By Zac Poonen
As we approach the end of time, there will be more and more of the operation of the Holy Spirit in the church. Deceiving spirits also will operate more and more in the world. So we must watch out for the following, if we are to avoid being deceived.
1) Emotional counterfeits (2) Extremism, (3) Phariseeism, and (4) Cultistic attitudes.
The enemy always works where the Spirit works. So don’t swallow everything that you see and hear. Be discerning. Noise and emotion may accompany the moving of the Spirit – and that does help some people to be free from their human inhibitions and their fear of men. We don’t devalue our emotions, for they are a God-given part of our personality. But at the same time, we must not overvalue them, for God sees the heart and not the emotions. It is good to raise your voice when you pray, because that will help you to be less conscious of others around you. That is just like your closing your eyes when you pray, so that you can concentrate better, and not be distracted by others around you. Such actions won’t make your prayers more spiritual, but they help you to be free from your surroundings. The power of the Holy Spirit is not manifested by shouting, but by a holy life, a powerful ministry in the church, and an unashamed witness for the Lord in your place of work.
There is tremendous power in the human soul (intellectual power, emotional power and will-power). And many exploit this (as in yoga) and imagine it to be the Spirit’s power. You must not be deceived by such power. The Holy Spirit will always glorify Christ – not men or experiences. So that is one sure way by which you can detect counterfeits.
“God has not given us the spirit of timidity but of power, love and discipline“( 2 Tim.1:7 ). The Holy Spirit will eliminate all fear and timidity from your life and replace this with power, love and discipline. No one can become truly spiritual, without discipline. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control ( Gal.5:23 ). An undisciplined life is like a leaky vessel. No matter how many times it is filled, it will become empty again. It will have to be filled repeatedly. Three areas in which you must seek to be more and more disciplined are: In the use of (1) your body, (2) your time, and (3) your money.
Romans 8:13 states that we must put the deeds of the body to death through the Spirit. These are not deeds done from the heart – for such deeds would be deliberate sins. These are deeds that come forth from the body, because we allow the body to be undisciplined – for example, in the areas of overeating, oversleeping, laziness, or talkativeness etc., The Holy Spirit wants to help us control our tongue especially.
Ephesians 5:16 tells us to make the most of our time. So much of time that is wasted can be saved and used to study the Scriptures, if you are disciplined. I don’t mean that you should not relax or play games, etc. You must not become an ascetic, for asceticism will bring you into bondage. But consider where you can “gather up the fragments” of time, as the disciples gathered up the fragments of the loaves, so that “nothing is lost” ( John 6:12 ). Be disciplined to make the most of your time, but don’t become a fanatic about it! Relax.
In Luke 16:11, Jesus said that God would not give true spiritual riches to those who were unfaithful with money. To be righteous with money is the first step – no cheating, clear all debts, etc. The next step is to be faithful – avoid wastage, extravagant living, useless luxuries, and all unnecessary expenditure. Remember that the ones who get God’s best in the Christian life are those who allow the Holy Spirit to discipline their lives.