I feel I want to write a bit more about discernment of spirits.
If you read my blogs regularly you will know that I started to write them because I had to retire from active parish ministry early due to ill health and felt “blogging” was a way of still ministering to God’s people in some way. My problem is my O2 levels due to something called Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis. When my O2 levels fall below 89 or 88 then I can feel somewhat light headed, a biy dizzy, a bit panicky and things begin to swirl around a bit. That happens when I have done too much, stood too long or even spoken too much. It is as though I have hit a wall in terms of the amount of oxygen getting into my blood stream to feed the various organs of my body etc. Resting, my O2 levels are reasonably OK and probably only a few notches below what yours may be without HP. When I do push too far it seems to take a lot out of me and leave me very drained of energy. The trouble is I don’t often realise when that wall is approaching…wisdom would dictate I need to stop before that wall, but I don’t like being being curtailed and am competitve by nature even against my own lungs!! I should add I am not competitive in my relationship with God or in ministry but I do like pushing against my own limitations in other ways.
Here’s the thing though: when I was a child I loved getting dizzy! I loved to spin round and round and then suddenly stop whereupon everything continued to spin and I continued to stagger. That dizziness caused laughter! It was fun.
The same symptoms can have very different sources. Jesus was aware of that. Sometimes in His ministry He healed people while in other instances when a description of symptoms sounds very similar He knew the source was demonic and cast out an unclean spirit.
It is really important to know the source of something. I recall someone that I met pastorally who had symptoms of schizophrenia but the Lord said to me “This is demonic.” That was indeed the case and the person was set free in a lasting way that passed the test of the years. However on another occasion someone came towards me seething and cursing, ripping a bible up and saying he would bite the flesh off my bones. His hair was extremely long and his nails were like talons. Occasionally he would just growl angrily at me rather than speak. The nurses in the ward were anxious about me speaking to him at all for fear of my safety. Well, I did speak but made sure I was at the door, with one foot in the door for an easy escape had things kicked off. The gift of discernment showed me this was mental illness even though it sounded and looked as though there might have been something demonic going on. This poor man was severely mentally ill and needed help from people and from God to face up to that fact and to seek to move towards healing. I have no contact with him now and I am not sure whether he has ever accepted the fact that he was indeed very ill rather than demonised. In a sense it seemed to me that person almost wanted me to accept he had a demon, as that would absolve him of having to face up to some very painful human realities from the past. He was annoyed in the extreme that I would not back up his own self-diagnosis. Sometimes I have not been able to help people and they have kept a distance from me , or kept away from church, nursing their anger rather than admitting their true problem. It is quite easy to make “the minister” the scapegoat, or indeed someone else that has tried to help.
This is more than a pedantic distinction. To tell someone they have a demon and minister as though they have when they haven’t may well leave a person not only unhelped but in a worse off state because now they believe they are demonised. To treat a demonised person by medical means alone again will leave that person not as free as they could be through the name of Jesus Christ and the power of His blood.
I recall reading a story about a young girl who was apparently prophesying accurately. However a mature Christian in the gathering started to feel uneasy. At this point the young person started to look in their direction and shout out, “Rebellion, rebellion in the room.” The mature Christian kept calm and said, “This is not rebellion, I am simply asking what spirit is at work here.” Well, at that point there was demonic manifestation through the girl. Even though “facts” were being prophesied that could only have been supernatrually revealed, the source was demonic rather than the Spirit of God. This of course is what happens in spiritualist meetings through mediums. Demons know things and can quite easily reveal them giving the impression that a loved one has drawn near. It is cruel deception. It’s aim is to divert someone from coming to Christ for eternal life, which only He can give. There is no light in the valley of the shaadow of death save Jesus Christ and personal God given faith in Him. Spiritualist mediums suggest “death is nothing at all.” Christians do not beleive “death is nothing at all” poetic though that may sound. Death is a destructive enemy. It needed to be conquered by Christ.
If you have been damaged through someone who has not discerned properly the nature of a problem you may be struggling with, I pray this blog might help you to set aside what has been wrongly done to you or said to you and find your way to peace. Don’t carry the weight of faulty mininstry or allow the memory of it to overshadow you for one moment longer. It may be of course that despite being well intentioned you have damaged someone through ministry that was devoid of proper discernment. Let’s remember there is mercy in Christ for the damaged and the damager; but could it be you need to humble yourself and admit to someone you got it wrong when you tried to help them? Not easy, I know…
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I am coming across Christians with mental health problems who won’t accept the medical/psychiatric diagnosis and who keep wearing themselves out fighting Satan to no avail.
Indeed David. Facing up to the real nature of our problems needs courage and trust, It can be a big step. I think that often there is a stigma connected to mental health issues in some Christian quarters which is immensely sad. K