to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
The Corinthian Church
Paul is speaking to believers who have been granted all the gifts of the Spirit (check out the beginning of the book). Paul informs us that the Corinthian church is fully equipped to minister to both the believers within and the lost without. The Corinthian church actually had saints in it that could discern / judge / distinguish between spirits.
Is Paul discussing the ability to judge between an unclean spirit and the Holy Spirit? (I’m thinking so) Is he speaking of discerning between a haughty spirit and a humble spirit? (This may be also his intent.) Either way, judging spirits was available for the first century believer in Corinth
How did that work out for the Corinthian church? I mean practically, in their everyday life. Golly – not so good, wouldn’t you know.
A man sleeping with his daughter in law, brothers going to court with each other, believers abandoning the apostle (and to their Lord), by listening to those super apostles.
It seems that the church had believers who had the gift of discernment, but a lot of good it was doing them. The discernment of spirits is given to believers in order to make judgments on the spirits within the church. This didn’t seem to be happening effectively in this church.
The Modern Church
How about nowadays?
Is it a fair statement to consider the modern church to be weak and without any power? Regarding the topic at hand, does the modern church have the ability to distinguish between spirits?
Consider a preacher that boasts of his accomplishments. Is that appealing to you?
When you see a preacher that is dressed to the nines, has multiple skeletons in his closet, is a photo op junkie, or seeks to build his/her ministry at the expense of the poor and weak, do you see one who is honoring God?
When you see a Christian seeking to gain blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might (check rev 7:12) from his or her underlings, consider your perspective. I am afraid there are many in the modern church who see this as a valid, even preferred line of “ministry” and we as the laity seem to love it to be so. (2 Corinthians 11:4)
As an aside, you may think I have a grudge or some axe to grind over the “professional” christian, but alas I think not. You see, I am of the judgment that we are all brothers in the Lord and that a “professional” christian is setting him/herself up for a lifetime of loneliness, cutting themselves off from the benefit of the fellowship of the saints.
Oh to actually be open with one another and not have some artificial man made barrier between believers.
Back to Discerning
Golly Carl, you seem to be implying that you are discerning of spirits within the church. Am I exercising a gift of discernment of spirits? Not likely. I make no claim to such a gift.
Is the gift of judging spirits still granted by the Lord in today’s church?
I am sure of it.
Is it active in the modern church.
I’m not too sure of it, and with that I am saddened.
Am I too judgmental?
I have an obligation to judge (or decide) my surroundings, for without sound judgment, I am sure to accept any foolishness.
Judge for yourselves, without a plea to emotion, but on the deeds of those you look up to, and make a fair and honest evaluation of the ones you look to for spiritual guidance and teaching.
If they are not reflecting the gentle and humble heart of the Master (Matthew 11:29), it may be time to reconsider some life choices.
A few years ago, I heard a brother say that a preacher should make less coin than the average parishioner. Interesting thought. This one concept may assist in bringing the professional Christian into a more relatable condition with the unwashed.
Paul was writing to the Corinthian church, the church, when I think of them, most closely replicates the modern church.
Today’s modern church seems to be filled with both professional and lay Christians who tout of great ministries, of visions that the apostles would be shaken by, of prophecies that none will not be held accountable of, of a “tolerance” that is weakening the church, allowing sin to fester within.
Where is the sorrow, the repentance, the heartbreak for the lives we live?