• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • March 2008
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Discerning The Spirit

JFlavelSeventeenth century Puritan John Flavel provides us with a litmus test for determining if practices in the church are biblical:

“Whatever religion or doctrine condones or makes allowances for sin is not of Christ. The Doctrine of Christ everywhere teaches self-denial and mortification of worldliness and sin. The whole stream of the gospel runs against those things. Scripture emphasizes the ‘holy’ and the ‘heavenly’ (not the sinful and the worldly). The true gospel has not even the slightest tendency to extol corrupt nature, or feed its pride by magnifying its freedom and power. And it rejects everything that undermines or obscures the merit of Christ, or tries to give any credit to man, in any way. And it certainly never makes the death of Christ a cloak to cover sin, but rather it always speaks of it as an instrument that destroys it!”

5 Responses

  1. This is all true, but to represent Christianity only by the “don’t”s is like exhibiting the negative of a photograph.

    When one comes into an intimate relationship with the Loving Father, and receives revelation of Who He is, and the magnificence of His glory and His wondrous love toward us, not to mention the blessing that is ours because of Christ’s completed work on the cross and the exchange that was made for Him to take our sin to give us His rightousness (II Corinthians 5:21)our sickness to give us healing(Matthew 8:16,17) our poverty to give us abundant provision (II Corinthians 8:9) and our death to give us eternal life (John 3:16) not to mention our sorrow to give us joy (Isaiah 53) the natural result of this relationship is to allow His love to flow back to Him and through us to others, and to keep His commands, not from fear of punishment, or to keep up appearances, but from a desire to please Him and in some small way repay what He has done, even though our efforts be feeble at best.

    When we allow Him to take up His residence in our spirit, His amazing unfathomable love which kept Christ on the cross until our debt was paid, flows through us to the world around us and no one need ask “Are you a Christian?” it is written in words of love for all to see.


  2. What you have stated is true of the mature Christian’s relationship with God. John Flavel’s purpose in this paragraph, however, is to point out where the church does often fall into error. I’m sure you agree that the whole Bible must be preached. Heaven must be preached, but also the reality of hell and the deceit of false doctrines.


  3. When a federal investigator is being trained to detect counterfeit money, they do not spend a lot of time acquainting him with the various flaws of the false currency, but rather with becoming so meticulously knowledgable of all the minutia of the real, that when he encounters the false it immediately jars, and even if it takes some time to discern precisely what is wrong, it is immediately apparant that something is wrong.

    I believe that when Christ is presented in a believer who is yielded to the Holy Spirit, and one has the privilege of learning and sharing that anointing by fellowship with a true disciple of Christ, when someone comes presenting a counterfeit religion, or even a true but carnal version, it is immediately discerned.

    When I was a child, my grandmother fellowshipped regularly under the ministry of a lady preacher who operated powerfully in the gifts of the spirit, and walked in as perfect a love as I have ever encountered in another human being. This gave me a standard to judge by. Very few have ever measured up. I can’t even always tell you why, but there is a pureness and a sweetness that flows from one who is yielded to the Holy Spirit that is not possible to be imitated, one must have the real thing. This is my desire.


  4. As I was praying this morning it came to me that I left out the most important part of the previous message:

    For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

    I believe the most important thing we can encourage a new believer to do is to get into the Word and study it, and spend time alone with the Lord until one knows His voice and will follow no other. (John 10:27)

    It is important to learn to know the Father’s voice in order to discern it from another. This only comes from spending time with Him in worship and in His Word.


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