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  • Pastor Charlie Rivens

The Gift of Distinguishing between Spirits - 1 Corinthians 12:10; Acts 8:9-24; Acts 16:16-18


Not everything supernatural comes from a loving God. The dark side can produce amazing phenomena, too. Christians need to be able to know the difference.

A slick sorcerer came blending in with the crowd of new believers in Samaria and even thought he’d like to do what he’d seen apostles do. Peter, however, saw right through his motive and called his bluff.

A few years later, a young fortune-teller in Philippi said all the right things about the preaching of Paul and Silas: “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved” (Acts 16:17). But Paul wasn’t fooled into accepting this endorsement. He cast out the evil spirit that inhabited the girl.

Some think this kind of thing happens only in primitive areas of the world, not in the enlightened, sophisticated West. Actually, the work of Satan knows no geographical limits. During a week of special meetings at a church in western Virginia, Bishop Harry Cohen was inviting people to respond to a public altar call for salvation when suddenly, a stocky man in his late thirties burst out, “HELP ME! HELP ME!” The startled worshipers in the pews shuddered, wondering what would happen next.

“I looked at his face,” says Cohen, “and it seemed contorted. I discerned that he had some kind of demon possession, and so I asked for the church elders and visiting ministers to accompany me.

“As the man reached the front, we formed a circle around him. We were close enough to tell he’d been drinking. I said to the congregation, ‘Everyone here tonight, please go to prayer.’

“The man’s twisted facial features sent chills over my body, I admit. I was initially a bit fearful of what we were getting into. But then the Holy Spirit calmed me and assured me that he would be in control.” The bishop laid hands on the man and spoke with authority: “Holy Spirit, you take control of this fellow. This demon from hell has come to strip him of his mental faculties. Pull it out of him, and send it into oblivion!”

The man crumpled to the floor, tossed and turned for a moment, and then went totally limp for several minutes. When he finally opened his eyes, he was crying and softly repeating, “Thank God, thank God.” The entire church broke into rejoicing. Helping him up from the floor, Cohen asked, “How do you feel now?”

“I feel like something has been lifted off of me,” he replied as the tears continued to flow. “I’m free! I’m free!”

Cohen, now the presiding bishop of a denomination, says, “Satan is a liar from the pit. Sometimes we fail to allow the all-powerful Spirit to direct us in confronting the Evil One and casting him out. But if we use divine power, we can overcome the Devil’s works.” Holy Bible App.

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