As I travel the nation teaching spiritual warfare principles, one truth becomes painfully clear: the body of Christ, at large, lacks discernment.
The reality is many have simply not been activated or trained to discern spirits. Yet discernment is a vital gift in this hour as false prophets, false teachers and even false christs are rising around the world with smooth sayings, rhymes and riddles.
Discerning of spirits is one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. It is the Holy Spirit-inspired ability to distinguish between the operations of the Holy Spirit, a demon spirit or the human spirit. Discerning of spirits is especially helpful in prophecy, when we need to test the spirits to see if they are God (1 John 4:1). It's also vital in spiritual warfare so that we accurately determine what we're battling instead of just beating the air through guessing games (1 Cor. 9:26).
Do We All Have Discernment?
Although the Holy Spirit distributes His gifts as He wills—and some people clearly operate in the gift of discerning of spirits at a high level—I believe all Christians should desire to grow in discernment. With apostasy rising and the Great Falling Away underway, we need to lean into Holy Ghost discernment now more than ever.
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"Prophets are a strange breed of men. They are God's emergency men for crisis hours. And the price of being a prophet is that a man has to live alone. All God's great men have been very, very lonely men."
When I read words like this from Leonard Ravenhill, I'm challenged. When I look at the state of prophetic ministry today, I'm grieved.
Ravenhill was known for his no-comprising, hard-hitting, sin-blasting messages. He carried the spirit of a prophet. He carried a spirit like John the Baptist that laid the ax to the root—but he didn't do it with a critical, condemning heart. He did it with pure and undefiled love forged in the fire of God.
"The great need in America tonight, I'm convinced of this—as good as Bible schools are with their assembly lines and producing their preachers—the greatest need in America tonight is prophets," Ravenhill once said. "Ah, the prophets were men who walked with God, they felt like God, they saw like God, they wept like God, they yearned like God. They had no satisfaction in seeing the beauty of the temple, the ritual, the formality."
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Last year, the Holy Spirit expressly to my heart that 2015 was the year of new beginnings. That rang true in my life and in the lives of many, many people who God called from the waiting room to the delivery room.
2015 was a challenging year in many ways, a year of stretching and transitioning from the old to the new—and now we’re going to the next. With regard to 2016, I heard the Holy Spirit say it’s a year of “shifting seasons and suddenlies.”
Those rhythmic words got my attention. What, exactly, does He mean? On the surface, it sounds like more change, more transition—and at least a few unexpected twists and turns along the way. I decided to press into pray and study out what this practically means. In this first article, I’m giving a general overview at the personal level. I will follow up with more specific details in the weeks ahead.
After Harold Camping repeatedly missed it on his rapture predictions, he finally admitted his statement was sinful. He even wrote a letter to the body of Christ apologizing for his end-of-the-world dramatics.
And that's rare—indeed, too rare.
Most prophets of doom refuse to acknowledge they missed it with clearly dated—and clearly failed—prophecies of asteroids hitting Puerto Rico, earthquakes making the Florida Keys no more, tsunamis putting South Florida completely under water, man-made disasters worse than 9/11 hitting New York, a major government official taking a bullet through the heart, earthquakes splitting the United States down the middle and ... shall I go on?
I am not sure where most of these poor prophecies started so I can't trace them back to their misguided root and call out names. You'll find a number of Internet prophets parroting these words as if God spoke to them personally. Calling out names is not the point anyway. The point is when these dated prophecies fail to come to pass, the many mouths trumpeting the doom and gloom also fail to take responsibility for the words that clearly fell to the ground. They can't even point to intercession staying God's hand of judgment because their prophecies left no room for His mercy.
The Bible has plenty to say about false prophets in the Old and New Testaments. John the apostle warned us not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). Peter warned of false prophets arising among the people, as well as false teachers, who secretly bring in destructive heresies (2 Pet. 2:1).
That should be enough to get our attention, and that's not the least of it.
Paul also warned the church at Corinth about false apostles and deceitful workmen (2 Cor. 11:13-15) and 2 Peter 2:3 warns us about false words. Again, this is nothing new. The Spirit of God told Jeremiah He did not send certain prophets, but they ran ahead anyway, prophesying outside the will of God—even prophesying lies in His name (Jer. 23:21, 14:14-16). And Ezekiel spoke of false prophets who liked to declare "thus saith the Lord" when the Lord did not send them (Ezek. 13:6).
As if that's still not enough to compel you pray for greater discernment as strong delusions rise that are leading entire denominations into apostasy, Jesus Himself gave us fair warning about false prophets. Specifically, He said, "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matt. 7:15). He also declared, "For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matt. 24:24).
During my time at Charisma, I've personally reported on two incidents of the Holy Spirit raising someone from the dead. The first time, God used Chauncey Crandall. The second time, God used Robby Dawkins.
Of course, I've read the Bible accounts of Elijah, Jesus and Paul raising people from the dead. I've read rather colorful stories of Smith Wigglesworth raising people from the dead. I even read about the Holy Spirit raising a man from the dead—after he had been embalmed—at a Reinhard Bonnke meeting without anyone praying over him. Then there's David Hogan, who some call the "Dead Raiser" because of how often God uses him to raise the dead.
But a video I watched on YouTube (above) recently was miraculous on top of miraculous and shows the power of prophetic ministry in the dead raising arena. There is at least one recording in modern history of someone seeing a vision of resurrection—and then witnessing the actual resurrection. William Branham, a prophet from southern Kentucky who rose to fame during the Voice of Healing movement and was known for healing manifestations with the help of an angel, had a vision in Georgia.
Theologians may consider Amos a "minor" prophet, but the man of God offered some major revelations that serve believers well today.
Intercessors and worshippers love Amos 9:11, which promises the restoration of the tabernacle of David. Prophets love verses like Amos 3:8, which declares that "the Lord has spoken—who can but prophesy?" They are also quick to tell you that God does nothing unless He reveals it to His servants the prophets (see Amos 3:7).
Yes, Amos is full of fire and prophetic declarations. There's one nugget of wisdom in particular that I believe is prophetically significant in this season. It comes from Amos 3:3 and served as a pointed question—eight prophetic words—that should cause you to consider your alignments: How can two walk together unless they agree?
As we enter into a political season in America—with candidates of many different ideologies contending (sometimes with nasty insults) to become the 45th president of the United States—it seems some in the body of Christ are tapping into the same spirit.
From coast to coast, I see Christian leaders spreading false rumors about the brethren, jockeying for prime position, prophesying witchcraft against people that anger them, and exalting their camp above another. These manifestations of rivalry among brothers and sisters grieve me—and I know they grieve the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, this is nothing new in the religious world. Jesus and Paul dealt with it directly in their days—and they spoke into it with boldness and humility.
A spirit of rivalry manifests when people are competing with each other. Merriam-Webster defines "rival" as a person or thing that tries to defeat or be more successful than another; something or someone that is good or almost as good as another person or thing; one striving for competitive advantage." Let me put this plainly: If we want revival, we need to get rid of the rival-mindset.
The Bible clearly speaks against rivalry. Paul told the church at Philippi, "Let nothing be done out of strife or conceit, but in humility let each esteem the other better than himself. Let each of you look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others" (Phil. 2:3-4). You can't tap into a spirit of rivalry and a spirit of humility at the same time. People who walk in a rivalry spirit are haughty, prideful and arrogant. They think more highly of themselves than they ought and don't hesitate to tear you down to build themselves up.
With several months of the year of the whirlwind before us, how should we position ourselves amid the doom and gloom? That's a good question—and one I've been pondering more and more lately. In fact, I've discussed it with many prophets and prophetic people in the last couple of weeks—and I've prayed plenty.
Should we store up three years worth of food? Take all of our money out of the bank? Hide in a cave, praying for the best but believing the worst? Leave the country? What should be our response? I, for one, refuse to let a spirit of fear over take me, despite all the doom and gloom prophecies.
Cindy Jacobs, co-founder of Generals International, says first of all we are to obey the admonition from Scripture to not give in to fear. She is convinced the enemy wants to stir up panic and distress. But she is also convinced we have to stand firm, trusting God's faithfulness.
"I want to share with you what I am hearing prophetically at this moment. On a global level, God is changing the landscape of financial power. Some nations are going to find that their 'cash cows'—the commodities that have propped up their ideologies—are diminishing or being taken away. This will even begin to affect the terrorist organization, ISIS," Jacobs says.
Wall Street dipped more than 2 percent on Tuesday. The Dow slipped more than 400 points in afternoon trading. All three major U.S. indexes are now reporting losses for the year.
"We haven't see this kind of volatility in a while," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, told Reuters. "It reminds me of the one we saw during the 2008-2009 crisis."
That's not the kind of sign or wonder I want to see. The question is, what caused this? From a natural perspective, it was weak data from China mixed with growing fears that a stall in the world's second-largest economy will hamper global growth.
But could there be something else at work behind the scenes? There's certainly no lack of speculation about a financial collapse in September and the first day of the month didn't disappoint the speculators—be they economic analysts warning about America's unsustainable debt or prophetic voices pointing to God's judgment.