From Heaven or Hell



How to Discern the Truth

The truth has always been of utmost importance to me my whole life.  Like most people that make an effort to be of good character, I desired to be a thoughtful and honest person.  I have believed that my point of view was correct until someone could show me where I might be in error.  As with the very most difficult issues, I have gone back and forth a number of times; examples of that for me would be issues like the death penalty, abortion in the case of rape were two at the top of my list. 

Fairly recently I came to the conclusion that “my truth” has often been flawed, and that the truth has alluded me.  It isn’t real exciting to find out how wrong you have been, I can tell you that!  On the other hand, when you realize you’re wrong it liberates you to pursue where you missed the truth.  Finding a “new truth” can be a difficult process however complicated you might find the process.

So what’s the problem?  I wasn’t purposely constructing wrong beliefs, so how did I come to embrace them?  Please enter into this fray, the word “deception”.  My flesh hates to admit when I am wrong—and admitting to being deceived is a mixed bag to say the least! 

When someone deceives me I at least have them to blame, which helps justify my choosing to be on the wrong side of an issue.  This is a good place to enter the antidote to deception—“discernment”.  The “world” more often says, “we need to be more discriminating or that we need to use good judgment”.  As a school administrator, I rarely heard the word discernment used in making decisions regarding personnel or  policies.  The word discernment is more generally known and used by people who study the Bible.  Here is a passage that will help with what “to discern” means:

Hebrews 5: 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

I actually thought that I have been a discerning person and a discriminating person my whole life.  Now I have been made aware that I have been deceived far more than I could ever have guessed.  Who wants to have to admit to that, right? 

I believe I had a very storied and successful career as a teacher and high school principal.  In most cases I made many good decisions and was known to be effective in influencing students and staff in a positive way.  However, in my most personal and intimate relationships I’ve had my difficulties.  I could never figure it out.  How could I run numerous high schools which offered major challenges, yet come home and fall on my face with my wife and some times my children?  I could never figure it out!!! (This is a recording…I can’t fig…I can’t fig…).  How distressful do you suppose that got to be?

Hebrews says, “To discern good and evil”.  Our English thesaurus lists these words for “discernment”: judgment, acumen, discrimination, perspicacity, taste, shrewdness, and sensitivity. 

Those of us that are believers and students of the scriptures know that the Bible speaks of “discerning the spirits” as one of the gifts that we can receive by the Holy Spirit:

I Corinthians 12: 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

We are all given a measure of faith, yet do not have the “gift of faith” which is a higher level of the same.  We also have some degree of wisdom, knowledge, and discernment.  The more we study God’s Word and live in obedience to His principles the more the Holy Spirit can grow us up in the nine gifts of the Spirit: A Word of Wisdom, A Word of Knowledge, A Gift of Faith, Gift of Healing, Working of Miracles, Gift of Prophecy, Discerning of Spirits, Speaking in Tongues, and Interpretation of Tongues.

For now my only focus is only on the discerning of spirits.  Just what connotation does that phrase give us?  Remember in Hebrews it said discerning good and evil.  It appears to me that there are only two sides of all creation—good and evil.  Human beings may see three or more sides, but God sees only two.  It’s probably too simple for our educated and sophisticated minds to comprehend…sometimes the simple turns out to be the most profound!

I am a pretty well educated guy, but it took me about fifty years of adult life to figure it out!  What’s with that?  Figure what out?  Remember how I just confessed that I could not figure out how I could be so successful in one area of life and be so confounded in another.  So just what was it that turned the light on for me. 

The answer to that question began for me by admitting that I was deceived in a few areas that I had been in denial about.  The revelation of that created a willingness to look a bit further.  Once I could see how insidious, subtle and dangerous the devil’s work can be I sought ways to get free from his plan to rob me of the joy God had planned for me.  The Lord’s Prayer includes, “deliver us from evil”.  Two-thirds of the New Testament speaks of Jesus’ ministry in the areas of deliverance and healing.  It must have been pretty high on The Good Shepard’s priority list for the sheep!  That includes me, I am a sheep—not a goat!  That’s another subject for another day.

Now back to the path I was taking you on.  So now I’m looking for greater revelation on how to discern the spirits of good and evil.  At this point I am spending time in the Bible and in my prayer time asking God for some answers.  I hope we are all aware that God speaks to us in numerous ways to give direction for our lives.  Sometimes it’s through other people and sometimes “in that small still voice” inside of us.  Of course, Satan and his workers of iniquity work through us in a similar ways, therefore we have to discern who is speaking at any given time. 

I have been at a point for some time now where I truly want to serve the Lord in what ever way He can use me.  I have often found myself in a situation where a thought comes to me, and I begin to have a dialogue in my head.  An example would be if I met someone who was sharing a problem with me, and the thought comes…pray for him.  Then right away I get another thought…they may be uncomfortable if I do that right now.  So I end up going back and forth…what to do?

If I had a dilemma at school it would not take me very long to make a decision and act on it in most cases.  But when it comes to the more personal level regarding spiritual issues, I end up in a debate with myself and rarely have acted in the past. In that setting I have mostly done nothing.  There is a reason I have inserted this contrast and will comment on it in a bit.

All this struggling to try to decide should I or shouldn’t I.  Is that God talking to me or is that “just me”.  I believe I have an answer about this dilemma we all have found ourselves in at one time or another.  It is so simple that you may not be able to receive it.  I received just how profound this is in my spirit, and it now helps me have a clear head on discerning a matter I have to deal with.

I have to credit a person that I first heard it from and watched how she used it in both counseling and deliverance ministry settings.  You’re thinking…come on…come on…what’s the answer?

I was with Marjorie Cole when I made a statement and she asked me, “Is that from Heaven or Hell?”  My response was fairly quick and sure.  Not to much later I made another comment to which she replied, “Is that from Heaven or Hell?”  The answers were coming easily! 

I hope you can receive this.  Everything is from Heaven or Hell.  If you can discern it—you can better deal with it.  So I now find myself asking the simple question, “is it from Heaven or Hell” any time I am in doubt;  And don't have to be so double-minded about such issues any longer.

I will end on a final note or two before I finish this piece.  It is clear to me that a great portion of our lives may seem satisfying and yet one or two areas are troubling to us.  Satan is no dummy, he knows that if he only attacks a certain area that it will surely trouble you; it will make you question why you fail in one area and not another.  That’s exactly what I have seen in my own struggle.  The fact that I could be so successful at work only made the issue at home twice a painful.  I always thought if I could do it at school, I could fix it at home.  How badly I was deceived.  The enemy probably knew that if all areas of my life were failing, the pain of it might have driven me to find the answers thirty or forty years ago.  So he has messed with my stuff and my days on the earth, but what the devil means for evil God will turn for good.

Lastly, I felt the best way to get my point across was to use my own struggle and “revelation” of calling a spade a spade when it comes to the devil and his lies.  If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck—it’s a duck.  If it looks like evil and smells like evil—can it be anything else?  Call it what it is and speak to it if you must.


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