The Holy Spirit dispenses this needed gift to some among the body of Christ. As many of us are receiving messages from the Lord it is important that we have a safeguard to help us distinguish what is true and what is false.

There are other spirits that masquerade as truth in this world. We know that satan has come as an angel of light, and that he tries to deceive many. Sometimes a prophetic message can have elements of the person''s spirit and mind embodied within a prophecy. In this case, it becomes extremely important that the one who has spoken or written the message down, has a spiritual filter to help in this distinguishing process.

However, there are times when a person's pride prevents one from receiving instruction in this discerning process. Some have continued speaking in 'the name of the Lord' for years, and now the waters have become muddied.

The church has at times, become blind to messages that have either come from another spirit, or that have contained a mixture in them. Many have become seduced by this, and some have even been misled by these types of words.

However, it is also true that some who operate in oversight, have dismissed all prophetic words, and have thrown the baby out with the bath water. We are told in I Thess. 5:

19 Quench not the Spirit.20 Despise not prophesyings.21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

In this case, some have perhaps been 'burned' in the past by words that proved to be false, and now caution has been replaced by fear.

Discerning of spirits is not meant to be a gift that would prevent the true to be spoken, but that falsehood would be seen for what it is. Discerning of spirits is also not to be confused with a critical spirit that would judge every action and motive of a person’s life. That is not God’s character and to be sure, it doesn’t originate from His Spirit. Earthly discernment is not the same as discerning of spirits as well. There is certainly some “earthly wisdom” and insight that some have gained through experience, but that doesn’t mean that this type of evaluation can adequately judge a prophecy as being true, false, or mixed.

We need those who are young in the prophetic gifts to have an atmosphere of freedom and safety where they can exercise these things. Those messages should be allowed to be shared, but also done in an attitude of decency and order, and not in chaos. Those in authority need to learn how to relax their grip enough so that a flow of the gifts can be evident in their services, while at the same time, allowing a safety net for distinguishing truth over falsehood.

How can we grow unto maturity if all are not involved in this process? How can full stature be attained if we are being blown by every wind and doctrine that comes our way? And if the Spirit is also quenched, how can we survive just upon the letter of the law?

Stephen Hanson