Am I taking seriously the fact that I will give an account for every careless word I speak?
A few years ago, a documentary came out called “Friends of God” featuring Ted Haggard, one of the most powerful evangelical Christian leaders in the country at the time. Ted was adored and seemed like the most joyful and happy pastor you could know. During the filmmaking, the subject of sex and marriage comes up. Ted looks right into the camera, and with the demeanor of a kid in a candy story says, “You know all the surveys say evangelicals have the best sex life of any other group.” The interviewer doubts it, so Ted turns to two male church staff, right on camera, and asks how many times they each have sex with their wives and how often their wives climax. I looked straight at my parents and said, “Now, there is a false teacher and a man who does not have the Spirit of Christ.” I discerned that his temperament and the fruit of his lips completely contradicted the true Spirit of Christ. Christ would never ask something like that! Unknown to me at the time, it had come out in 2009, that Haggard had been having homosexual relations with a male prostitute for years.
On another occasion, I attended a church service where a very dynamic speaker who was said to be a “prophet” of God came to speak. After his dynamic sermon, he began calling on people in the 500+ audience, to speak individual prophetic words over.
He points to a person way in the back of the room and says, “The guy right there…you with the fro…I think that’s what they still call them.” I should point out that the speaker himself was a black man. The person that came forward was a woman, not a man. Secondly, he began telling her that she was rejected as a child and didn’t feel loved by her family, etc. At this point, I paused the scene and asked, “Would the Holy Spirit call someone forward by describing their hairstyle in a derogatory way, miss the sex of the person, and then start revealing private and personal pains right in front of 500 people?” The answer is NO, He would not! Rotten fruit like this tells us that the flesh, or some other spirit is in control, not the Holy Spirit.
The devil has many counterfeits, and thus good discernment is critical! You are in a war for your soul, and the devil is not a dumb Lion. God will not always save us from our ignorance, because He knows we all have access to His Words. Listen carefully to what people talk about, and pay attention to their temperament (especially teachers) and you can discern their heart (v. 34). What we truly think about, and who we truly are, will inevitably come out of our mouths on a regular basis. All of us say things that are “out of character” from time to time, and certainly more often when we are a new Christian, but as we mature, we should look and sound more and more like Jesus Christ.
The ability to discern a person’s fruit can help you know how to help them, how to manage the relationship, or separate from them. The peers you associate with will either help you to become more like Christ, or less. Because of this influence, we are warned repeatedly in Scripture to avoid those that live as disobedient or false believers. (Ps 1:1, 101:4, Pro 13:20, 22:24, Acts 19:9, Rom 16:17, 1 Cor 5:13, Eph 5:6-7, 11, 2 Tim 3:5, Tit 3:10-11)