Saturday, July 5, 2008

Judging or Biblical Discernment?

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.

1 John 4:1
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Revelation 2:1,2
To the church in Ephesus,"To the angel
of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false."

There has been much debate in the last few weeks about whether or not the Lakeland, FL meetings with Todd Bentley are a true revival from God or a work of the enemy to lead people away from Jesus Christ and the true gospel. Those who say “don’t judge” are setting themselves and others up for great, and possibly permanent, harm.

I attended Charismatic/Prophetic churches for over 25 years, and I have seen and been deceived by this type of prophetic “ministry” in the past (more than once, unfortunately). There really is no new thing under the sun (Eccl.1:9). Benny Hinn, for example, has claimed just as Todd Bentley has claimed, to have angelic encounters and out-of-body experiences as well as new revelations from God. (See the Let Us Reason Ministries’, March 5, 2001 article entitled “Benny Hinn- Touch, Topple, Tilt!” at )

In 1985, Benny Hinn was a featured speaker at our church’s annual campmeeting. This was the first time that I saw sections of the crowd “fall under the anointing” just from a wave of the preacher’s hand. I felt quite unspiritual because I was still standing. I thought that there must be something wrong with me or that I might not even be saved since I could not feel the Spirit! In following years, I was taught not to question what the leadership said or did-"touch not Mine anointed”- or I would be speaking against God Himself. So, I went along with the crowd and acted like I was just as sensitive to the spirit as they were, while all the time feeling like more and more of a failure because I couldn’t sense the Holy Spirit moving.

About 10 years ago, I attended a prophetic conference at MorningStar Ministries in Charlotte, NC. When one of the worship leaders started clucking and flapping like a chicken, I accepted Rick Joyner’s declaration that she was just “in deep intercession” and that no one should speak against what God was doing. Like good little mindless robots, most of the crowd followed right along, and I felt like I was spiritually ignorant and disobedient because I was questioning.

Time and time again throughout the years, I allowed false prophets and teachers to convince me that I was not hearing from God if I was questioning their teachings. I became severely depressed because I was sure that I would never be a good submitted Christian. I withdrew from church, but I thank God that He continued to draw me to the Bible and that He was able to reach me and restore me through His Word before it was too late.

I am convinced now that the Scriptures must be our foundation and our standard for evaluating everything. If a teaching or experience does not line up with the Word, it is not of God. It does not matter what we feel or think. Jeremiah 17:9 says that man’s heart is deceitful above all things. Our soulish nature is to deceive ourselves and one another. Elevating man’s doctrine or our own feelings or experiences above God’s Word opens us to deception.

The world teaches techniques of deception that are eerily familiar to what we often see in prophetic ministries. (See the following link for a video comparing hypnosis techniques to Todd Bentley’s ministry technique in Lakeland. )

Christians, God has given us the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God for a reason. He wants us to use it to cut through the enemy’s shroud of lies and bring light to those who are in darkness. Our lives and the lives of those around us may depend upon our faithfulness to wield the Sword as God directs. Keep fighting the good fight!

2 Timothy 2:15 (New International Version)
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Hebrews 4:12 (New International Version) For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

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