The edict of the Word enjoins us, “Judge nothing before its time.” We all agree there are occasions when longevity and patience are both noteworthy and necessary for proper judgement. Yet, there are other times – times when delay can be disastrous.
How is that there are occasions when you just know. The secular world might call it intuition. In the church we could call it “the word of wisdom” or the “word of knowledge.” Something is seen or heard or felt – and instantly there is a witness in the spirit that this is either true and authentic or a forgery and a fraud. In today’s world it is so necessary to know when judgement should be crock-pot and when it should leap into the microwave world age.
I cannot tell you why there have been times when something looked real and sounded real – and was even saying the right things – but something in my spirit registered, “This is not right.” The Bible tells us to “try the spirits.” The emphasis is not simply to listen closely to the words but to discern the spirit in which the words are spoken. A man can say the right thing with the wrong spirit. In today’s world of spiritual forgery and charlatanism, we need the operation of the gifts of the Spirit and the five-fold ministry as never before. Diminished judgement in spiritual things is dangerous. Our mistakes can be eternal mistakes, not just temporal. Is this of God – even if it’s in embryonic stages – or is this the nemesis or a fraud?
Malcolm Gladwell who wrote The Tipping Point also wrote the now bestselling Blink. The book is just what its name infers. Its premise is that in a blink you know something – and accept it – or disdain it and reject it. The book is built around the attempt of a renown museum, financed by the oil mogul Getty, to purchase the Kouros. It’s simply a nude statue of a young Greek with his arms at his side and one leg stretching forward. It allegedly was hewn out of marble in the 5th or 6th century.
Strangely enough, many experts when they saw or heard of the statue in a blink called it a forgery. Thomas Hoving, who was at one time Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art stated that the first word that came to his mind when he saw the statue was “fresh” – indicating that it had the appearance of being too new to be so old. Another expert, when he heard the museum was purchasing the Kouros said, “I’m so sorry to hear that.”
Gladwell said these experts took a look at that statue and some part of their brains did a series of instant calculations. Before any kind of conscious thought took place – they felt something. Did they know why they knew? Not at all. But still they knew.
Another expert said the statue was obviously a fake. Yet, none of these had time to thoroughly examine it. You would call it – in their world – the intuition of an expert. They could spot it in a blink.
Do we have that kind of discernment in the spiritual world? Ten million dollars was at stake in this statue. Was it real or not? The Museum has decided to go ahead and display it when the Getty’s new exhibit hall is opened. The statue will bear this inscription: “It is either a product of about 530 B.C. or a modern forgery.” It’s simply a way of saying, “We don’t know for sure.”
A ten million dollar mistake is one thing – but an eternal mistake is another. There are times when in the spirit immediate judgement is necessary. There are other times when it must incubate. The apostolic ministry must make room for both. There’s a great difference between “Agree with the adversary while you are in the way…” and “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” Yet, they are both scriptural. I plead again for a resurgence of faith and authority in the five-fold ministry. If judgement immediate and in longevity was needed among the early apostles, it is more so needed today.
A case in point was the demon-possessed woman at Philippi. Paul had gone into Macedonia with a direct word from the Lord – a vision. And, not only that, the disciples assuredly gathered that the Lord had called them to go. He not only had direct communication from the Lord but filtered that through the apostolic authority at Troas. When he arrived he found a group of women by the river in a prayer meeting. Then he found a certain damsel. The scripture said, “The damsel followed them for many days saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God which show us the way of salvation.’” What she was saying was true. Paul did not execute instant judgement. He waited many days and then he discerned.
The Bible said she had a spirit of divination. This is the only place in the New Testament the word Python is used. She had the spirit of Python. Python was a legendary Greek mythical serpent that fought with the Greek god Apollo. The word was actually used as a synonym for a ventriloquist. Paul discerned that the words coming from the woman did not have their source in the woman. She was literally voicing a spirit from an agent of hell. The devil began as a serpent in the Garden. He had grown to Python in Acts. But ended up a dragon in Revelation. He is ever-increasing in knowledge. He knows more about the church today than he did two thousand years ago.
The spirit of Python will put the squeeze on you – as does the snake that bears its name. Yet, the great Apostle Paul was many days discerning. This is a case for “judge nothing before its time.” There are some things you have to wait, listen, discern – even if they’re saying the right thing – in order to acquaint yourself with the spirit that is behind it.
I have heard men say things that were right but their spirit was tainted. A spring cannot give forth bitter and sweet waters at the same time. We must worship and preach Him both in Spirit and in truth. Why does Spirit precede truth? Truth can be contaminated if it comes through the sewage content of a wrong spirit.
So, there is a power in instant discernment. But, there is also the legacy of length. You cannot believe everything you see or feel. There’s got to be that still, small voice. Sometimes it only crystallizes in the quietness of time. On other occasions it instantly erupts like the power of a volcano.
A few years ago I was on vacation and checked in at the office. A Southern Baptist minister was trying to reach me by phone. I had never met this man. I had no idea what he wanted. My initial response was, “I’ll handle that when I get home.” Yet something clicked in my spirit. I had a word of knowledge come to me. This was a man who was very hungry for God and needed immediate attention. So, I took his number and called him from our vacation location. This man had seen me in a service and the Lord spoke to him and said, “Find this man and he will tell you what to do.” When I spoke with him that day and relayed that I would be home the next week, he immediately made arrangements and drove over 1,000 miles to come see me in person. He now has the Holy Ghost. This was an example to me of an “instant word.”
Some time ago I was in a service in southern Louisiana. A man came to me and told me about his daughter who was in Virginia, desperately in need of God. She had a dream and knew she needed to be baptized. I took her name and address and forwarded it to the pastor in that area., asking him to contact her. I explained that she knew very little about Pentecostalism but asked that he contact her personally and extend an invitation to attend his church to her. He did. She went – and fell in love with church and scheduled to be baptized. This word of knowledge – that the man’s story about his daughter was genuine and God-sent – resulted in appropriate action being taken and ultimately the salvation of a soul. Had it been ignored – had too much time passed before action was taken – the story might have been much different.
There was a time when there were very few females in symphonic and philharmonic orchestras. Could it have been that those who made the choice had a male bias? Gladwell makes an interesting observation. Since the early ‘70s a revolution has occurred in musical auditions. They introduced what is known as the screen. Consequently, judges cannot see the players. All they can do is hear them. The musicians are not identified by their names, but rather by a number. Since the screen was introduced the number of women in top echelon United States orchestras has sky-rocketed five-fold. During one of the earliest recorded instances, a screen was introduced into New York’s Metropolitan Opera auditions. At that time, all four winning violinists were women. Yet, up until then, that was about the total number of women in the whole orchestra.
The lesson is apparent. There are times when the judgement made by an expert in the blink of an eye is right. There are other times when it isn’t. The problem is to tell when you are right and when you are not.
May God send us sincere purveyors of apostolic ministry – Men who fear nothing but God, hate every aspect of hell and its attendant sin, and have as the magnificent obsession of their soul the exaltation of the Lordship of Jesus and the healing of hurting humanity through His Gospel. This is no day for religious playboys. I can remember old Brother V. A. Guidroz saying, “Fellas, if you want flesh go to the meat market. The pulpit is no place to parade it.”
I understand the leading television shows today are called “Reality TV.” Wouldn’t it be tragic if the world had to go to the television for reality and come to church for a show? No need for religious charlatans but a dire and desperate need is present for men who walk in the operation of the Holy Ghost and are not just apostolic in word but in power, demonstration, and discernment of the Holy Spirit.