1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 83
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|You know, there is no greater truth in scripture than this: God wants to let us in on what He is up to. It really takes the pride out from under you when you realize it is not us working for God, but it is God doing His work in and through us. Just imagine—God wants us to be the vessels.|
1 Corinthians 12:9-10
To Each His Own – Part 6
Well, in Part 6 we are going to take the last of the five extraordinary gifts mentioned in verses 9 and 10 as we look at the distinguishing of spirits. You know, there is no greater truth in scripture than this: God wants to let us in on what He is up to. It really takes the pride out from under you when you realize it is not us working for God, but it is God doing His work in and through us. Just imagine—God wants us to be the vessels. That continues to awe me every day, knowing what I am not apart from Him, at the same time knowing that not only me but you and all of us can be usable to Him if we will just be willing to surrender to Him and let Him do His work through us.
I remember the time in the Gospels when they came to Him and said, “Jesus, what must we do to do the works of God?” And He said, “This is the work of God,” singular, “that you believe on Me.” The word “believe” doesn’t mean that you just comprehend or understand who I am. It means that what you believe about me and what you hear me say to you, you are so persuaded that you allow it to affect your very behavior. “You live in surrender to me. That is the work, I’ll take care of the rest of it. I am the one who is accomplishing my purposes,” God says, “in and through you.”
Now many times in this series and in other series we have studied, we have referred to the fact that the apostle Paul made that same discovery. The old, arrogant apostle Paul, back before he was an apostle in Philippians 3, made the statement, “According to the law I am found blameless.” Of course, you know he must be talking about the law that they came up with, because no human being ever stood before the moral law of God and was found blameless, except the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said, “According to the 613 laws that we came up with, I was found blameless.”
That same apostle, once he was saved, came to discover the difference in working for God and God working through you. Romans 15:17 says, “Therefore, in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God.” He used to boast in things pertaining to Paul, but now he only boasts in things pertaining to God. He says in verse 18, “For I would not presume to speak of anything.” The word “speak” means to break the silence. I would not be sitting in a quiet room and break the silence with anything of what I could do for God. Oh, no. I wouldn’t open my mouth. But he says, “I would speak of that which Christ has accomplished through me.”
But I want you to know something; Paul discovered it and so must we. When God chooses to use us through the gifts and the callings that He has given to us, anything He does through us bears His mark of identity upon it. It never draws attention to us, it must draw attention to Himself. The apostle Paul goes on in Romans 15:18 and says, “All of this resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles in word and deed.” Nothing drew attention to Paul, nothing drew attention to his ministry, but what it did draw attention to was the changed lives of the people who had been affected by God working through the apostle Paul.
Now why do I bring this up? In Corinth there were many things that were going on. As a matter of fact, from what I get from scripture, it was a circus. There were a lot of manifestations in the spiritual realm, and all of them in the church were being attributed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is intent in 1 Corinthians 12 to correct the error of the Corinthian believers. Now, I have said and I will continue to say that I do not believe this is a teaching on gifts, but it is a correction of the error that is in Corinth. His main thesis seems to be, “Yes, in the circus of all the manifestations going on God manifests Himself through His people.” Yes, He does that, just like Paul discovered and the Corinthians evidently had begun to discover.
Now, we come to the last of these five extraordinary gifts which is found in verse 10: “and to another [allos, of the same kind] the distinguishing of spirits.” To fit into this category of verses 9 and 10, it cannot just be the ordinary discernment we have when we are in the word of God. It has to be shifted into a little higher gear of the extraordinary times when God chose to move upon someone and give them that ability to distinguish between the spirit, either the Spirit of God or the spirits of evil.
There are two things that I want us to look at. First of all, we must realize the need we have of discernment today. Not only the need they had in Corinth, in Greece, but the need we have in the church of Jesus Christ in America today. There was such a need for discernment in Corinth among believers. It was a circus. All kinds of things were going on. You must get this in your mind. There were all kinds of Satanic things that were miraculous, all kinds of extraordinary things. But at the same time, God was working in the midst of it. And evidently they needed so much discernment to be able to say this is of God and this is not of God.
You see, the things that were not of God could have been just as extraordinary as the things that were of God. Now that is hard for us to buy. It is hard for us to swallow. We must realize in the midst of all the manifestations going on in Corinth, yes, God was working. Perhaps He healed some; perhaps He did some great miracles with some; perhaps He prophesied in an extraordinary way through some. But at the same time, there was also the extraordinary things going on coming not from God, but from Satan himself.
Do we realize that Satan can do extraordinary things? Do we understand that? I think the biggest problem in America and the biggest problem in Corinth was, if it is supernatural, it must be of God. Is that all the discernment we have in the 20th Century? No more than the church of Corinth? You see, Satan can do extraordinary things, folks. He can do extraordinary things. As a matter of fact, I have been a little bit in error. I have been saying all along that he mimicked all of the miracles of Moses, but he didn’t. He mimicked the first two; the magicians mimicked the first two. And each time that they would have a miracle, the Lord would intensify the next one. And, of course, the second one, they mimicked, but when it came to the third one, they could not do it. And from the third one on, it proved that God just set aside the ones that could do the miraculous and showed that what He could do was far beyond what they could do. But at the same time, somebody mimicked those first two. Somebody did them. Satan does have power. Nothing like what our God has, but he can do the extraordinary. We think that just because it is supernatural it is of God.
A man who came over from India told me, “I have seen more people healed in pagan cults than you will see on television in America that happened in a meeting some place.” We just somehow don’t understand that. So, there is a principle that begins to arise here. We begin to realize that we need discernment. We need to distinguish whether this is of God and this is evil, this is of the devil.
As a matter of fact, Paul speaks of the Antichrist who is coming in 2 Thessalonians 2:9. I want you to read this for yourself. I want you to see it. How is the Antichrist going to come? Well, he is going to come in accordance with the activity of Satan. What is the activity of Satan? This is the way he deceives the elect. In 2 Thessalonians 2:9, breaking into a sentence, the apostle Paul says, “that is [speaking of the Antichrist] the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan.” There will come a day when Satan will absolutely incarnate the Antichrist and it will be Satan working through him on this earth in a way that this world has never seen, “with all power and signs and false wonders.” Now, “with all power and signs and false wonders,” that is the activity of Satan. The Antichrist is going to come in accordance with the activity of Satan.
We must learn this truth. And the truth is this, we must learn that we are never to judge the genuineness of the spirits by what they are able to perform. No, even if on the surface these seem to be extraordinary manifestations of power, no matter how emotionally great it is, we don’t judge “this is of God, this is of Satan” just because it is extraordinary. That is one of the greatest fallacies of living and discerning in the Christian life. The devil will do whatever he needs to do, however extraordinary he can muster, in order to deceive those who now have been blood bought by the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, every work that is done is under the influence of either the Holy Spirit of God or the evil spirits of this world. If you are a believer, the devil can’t get in you, the spirits can’t get in you. However, they can influence your flesh and that is your biggest problem, your flesh. They know exactly how to influence your flesh by the world that is around it. And if you are not choosing to live obedient, then you are living in a way that is influenced through the flesh by the demonic of this world. We must understand that. Either it comes from God or it doesn’t come from God.
It is interesting to me as I study scripture that the demonic spirits, yes, they are on this earth. But what I see in Scripture, and you will have to check it out for yourself, it appears to me that they have to inhabit a body. If you will look over in 2 Corinthians 5:2, he is not talking about demonic spirits, but he is referring to our human spirit. I believe he tells us something here that might be helpful in our discussion. Where are these demonic spirits? I believe they inhabit people, not believers, but I will show you that in a moment.
Second Corinthians 5:2 says, “For indeed in this house we groan,” talking about the body we live in, “longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven.” In other words, there is another spiritual body that is going to clothe our spirit. Verse 3 goes on, “Inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked.” It appears to me that demonic spirits do not float around like Hollywood wants us to think about it. They don’t come in my house and rattle my windows and do all the other stuff. If that ever happens, it is not the norm, that is not the consistency. But instead of that, they indwell people. They indwell people. I love what Paul said. He said, “A messenger from Satan was sent to me to buffet my body.” And that word “messenger” could be translated as an individual, not just the blindness that he had, a weakness that he had. It could have been a deacon who didn’t like him. But a messenger from Satan.
You see, Satan indwells people. But what kind of people? Look over in Ephesians 2. I don’t believe in any way, shape or form the devil can get inside a believer, or any demonic spirit can get inside a believer. I am very adamant about that. Let the record be set straight. I do not believe that a Christian can in any way be indwelt by a demon, because we are indwelt by the person of the Holy Spirit of God. From the top of my head to the end of my toes to the end of my fingertips, God lives in me and lives in you the same way. The devil cannot get in because there is no fellowship with light and darkness. But in Ephesians 2:1, let me show you where he dwells. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit [now watch] that is now working [now watch] in the sons of disobedience.” Now we are not the sons of disobedience. We may be disobedient from time to time, but that is not what he is talking about here. He is talking about a lost people, and the devil has full control. And when he enters into that, then what better form of a body could the devil dwell in or the demon dwell in than that of a false teacher. That is the best way in the world to deceive the people of God.
This is exactly what was going on in Corinth. The devil had joined the church. He was there incarnate in those people who were unbelievers, and there was all kinds of things going on. They were saying, “This is of God.” And the apostle Paul is saying, “Wait a minute. Have some discernment. Draw a line. Be able to say, this is of God and this is of the devil.”
The one thing the devil wants to do is to be like God and to be recognized as God. He wants to be seen as an angel of light. Hollywood is his best friend as far as confusing us, but his worst friend as far as his ploy to come on as an angel of light. He wants to appear as God. He wants to appear that he has a way that seemeth right, but remember, that way leads to destruction.
The word “distinguishing” in verse 10 is again in the plural—distinguishings (plural) of spirits (plural). Now this must be interpreted along with the other plural phrases that we have seen in this list of five in verses 9 and 10. As with the gifts of healings, there is no gift of healing. It is plural. As with the effecting of miracles, it is in the plural. It shows me one more time by putting this in the plural, as we did in the other two, that you can’t hang a sign up and say, “This is my gift. I have the gift of distinguishing between the spirits. Now, if you want me to help you, you call. Here is my card. You call me. I have a ministry of doing this.” No, this list absolutely forbids that. These are the extraordinary gifts, and they are only given when God chooses to give them. They only may be seen one or two times in a person’s life, if ever, and the only pattern is in the original offices of the church.
The word “distinguishing” is the word diakrisis. Dia means through, and krisis comes from the word krino, which means to distinguish. In other words, to draw a line between the two things and to say this is this and that is that. That is the word “distinguishing.” Of course, the context is distinguishing of spirits. This is of the Holy Spirit, but this is of the evil spirit. The ability to discern and draw that line, even in the extraordinary manifestations that is going on, to be able to step right in the middle of it and have that extraordinary discernment to be able to do that. But remember, all of us, all of us, can have this kind of discernment, not in the extraordinary sense but it is implied in the word. All of us can have discernment between good and evil.
Look in Hebrews 5:12. You see, if you are going to treat it in the plural, you have to take the miraculous ordinary, and it is miraculous how God gives us discernment through His Word. But then you have to take the extraordinary, as we have done with every one in the list in verses 9 and 10. In Hebrews 5:12 this is the ordinary. This is what we need today. This is what Corinth needed back then. Extraordinary is one thing, but what we need is this ordinary, miraculous discernment that we can have every day of our life if we will do something. It says in Hebrews 5:12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers.” Somebody came to me after a service that I had preached on this verse and said, “Does that mean all of us need to go out and be teachers?” No. What it does mean is, however, you have got enough information that if you had to, you could. That is what he is saying. He said, “you ought to all be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God,” the ABC’s. You have enough information that you should be teaching, but something has happened here. You have to be taught the ABC’s yourself. You have come to need milk and not solid food.
“Come to need” is in the perfect tense. Something happened back here that has caused the state that you are in over here. What happened to you? In other words, there is a rebuke going on here.
Then in verse 13 we read, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word or righteousness, for he is a babe.” In other words, if you are not able to teach, you have to be taught, and therefore, you can only have milk. You can’t handle the solid food. Now the solid food is going to be healthy and helpful to a certain group of people. Verse 14 continues, “But solid food is for the mature.” Who are the mature? They are not the church at Corinth. There are people who not only know and have had their minds enlightened, but they are living surrendered to what they know. That is the mature—those who have trained their senses unto something. He said, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained.” The word “trained” is the word we get “gymnasium” from. That ought to tell us something.
In other words, you use something. It is something you put to use. He says, “have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” In other words, to say this is of God, this is not of God, this is either flesh or the devil, this is of God. Draw that line. The mature who are in the word of God, who have renewed their mind, who are surrendered to what they know, who live consistent lives in obedience to Him, have a discernment and they can draw the line and say this is this and that is that.
Now that work diakrisis in Hebrews 5:14 is the same word we are looking at in 1 Corinthians 12:10. Any of us can have it at any time if we are willing to surrender to what we know. All of us have this ability. If our minds are renewed with the Word of God, we have the ability to test the spirits, as John said in 1 John 4:1. He says, ‘Beloved, do not believe every spirit.” And I like the way he says that because he knows that behind what somebody says is a spirit. Don’t “believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” I guarantee you they have, and Satan has indwelt every one of them. So no matter what is being said, even if it sounds right, no matter what is being done, no matter how extraordinary it is, you test the spirits to see if this is this and that is that. All of us can do that. You get up under the Word of God and the Word of God renews your mind. Then you can easily test the spirit of a person speaking. You can tell where they are coming from.
You ask, “How?” Go to Romans 8 and let me just show you one way. It is a picture here of the spiritual-filled life. Romans 8 comes after Romans 7, and Romans 7 comes after Romans 6. You put them together. Romans 8 is the work of the Spirit of God in a person’s life—the difference of me doing it for God and God doing it through me. In chapter 8 we see easily how to test the spirit. Who is being controlled by what? Romans 8:4 reads, “a man controlled by the spirit of God does not walk according to the flesh.” Now this is not perfection. This is predictability, consistency. It goes on to say in Romans 8:4, “in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” He lives submissive to the Spirit of God. Look at the person’s life. Don’t see what they do and say, “Wow, that was a miracle! That must have been God. The way he said that sounded so good.” No, no, no. Go beyond that. Look at their life. See how they live, first of all before God.
In Romans 8:7, he obeys the word of God. It says in verse 7, “Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.” In other words, his mind is set on the Spirit, therefore, he obeys the word of God.
In Romans 8:10-11, he is alive with the very life of God. Have you ever been around somebody who just exudes the life of God? You know it is not them. You know by looking in their face. You know it by being around their life. It says in verse 10, “And if Christ is in you, thought the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Verse 11 reads, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies thorough His Spirit who indwells you.” Not only now, but one day when we are given a glorified body.
In 8:13 he daily maintains that life, that particular life that he has. He daily maintains it as he mortifies the deeds of his flesh through his surrender to Christ. That is how you do it. Now when you say yes to Jesus, you just mortify the deeds of the flesh. Romans 8:13 tells us, “For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” You will continue to maintain the life that you have.
Romans 8:17-18 gives us a man who is not characterized by emotional and ecstatic experiences, but a quiet willingness to suffer for Christ in his walk. Verse 17 says, “And if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
And in Romans 8:21-25, he lives with the hope of Christ’s return and his future glorified body. In Romans 8:26, now watch this one, he lives knowing that whatever he goes through, the Spirit is going to step in and be his assistant. He is going to help him bear up under it. He doesn’t live with a delusion that obedience is going to spare him from suffering in the Christian walk, or from sickness or anything else. It says in Romans 8:26, “And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” He knows that there is a prayer meeting going on. He knows that the Spirit is going to pick up the other end of the log that he can’t hold up himself. So therefore, that is the way he approaches life.
Romans 8:28 show us he doesn’t live as a victim, he lives as a victor. It says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
In Romans 8:34 he knows that he is neither condemned nor forsaken, but that Christ is constantly interceding for him on his behalf. Verse 34 says, “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
And then finally in Romans 8:35-39 he knows that yes, he might sin, but there is no sin that he can ever commit that will in any way hamper or hurt or thwart the position that he has in Christ before God. Because what Christ did for him is an eternal work and nothing can break it. He cannot lose his salvation. He knows that nothing can separate him from the love of Christ.
Now, we can test the spirits. Behind every person there is a spirit. Before you hear what they say, before you watch what they do, look at their character. Look at where they are coming from, at the consistency of their life according to God’s Word. And I tell you what, folks, we need to get our feet on the ground in America today and we need this gift of discerning between this is of God and this is not of God. Today more than ever before. We don’t need baby Christians who are walking around sucking on pacifiers. We need people who have come out of the nursery. We need people who will stand on their own two feet. We need people who will stand on the Word of God and have a discernment that says, “This is of God and this is of the devil,” and be able to draw that line.
I was appalled when I read something in the newspaper. I normally don’t call names, but since it was in the paper, you probably have already read it. I want to show you the need that we have today of discernment. There was an article that quoted the words spoken by Paul Crouch, who is the owner of TBN network. This is what he said. “Of those who love theology and doctrine, theology or truth is just not important. It is religious entertainment.” On another occasion he spoke to his worldwide audience by stating, “Heretic hunters, those guys who spend their lives straightening us all out doctrinally, they are all going straight to hell.” On another occasion he says, “I refused to argue any longer with any of you out there. Don’t even call me if you want to argue doctrine, if you want to straighten somebody out over here, if you want to criticize Kenneth Copeland and if you have never read Christianity in Crisis.” In that book Kenneth Copeland stood before a large auditorium and said, “God spoke to me this morning and told me I could have been the redeemer of the world.”
Where are we, folks? Where is the discernment? In another quote he said, “God is the biggest failure that ever lived.” He said if you are trying to correct these people, get out of my life. I don’t ever want to talk to you or hear you. I don’t want to see your ugly face.” And then he went on to speak of those who love doctrine, who stand upon it and have discernment, between this is of God and this is not of God. And he said, “I think they are damned and on their way to hell and I don’t think there is any redemption for them. And I said, ‘The hell with you.’” End of quote.
Do you think we are not living in a day when we had better get our feet solid on the ground, folks? I want you to understand it. Don’t make any bones about it. What you are going to hear is “Thus saith the word of God.” We are going to stand on that. My prayer is that the word we teach will be the word that we live because when we live it, we have the ability to draw a line and say this is of God and this is of the devil. We know then, we know then. You think that makes us any better than anybody else? No. It just makes us more burdened for the people who are so deceived they can make statements like that.
You see, God’s love will not allow us to hate the sinner. We have to love the sinner, but oh, how you hate the sin. And one of the things so often that is difficult is in our world today in America, you cannot say a thing like this anymore without people associating what is said with the person who said it. But what we are criticizing is not the person, but what was said of the person, you understand that. We love the people, but doctrine is very important, folks. On a program on TBN, a fellow said Martin Luther changed the whole course of what worship was in the church for years and centuries. He made the sermon the message, the center piece of when people come together. He made the sermon the focal point when it used to not be that way.
I beg your pardon. I don’t see a whole lot of hymns that Jesus sung on the Sermon on the Mount. But I hear a lot of truth that came out of His mouth. And that must stay, that must stay, that must stay the centerpiece of what we do. The doctrine of where we stand. Somebody said, “Well, you are just an equipping church.” Thank God! We can equip people in the word of God to where they can stand on their own two feet and have discernment.
Secondly, we have the different categories of discernment. You have got to move from that. When he puts it in the plural, as he did with healing and with faith, you’ve got to look at the miraculous ordinary. That is what comes when you simply surrender to God. But I think he is talking about something different here. You know, the question comes as the discernment of Hebrews 5:14, the same discernment that he speaks of in 1 Corinthians 12:10. I think it is implied, but I do not think that is where he is headed. The plural again concludes it, but it moves it to a higher level.
What Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 12:10 to me is another category of discernment. And we must understand this in light of these five gifts that are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10. I believe it refers to the extraordinary discernment of spirits, the kind that was so exemplified by the early officers of the church that you see as a pattern in their life. As a matter of fact, you just walk through scripture and you see if over and over and over again. It was so critical in their day.
It is my understanding the gift mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 is much like that gift mentioned of faith. We all have faith. The faith to remove mountains as chapter 13 says, however, is an extraordinary gift of that faith. God just simply chooses to put it on you when it is necessary in the scheme of His eternal purpose. The same way to me is with this particular distinguishing of spirits. There were times just as there may even be times today, but much more consistent with these men of that day, that God would move upon them with just that extraordinary ability to discern, to distinguish the spirit behind what somebody either said or what somebody was doing. But again, that pattern was only with them, only with those three offices of the church; the apostle, the evangelist and the prophet. You do not find that in the 20th Century as being a pattern at all, but you do find it as a pattern back in those days.
Paul in Acts 16:16, I think, gives us a view of this. We have read this passage, but I want to go back and look at something different, how God moved upon him to let him understand that even though a young girl was speaking the truth, the spirit behind speaking the truth was not God, it was the devil. Remember Luke is writing this and he is giving the account after it has happened. So he knows some things now he didn’t perhaps know right at the moment that it happened. He sees it as he looks back. It says that it happened back then, “that as we were going to the place of prayer, a certain slave girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, ‘These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.’”
Now, is that the truth? That is exactly what they were doing. And she was just simply walking around saying that. Many heard her, but they knew her and they knew what she had come from and they knew that she was bringing a lot of money. You see, the devil will tell the truth, but only when it is to his advantage. Because what happens here, now they can blame Paul for it all, and that is obviously the plot that the devil has by using this girl. Verse 18 says, “And she continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!’ And it came out at that very moment.”
Why did it go on for several days? He had the ordinary discernment to know that there was something amiss here. But I believe on that day, God extraordinarily stepped and said, “Paul, she is totally of the devil.” And at that moment when that extraordinary gift of distinguishing between the spirits hit him, immediately he cast the demon out of her life. But I tell you one thing, Paul didn’t go someplace and hang a sign on the door that said, “I have the gift of casting out devils, so I can help you. Call me. Here is my card and this is my ministry I have to others.” Oh, no. Just like with the other gifts, there were times when Paul didn’t have that advantage of that extraordinary distinguishing of the spirits. You can walk through scriptures and see this over and over again.
Do you think that was just a man, just full of the Holy Spirit? Yes, and no. He had discernment. He knew something was amiss, but when God moved upon him, he knew that was a demonic spirit and cast that demon out. And you see that as a pattern. You see it over and over again with the officers of the early church. Can God still do it today? Absolutely.
I have had one experience with it myself. I just want to share this with you so that you will know I am not saying God can’t do it today. But I want to make sure you hear that He doesn’t do it consistently. If you find somebody who says they have that gift, you better back off and say, “I am praying for you.” I was down in Mississippi and a man called me every day for two weeks. “Can you tell me how to get saved?” he would say. I would start off trying to tell him and he would hang up on me. That is fun. Every day he would do that. I got a little angry. He wouldn’t tell me his name, so I just called him something or other. Every day I would say, “Jim, how are you doing?” That wasn’t his name, but he wouldn’t tell me, so I would just play around with him a little bit. I thought he was just some kind of kook.
One day he called and told me his name and broke down and said, “I am really needy. Can you come and lead me to Christ?” I said, “Where do you live?” I am glad I am a little older now and I think things through a little better. I was driving over there, and God began to move on me as I was riding over there. “Wayne, you are about something that you have no clue what you are about.” He began to impress on me to make sure my heart was right with Him in every way I could think of, to make sure I was cleansed before Him. I didn’t know what in the world was going on. I had some suspicions, but I didn’t have any idea.
I pulled up in a trailer park that was burned down in the worst part of town. I walked up to the door and had goose pimples up my back. I am thinking, “Oh, dear, why did I not stay at home and watch the ballgame?” He let me inside the house and we sat down at a little table. He had a table and two chairs, no phone. That is the first thing I noticed, no phone. I am in trouble. I can’t call anybody. He said, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son?” I said, “I do.” He said, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sin?” I said, “I do.” “Do you believe He resurrected the third day?” “I do.” “Do you believe He ascended and is glorified?” “I do.” “Do you believe He sent His Spirit to inhabit us?” I said, “I do.” He said, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ has power over demons?” I said, “Absolutely.” “Do you believe His Spirit has power over the demons?” I said, “Yes, it is His Spirit.” He said, “Do you believe then if He lives in you that you have power over demons?” I said, “No, sir. I do not. I believe He has power in me over the demons. I have no power, none.” He said, “Okay, come back here to the back of the room.”
I walked to the back and there in this room was this guy. He was a skid row drunk. The guy was totally out. I took a bucket of cold water and poured it over his face and he didn’t even flinch. I slapped his face, trying to do anything just to get him up. He couldn’t move. The guy said, “Okay, you are a Christian, you pray.” I was being set up but I didn’t know it. This guy was not a Christian, neither one of them were. This guy on the bed God had other plans for, not the guy who called me.
I began to pray. I didn’t know what to pray. I had heard all the clichés of binding the devil. I have discovered a long time ago, you bind him once, why do you have to bind him twice. I just began to pray, “God, I don’t know what I am doing, but I know who you are and you take authority over this whole situation.” And as I was praying, I happened to open my eyes and the hair on the back of my head just stuck straight out. The guy was penned against the bed, staring at me with an evil glare like I have never seen before. A peace of God came over me at that moment that I have never had before or since, and God says, “You are not talking to this boy. He is fine. You are talking to the one who is empowering him, the spirit behind him.”
To make a long story short, I saw the man sober right before my very eyes. Have you ever seen a skid row drunk sober like that? It is not possible they say. As a matter of fact, the guy that was with me said, “I am not believing this. I have had to carry him to the bathroom.” He said, ‘David, sit up.” He can’t sit up. David sat up on the side of the bed. And I said, “David, who is Jesus?” He said, “He is Christ, the Son of God and I want to receive Him in my heart.” He grabbed my arm and nearly scared me half to death. I led him in prayer, and he received the Lord Jesus Christ. Six weeks later he was an usher at our church. Did the other man ever receive Christ? No. He was so filled with Satan that he had completely set me up, but the thing that messed him up was God said, “I have got a man over there lying on the bed. It is not the one who called you and I want him in my kingdom. Now you get right with Me and I am going to give you a discernment that you have never had before.” Have I had it since? No. Do I have discernment? When I live obedient to the word of God.
Yet there are people who have those kind of experiences and hang a sign on the door and say, “Hey, this is my gift and my contribution to the ministry.” Baloney! God chooses to do it when God chooses to do it. Why is there no pattern today? Because when Corinthians was written, Corinth did not have the complete canon of scripture. We do today. We have the Holy Spirit living in us. All we need to do today to come against all the darkness in this world is to live in the light that is within us and the garment of Ephesians 4 who is Christ and the armor of Ephesians 6. That is how we defend and that is how we defeat the devil around us is, by living a surrendered life to Him. There may be instances when God does the extraordinary, but don’t come home and build a ministry on it like we always do in America. It is an extraordinary thing that God did.
You know, I walk on these waters with fear and trembling because I know how many disagree with me. Folks, I just want to tell you from my heart, some of you are praying that I will see the light and come to where you are. Please let me help you understand, I have been where you are. God delivered me years ago.
Listen, don’t you ever get hung up with gifts. Don’t you ever do it. From my heart to yours, don’t do it. You get overwhelmed with the Giver and the gifts will take care of themselves. Live attached to the Giver. That is what Corinth wasn’t doing.
By the way, one last thing. The distinguishing of spirits is never mentioned anywhere in scripture except to a church that was a hell hole of their day. Does that help you just a little bit with why Paul deals with it?