In the Church many decades ago, we found a number of examples of open demon activity. These spirits seemed to be trying to get into the Church and, in a perverted way, into the Kingdom of God by trying to get baptized.
Along with that we found demonstrations of phenomena such as tables moving, pictures on the walls swaying and lights being switched on and off.
But we came to some realizations and took steps to deal with this problem. Now all of this seemingly has gone underground for a number of years.
But let's understand. The devil hates the Church of God, and his avowed job is still to try to destroy the holy seed by whatever means he can find (Genesis 3:15 and all of Revelation 12). Satan bruising "His heel" refers to Satan's attack on the seed of Israel as God's chosen nation as well as trying to kill Christ as a babe and then attacking His spiritual Body, the Church. The Church has needed the protection of Christ through its many stages.
The devil has used two basic methods over the years:
1. He uses governments and stirs unconverted people in an outward show of hostility to those who believe the truth. He tries to work from the outside in.
2. His second tool is his most valued tool. He used it to draw a third of the angels with him. It is called divide and conquer. He sows discord, variance, strife, anger, hatred, heresies, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions and factions.
The Spirit in Man
Why is he so successful? Job 32:8 tells us there is a spirit in man. There is a vast difference between the human mind and the animal brain. The difference is the spirit in man. Spirit is not matter.
This human spirit imparts the power of intellect to the human physical brain. The spirit cannot see, hear, taste, smell or feel. The brain sees through the eye, hears through the ear, etc. The human spirit cannot of itself think. The physical brain thinks.
This human spirit imparts the power of intellect—of thinking and of mind power—to the human brain. This is the very means by which God has made possible a personal relationship between God and humans.
But man's creation was not complete. He was made only "half there." He needed the addition of God's Spirit to unite with his spirit. And when man receives the Holy Spirit of God, the very spirit and mind of the immortal God is injected into him. It joins with his human spirit. The Spirit of God cannot be received or injected into the brute animal because that animal has no spirit within itself with which the Spirit of God could unite.
In 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 Paul shows that the natural man can comprehend the "within," or self-consciousness, and the "around," a consciousness of things and people outside of himself.
Only when the Holy Spirit enters, combining with the human spirit, can a man come to really comprehend that which is spiritual and establish a relationship with "the above" or Almighty God as our Father.
Now, let's look at how Satan works on the human mind. In Ephesians 2:2 he is called the prince of the power of the air, working inside the minds of people.
Let's use an analogy here. If your mind with this human spirit is set on a certain wavelength, the broadcaster's message comes through clearly.
Satan as the prince of the power of the air broadcasts not in words, sounds or pictures—but in attitudes, moods and impulses. We read in Ezra 1:1 that God was able to stir the spirit of Cyrus—in other words, put the suggestion and impulse into his mind—and the king acted on it.
In the same manner Satan stirs the human spirit within people to move them in attitudes of envy, jealousy, resentment, impatience, anger, bitterness and strife.
Over a period of time, the human spirit within each person who doesn't have the Spirit of God has become tuned to Satan's wavelength and has taken on his thinking and attitude.
Conversion adds a special dimension to the spirit of man that begins to move us from being tuned to Satan's wavelength to God's. While conversion is instant at baptism with the begettal of God's Spirit, conversion is also a process. Learning to sharpen our wavelength focus or fine-tune this process sometimes takes years.
The Role of Discernment
What do we need to make this transition totally possible? Discernment.
First of all, discernment comes at baptism when we receive the Holy Spirit. According to 1 Corinthians 2:12-16, we develop spiritual discernment. The Greek word is anakrino It is the exercise of discerning judgment of all things as to their true value. It's like radar that lets nothing in unless it is sifted and sorted by the Word and Spirit of God.
Solomon in 1 Kings 3:9 asked for "an understanding heart to judge." In 1 Samuel 23 David sought God's supernatural guidance where Saul did not.
Second, discernment is found in the growth process of maturing as a Christian. It is something to be learned over a period of time. Proverbs 1:5 tells us that by seeking wisdom, knowledge and understanding, a person will increase and attain to wise counsels.
Hebrews 5:13-14 tells us our senses must be exercised to discern both good and evil. Then we can become like the man in Proverbs 22:3 who foresees the evil and hides himself—not like the simple who pass on and are punished.
Third, 1 John 4:1-4 tells us to "test the spirits." Why? Here we see the discernment of spirits as more than recognizing demon possession, as some think this means. Satan uses wolves in sheep's clothing to bombard the brethren with a twist on the fundamental truths to lead them slowly away from the trunk of the tree principles.
Notice what Barnes' commentary says about this: "'To another discerning of spirits' (I Cor. 12:10): This must refer to some power of searching into the secrets of the heart (out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks); of knowing what were a man's purposes, views, and feelings. It may be related either to the power of determining by what spirit a man spoke (II Cor. 11:4) who pretended to be inspired, whether he was truly inspired or whether he was an imposter…"
Discerning the Devil's Work Today
An interesting change has occurred since the 1950s in the Church of God. We had a lot of open demonstrations by demons then, but today, it is as if the devil has used more of his broadcasting to the human spirit—broadcasting to the weaknesses of men.
A good example of this is found in 1 Chronicles 21:1. We read that God allowed Satan to be used to provoke David to number Israel . Why? Because of a lack of faith on David's part? Yes, but there's more. The cause was that David still had war in his heart, and he lacked faith in this one area.
I am sure you have heard the expression that "someone got your goat," meaning they were able to upset you in an area of your life that may have needed some more spiritual work.
Satan goes to where our goat is tied. And we must realize that God sometimes allows him this freedom to find our weaknesses and exploit them. Why? So that in the end it will help us discern and face our problems. If discernment is lacking, a person may be tried over and over, again and again. Sometimes a brother or a minister may discern that someone is going through this and offer helpful encouragement.
Discernment is also seen in another way. It is discernment to protect you from evil—from being hurt or possibly destroyed.
We see this in David's life. In 1 Samuel 18 we see how David time and time again was delivered out of Saul's hands by discerning Saul's intent. We also read that when God showed He was choosing David, the Spirit of God left Saul, and an evil spirit troubled him (see 1 Samuel 16:21-23). David had to protect himself through this discernment.
Request the Spiritual Radar
Now perhaps you see the need to pray for discernment and exercise your spiritual senses.
We need what Jesus Christ had and will have in the world tomorrow. Isaiah 11:3 (King James Version) tells us that He would have "quick understanding" or discernment to go along with wisdom. The word translated "quick understanding" can mean literally "to smell" or by implication to "perceive" (The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). Did you ever hear a person say "I smell a rat," signifying there is something wrong here?
So, what can and should we be doing?
1. Ask God and Christ to give you the ability to spiritually discern (1 Corinthians 2:14).
2. Ask God to help you have your senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).
3. On your next fast day, take extra time to seek this help (Matthew 17:14-17).
4. Then keep on seeking and keep on asking. Good things come to the importunate child of God (Matthew 7:7-11).
Discernment is one of the most important tools in a Christian's life—it is his or her spiritual radar. Ask for it as a part of the gift given at baptism and exercise your senses using this discernment. UN