|I believe that, in the coming days, the Body of Christ will need to walk in great maturity and discernment.
Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
In the current state of the church, we hardly have a grid for signs and wonders happening at all, much less being done by those who have not even given their lives to Christ. But when this time comes (and it is coming!), we will need the kind of maturity and discernment described in Hebrews 5:13-14, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
So, we see that God desires for us to discern between good and evil. But on the other hand, that demonic spirit of judgment, which has been so prevalent in the church, must be left behind as we leave the wilderness and enter the Promised Land.
John 7:1-5: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite? First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
James 4:11-12 says, “Do not speak evil of another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?”
These Scriptures indicate that God wants us to discern but not to judge, so the Father is pouring out revelation, enabling us to tell the difference between true and false judgment, between the real and the counterfeit. In this past season, I have had numerous occasions where I found myself crying out to God for revelation because of situations I was in due to a lack of discernment, or because I was encountering a spirit of judgment masquerading as discernment. Here are some keys the Lord has given me that have helped me to understand the difference.
1. SELF-RELIANCE VS. ABSOLUTE DEPENDENCE
When Jesus ascended back into heaven (John 6:7, 12-14), He didn’t say that it would be better for us because He was leaving us with a book. The Bible is our plumb line, but God’s Word is filled with a Divine tension of truth that, at times, might seem contradictory. He does this intentionally, to show us that we can’t even interpret His Word without His help. He left us with a person—the person of the Holy Spirit, and He intends for us to live in relationship with and dependence upon Him. We cannot know truth without the help of the Spirit of Truth:
I Corinthians 2:14: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17 says, “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Verse 15: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
In the Garden, Adam and Eve were faced with a choice: to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or to eat from the Tree of Life. What we may not realize is that we all face that same choice today. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is all about self-reliance, while eating from the Tree of Life is to live in absolute dependence upon God. Does God want us to know the difference between good and evil? Of course He does! Does He want us to rely upon our own understanding, logic and upon the wisdom of man to do so? Absolutely not!
Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding…”
Why would God not want us to operate from our human understanding?
*Because human knowledge has many limitations
Isaiah 55:8-9: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
*Because human knowledge is subject to demonic manipulation
James 3:15 talks about wisdom that is “earthly, sensual and demonic.”
God IS love, and so bit of His interaction with us is motivated by His love for us. He knows and wants what is best for us, and so His insistence that we rely upon Him alone is simply a reflection of His love for His children.
FALSE JUDGMENT HAS ITS ROOTS IN RELIANCE UPON OUR OWN WISDOM, WHILE GODLY DISCERNMENT COMES FROM WAITING TO HEAR WHAT GOD HAS TO SAY ABOUT THE MATTER.
Jesus lived out of this kind of absolute dependence and modeled it for us.
Isaiah 11:1-4: “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord. And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.”
This is saying that Jesus, though He was God, laid aside His divinity and lived His earthly life in the same way we must: in absolute dependence upon the Father. Whether it was to release mercy or judgment, He didn’t make a decision based on what He saw or heard. Rather, He leaned upon the Spirit of God, which rested upon Him and dealt with everyone according to the heart of the Father.
John 5:19: “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”
So, not only was Jesus living in absolute dependence upon the Father, He was co-existing in both realms. He was not speaking figuratively when He said He saw the Father. He was fully aware of both the heavenly and earthly realms simultaneously. And He did this, not out of His Divinity, but out of His humanity. Jesus, the “firstborn among many brethren,” was the firstfruit of a fully matured son, demonstrating to us what is possible and available to us! His sacrificial death on the cross made it available. And His earthly life demonstrated what it looked like.
Everything in the spirit realm is a trade. The first Adam traded his sonship to be his own source; he chose self-reliance and consequently, in Adam, we all became orphans. But because the second Adam, Jesus, chose absolute dependence upon the Father, and, in doing that, He restored us back to right relationship with our Father.
Any area where we are not fully yielded, where there is lack of trust, or fear or control, makes us susceptible to demonic trafficking. If we have been forced to rely upon ourselves to survive or have been taught not to trust, there is a trauma or soul wound. Where there is a soul wound, there is often shame. Where there is shame, there is always fear (whether it is conscious, or whether it resonates from the subconscious and unconscious layers of our being). Where there is shame and fear, there is always some kind of control. This control is at odds with total dependency upon the Father. So we must receive the healing and the power of God into that area of our soul, so that we can learn to trust and to operate a different way…as a son who can trust and yield to a good, good Father.
Another thing that often happens in a wounded place filled with shame, unworthiness and insecurity, is that this shame is masked in pride… which leads to second key:
2. GODLY DISCERNMENT IS CLOTHED WITH HUMILITY, WHILE FALSE JUDGMENT TRAFFICS THROUGH PRIDE AND PRESUMPTION
PRESUMPTION CAUSES US TO NEGLECT TO INQUIRE OF THE LORD OR TO LISTEN FOR HIS VOICE. Instead, we will be quick to think our own thoughts and to speak our own judgments.
Recently, I have done a lot of repenting for presumption. I didn’t realize how much I was living as an orphan, as if it was all up to me. We must remember that the veil was torn. Access has been granted. And our Father delights when we inquire of Him, seeking His mind, His will, and His heart.
Psalm 27:4: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”
The Bride of Christ in this season truly is coming up from the wilderness, and we are learning what it is to lean upon our Beloved!
Song of Solomon 8:5: “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?”
Pride causes us to put sins in categories, minimizing or excusing our own sins and maximizing those that are not as familiar to us. But humility remembers that we are all in need of God’s mercy.
Galatians 6:1-2, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
We all have faults and weaknesses. The Holy Spirit may lead us to set healthy boundaries so that we are not at the mercy of the weaknesses of others. But we must set those boundaries in compassion, keeping in mind that we have ours, too.
Because our unhealthy areas usually stem from familiar spirits and childhood programming, they are very familiar. And because of that, it is always easier to see other people’s sins than our own. We don’t know what we don’t know. And we desperately need the Spirit of Truth to reveal our bondages and to lead us into freedom by way of repentance.
The Holy Spirit’s job is to reveal truth.
John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.”
3. JUST BECAUSE IT IS TRUE DOESN’T MEAN IT IS TRUTH
If we do not learn to lean, in humble dependence upon the voice of God, we may fall into the trap of speaking something that is true but is not the will or word of God for a particular situation. Just because you are right does not mean it is God.
In Job 42:8, God rebukes Job’s friend Eliphaz, saying that he was incorrect in his assessment of Job’s situation. Yet, Paul quotes his comments from Job 5:13 in I Corinthians 3:19. Was he right or wrong? If he were wrong, why would Paul quote him in the Bible? Because he had a truth that was true, but did not apply to Job’s particular situation. Satan himself quoted from Psalm 91 when He tempted Christ in Matthew 4:5-7, but he was obviously not speaking what the Father was saying.
Many in the Body of Christ are beginning to hunger for true community in this season. I believe that God has placed that cry in our hearts and is responding to it by showing us that true community looks like. When we choose to walk in close relationship with others, their faults usually become apparent. We often see a fault or sin in our life or the life of someone else and make a judgment. If the issue is Scripturally clear, we sometimes do not even stop to ask the Lord what He is doing in that person’s life at that time. Of course we should not condone sin, or say that something God forbids is right. But we must learn to let God be God and to trust His process and His timing in His dealings with mankind, knowing that, in our maturation process, His grace covers what it is not time to deal with yet. He may choose to deal with a number of foundational things in a person’s life before He ever speaks to him about the one that is obvious to us. In a sense, we hold ourselves back from focusing upon each other’s weaknesses and wait for God to call attention to them.
JUST BECAUSE I SEE SOMETHING IN SOMEONE DOES NOT MEAN IT IS TIME TO DEAL WITH IT.
Our God is the same yesterday, today and forever. The same God that created this world we see with His spoken word still creates when He speaks. So, when God speaks a word of correction or conviction, that word automatically releases the grace to obey. When we try to be the Holy Spirit in someone’s life, speaking something God is not initiating, it might be out of timing, and if that is the case, there is no Divine grace to cover it and we may be setting that person up to fail.
Great damage can occur when we try to apply something we know to be TRUE without even asking the Spirit of Truth whether it is “a word in due season.”
Proverbs 15:23: “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!”
When we are hurting or when others come to us for answers, it can be very uncomfortable if God seems to have nothing to say. It is easier to grasp a religious answer or to speak out of our own knowledge or human compassion. But sometimes, there are no words…
4. FALSE JUDGMENT IS SELF-INITIATED AND GODLY JUDGMENT IS GOD-INITIATED. WHAT IS GOD-INITIATED IS SPIRIT AND WHAT IS SELF-INITIATED IS FLESH. AND FLESH—EVEN “GOOD” FLESH—PRODUCES THE WORKS OF THE FLESH. The difference is obvious:
Galatians 5:19-22: “But when you follow your own wrong inclinations, your lives will produce these evil results: impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, spiritism (that is, encouraging the activity of demons), hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group—and there will be wrong doctrine, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, and all that sort of thing….
…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
This doesn’t mean that every situation initiated by God turns out perfectly, because we all have freedom of choice. This is illustrated in the way God called Jeremiah to prophecy to Israel knowing they wouldn’t listen. But there should be some positive fruit. If your “discernment” has a track record of unresolved issues, hurt, offense and broken relationships, it may be judgment, or a mixture.
When the Spirit of God does not initiate our attention to a particular sin or shortcoming, it is initiated by self. When self initiates, a demonic spirit of judgment automatically has legal ground to traffic through us, because we are eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Focusing upon/judging God’s servant (including ourselves) without His permission is illegal in the Spirit.
John 10:1-10, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
In this passage, Jesus is telling us that He is the Door through which we must go in order to access the Spirit realm (which includes truth). We are able to access these things illegally (just as Adam and Eve did). This is how many false religions, cults, and seekers of Truth who have not accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are able to walk in a measure of truth and operate in the supernatural. But whenever we do this, we are making a trade, giving the demonic realm legal ground to traffic through us.
THE UNRESTORED SOUL
Often, self-initiated judgment is our response to hurt or offense and is attached to unhealed soul wounds and strongholds and is energized by familiar spirits. Because the demonic realm has legal ground in the unrestored soul, demonic spirits will traffic through it, and their vehicle is often judgment.
We are in a season of preparation for ruling and reigning. And so we must remember the creative power that is in our thoughts and spoken words, and we must allow God to refine us so that we can be trusted with kingdom authority.
Does this mean that you can’t speak out if you are struggling or offended? Of course not!
Matthew 18:15: “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”
But we are to come in a posture of humility and not as a judge. ANY TIME WE TRY TO CHANGE SOMEONE ELSE THAT WE HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN AUTHORITY OVER, WE ARE AUTOMATICALLY OPERATING ILLEGALLY IN THE REALM OF THE SPIRIT.
THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING
Adam and Eve chose knowing over depending upon God, so our Adamic nature is very uncomfortable with not knowing. When we are exposed to something new or different, we tend to judge by whether that thing is familiar, rather than asking the indwelling Spirit of Truth. MANY CHRISTIANS ARE SO AFRAID OF BEING DEVEIVED THAT THEY NEGLECT TO DO THE VERY THING THAT WILL KEEP THEM FROM DECEPTION: ASKING GOD!
Acts 3:21 talks about the “restoration of all things.” God is restoring to His church, layer by layer, all that Adam lost. Though these things may seem new to us, they are actually ancient. Over the past several hundred years, we see the restoration of salvation by grace through faith, tongues, healing, faith and the prophetic, to name a few. If we are not changing, letting go of the old and embracing the new, we are not growing and maturing. THE ENEMY KNOWS THAT WHEN WE JUDGE SOMETHING BECAUSE WE DON’T UNDERSTAND IT OR HAVEN’T HEARD FROM GOD ABOUT IT YET, THAT JUDGMENT BLOCKS US FROM RECEIVING IT WHEN IT IS OUR TIME. So, unless you have heard from God on something, just wait and put it on the shelf. Do not judge.
Matthew 13:13-15: “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’”
Jesus taught in parables so that those with a heart to receive truth would understand. Those who did not have an open heart would simply not understand what He was saying, rather blatantly rejecting truth. It was His mercy preventing them from the consequences of false judgment.
Psalm 97: 2 says that God is surrounded by a dark cloud, which He has revealed to me as a “cloud of unknowing.” As we grow and mature, as we learn to trust Him more, as we become confident in His love, we learn to rest in the silence, we release ourselves from the need to understand or to judge, and we wait… listening for the voice of the One we love.
5. THE LOVE FACTOR
WE MAY BE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ABOUT A SITUATION AND MAY HAVE EVEN HEARD GOD’S VOICE CONCERNING IT, AND STILL MISS THE MARK IF WE DO NOT LOVE AS HE LOVES. I Corinthians 13 is very clear that our knowledge, gifts and even acts of kindness profit nothing without love. The extravagant love of God flowing through us will serve to take us out of our role as observer and judge and will catapult us into supporting, helping and praying.
Just as there was in Genesis 1, there is still creative power in every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. When we listen for His voice and yield to His heart about a particular issue, we become an unobstructed channel through which His love can flow. And, just as His love is evidenced in the fact that He gave His life for His sheep (John 10:11) and laid down His life for His bride (Ephesians 5:25), His love is evidenced in us through:
1. True love for that person (includes yourself)
2. Seeing the good as well as the bad, the potential as well as the obstacles
3. Selfless intercession
4. Being a part of the Divine solution/strategy
If there is a pattern in your life of detaching when you see an imperfection in a person or group of people, rather than staying where you are called and helping, praying and plowing, you might be judging.
6. SPIRITUAL MATURITY
As we saw in Hebrews 5:13-14, true discernment is one of the signs of a mature believer.
I John 2: 12-14: “I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father.
I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.”
We are all where we are in our maturation process, and there is no shame or condemnation in any phase of development. Often what we missed in our natural development must be revisited spiritually as the Father fathers us perfectly.
But if you are still a spiritual child (still struggling with shame and condemnation), you may be releasing that same judgment on others. A mature Christian (a Father) has a heart of selflessness because THE PATH OF MATURITY IS DYING TO SELF! As we spiritually mature, we are called to deeper and deeper depths of co-crucifixion with Christ. And in any place where self still reigns, love is hindered.
We are most tempted to judge when we are hurt or when we feel at the mercy of someone else, and that judgment keeps us trapped in unhealthy cycles and causes us to reap the judgment we have sown. But humility and forgiveness release the miraculous healing power of God into our souls and lives.
ALLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT TO REVEAL AREAS OF FALSE JUDGMENT:
- Did God initiate the focus, or was it prompted by self, a hurt, an offense, a fragile area of my life, or a soul wound?
- Where am I in my maturation process?
- Do I see more good than bad?
- Do I bear God’s heart of selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love?
- Am I willing to lay down my life for that person?
- Am I doing so in selfless intercession?
- Am I seeking God for the strategy and solution?
- Am I willing to sacrifice to be part of the solution?
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE JUDGING
- Put the blood of Jesus on all thoughts, emotions, memories, and past similar experiences
- Pray for the person
- Surrender to the Father
- Listen and obey if He wants you to be a part of the solution
WHERE WE ARE GOING:
Matthew 10:39: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
John 12:24: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
So we see that, in the realm of the Spirit, death precedes LIFE. When we die to the counterfeit of false judgment, allowing God to cleanse and mature us to the point that He can trust us, He will give us the real, which is far greater.
I Corinthians 6:1-5: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?”
In this passage, Paul is rebuking the Corinthian church for their carnality and immaturity, asking them why they were unable to judge small, earthly things, since we are called to judge the world and even the angels!
Zechariah 3:1-7: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by. Then the Angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘If you will walk in My ways, and if you will keep My command, then you shall also judge My house,
and likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk among these who stand here.’”
WALKING THE ANCIENT PATHS, BEING IN CHARGE OF GOD’S COURTS, JUDGING THE WORLD AND THE ANGELS ARE ALL FUNCTIONS OF MATURE SONS, WHO HAVE DIED TO SELF AND FALSE JUDGMENT AND WHO CAN BE TRUSTED TO BEAR THE HEART OF GOD. This is what the Father has waiting for us, and we are in preparation.
Father, we submit to Your process of cleansing and restoration and thank You for growing us to maturity, so that You can trust us to bear Your heart. Thank You for the honor and privilege of ruling and reigning with You, in the heavens and on the earth.