Lesson: Basics of Discernment
Often we need to discern whether what we hear are in the right spirit
or not. While we tend to be more careful about what we hear from
non-Christians, we are often too trusting to the things from Christians.
It is the wolf under the sheep's clothing that is most destructive, because
we do not raise guards against our own brothers.
What are the sources of the wrong spirits?
* putting oneself above God or God's will--God gives us free choice
in our lives, and consistently choosing things in our own interests over
God's will can only lead to us drifting away from God
* grievance against someone, the church, God, or the system--while
revenge is not always the objective, the results are almost always the
same: to fight back by gaining recognition, agreements, reparations ; not
forgiving someone will always lead to this and even revenge
* emotional injury imposed by others or oneself--often such
injuries cause one to seek comfort through getting others to agree with
* intentional or with ulterior motives--usually from a desire
to gain power, prestige, wealth, or some other possession, including persons
and things (e.g., Balaam)
Signs to tell that a spirit is not right:
* elevating oneself--sinners never submit themselves to God, and
thus they almost always try to make themselves look important
* blaming others--it's always others' fault and whatever I do
wrong is the result of others' actions... If a Christian would admit
that they are at fault, they are more likely to try to correct it; repentence
is the first step towards any change in behavior or thought
* accompanied by other sins--sin hates loneliness; it always
come in a bunch
* unable to love others sincerely or forgive--if they can, they
would not be doing harm; lack of forgiveness is the first step towards
seeking revenge or support for evil
* unwilling to obey to a spiritual or earthly authority--these
people are most likely to have large self egos, and thus obedience is hard
for them to do
* anger--although some can hide these well, most cannot because
their heart is turned to evil, and evil minds harbor anger
sayings bad things about others behind their backs--evil seeks company
and influence over others, and therefore it likes to spread rumors or lies
to get support
* making speculative statements without proof--suspicion causes
distrust and division, and that's how evil can spread in a group and weaken
How do we guard ourselves from becoming like these people?
* forgive others--remove the grievance before it becomes anguish
or desire for revenge
* examine yourselves--know what you do wrong and not lay blames
* humble yourselves--recognize our smallness can help prevent
us from seeking to look great in others, which often means we present lies
or cover our weaknesses
Some statements to evaluate:
* "We need to keep an eye on the other small group. They have
been after our members and some of them have gone to that group instead.
They also have been saying bad things about us to our members."
* "I don't want to go to your church anymore because the pastor
told me that it's wrong for me to be with her. What does the pastor
know about love?"
* "Your church is full of insincere, false Christians.
They said things about me so you would go to them instead."
* "Your pastor drives an expensive car. He stole the money
from the church's donations."
* "I was relieved of my duties because my small group leader
didn't tell me what I should do. He wanted me to fail so he can look
* "The pastor was wrong in interpreting this passage.
I know what it means and he should have consulted me."
* "John is complaining about my work because he is after my
girlfriend Mary. Mary likes me because I'm better and John is trying
to discredit me."
This lesson was developed by George Huang. Got a question or want
to publish this lesson? E-mail
Last updated: 2/10/2000