If someone were to ask me which spiritual gift I see lacking the most in the body of Christ as a whole, I would have to say it is the gift of discerning of spirits. This is one of the most frustrating things I see today...the lack of discernment, on many different levels, within the church. 1 John 4:1 says "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." This is crucial, especially at this hour, when many are being deceived by those who claim to be speaking a 'Word from the Lord', but who are only speaking out of their own imagination.
Jeremiah 23 speaks about this - "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to those who despise my word, 'Don't worry! The LORD says you will have peace!' And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires, they say, 'No harm will come your way'!" We are being fooled if we think that this only happened in the Old Testament. It is still happening now!
In the New Testament, there is also very clear warnings about what can and does happen when believers become deceived. In 1 Timothy 4:1 & 2 Paul tells his spiritual son Timothy, ~ "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron." Also in 2 Timothy 4:3 & 4 Paul warns " For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." Notice that Paul says "The time will come"...well, I believe he was seeing into the future by the Spirit, to the time we are living in today. There have been several periods throughout church history where many were drawn away by "their own desires", and I believe it is happening now more than ever!
So, how can we make sure we are not drawn away? How can we make sure we are not giving heed to "deceiving spirits" and "doctrines of devils"? First of all, we should know what we believe...and why we believe what we do! How are we to know? 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us "Study to show yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." That's pretty clear...study and divide the word of God rightly. This means that it can be divided wrongly.
Secondly, we need to rely on our teacher to teach us...our guide...the Holy Spirit. If you don't know Him, then I suggest you get to know this wonderful person, the third person of the the trinity, and the one Jesus said would "lead us into all truth". (Jn 16:13)
If we are earnestly seeking truth, then we will find it...through Him! It is He who gives the gift of discernment, and keeps us from being deceived.
We must not listen to men and women just because they are popular, or because they speak "easy sayings". We must learn to ask the Holy Spirit, and listen carefully for Him to tell us whether a word (or the person giving it) is truly of God. If you feel you are lacking in discernment, then ask Him to give you this gift. He will give you what you need, and help you to discern what is truth and what is error. This most precious gift, is needed in this hour more than ever before, and I am praying that the Spirit of God will begin to open the eyes of His people to the dangers and "strange fire" they are playing with. I am also praying that He will send His authentic FIRE to burn away all that is not of Him in His church!!