The following is Jennifer LeClaire's recent blog post called "When Believers Crucify Each Other in the Name of Discernment," which she posted the morning after our Fighting for the Faith episode called Discerning Discernment aired. That's probably just a coincidence, but in any event, LeClaire gives a textbook example of how to take discernment that's based on the Bible and turn it into a mystical exercise that only finds truth within oneself. Oh, and she has lots of stuff to promote and sell, too.
I have reprinted her article exactly as she published it (advertising links and all), and I will make comments in bold/parenthesis. Here we go...
"Discernment is ever so vital in this hour, but discernment can turn into a critical spirit if it's not bound by love on both sides of the river banks (notice what's missing? The Bible. Of course we should speak the truth in love, but we also need truth that's bigger than us). Indeed, whether you have a discerning heart or the gift of discerning of spirits, there's always the danger of tapping into a faultfinding flow when you should be making intercession (So, instead of "tapping into a faultfinding flow" you should "make intercession..." Hmmm, how about: you should make sense??).
At Awakening House of Prayer—or when I travel as a conference speaker—I discern many things out of order in people's lives. I recognize the spirit of rejection from a mile away and fear from even farther. I can see pride, poor attitudes and people imprisoned to any number of fleshly appetites or demon powers. I've discovered it's easier to grumble and complain about people who behave wrongly than it is to hit my knees with a prayer burden and cry out to God for their freedom. But it's not righteous, so I guard my heart from a critical spirit. (Jennifer "sees things" like a psychic, but she guards her own heart from having a critical spirit when she peers deep into your soul from over a mile away... Wow!)
My spiritual father, Ken Malone, once told me, "People who walk in a high level of discernment need to walk in a higher level of humility. We all have issues and we don't need people to point them out. Those who feel compelled to point out other peoples' flaws constantly are elevating themselves and walking in pride. We need to strengthen people, not criticize and rebuke them as they struggle to gain freedom. There is a fine line between discernment and fault-finding. With discernment, we must walk in a high level of integrity so we don't abuse the gift by always pointing out faults. We must temper our discernment with grace." (Here she makes it clear that discernment has NOTHING to do with upholding God's written Word-it's all about having a mystical gift that requires one to have great humility and integrity. We know that Jennifer has this great humility and integrity... because she tells us about it. Also, she defines discernment as having the ability to see people's flaws-NOT the ability to compare doctrine to God's Word.)
What Discernment Is
Discernment is "the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure," also "an act of perceiving or discerning something," according to Merriam-Webster. Discerning means "able to see and understand people, things or situations clearly and intelligently."
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The Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words reveals that the Greek words for "discern," "discerner" and "discernment" come from several words. Anakrino means "to distinguish, or separate out so as to investigate by looking throughout objects or particulars," hence it signifies "to examine, scrutinize, question, to hold a preliminary judicial examination preceding the trial proper." Diakrino signifies "to separate, discriminate;" then, "to learn by discriminating, to determine, decide." Dokiamazo signifies "to test, prove, scrutinize;" so as "to decide."
Hebrews 4:12 tells us the Word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We need to let the Lord deal with the hearts of people. He will bring people into your life, at times, so you can discern the spirits and help them break free—not so you can judge their hearts and avoid them like the plague because you have convinced yourself they can't be helped. I've seen too many prophetic people with critical spirits who seek to crucify the very ones God has sent them to help deliver. (So the potential problem with LeClaire's psychic version of discernment is that you'll be tempted to avoid and/or judge people once you see into their hearts like she does. Again, she never mentions the idea that discernment actually involves comparing someone's beliefs to Scripture.)
What Discernment Is Not
John tells us to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1). But some with discernment test hearts to see if they are from God, which is not godly. Nobody knows what's really in someone else's heart except God Himself. Judging someone's heart is dangerous.
Presuming someone has a bad spirit based on a checklist and not direct revelation from God grieves the Lord. (But discernment isn't about whether or not someone has a "bad spirit;" and we should trust God's Word instead of direct revelations.) And even if they do have a bad spirit, we need to separate the principality from the personality, as it were. We need to love the people and hate the demons that hold them in bondage. We need to wage prophetic warfare against the devils! (This is so incoherent that I'm just going move on to the next point-don't judge me!)
Remember what I said previously: Discernment is not a feeling. Discernment is a knowing. If you have a feeling, don't act until the feeling is a knowing. (This is, perhaps, the most horribly subjective thing anyone has ever said in the name of Christ. Can anyone tell the exact difference between a "feeling" and a "knowing?" Nope. Again, NO mention of the Bible as the Truth that we can confidently hold to.) Your emotions will betray your discernment. Likewise, a haughty heart will betray your discernment. A bitter and critical spirit will betray your discernment. You need to see people by the spirit, not by your soul. (No Jennifer, we need to see people through Scripture: we are ALL sinners in need of salvation, we ALL need to have our sins forgiven. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He does not want us to go around peering into each others hearts to determine what particular demon has them in some particular bondage at the moment. This is a bizarre and confusing doctrine that has nothing to do with discernment.)
Beware the critical spirit that masks as discernment. There's a difference between a prophetic spirit and a critical spirit. A critical spirit is not looking for a solution. It just wants to criticize. This comes many times from spiritual pride. A critical spirit finds faults.
A prophetic spirit is filled with hope and redemption because this is the true heart of the Father. A critical spirit shows no hope, or little hope, of redemption. A critical spirit harps on people and creates a gang mentality, looking for agreement from others.
Determine in your heart today to ask God to give you more discernment—and to root any critical spirits out of your heart so He can use you to help set the captives free!" (This is pure bondage, folks. If the only way to know truth is by "determining something in our hearts," than there will always be a million different and conflicting versions of truth. God has given us His Word as Truth. It is outside of us and unchanging; it does not depend on our subjective feelings. God's Truth does not require the magic beans and psychic insights of false prophets who sell conference tickets, books and "prophetic schools" to make lots of money. We can know God's truth by reading God's Word. This is so much better than trying the 900 different techniques that false teachers like Jennifer LeClaire are constantly promoting and selling.)
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”
— Galatians 1: 6-9
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
— Galatians 5: 1
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
— John 8: 36
“Currently, anyone who insists that pure doctrine is a very important matter is immediately suspected of not having the right Christian spirit. The very term ‘pure doctrine’ is considered taboo and is outlawed. If anyone holds fast to pure teaching and attempts to fight against any false doctrine, he is put down as a heartless and unloving fanatic. The era in which we live is what the apostle refers to when he says of false teachers that they are ‘always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.’ The spirit of our time is the same as in the era of Pilate, to whom the Lord had testified that He was the King of Truth in a kingdom of truth and who sneered, ‘What is truth?’
To hate pure doctrine is to hate the truth, for pure doctrine is nothing but the pure Word of God-plain and simple. When people hate pure doctrine, that is proof that we are living in a terribly miserable era. ”
— C. F. W. Walther "Law & Gospel-How to Read and Apply the Bible" Written in 1878
“And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them, chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.”
— Jonathan Edwards written in the 1700's
For further reading:
Steven Kozar started The Messed Up Church; he is an artist, musician, blogger and stuff.