It has become an almost daily occurrence hearing of someone who discovered, after many years, that someone they know, who they thought was a good Christian person, isn’t actually a Christian at all, and actually never was.
This is such a sensitive topic, you say, one that should be left alone because we “cannot judge someone’s heart.” How many times have I heard this argument? Uncountable.
No, we may have to leave the judging of someone’s heart to God, who has promised He will search out the motives of each heart.
“… Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.” (Revelation 2:23 NLT)
But, as startling many believers have yet to discover, the Bible is clear about having discernment, judging every spirit to see if it comes from God, and being aware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. If we ignore this part, we do ourselves a disservice, simply because we find it too uncomfortable to test people, or because this world’s spirit has successfully indoctrinated us to conform to a gospel of tolerance.
One major reason why some would rather leave the discerning of people alone, is because they feel like they themselves have sinned and come short so many times that they fear passing judgment on others, lest they should be judged themselves. Please, let us not fall in this category. It doesn’t take a perfect person to follow Christ, only a willing one. If we allow Satan to take away our ability and right to discern spirits, we will be lacking a major and crucial component of the Christian life!
Yes, we have all sinned, but we don’t continue to sin. We repent and learn and get healed and move on stronger than before. Anyone, who hasn’t been disciplined by God, doesn’t know the immense satisfaction of being pruned and cleansed by the Almighty himself. It’s such a joy and privilege to be corrected by God, knowing that He cares so much for us that He takes the time to work on our characters.
Here is an important scripture concerning our judging. (PS. Let us be fully aware that judging and condemning are two entirely different issues. Judging is when we rightfully discern the intentions of a certain individual, while condemning is when we take it upon ourselves to pronounce over someone that they are doomed forever, without hope of redemption.)
“When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” (1. Corinthians 5:9-13 NLT)
As this scripture passage suggests, we must take an active role in discerning evil people. We cannot be intimidated to “mind our own business.”
Another reference to discernment, we find in Matthew 7. These verses deal directly with so-called “insiders,” people who call themselves Christians, even claiming to be part of the five-fold ministry.
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” (Matthew 7:15-20 NLT)
Here is a list of warning signs of how to spot a false Christian: (Note: This list is only a pointer and must not be replaced by the usual exercising of spiritual discernment.)
• Is “private” about his faith, claiming it’s a “personal” matter.
• Doesn’t participate in worship.
• Doesn’t mention the name Jesus.
• Doesn’t talk about godly issues during the day.
• Doesn’t use faith-language, such as “God will come through for us”, “I trust God for provision”, “God is a miracle working God”, “He will make a way” and so on.
• Doesn’t pray, or lead others to pray.
• Falls into temptation regularly.
• Trusts in decision making, common sense, and abilities rather than seeking God for answers.
• Bypasses God.
• Uses church as a social or business event.
• Talks down on spiritual leaders.
• Doesn’t take correction.
• Never changes.
• Isn’t spirit-filled.
• Doesn’t have a testimony of personal salvation or never shares it.
• Doesn’t understand spiritual matters but talks and judges carnally.
• Doesn’t have victory over sin.
• Isn’t baptized.
• Isn’t humble.
• Has no interest in or knowledge of the Scriptures.
Entering the season of division
The time has come for the church to see and discern clearly those among the sheep herd who are not real sheep and not be afraid to expose them. (See Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23.)
I believe we are living in a time right now where the true Christian and the religious brother will start being irrevocably divided. This must take place, as it is a sign of the end times. For those who have spiritual ears to hear and eyes to see, it will become increasingly visible who is a real Christian and who is not. Those who worship God in spirit and truth will find each other and know each other by the spirit. They will have fellowship without knowing one another, as if they had always known each other. They will come together over the cause of advancing the Kingdom of God, always having this common goal. They will meet in secret and share spiritual food with each other, building up one another, and encouraging one another to stand strong in God’s mighty power during times of tribulation, suffering, and persecution. They will always be willing to share their testimony of salvation and faith, taking every opportunity to glorify and praise Jesus Christ, their Savior.
A true leader will not try to advance himself to a leadership position, but be called by God to lead the flock. He will shepherd humbly, with deep reverence for the Holy Spirit and His guidance, knowing that the church belongs to God, not him. He will never lord over the flock (1. Pet. 5:3), but gently care for it and make sure everyone gets the opportunity to be washed by the cleansing of God’s Word (Eph. 5:26) so they can be a ready bride when Jesus comes back in the clouds to rescue her (Rev. 1:7).
A time of deception as never seen before lies ahead, let us sharpen every tool we have to be able to discern spiritually, so we will not be among those who fall away when times of testing comes our way.
“The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.” (Mark 4:16, 17 NLT)