by Paul Benson
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. -James an apostle of Christ
I have stated many times we live in a day where what calls itself the Body of Christ is being overrun with a tsunami of deception. And this flood of deception seems to get more subtle and more finely polished as the days roll by. Considering this, who would not like a better ability to tell if what is being preached and taught is bogus or not. We all need discernment!
I would like to share with you a key of discernment the Lord has worked out in my understanding over the years. A key that helps me discern true or false teaching as It is presented to me. A key that has become increasingly valued by me over time.
Why I Battle False Teaching So Fiercely
Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight. Proverbs 12:22
God loves us more than we can comprehend. And in his immense love for us he wants only what is in our eternal best interests. As the Lord is acutely aware of the benefit embracing the truth brings, as well as the danger, damage, and defilement associated with error, he desires that we also have that same acute awareness.
But sadly, it seems much of the Christian community has lost this awareness. People in the Church are placing less and less importance on teachings being biblical, and more emphasis on them being acceptable to the hearer. This nearly anything-goes atmosphere has turned American Christianity into something that more resembles a carnival than the House of God. And the result of this will be the loss of countless souls who have been led astray from the path of truth that leads to salvation.
Yes, I am talking about people in Hell over embracing deception! False teachings reek havoc on a life of faith. Many are defiling enough they can send you to perdition! It is that crucial, and we must protect ourselves from deception.
The Lord once revealed to me a very fearful, as well as thought provoking, word I believe was straight from his heart. He caused me to understand that in his sight error and deception is no less defiling than sexual perversion! That false doctrine has a horrible uncleanness about it; and God views the promoting of error as an assault on others that rivals the serious nature of a sexual assault or a seduction to commit sexual sin!
Embracing false doctrine (and worse yet: promoting it), terribly defiles you in God’s sight! Many would scoff at such a statement but I beg you to wake up to the fact it is absolutely that serious. We need to come to a place as the Body of Christ where we see these things through the eyes of God, and not through the standards of modern man.
I say all this so you might understand the strong focus I have on combating false teachings. Some think I am too harsh or too negative. But I am driven by a deep concern for the well-being of the Body of Christ. I understand the damage being done by the lies that have infected the belief system of those led astray.
I see the end of the matter for the deceived, and it is not pretty!
This understanding burdens me greatly; and compels me to armor up and engage the enemy. And I intend on staying in this fight until the end. Please pray for me! You have no idea the toll this battle has taken. I need all the support I can get.
Try The Spirits
I love keys of discernment! I see them as a garrison of soldiers protecting me from the onslaught of the enemy. And the more soldiers I can add to this troop the better! I wrote a previous article on 12 Keys For Discerning Deceivers that you can find HERE. We all need to learn and utilize these keys of discernment if we are going to avoid being hoodwinked by the many deceptions afoot today. It is literally a matter of life and death! The path that leads to life is a path of truth. Please do not doubt that.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 1John 4:1-4
Here in 1John we are commanded to ‘try the spirits’ to safeguard ourselves from false workers. It is not only our duty, but also greatly to our benefit to do so! In this passage we find one of the greatest keys of discernment we could ever grasp. I don’t believe he was just talking about acknowledging or denying Christ here.
If someone is truly filled with the anointing of God they will be exalting the Lord Jesus on a continual basis! When I hear people carry on for hour after hour promoting one teaching or another with very little mention of Christ, the Cross, his Blood, his Resurrection, or his soon Return I find that persons words to be somewhat suspect.
Jesus said when the Holy Spirit would come ‘he will speak of me.’ (John 15:26). We would do well to keep those words in mind. But today I want to concentrate on another important, but often neglected, key of discernment that involves looking for ‘the fruit of righteousness’ in what is being spoken.
Something most people don’t give much thought to is that when someone is preaching a message or presenting a teaching there is an underlying spirit involved in the bringing forth of that ‘word’! It may be the Spirit of truth, It may be the spirit of error, it may be the spirit of this world (a carnal mind), or it may actually be a seducing devilish spirit. Yes, a devil compelling a person to preach under a false anointing!
…thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: Revelation 2:2
One thing we can say for sure about all false workers, as cleverly disguised as they may be, is that they all speak contrary to the Word of God. It does not matter how sincere or loving the person is (or even if they are a real Christian); if they are continually speaking contrary to the Scriptures they are a deceiver! Jesus said many would come in his name declaring him to be Christ, and would deceive many (Matt. 24:5). He was talking about deceived Christians deceiving other Christians! God help us!
We need to closely examine not only what is being said to us, but also the fruit associated with it. This will help us determine the spirit behind what is being presented. And just as people have fruits that follow them which we can use to evaluate where they are at; in a similar fashion spirits also have fruits they exhibit which reveal to us their true nature
Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. James 3:13-18
Let’s have some discussion on this passage from the book of James. Most of my Christian walk I considered the passage as mainly a rebuke to those with a poor attitude, and an exhortation to behave in a proper manner. But there is a definite key of discernment here that will help us recognize truth versus error.
We can receive much instruction by keeping a close watch on what fruit accompanies what is being spoken (and not just when it is being spoken but also after the fact too). I like to look for opportunity to discuss or even question certain teaching when presented, and then pay particular attention to the fruit of what response follows.
Let me illustrate from some personal experience.
In the late nineties, and the years following, our area was inundated with the neo-charasmatic signs and wonders movement (still a major influence here today). Being in close proximity to much of this activity I had opportunity to interact with a great number of folks who were either promoting this circus or, sadly, were under its spell.
Questioning the preaching I was hearing, and the behavior I was seeing, brought to the surface the true spirit behind this ‘move’. As long as I seemed open to possibly embracing this new brand of Christianity I had much flattery and affirmation heaped upon me. An overwhelming amount!
But the minute I would question any doctrine or behavior, and want to discuss it in light of the Word of God, the affirmation immediately turned to rebuke, and the flattery to snarls and accusations! It was impossible to teach or exhort these folk from the Bible. I experienced this repeatedly over the course of several years. It was truly an education in discernment for me!
They had their supposed *NAR apostles and prophets exalted to the point their ‘current revelation’ superseded the ‘old and outdated’ Scriptures in their lives. Anyone who dared to question these celebrities, or their teachings, was seen as an enemy of God standing in the way of what God is doing in this age!
*New Apostolic Reformation. My advice? Research it and reject it! It is not the true work of the Gospel of our Savior!
These experiences left me wondering which God some of these folk were serving; and exactly what spiritual anointing they were speaking under (I could sure give some opinion here!). I came to the conclusion this neo-charismatic mess was seriously astray, and the fruits of righteousness were not following it, so we completely parted ways.
I firmly believe that proper discernment kept me from lively and enticing pseudo-Christian teachings and practices that could have sidetracked or shipwrecked my faith. Thank you Jesus! And I have seen many believers who used to preach the fundamental truths of the Bible, captivated by that spirit of error, who now preach a bunch of gobbledygook that could never save a soul, or transform a heart to follow after righteousness.
In our passage above James suggested a wise man endued with knowledge would show by his actions meekness of wisdom. And that the wisdom from above would be evidenced by the pure and gentle (easy to be entreated) fruits of righteousness. You could question their beliefs, and ask for Bible proof, without getting torn and tattered. They would patiently take the time to grant you the explanation or instruction you were needing. That is the duty (and joy) of a true elder in the Body of Christ. There is a safety there. It is a good place to learn of God’s ways.
Conversely so, James stated the wisdom that is earthly, sensual and devilish (false teaching) will evidence bitterness and strife, and will bring forth only confusion and every evil work. Just dare to question their beliefs, and see what you get! Though not everyone speaking in strife or contention (or exhibiting an unteachable or unreachable spirit) is not necessarily not a Christian, these fruits should be a sound warning that you are in dangerous territory.
In my early years as a believer I ran into this pride and contention (just keep quiet Paul, and trust what you are being taught!) when questioning the pre-trib rapture doctrine. I stirred up a lot of ire without even being out of line myself. I was just asking questions and wanting Scriptural validation for what I was hearing preached from the pulpit. I got none!
I wish I would have had the discernment then to recognize that fruit as evidence of a problem in doctrine. I could have spared myself the oppression and confusion I experienced looking for answers from those who had no answer. They had been seduced by that deception; and merely questioning it made me the enemy in their eyes!
It is my sincere hope you would see the wisdom of looking for the fruit of righteousness in what is being presented to you, and engage the safeguard of trying the spirit behind what is being said (by trying the spirit of the one who said it). Though this can be difficult with those you have no close association with, it is a very useful key for close encounters. And as for the others who preach from afar, a listening ear tuned to listen for lies and the works of the flesh (pride, anger, covetousness, foolishness, guilt manipulation etc.) can tell you a great deal about a speaker.
All in all, if you try the spirits and are not solidly met with the peaceable fruits of righteousness: BEWARE! You could very well be listening to a false worker dressed up like a true servant of Christ!
Try the spirits! Make them prove themselves to be of God! Many false spirits will hide themselves behind a front of religiosity; but they will eventually (some hide more deeply than others) show their true colors when questioned or confronted by a prayed up and Christ-like person. It’s their nature to respond negatively to Christ manifesting in you, they cannot help it!
Do it in love; and only after MUCH prayer for wisdom and protection. But if you have any qualms about things you are hearing being taught it is your right, and even your Christian duty, to question what is taught, and to lovingly but firmly demand validation for those teachings in the Scriptures.
If the fruit you receive in return is the peaceable fruits of righteousness, then you should give prayerful consideration to what is being spoken (if it is in sync with the Word). But, if you receive anything else, regard what is being spoken with great caution. Again I say, the path of salvation is a path of truth. And here is another truism you can count on:
Jesus in others will NEVER snarl at the Jesus in you!
You will know them by their fruits.
Blessings to you in Jesus Christ;
I welcome your input. If you would like to share comment or criticism please feel free to do so in the section below. Overly long comments may be edited for length. Also I will not post the false teachings of others.
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