THREE THINGS IN EVERY MOVE OF GOD: GOD’S POWER, DEMONIC, THE FLESH
2.Demonic activity: Satan came among them. Wherever we find God at work, the devil won’t be far behind. In Acts 16:16-34 we see a girl with the spirit of divination. Paul rebuked the demons (Acts 16:18).
3.Flesh exaggeration: exhibits itself so as to be seen as special or spiritual.
DISCERNING WHETHER SOMETHING IS OF GOD, THE DEVIL, OR THE FLESH
Test all things by the Word. If the evangelist tells us one thing, and the Bible tells us something else, the Bible is right! If we cannot find a teaching in the Bible, we must refuse it.
Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thes. 5:21)
The primary principles are: is it biblical and does it edify the majority? In the early days, even a little manifestation of the Spirit edifies the majority because it signals a change of the season.
1Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts.….12 Since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel…26 Let all things be done for edification. (1 Cor. 14:1, 12, 26)
We do not care how extreme the manifestations are as long as they are not outside biblical parameters, and are not fake or exaggerated. Test all things by the Word.
21Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thes. 5:21)
What is the fruit of the teaching or the action? Does it bring glory to Jesus? Does it bring attention to self? Are people brought to Jesus and righteousness? John the Baptist, Elijah and Ezekiel did strange things. God uses the unusual. They all had really good fruit in their lives.
Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Mt. 7:20)
If we aim for love and humility we will always win. People who live for love and humility are stable and difficult to offend because they do not have false expectations in their serving.
Challenge #1: being zealous and discerning. We must be zealous for the Holy Spirit’s activity (not just open to it) as we seek to excel in love and discern the things that are excellent in the midst of things less than excellent.
12Since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. (1 Cor. 14:12)
9 I pray that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent… (Phil. 1:9-10)
Our first challenge is to discern between what is good and evil. After that we are to discern between what is good and best (or excellent). We can be both zealous to receive from the Spirit and discerning of what is excellent. We honor anointed vessels without abdicating our responsibility to receive only what is biblical.
15 The sons of Zadok…23 shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. (Ezek. 44:15, 23)
18 Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. (Mal. 3:18)
God uses weak vessels of clay so that no one glories or boasts in man. The weaknesses in character, doctrine, and ministry style of the vessels that the Spirit chooses are not automatically resolved when the power of God operates through them. Some wrongly assume that the Spirit only moves through people who are right in all they do or say.
27God has chosen the weak things…29 that no flesh should glory in His presence…31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” (1 Cor. 1:27-31)
We must see God’s favor and honor His activity while graciously discerning that which is not excellent. We are not mandated to point out what lacks excellence in each vessel.
8Have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet. 4:8)
There are two ways in which we can quench the Spirit: First, by allowing fleshly elements to dominate. Second, by hindering the activity that the Spirit wants to release.
19Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thes. 5:19-22)
Challenge #2: defining the weightier and lesser issues. We must distinguish and define the weightier and lesser issues in a move of God so that we swallow or tolerate the lesser “gnat-issues” while straining or refusing the larger “camel-issues.” Because the Pharisees did not do this they ended up straining out gnats and swallowing camels. We are to graciously bear with the lack of excellence in the “lesser issues” of doctrine and ministry style without being compelled to imitate leaders in our quest to receive “their anointing.”
23You pay tithe of mint and anise…and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (Mt. 23:23-24)
Challenge #3: being childlike in faith, not childish in discernment
3Unless you…become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom (Mt. 18:3-4)
Humility of childlikeness: trusting God as a risk-taker without fear of losing our status. Humility of childlikeness: learning with a teachable spirit
18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. (1 Cor. 3:18)
Humility of childlikeness: Hungry and satisfied with being with Father. We are not to be childish in perspective nor in conducting ourselves without the restraints of love. Children are focused on themselves and their needs; they draw attention to themselves.
20 Do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature…39 Desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order. (1 Cor. 14:20, 39-40)