Discerning Between Good and Evil

John Bailey

As far as I’m concerned, all Christians are meant to have general discernment in the Spirit. Some believers say things like “Oh, I don’t have that supernatural gift, so I’m just going to go on trusting God will take care of me.” That sounds nice, and yes to trusting God, but the Bible warns us that we all need to grow into spiritual maturity, and part of that is being discerning.

Look at what the Bible says here. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14, ESV).

Spiritual maturity involves studying the Bible and growing in your understanding about how scripture applies to life. That means paying close attention to what’s happening in life because you’re not going to be able to apply the Word to something you don’t even see happening, right? Sometimes Christians can be really gullible, and that’s a shame. How often have you heard stories about some con man that no one in the world would believe for an instant, but there’s a Christian writing him a check?

Whatever happened to believers applying the apostle John’s command for us to be wary of frauds? “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). John’s basically saying, “Use your head! Get into the Word, and grow in discerning good from evil.”

Now I’m not saying Christians need to jump into every grimy scam out there so you get experience, but you shouldn’t be a fool either when it comes to identifying counterfeits, evil schemes and when people twist scriptures to their own ends. You don’t want to spend your life stumbling around, falling prey to wicked people and ending up in compromising positions. With all your heart, cry out to God, “Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live” (Psalm 119:144).

John Bailey is the COO of World Challenge Inc. and the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church in Jacksonville, Florida. John has been serving the Lord in pastoral ministry for 35 years, ministering the gospel in over 50 nations, particularly as a pastor and evangelist in Cork, Ireland.

Do with Me as You Please

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Martin Luther, at the height of all his trials, testified, “Lord, now that you have forgiven me all, do with me as you please.” Luther was convinced that a God who could wipe away all his sins and save his soul could certainly care for his physical body and material needs.

In essence, Luther was saying, “Why should I fear what man can do to me? I serve a God who can cleanse me of my sin and bring peace to my soul. It doesn’t matter if everything around me collapses. If God can save me and keep my soul for eternity, why wouldn’t he be able to care for my physical body while I’m on this earth?”

What a liberating attitude! Luther knew that the secret of contentment is being utterly acquiescent to God. Our life here on earth is short, and we are as powerless as reeds blowing in the wind. To know our limitations and God’s unlimited power is to rest in the knowledge that we are in safe hands.

You may look around at our world and feel like everything is out of control. “I’m so worried and afraid,” you may say. “The unrest and ungodliness is worse than ever. I dread the future. The way this world is going, we are all doomed.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. All things are in the hands of almighty God. Scripture comforts us with these truths: “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10 NKJV), and “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?” (Luke 12:24-26).

We are not promised a life of ease at any stage, but we are promised something much better. Our true reality is eternal life in the presence of our blessed Lord.

He Makes Wars to Cease

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“He makes wars to cease...” (Psalm 46:9, NKJV). What welcome news this is to the child of God shattered and torn by warfare of the soul. The battle in my soul is his battle, and he alone can end it. My loving Father will not permit the flesh or the devil to bully me into defeat. My war is clearly defined by James, who wrote, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (James 4:1). These pleasures include covetousness, pride and envy, enemies of the soul that are common to us all.

Throughout the ages, holy men of God have asked, “Will the lust-war in me ever end while I am alive?” That question sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It is the same question we who love the Lord still ask today.

The war, of course, will end. It will inevitably be followed by the greatest peace ever known. How will it end, though, and who will end it? Sometimes it is our battle and our obligation to enforce godly discipline in our lives. If it is a battle beyond our control, God will end it in his time and way. Until then, he will give us patience and the assurance that he loves us to the end.

The Greek word used by James is stratenomai, which suggests a battle against carnal tendencies, a soldier at war. It is derived from stratia, which means a host, or army encamped. Didn't David speak of hosts encamped against us? Our carnal inclinations come against us as a powerful force determined to undermine and keep us in turmoil in hopes of shipwrecking our faith by attacking our minds with fear and unbelief.

However, if you study the Hebrew word for war used by David in Psalm 46:9, there is cause for great rejoicing. It is milchamah, which means to feed on, consume and devour.

What the Word says to us here is simply marvelous. God is going to stop the enemy from consuming us, from devouring us. He will no longer permit lust to feed on us or overcome us. Be encouraged! God will cause our inner war to cease. This is his battle, and he never loses.


David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

When we are hurt, lonely, afraid and overwhelmed, we are often prone to turn aside from our true source of peace and look to human resources. How tragic! We know God is still on the throne, waiting for us to call on him. We know the answer to our needs is to be found alone with God, shut in with him. We will even confess to our spiritual friends, “I know I need to pray. I know God has the answer, and I need to turn to him.”

It is discouragement of the worst kind to give in to fear and despair while ignoring the majesty and faithfulness of a loving Father. God said to Israel, “...I have talked with you from heaven… In every place where I record my name I will come to you, and I will bless you” (Exodus 20:22, 24 NKJV). Sadly, Israel answered, “God has forgotten; he hides his face: he will never see” (Psalm 10:11). “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.’” (Isaiah 49:14).

Are you a discouraged Christian? You are if you ignore the Lord's majestic promises and doubt that he will fulfill them. He means it when he says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15-16).

We will be downcast if we keep carrying unnecessary burdens of guilt, fear, loneliness, anxiety and turmoil simply because we refuse to rest on the Lord's great and precious promises. These words from Romans remind us to rest in him: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

David reminds us in the psalms, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. …The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:15,17).

Let us not become impatient and act according to our feelings. When we get into trouble and cry out to God, all of heaven goes into motion on our behalf. If we could see into the spiritual world to behold the good things he is preparing for us, it would be an incredible sight for our eyes.

Expressing the Completeness of Christ

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Romans 11:17-19 says that we are grafted as wild olive branches into Christ, the holy tree and root. The same Spirit and power that was in him enables and quickens us. We sit like Christ at the right hand of God by faith. How do we know our sins are forgiven? By faith alone. We take God's word for it and are in turn blessed with peace of mind.

So it is with God’s power. We must take his word that his power is now at work in us, causing us to will and to do of his good pleasure. He empowers us to face our weakness with faith that he will help us walk in obedience.

The paralyzed man who stood, walked and carried his bed is a type of the believer who has mastery over sin. What an expression of Christ's power he was! Just think of the hope his faith and healing must have given to all who were helpless and in need.

Isn't this what God is after today? Is he not seeking triumphant believers who will show the world how Christ completely delivers us from the clutches of sin?

Those around us should see believers who live above the lusts and pleasures of this world. Our society desperately needs more men and women who love their spouses and are faithful, parents who nurture and train their children in the ways of the Lord, and young people who practice purity and separation from all that defiles.

We have enough Christian resources. What we do not have enough of are Christians who truly show who Jesus is. There is a shortage of those of whom it can be said, “There goes a Christian who really expresses who Jesus Christ is! There is one who has nothing to promote and nothing to prove but Christ, risen and glorified. There stands a person who shines with the beauty and simplicity of the Lord. There is one who has what I'd like to have, a reality that cannot be denied.”

This should become the one and only goal of our lives: to fulfill God's intention, to be a witness who expresses the fullness and completeness of Christ.