of me believing that the Holy Spirit is impressing something to me when suddenly he trips up and I find the crack in his message. He deviates off of what God would NOT say. Ooooo I get so mad! I think I’ve even shaken my fist at the devil. “Try and sway me, will you? NO WAY!”
BUT, in order to have this work for you, you have to get to know the Scriptures. So open your Bible and start reading! It’s the only way you’ll be able to detect the devil’s lies.
Don’t be ignorant of our adversary’s schemes and devices. Be sober. Be vigilant. Be prayerful. Be watchful.
I have done this so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes. ~ 2 Corinthians 2:11
This is a most sobering call to arms. How many people have I met who call themselves Christian and yet do not believe in the devil? It boggles the mind. Luckily, I think these people are safe. Why should the devil bother with those who don’t believe in him? He’s already got them. (That’s not scriptural, that’s my opinion!) The problem is, he will use those people, those seemingly Christian, to get to you.
Additionally, don’t give the devil more credit than he’s due – but neither should you limit him. I met two Christian women once who told me that the devil can’t get inside our dreams. Is it safe to be that ignorant? The devil is the prince of this world, and while he is limited to what he can do to us by God, God has most assuredly allowed him into my dreams.
Pray for discernment. Ask God, as did Solomon, for spiritual discernment to help you determine good from bad, right from wrong, truth from deception.
So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. ~ 1 Kings 3:9a
In this post-modern world where the lines between good and evil are increasingly blurred, this is a prayer we should pray daily to help keep us on our toes.
Stay with me this week for more ways to increase your discernment.
This is Part Three of a series. Please see Parts One and/or Two if you’re lost. We’ll be right here when you return.
The devotional was given to me some time ago. I’m pretty sure I asked for it for Christmas one year. Hey, all of my friends were reading and gushing over it, I had to have it too.
What a mistake. My unease began with the wording used in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Surely Jesus wouldn’t sound so slick and smarmy. I remember only reading through a couple of weeks before back-tracking to the Introduction to find out more about the author. What I found there solidified my distrust of the message.
When I began to point out the obvious weaknesses to my friends, I was met with an attitude of disdain and sometimes downright anger at my suggestion that their beloved book might not be all that it’s cracked up to be.
I was (and am) worried. Some Christians have become so attached to this book that I wonder if they unconsciously hold it more valuable than the Bible.
It’s my sincere belief that Satan is going to sway the elect with this type of carefully crafted pseudo-Christian rubbish. We can already see it all around us – pastors who water down the Gospel, churches that completely dismiss parts of the Bible, and writers who say they’re Christian but then don’t hold to a biblical standard. Regrettably, there are a lot these days … authors you may have come to trust and suddenly go high-right in their theology, walking away from the Truth.
I’m not going to bore you with everything that’s wrong with the book because there are other excellent writers that detail the issues (I’ve given a small list at the end). But I am going to bring up a couple significant issues that should stand out as red-flag warnings for Christians. When we read things that raise the hackles on our neck or give us pause – even for an instant – our discernment capabilities should raise up like the robot on Lost in Space flailing its arms, “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”
Let’s review a few of the facts:
Sarah Young says she is channeling Jesus.
When I’ve spoken to my friends and acquaintances who are readers (and lovers) of Jesus Calling, this is what I hear as push back:
But some of it is soooo gooooood.
It’s not all bad.
Oh, there are some parts that I gloss over but most of it is great.
These types of statements tell me that the reader has already realized there are issues with the book and yet, is unable to stop reading it. Doesn’t that sound like an addiction? “I know it’s not good for me but I still partake.” Who is the one who wants to keep us in chains?
You’re willing to listen to the devil’s lies because “the rest of it is so good?” Are you kidding me?
He is swaying … even the elect.
Sarah Young says she is channeling Jesus.
Yes, that was my first point but now the biblical side. Don’t we read in Deuteronomy 18:10-12a (emphasis mine):
“No one among you is to make his son or daughter pass through the fire, practice divination, tell fortunes, interpret omens, practice sorcery, cast spells, consult a medium or a familiar spirit, or inquire of the dead. Everyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD,”
Why would the LORD, break His own word and come to us through the medium Sarah Young? It’s absurd. You might as well just throw away the Bible because Sarah Young and Jesus just conspired to make the Bible what every atheist and unbeliever says it is – just a pretty good novel.
Let’s also remember Leviticus 20:27-28 (emphasis mine):
“You are to be holy to Me because I, Yahweh, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine. A man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist must be put to death. They are to be stoned; their blood is on their own hands.”
Again, why would Yahweh suddenly change His mind and decide mediums were acceptable? I thought He was unchangeable? (See Hebrews 6:17-18)
Sarah Young states she was inspired by the book God Calling.
Written in mid-1930, God Calling is a book by “Two Listeners” – unknown women who allegedly sat one day with paper and pen in hand and waited for God to speak to them. It’s a classic book in the New-Age arena and I stumbled across it in the early 1990’s. Even though I wasn’t yet born-again, it felt slimy to me and I didn’t read much of it. One listener writes on their website (emphasis mine):
“We felt all unworthy and overwhelmed by the wonder of it, and could hardly realize that we were being taught, trained and encouraged day by day by HIM personally, when millions of souls, far worthier, had to be content with guidance from the Bible, sermons, their Churches, books and other sources.
Oh, poor us. Forced to be content with guidance from the Bible. What humiliation!
While I’m not disapproving of devotionals, I’m also not critical of sitting in your quiet time with your journal recording the impressions you receive after bible study or prayer. But you still have to be cognizant of whom the impressions are coming from, because Satan will worm his way into your mind if he can. Put on the full armor daily and take every thought captive to Christ! (Ephesians 6:11 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
I’ve told this story before but one day while living in Arizona, I came through an intense two-hour session of prayer and picked up my journal, chronicling my thoughts and emerged with a step-by-step plan of my future. Four of the five stages have happened and the last one will conclude soon. This was personal guidance from God. The kind of guidance you receive when you read your Bible and pray to your Creator, your Redeemer, your Lord.
I did not have any doubt that what I’d written in my journal was direction from our Lord. The first three phases were benign enough and I only started to receive pushback from the devil in steps four and five. If I’d had any doubt, it would have been dispelled then. Satan tried very hard (and almost succeeded) to end the fourth step before it ever began and has done his best to wreak havoc on the fifth and final step. To no avail. My God is stronger.
The main issue with Jesus Calling and God Calling is that I’m not quite sure what spirit is being channeled. It doesn’t sound like Jesus in the pages, He wouldn’t use a medium to bring His word to His followers, and if He did decide that this was the way to go now – He has just negated His entire WORD. You can’t just believe part of the Bible and dismiss the parts you don’t like.
Are you willing to continue to take the chance that who you’re reading is really Jesus?
Next week I’ll focus on how to become more discerning; because I believe that only a discerning mind is going to be able to see past the devil’s schemes in these last days.
In the meantime, check out these folks if you’re interested in a better and/or more complete reviews of the issues with this book:
You’ll notice in Part One that I called some of the books I received ‘purportedly’ Christian. Many were absolutely Christian, drawing from Scripture to impart strength and encouragement. Yet there were others that at first glance were going to convey a biblical message but seldom did. It’s in this manner that I believe Satan will sway the elect from God’s kingdom … at least one of his tools.
Those books spoke of Jesus and healing but only dappled in scripture. I use a small ‘s’ because the authors had so watered-down or poorly interpreted the true Word of God that it was almost unrecognizable. There was only one of those books that I actually appreciated – not because of what it stated – but because the author, a Reverend Capps, used disclaimers throughout his work. He fully informed the reader that he was rephrasing and summarizing Scripture and that if the reader wanted to know the true Word, they should look up the listed references. Hey, at least he was honest and didn’t try to make a pseudo-Christian book look legit.
There have only been a few books that I’ve come across in my life that were worse. If you’ve read me for a while, you’ve grown accustomed with my gift of Discernment. Over the years, it has only gotten stronger and when I begin to read a book or hear a message that isn’t authentic or that might be from an adversarial spirit my spiritual gifting kicks into high gear. I’ll either turn off the message, get away from the person, or close the book and throw it away and we’ll end this series by talking about ways to increase your ability to discern.
But the book that led me to write these posts is an especially good example of our adversary using a pseudo-Christian platform to sway followers. I was thinking about this devotional along with the other books I’d received that were either watered down Christianity or maybe not Christian at all.
Why is it that we (Christians) turn to the nonessential reading material to soothe our worries, fears, and anxieties and don’t just open and read the Bible? Honestly, isn’t that why God gave it to us?
When the Samaritan Women at Jacob’s Well doesn’t quite understand Jesus’ offer …
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again – ever!” (John 4:13-14a)
she asked Him to give her the water He speaks of so she won’t have to keep coming to the well to draw water; she’s looking for Jesus to make her life easier, more convenient. (John 4:15)
She didn’t initially realize that He, His Spirit, and His Word is His life-giving water.
Like this woman, we want the convenience. When I was walking away from God I conveniently made up my own religion – for convenience. It suited me perfectly. I still carted my Bible around but was no longer “in it.” But through the years I’ve met people who choose to read a devotional instead of the Bible and others who don’t read the Bible or any Christian literature at all. Every decision is an act to give ourselves a convenience.
The fact is – we don’t need devotionals. We don’t need anything other than Jesus – His Spirit and His Word. I’ll never forget the story of the man who planted over 500 churches in India. A pastor from the States went to find out what kind of teaching material the man was using to grow and sustain these Christians. The man was confused by the question. “What material?” He asked. “We read the Bible and do what it says.”
How many of us read devotionals alongside the Bible? I do and am willing to bet that most of you do too. Please know that in no way am I damning devotional material. Devotionals make me think in different ways about the Scriptures (and some of my favorites are in the picture above). The Holy Spirit may use them to convict me of a sin, or Jesus might use them to get me to read the referenced scripture so He can go in deep and really teach me something. That’s actually one of my favorite uses of devotionals – to open up my heart and head to learn something new from my Savior.
Next up: I’ll discuss the devotional that may be on everyone’s bookshelf, but because of my background in New Age philosophies, shakes me to my spiritual core.
Ever since I learned in the Bible that during the end times Satan will use anything and anyone to sway believers to follow him, I’ve wondered how that might happen.
False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. ~ Matthew 24:24
“Even the elect.” That is us, Christ Follower.
It chills me to my bones.
As a born-again Christian I consider myself one of the “elect” [typically any gentile or Jew who believes in Jesus (Yahweh) as the Messiah]. I ‘grew up in the church’ (as they say) but as I got older I still attended Psychic Fairs with friends in Connecticut … having fun whilst paying good money to people we weren’t sure had any true skills. It was a lark but we loved it and only sometimes thought there might be some validity in what the seer said to us.
Yet, when I got to college in Colorado, I found myself in one of the New Age meccas of the US and slowly began to explore this strange world. I experimented with much of the New Age philosophies and found I enjoyed the use of and excelled in creative visualization, tarot card reading, eastern and western astrology, throwing runes, the I-Ching, meditation, and even feng shui; which is not technically New Age but an ancient Chinese system of thought connecting the placement of objects to affect the energy (chi) of the universe.
When Shirley MacLaine’s book Out on a Limb was published in 1983 I devoured it like it was candy and tried (unsuccessfully) to astral project. I stopped before too long because I became concerned that my soul might separate from my body.
As time went on I melded the New Age ideas I enjoyed with Native American beliefs I was learning, and my old friend, Christianity – rolling it all up into a great gooey ball of gobbledygook that served me just fine. Satisfied me. Played right into my hand. I didn’t have a god in charge of me – I was in charge and had supporting players … God, the universe, my spirit animal totem, the sun, moon, winds, etc.
What some may not know about New Age, is that its practitioners will dip into any theology, even the Bible, when it suits their purpose. No world religion or spiritual practice is untouchable. They take Scripture out of context and apply it to any situation they need … which is probably one reason why I’m now such a stickler for using the Word as it is intended by God.
In using scripture, for a New-Ager’s purpose, most of the time a word or two will be missing from the verse (or the whole verse might not be utilized) in order to make it more powerful for their use. One of the most often used verses is:
He [the Lord] says, “Be still, and know that I am God …” ~ Psalm 46:10a (NIV)
The context of this verse is God talking to nations who like to make war and the Holmen Christian Standard Bible actually translates it to: “Stop your fighting-and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” ~ Psalm 46:10 HCSB)
However, when you take the first half of this verse out of context it becomes just words that are especially good when used as a chant during meditation.
Be still and know that I am God.
You see, New Agers believe that God is within every one of us. Not like the Holy Spirit residing within Christians, but that god is a universal life-force that anyone can call on. In using this verse New Agers cut off the first few words (they state that God is talking) and intone “Be still and know that I am God.” The “be still” part draws them into meditation … be still, be still, be still … and then the whammy – “Know that I am God.” “Know that I am God.” “Know that I am God.”
Do you catch what they are saying to themselves?
“I AM GOD.”
Once I gave my life fully to Christ and denounced all the other beliefs, I’ve walked the Christian road becoming stronger and stronger in the Lord. Many of my friends and other Christians are on the same course – striving to know God, to surrender daily, to walk in His will. Because I know the deep love and commitment I have for Jesus, I’m bewildered that Satan could sway me or any one of my friends. Preposterous! It couldn’t be done.
Or could it?
It may already be happening.
When I was diagnosed with cancer many friends and family gave me books to help pass the time and lift my spirits. Some books were secular and some books purportedly Christian and all givers were very well-meaning. I love and appreciate anyone who took the time to tell me they were thinking of, praying for, or loving me and/or my parents. Community coming together to aid in the care of the sick utterly warmed my heart and gave me immeasurable strength. I’ve said on numerous occasions during my recovery that I actually felt prayers. They curled around me like a soft warm blanket of love and gave me a reassuring sense of peace. Never doubt the power of prayer! But now I’m headed down a rabbit hole on prayer so I’ll stop now and see you on Wednesday.
In the next post I’ll talk about a book that has wormed it’s way into many Christian homes and is the basis for this series of posts. Afterward, some tips to grow your discernment. There has never been such a time to be strong, dear Christian. There is so much I want – need – to say about growing in your discernment and being able to accurately discern the spirits that are getting stronger and more insistent as the Lord tarries.
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.
As this election season gets crazier and crazier, look to the One who is eternal. The Beginning and the End. In Christ alone we have the light of life. No matter who wins in November, no darkness will overcome us.
Jesus is the Way. The Truth. The Life. (John 14:6)
It was through His death on the cross that He made a way for us to come to the Father.
So now, come near to God with a sincere heart. Seek Him passionately. Search Him with your whole being. Read His word and get to know Him. Chip Ingram said recently that we are to, “take the initiative with God’s word.” Dig in. Be teachable.
Ask God to reveal Himself to you … and then buckle your seat belt. The God of the universe will show Himself to you in full assurance of faith, for He who promised is faithful.