When I wrote The Little Photograph and Being Discerning, I realized that Father was teaching me some important things about judging and discerning correctly from His Life within me. In Being Discerning, I wrote about having heard a bird singing and immediately deciding it was just a computer game I was hearing when it was in fact a real bird. I had judged incorrectly because I had not discerned the source. Shortly after I wrote that, I was given another lesson following on from the other two, again through a bird.
This time I heard a fantail bird singing outside. So, putting into practice what I had already learned about discerning the source, I looked outside for it. I was almost not going to bother looking because I knew well the sound they make and knew it came from outside so felt I didn’t really need to ‘discern the source’ because this time I knew it was from a bird and not a machine! But I looked for it anyway for two reasons: firstly, because I knew that Father might be wanting to teach me more, and secondly because if I do not put into practice what Father teaches me and has me write about, then my words are meaningless because they are not real or put into action in my own experience.
So I looked outside, scanning the trees for the fantail I could hear. But I just couldn’t see one even though I could plainly hear it. All I could see was two blackbirds sitting in a tree. Usually fantails are easy to spot as they dart about and perch on branches with their tails spread out like a fan, but I couldn’t see one anywhere even though I could still hear one. Then suddenly the blackbirds flew away and as they did, the sound went with them… and I realized that the fantail’s song had come from THEM! If I had not been looking, I might have been fooled into believing that I HAD really heard a fantail, but because I was looking for the source, I discerned that the bird I’d heard was actually a phony and was false; it was just copying and imitating the real thing. Blackbirds have a call of their own but they’re known for being mimics of other birds. When bread is given to the birds, these blackbirds will often aggressively swoop down and frighten away all other birds so that they have the bread all to themselves.
True or False
This incident reminded me once again of the importance of discerning and judging what we accept or reject as true or false. No matter how good and real something sounds to us and to our natural discernment, we still need to discern the source by the Spirit so as to know whether it is truly real and genuine! Although the blackbird’s call sounded identical to the fantail’s, it was not the real thing because the blackbird was not born sounding like that; it was not part of its nature unlike the fantail which was born knowing its own song and could sing it spontaneously instead of copying it. I have no idea whether the blackbird’s call is able to successfully fool the fantails or not; but they could successfully fool me!
Jesus had a word for those with the nature of blackbirds: hypocrites; actors who act a part and pretend something which is not true or real in their nature. It is only those who are BORN from above that have the nature of Christ and are therefore the real thing! The Greek word for hypocrite is “hupokrites” – “hupo” means by or under and “krites” is once again the word for judging and being of an opinion – in other words it is to live by or under someone else’s judgments and opinions rather than what we have discerned, learned and judged for ourselves. This is something which our Father is always absolutely resolute about: what comes forth FROM us, must be what He has worked IN us. Otherwise we are blackbirds merely imitating and sounding like something which is not true IN us.
Just like the blackbirds, the false is always out to rob us of our Life (Christ) and to rob us of our sustenance (the Bread of Life). However, if you had never seen or heard a fantail before, you would not know that the blackbird was only imitating it; instead, judging by your own experience and knowledge, it would appear that there was nothing at all wrong with what you’d heard and seen; the blackbird IS a bird after all (not a computer!), and birds do naturally make sounds! But you would have failed to discern that the sound the blackbird was making was not coming from its own nature. You would probably think that the blackbird’s song was quite legitimate and was its own song… why? Because you did not know the real thing!
If we do not know Christ personally and intimately for ourselves in our own experience, and if we are not living in Him and correctly discerning Him and His Body, then we can very easily be tricked into believing that something is of Christ (false Christs/anointed ones) and is real and genuine when it is not… the trap is laid. There is only One Who is really genuine and true; again it is HIM that we must be listening for and looking to see and discern. “I write this to you with reference to those who would deceive you, seduce you and lead you astray. But as for you the Anointing which you received from Him abides permanently in you; so then you have no need that anyone instruct you. But just as His Anointing teaches you concerning everything and is true and is no falsehood, so you must live in and never depart from Him, being rooted in Him, knit to Him, just as His Anointing has taught you to do.” 1 John 2:27.
If we do not discern Him, then we ought to be very wary. He warned us Himself: “If anyone says to you, See, here is Christ! or, Look, there He is! do not believe it. False Christs (anointed ones) and false prophets will arise and show signs and work miracles to deceive and lead astray, if possible, even the elect. But look to yourselves and be on your guard; I have told you everything beforehand.” Mark 13:21-23. Do not be fooled or tricked by what may sound and look good; test all things by the Spirit… The Spirit which you have received will lead you into all Truth (John 16:13).
Soon after this bird incident, I came across the following paragraph which struck me with its truth in relation to my recent experiences:
“History is marked by a recurrent crisis which has three aspects. Whenever God has considered that the time has come for judgment, that ordeal by fire has involved these issues. Judgment is not only penalty or punishment; it is firstly discovery and uncovering. Then it is discrimination and putting things in the category to which they belong because of what they are. Finally, it is passing sentence accordingly, and fixing destiny. This is clearly observable in all the Divine visitations in the history of nations and of the people of God. It will be fully and ultimately true of the last phase of this present world history – disclosure, discrimination, destiny.” (T. Austin-Sparks – “The Final Call of God”).
For me, Father has been teaching me about discerning Christ not only in others, but also in myself. This means discovery and disclosure of who I really am and Who He really is, which leads to discriminating and judging between the two and putting what belongs to Self into the correct category (destined for death) and thus appreciating and retaining the purity of what is of God so that He can achieve what He desires: His Destiny of Life (Christ) in and through me.
This joint uncovering or unveiling of who we are and Who Christ is brings devastation and death to Self, and therefore brings increase to Christ’s Life in us. Self and our nature are often the foundation we build upon instead of allowing God to build upon Christ and His nature within us. What is built on our foundation is merely hay and stubble which will burn away. Many of the things we cling to are apparently good and spiritual – even necessary things; but God wants us to cling to only One Thing and to build upon only One Thing: His Son.
Without God revealing to us who we really are and Who He really is, we cannot know ourselves or Him more fully. We may know Christ as our Saviour from our sins – and may secretly think we are worthy of saving; but we must also know Him as Saviour from ourselves – and knowing that even at our best and most righteous we are still not worthy of an ounce of His Love and His Life. ALL is totally God’s grace and mercy! It is only when we begin to truly see and know ourselves and know how unworthy we really are that we can see, appreciate and know (discern) Christ – both His Head AND Body – more fully.
Just doing good things or ‘works’ doesn’t mean anything to God because it may simply be our flesh trying to please Him, and NO flesh pleases Him: “It is the Spirit Who gives Life; the flesh conveys no benefit whatever” there is only One Who completely satisfies Him and it is His works through us as His Body that will please Him. But doing those works requires discernment, obedience and faith! This is where the awful selfish, religious stuff can so easily blind us… We may see some need and think “I know of a way I can fix that…” or think “What would Jesus do? He would want me to do this…” or “I can help with that need…” or “Yes, I am quite capable and well-suited to doing that so I should…” and off we go. Is that obedience? Is that based on faith? Is that discerning the source of my motivation and action? Is that relying and depending on God? I don’t think so… it may simply be Self trying to please God; which is an exercise in futility because it is an impossibility! “What are we to DO, that we may be working the works of God? What are we to DO to carry out what God requires? Jesus replied, This is the work or service that God asks of you: that you believe (trust in, rely and depend upon) the One Whom He has sent.” John 6:28,29. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Knowing Him, hearing Him and His voice are absolutely essential. Is He satisfied and pleased with our labour and the sacrifices we make and the things that we do for Him? He says that to listen and OBEY is better than making sacrifices; a broken and contrite heart is what He desires. Otherwise we may be living in rebellion and stubbornness and be guilty of rejecting His words; often in favour of accepting other people’s words, including our own (1 Samuel 15:22-23 & Psalm 34:18).
Jesus repeatedly said He did NOTHING from Himself but as the Father directed Him (John 5:19,30, 8:28, 15:5). The opposite of that is equally true; actions/works which are done apart from the Word of God Himself, are dead also! This was what Jesus acted upon: hearing from the Father and knowing the Father. Works in themselves are not wrong; it is the SOURCE and motivation behind them which may be wrong! HE must be our Source of everything. When we hear and know God desires us to do something and we by faith obey and do it; those are good works which will bring HIM glory because they have originated from Him, it is HIS direction – He is the Source! When we try to do things ourselves, according to what WE or others think and discern as being right or good, it ultimately results in death instead of fullness of Life… HE must be our Source of knowledge.
One of these issues for me has been that of fellowship or koinonia (communion, joint participation and partnership in Christ and His Life) with others in the Family. In the place where God has us, we have precious little koinonia with brothers and sisters and Father had been challenging me on WHY I have felt such a need and desire for fellowship. I told Him that I KNOW it is important; that I need Him and His Life to be ministered both to and through me and that He has created us to need one another and to be with one another in genuine fellowship and communion through our common union in Him; that we are not independent, solitary parts of the Body. The whole picture of one Body is that of unity and needing and working with one another. While that is all good and true, He kept uncovering and digging deeper and asking: WHY did *I* want fellowship with brothers and sisters? Slowly I began to see that my motives and reasons have often been purely selfish and from the flesh. I have usually wanted fellowship because I like it, I need it, I want it, I enjoy it… but where does Christ figure in that??? That is about me and not Him!
As I saw this, I realized that Father is purifying and refining my motives and who I am. The thing itself is not necessarily either evil or good; but it may be my motivations and my heart which are wrong and need changing. My motive and reason for fellowship should not be anything to do with ME!!! It should be only about CHRIST! Our reason for sharing His Life in partnership and fellowship with one another should be so that HE is enlarged and ministered to in each of us; so that when we share His Life with each other, HE becomes more established in our lives – in this way HE is ministered to! HE must have first place. I realized that I have often had myself in His place; I have wanted fellowship for my own self… it has not always been, in the first place, for Him and for His sake. There is just so much of this Self that permeates so much about us and what we do and say… may He continue to purge and refine each of us so that only He is seen and heard, replacing our nature with His nature; otherwise what is often being “ministered” to and “built up” through our “fellowship” or whatever the issue is – is simply our flesh and ego.
Oh, to be dead to this terrible selfish, religious flesh which keeps on rearing its ugly head and taking over what is rightfully God’s in His own temple… But what can we do about it? Our religious flesh so often feels the need to DO something; it cannot just give up, rest and trust God! Our Father has made it so easy and simple and yet we often find it so difficult and hard – WE still want to be part of the picture, the flesh is still very alive! All we need to do is surrender and abandon ourselves completely to Him because: “I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ, developing and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (Phil 1:6). It is totally up to HIM, not me! That is very good news indeed!!! That means I have absolutely nothing of which to boast or glory in except for Christ Jesus and the good work which He is doing in spite of me and who I am, because it is all based on knowing WHO HE IS! He will never fail; He is absolutely trustworthy and faithful.
May the God of Peace Himself sanctify you through and through, separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete and found blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. FAITHFUL is He Who is calling you and utterly trustworthy, and HE will also DO IT. (1 Thess. 5:23,24).