Tag Archives: discerning of spirits

Discerning the Political Spirit

political protestIf you have not yet noticed, it’s time to pay attention. A political spirit is having a field day in America. It is stirring up strife and anger to levels we have not seen in many decades.

Sadly, Christians are not immune to its influence. Many in the Church are listening to the political spirit, all the while thinking it is the Holy Spirit. As a result, we see much bickering back and forth, even within Christ’s Body, as we mistakenly try to fight battles in the flesh which can only be fought adequately in the spirit.

Let’s start by identifying some signs the political spirit is affecting us:

  1. If it’s my political party’s stance, it’s right, do or die.
  2. Being a Christian and being a patriot are synonymous to me. (Patriotism is usually honorable, but since we are citizens of two kingdoms, an earthly one and a heavenly one, the time may come when we will have to choose between the two.)
  3. If my guy is in office, everything he does is right. He’s God-appointed and God-anointed, so he never takes a wrong turn.
  4. If it’s not my guy in office, he is open game. Start blasting.
  5. Key words trigger a dig-my-heels-in-the-ground stance, so that I cannot see any middle territory. I cannot hear a different viewpoint or see a perspective in between.
  6. If my favorite news outlet says it is so, it is. If I am a conservative, I cannot believe anything from a liberal source could be accurate. (If I am a liberal, I cannot receive anything from a conservative viewpoint.)
  7. I feel and exhibit anger and pride over where I stand. I argue with anyone of a different perspective until I win my point (or until they quit responding).
  8. I am afraid of any truth which conflicts with what I want to believe.
  9. I have an “us vs. them” mentality.

The political spirit can lead us into idolizing a particular government figure. It deceives us into replacing Jesus with human saviors. Once we have entered into this idolatry, anytime anyone voices a concern that the one we idolize may be wrong in a specific area, we get defensive and perhaps abusive in our rebuttal. We may twist the Bible to justify or minimize wrong — because the person we have on a pedestal must be viewed as always right in order for us to feel comfortable with our idolization of him or her.

On the other hand, the political spirit can also lead us into hating a particular government figure. We spend our time criticizing his or her every move. When anyone suggests we pray for that person instead of criticizing him, we make excuses or get defensive.

How do we become influenced by the political spirit? It gains our agreement by pandering to our soul. It manipulates our fears and selfish desires, so that life becomes all about making sure our comfort comes first.

It uses us by taking hold of principles we deeply ascribe to and twisting them for its own purposes. We bring those deeply held principles into how we pray, firmly convinced that we are on God’s side – when in actuality our understanding of the principles may be flawed. We may be misusing them for our own soulish desires or opinions.

Other spirits work in partnership with this spirit, but the Holy Spirit never does. We cannot follow the political spirit and the Holy Spirit at the same time.

The political spirit is nothing new. It was at work in Bible times with those who wanted to make Jesus a king so He would overthrow the oppressive Roman government. The Jewish religious leaders who were opposed to Jesus also exhibited it when they said to Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). It is not only at work in secular government, but also in church government. Wherever power can be wielded over people, it will try to work.

Combating the political spirit’s influence:

The most effective way to deal with this spirit is through prayer. We must always remember, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). If we don’t stay aware of the real source of the problem, we end up in futile contention with people who are merely tools of the enemy.

That does not mean we never engage in discussion or other activism. If we don’t speak up when the Lord is prompting us to, we allow evil to gain ground, but we must know the appropriate time and place. We can only know these things by the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Find out which battles the Holy Spirit is calling you to, and leave the rest alone.

Our battle must first be engaged by searching out God’s perspective through inquiring of Him in prayer. I might start by gathering information from news sources. (Keep in mind that both left- and right-leaning media distort or withhold information for their own purposes.) But then I ask, “Lord, what do You say about this?”

While we wait to hear from Him, we can begin to wage war by praying in tongues, which keeps us from praying fleshly prayers stemming from our own reasoning.

We can petition the Lord to break the political spirit’s influence off of our nation. This may involve asking Him to expose its influence over ourselves first, followed by repentance for our personal cooperation with it.

Discerning when the political spirit is at work in our own lives and in those around us is a first step in dealing with it. We can be set free, and through prayer, we can help to weaken this spirit’s hold on our nation as well.

intercessory prayer

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

intercession questions

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

More on Discerning of Spirits

discerning of spiritsI’ve mentioned before that since the beginning of the year God has been impressing upon me the importance of the gift of discerning of spirits. It’s not a gift for just a few, although some will move in it more keenly than others. All believers need to operate in it at greater levels than we have thus far, if we are going to navigate life well.

A few months ago, I shared with you the series, Discerning Between Soul and Spirit. If we do not pursue the Lord for the ability to know the difference between these two, we can easily be fooled into thinking our emotions (which are part of our soul) are the Holy Spirit’s promptings. While our feelings do often align with the Spirit, not all emotions we experience — even positive ones — indicate God’s leading. Many in the Church are operating entirely out of emotional impulses. We need to change that.

For example, sometimes we may feel “righteous indignation,” but it is really only anger fueled by our flesh. Compassion is a Christ-like quality, but we can also experience misguided compassion, coming only from our human emotions. A sense of personal justice (or injustice) might really be selfishness wearing a mask.

Every day, hour by hour, we must discern whether what is propelling us is truly the Spirit of God or our soul — or even something worse! If we listen to our soul too much, our defenses become weakened to where we could begin to be influenced by an unholy spirit, which we then mistake for the Holy Spirit.

As we commit ourselves to listening to the Lord and staying sensitive to Him, we can develop a much keener sense of what is from Him and what is not. Here are some ways I try to do that:

1.)  I ask God for His perspective on events happening around me, both in my personal life and relationships and on a national / international level.

2.)  I ask, “Lord, is what I am sensing from You, or is it just my own emotions?”

3.)  I ask the Holy Spirit to bring Bible verses to mind which address whatever I have questions about and to help me rightly apply them.

Applying biblical principles correctly takes wisdom only the Spirit can impart. It’s easy to find a verse to support whatever position we want to take. But without the Lord’s help, we can end up misusing Scripture for our own soulish purposes.

4.)  If I am concerned about something and feel an urge to speak into it, I check my peace barometer. If I’m churned up inside, I try to take a step back and ask the Holy Spirit for more understanding.

Colossians 3:15 advises us, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you are also called in one body; and be thankful.” That word “rule” means to act as a referee. So, if I feel an urge to jump into a debate, but I have no peace, I know I need to find out why before acting or speaking. (To my regret, sometimes I don’t do well at this, but I am learning.)

5.)  When possible, I delay responding to people or situations, giving myself time to gain wisdom. Waiting can save us a lot of unnecessary turmoil and discord. It’s a good thing not to be in a hurry!

There are battles which God has called us to speak into publicly and battles which are meant to stay in the prayer closet. We need to know the difference. If we fail to speak up in key moments, we might miss opportunities to advance the Lord’s purposes. If, however, we speak without the Spirit’s go-ahead, we can do damage to His cause.

Ephesians 6:12 is really easy to forget, so we should endeavor to keep it in mind constantly:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

When we enter into spiritual battles by taking them on in the natural, we always end up on the wrong side. We cannot serve God’s purposes through fleshly attempts to fix things.

Truly, God is calling His people into higher ways of thinking. Romans 8:5, 6 is a key passage:

For they who live according to the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they who live according to the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Let us pursue the attitudes of the Holy Spirit, asking Him to take us into His thoughts and ways. As we relentlessly do so, we will come into a far greater ability to discern the spirits and to align with Him alone.

personal prophecy

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

A Newsletter of Sorts …

I have not written for a while, and there is a reason. My elderly mother has needed a lot of help over the last year, and especially since 2018 began.

In March, Mom had a scary health episode, which made it necessary to place her in a nursing home. Since then, I’ve been focusing most of my time and energy on getting her settled in her new home, pulling her finances together, and disposing of her house and other possessions.

Through all of this, we have seen the hand of God upon her and upon the timing of all that has taken place. Mom’s health has improved, and she is adjusting extremely well to this new chapter in her life — all of which I see as a miracle for her and us.

I hope to get back to writing in the next few weeks, but just wanted to connect with our Out of the Fire readers a little in the meantime, to let you know I am still here and to share a few thoughts and updates.

First, the updates:

For those who have elementary-aged children, our Character Building for Families manuals are on sale in the U. S. now through May 15. (Saving money is always good!) They are a simple and enjoyable way for families to grow together in Jesus. Some families use them as their homeschool Bible curriculum, some as family devotions. I hope you will take a look.

Encouragement from God's WordI have updated our book, Encouragement from God’s Word. It now has an additional chapter and a beautiful new cover. It is a topical collection of reassuring Bible verses (KJV) which I collected while going through a particularly tough time in my life. I will be forever grateful for what the Lord showed me about His faithfulness during that season, and I hope this book will bless you as well. The links are to Amazon, but it is also available at many other online bookstores.

dream interpretationWe have a new audio resource for you — Hearing God Through Your Dreams. This was a live workshop we did recently, and it’s now available as an mp3 or CD set. There is an optional study guide, too.

This teaching gives you the keys for understanding what God is speaking to you while you sleep. If you were not able to attend in person, this is the next best thing!

____________________________________

A few short thoughts:

At the beginning of 2018, the Lord spoke to me that the ability to discern is much on His mind for His children. It will become increasingly imperative for all of us to effectively exercise the discerning of spirits in the days ahead.

We often think of this gift as the ability to know when an evil spirit is behind afflictions or perplexing situations. That is true, but I believe it also encompasses recognizing the difference between flowing with the Holy Spirit and operating in one’s natural understanding — both in ourselves and other people.

I wrote on this a few months ago, in my series, Discerning Between Soul & Spirit, but it is still much on my heart, so perhaps we will explore it more in days to come. Keys to Increasing in Discernment is another series which may help you.

I have been meditating on 1 Corinthians 2 for several months now, and the Lord is (once again) speaking to me about discernment through it. He talks about “the hidden wisdom” of God, and that, while we cannot discover or discern this wisdom on our own, by His Spirit He has “freely given us all things” to understand. We have “the mind of Christ,” and we can access the deep things of God as we step over from our intellect into the realm of the Spirit. It is almost as if there are parallel worlds available to us: the world of the Spirit and our lesser, natural world. We can choose which one we live in.

Finally, recently the Lord assured me, “The righteous shall fare well in the days ahead.” I sensed that this meant that whether things are going well on the earth or not, He is personally seeing to the welfare of those who are His own. We can take courage in knowing that He is attentive to our every need, even if all we see with our natural eyes continues to shake. He has us tenderly covered with His protective hand.

That’s a good note to end on.

Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 7) — Keys for Overcoming (cont.)

People conflicts are responsible for a lot of the spiritual warfare we go through. We get distressed mentally and emotionally when we are in disharmony with others. Offenses try to take root inside, and we find ourselves feeling bruised, barraged with critical or angry thoughts, experiencing fear of what might be coming next. The next three keys deal specifically with warfare over people issues:

Remind yourself that people who are giving you grief are not the real problem. This is probably one of the main ways we miss it in spiritual warfare. Much of our soulish thinking has to do with smoldering resentment of ways people have offended, annoyed, or wounded us. We carry on imaginary conversations with them —  telling them off, putting them in their place, rehearsing what they said or did over and over again.

We need to be aware that people who give us a bad time are mere instruments of the enemy. Evil spirits are pulling their strings — to yank ours in response! This is why Paul reminded us, “For we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Quite honestly, even our Christian brothers and sisters can be real tools of the devil, although often unwittingly. They say stupid things, we feel devastated, and we don’t even stop to consider where it is really coming from.

Overcome by praying blessings upon those who hurt you. In Matthew 5:44, 45, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, so that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven ….”  While this is a familiar Bible passage for many of us, it seems that walking it out has been all but lost in the Church today.

When we speak blessings upon those who mean us harm, choose to respond with kind acts toward them, and, especially, pray good things for them, several changes take place:

  • We increase in being like our Father in heaven, because we are choosing His ways.
  • Sustained prayer for others inevitably leads us into loving them. This is a spiritual principle. After a while, we don’t have to grit our teeth and endure around them, because we take on the Father’s own love and compassion for them. The change inside ourselves can be amazing!
  • We pave the way for the person to be softened and freed from his bondage, especially as we release benevolent prayer for him. The enemy’s hold on him is weakened.
  • Many times, those who have persecuted us will have a change of heart toward us, as they experience our kindness. Love wins.
  • Even if the person continues to treat us badly, our Father sees. He returns the blessing we have bestowed upon our adversary back to us.

Commit to staying inside the walls of 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. That’s the “love chapter.” If you are going through a struggle with how you feel or think about a person, fill yourself with this passage daily. Determine to align with it. Yep! This will take some dying to self!

Final thoughts:

Sometimes you need others. No matter how strong or mature in the Lord you are, when you are embroiled in a spiritual battle, sometimes you need support. Surround yourself with believers who will pray with you, listen to you, cry with you, and share their insights. We all need friends who care and who can be trusted, who will love us in our weaknesses and stand with us when we are under attack.

I know some of you may not feel like you have that in your local church. Perhaps a home fellowship, such as a prayer or Bible study group, can meet the need. My husband and I have developed close relationships through a couple of home fellowship groups we are part of.

You may be able to find a support group through people you engage with via social media. I have gradually gotten to know some trustworthy people in this way. They have become wonderful friends with whom I can share, even though we’ve never met in person.

It will take time to establish trust with others, so start making these relationships happen now. Being transparent and expressing need involves risk, because it makes us vulnerable. Test the waters a bit before a spiritual crisis arises. Generally speaking, you will be surprised by how caring people can be.

Losing a battle is not the same as losing the war. In every major conflict, you’re going to lose a few battles. That’s why the Lord said in Proverbs 24:16, “A just man falls seven times, and rises up again,” and in Psalm 37:23, 24, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD…. Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the LORD upholds him with His hand.”

If you fail, as long as you get back up and fight again, you will win in the end. Jesus is there to help you. He is The Overcomer, and He’s committed to bringing you through.

This concludes our Personal Spiritual Warfare series. I’d love to hear your tips for how you have overcome. By sharing, you will encourage others.

Previous: Part 6 — Keys for Overcoming  

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann

 

 

Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 6) — Keys for Overcoming

It’s not enough to identify problems and then be told by someone to overcome them. I want to be given practical tools to get me there. Maybe you’d like that kind of help, too. Here are some steps to help you win those personal spiritual battles you encounter:

Get used to the idea that you are in a war. 1 Peter 1:13 exhorts us, “Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“Girding up the loins” refers to how people of Bible times prepared for battle. They tucked their long robes up into their belts, so that their legs were free to move unhampered. “Be sober” means to understand the seriousness of what we’re involved in and to stay on the alert. “Hope to the end” indicates that we’re in this for the long haul. Individual battles may be short or prolonged, but the war lasts throughout our lives. We can’t quit at any point. If we stay at it, we will assuredly finish our life-race well, because the Lord Himself is right there fighting with and for us.

Corral your mind.1 Corinthians 2:16 says, “We have the mind of Christ.” Now, that’s the truth, but walking it out requires some effort. We have to continually “be sober; be vigilant, because [our] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We have to “resist him steadfastly in the faith” (v. 9). This means we don’t let our thoughts flow unchecked. When we notice our mind going places which are not in keeping with the way Jesus would think, we need to “cast down [those] imaginations, and every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The Holy Spirit is willing to expose those wandering thoughts to us, if we invite Him to. But it is up to us to keep on bringing them back to where they should be. This takes practice. Sometimes it is exhausting, especially if we are dealing not only with our own soulish nature, but with thoughts implanted by the devil.

The secret is to keep at it. If you notice wrong thoughts dozens of times a day, every time you corral them and push the reset button, you have taken a few steps toward ultimate victory.

Take a worship break. — If you have already taken authority in Jesus’ name over any evil spirits which might be bombarding your thoughts, worship can refocus your mind where it needs to be. It’s great to keep worship music playing in the background, if you can. Worship music changes the atmosphere around us. But take it a step further. Go beyond listening to worship music, to actively doing the worship yourself – out loud, if possible. Worship connects us spirit-to-Spirit with the Lord, and when our spirit-man is in the right place, it can help our mind to line up as well.

Focus on Jesus more than the battle coming against you. – This goes along with taking a worship break. The enemy wants to get us obsessed with him and the problems he is causing. When we put our attention on him instead of the Lord, we play into his hands: we end up giving him the glory which belongs to the Lord Most High.

Jesus wants us to fasten our attention on Himself, the Author of peace, the Deliverer, the One who has already overcome on our behalf. How easy it is to forget that the battle is the Lord’s! (1 Samuel 17:47). The moment we cry out for Jesus’ help, He goes to work for us.

So don’t spend all your time and energy on contending with the devil. Worship. Tell Jesus you are setting your heart on Him. Express to Him your confidence that He will take care of you and get you through.

Do the exact opposite of what you are tempted to do. – This is a simple, but highly effective, warfare tactic. We can frustrate evil desires, deflating their sails, by taking an opposite course.

Do you feel the urge to give somebody a verbal slap in the face (maybe because you felt like that’s what you got)? Be cordial and friendly instead. 1 Peter 3:8, 9 addresses this very issue: “… Having compassion toward each other, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or railing for railing. On the contrary, bless them, knowing that is what you are called to, so that you will inherit a blessing.”

Do you want to avoid or run away from someone who has hurt you – an individual, a pastor, or even a whole church fellowship? Conquer that flight desire. Show up, converse, be kind, participate. If you need to express that you have been hurt, try to walk through the reconciliation / forgiveness pattern Jesus laid out for His Church in Matthew 18:15-17. Don’t go into hiding mode.

Doing the opposite of the temptation is part of how we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). It disarms the enemy’s ability to manipulate us.

Next time, we’ll wrap up this series with some final keys for overcoming.

Previous: Part 5 — Long-Term Assault
Next: Part 7 — Keys for Overcoming (cont.)

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam