The one thing most of us fail to do is to discern when we’re dealing with demonic spirits. However, it’s important to sharpen our ability to discern evil spirits and their workings. For this, having the gift of discerning of spirits is especially valuable, but don’t ever doubt that we all have to develop this discernment, especially when working in deliverance ministry. In this spiritual war, the discerning of spirits is the tip of the sword.
One of the issues we see with discerning spirits is that many people leave the faith because they followed after other spirits instead of the Holy Spirit. Take a look at this verse:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” (1 Tim. 4:1).
In the verse above, the apostle Paul is writing to his spiritual son, Timothy, to give him a picture of the spiritual warfare at hand. Be reminded that the latter times that Paul references in this verse began at Pentecost and continues through today. Paul was living in the beginning of the last days when he said these words almost 2,000 years ago.
Now when people ask, “You’ve been saying that Jesus is going to return for 2,000 years, where are all the signs of His coming? Where is He?” I always respond, “If you read the Bible, you’ll realize that it took Him 4,000 years to show up the first time.” True as that is, the prophetic timeline is suddenly accelerating at a startling rate, so we’d better buckle up.
In our key verse, where Paul refers to those who “shall depart from the faith,” he is not talking about ungodly individuals who stick their middle finger in God’s face, spit on the Bible and hate church. He is talking about believers who will depart from the church, from the truth of the Bible, from the preaching, from prayer, from fasting and from deliverance and miracles. And the reason they will depart is shocking. They will give heed to seducing spirits. This, of course, is not a reference to the Holy Spirit that’s spoken of in the first part of the verse. These are evil spirits, and these dark seducing spirits will eventually woo them into accepting “doctrines of devils.”
Doctrines of devils are false religions and other false teachings that dismiss the Bible: idol worship, the worship of man, the worship of objects, the worship of statues, the worship of beads, the worship of charms and amulets and crystals and horoscopes, etc.; and they will eventually defend every sort of perversion that goes against the Word of God. Church people will literally side with demons and occultism and witchcraft. If you haven’t seen that come full circle in our time, then you’ve not been paying attention. In short, Paul says there will be demonic activity in the church during the last days that will destroy the church.
The influence of demonic activity in the life of the American church is an absolute fact, and through all my efforts to battle against it, I’ve discovered you cannot appeal to the conscience of a demon. It works to destroy the conscience of its host and has no conscience of its own. A demonic spirit is void of that emotional connection to God, so it causes people to live numb and dry and lukewarm and barren, and in this context, we begin to understand that a demon is nothing more than a person without a body who has taken hold of a human body.
As we see more and more demonic influence in our culture, we need to heed Paul’s warnings. The devil is going hard after the people of God, and no one is an exception. We must buckle up with the armor of God, stick close to His Word and keep our eyes focused on Christ.