Dr. Stephen Phinney | November 9, 2020 |
All humans are born with spiritual gifts. However, they are NOT activated by the Holy Spirit until the day of ones’ salvation. After that, they are used and empowered by the indwelling mind of Jesus Christ. Before salvation, in the humanistic world, they are called talents.
When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, about 5-years of age, my mother noticed my compulsivity to be at my father’s side – particularly when he was in discussions with others. She told the story of my ability to discern a lie from the truth & not be shy to speak up about it. My childlike method of speaking up was, Daddy, this man is lying to you. You can imagine how annoying this was to my father.
Fast-forwarding 40-years, while I was in a political meeting with a Senator friend, I leaned over and said, Senator, this man is lying to you. As it turned out, the Senator fact-check this man in front of the media, and the tables quickly turned in support of the Senator’s proposed bill. This single moment launched me into a political career – being assigned to sit at this Senator’s side for several years.
I knew from an early age that I had this ability. It provided loyal support from some and hideous rejection from others. After I received Jesus into my life, this “ability” shot through the roof of discernment. After salvation, I cannot express the level of cutting discernment that pours out of this mind of mine. As a result of this gift, I have and continue to be blessed to serve kings and presidents. What was once annoying has become the base of my ministry in Christ.
Discernment comes with a huge price. Not just in rejection from those caught in a lie but in the fleshly habit of projecting the image of “being a know it all.”
When talent goes through the conversion at salvation, it becomes a spiritual gift. Once it is a spiritual gift, it activates power from on high. Since our spiritual gifts have such power, the flesh provides a host of liabilities.
In the early 80s, while I was in personal discipleship, I noticed that people were drawn to me for help, even though I was in a nasty habit of playing-god to do much of my ministering. What is my greatest liability? For people to “get it” as fast as I deliver it. This nasty habit formed a method of ministry that placed a focus on “doing to get.”
I knew without question that I needed to embrace the rhyme and reason as to why I put a focus on Christians “doing to get.” I soon realized that most believers do this to attempt to motivate others to change through external standards. It didn’t matter if the person I was ministering to was going through a divorce, struggling with sins, anger, or control issues – it was all rooted in a problem called stealing the role of God. Yes. I used this special gift to force people to change before God had them ready to change.
Playing- god is man functioning as his or her personalized god. One of my mentors coined the term GODSHIP to define this problem. It is a term people pick up and start using when they get the definition, and I was no different. This term is so harshly distinctive – it helps believers begin to identify the core problem in all of life’s situations. If a believer doesn’t understand this truth, they will struggle their entire lives attempting to bring change in their lives and others!
The root definition of “man functioning as his or her own god” is nothing short of a believer walking after their flesh. Remember that walking after one’s flesh can be so pretty and productive that it can easily deceive. At least it was for me. This all results in the person living life without truly considering what God has to say about the outcome or resistance of the one being ministered.
I am aware of many of God's standards by simply getting to know the Word. I learned I have one of two simple choices to make. Either God walks out those laws in me by way of the indwelling Holy Spirit, or I can choose, or try, to live out those standards through walking after my flesh. For example, I knew full well what God wanted me to do in revealing lies in others, but instead of tapping the indwelling life of Christ to reveal the Truth to listeners, I worked desperately to force people into the Truth. If God was to be God of my life, I needed to know what He says about Christ living these guidelines through me by a thing called GRACE. I needed to learn how to walk inwardly and not externally before leading others in freedom in Christ. Walking after the Truth is much different than walking IN the Truth. A fine line that isn’t so refined.
My wake-up call. The stark realization is that everyone is absolutely, categorically, guilty of playing-god. It is the most common and repetitive problem in all of Christendom – particularly in the Church. It is the complete reason why we have wars, rumors of wars, arguments, and conflicts in our daily lives. People, saved or not, want to be the god of their own lives, of their destiny, deciding which “fast fixes” are best for their problems and sources of conflict. Most will attempt to take on the world if necessary through fruitless efforts of changing externals to change the people. Always working to make their environments more comfortable or more effective.
I remember the day when my discipler revealed to me my ugliest form of playing-god – allowing circumstances or my feelings to rule my life instead of the Spirit of Truth within me. This form of playing-god was beyond my human understanding. It took Christ's work within me over a long period to reveal this level of playing-god. Since I was unbecomingly oversensitive to rejection, this became a strong-hold in my flesh. How many times did I find myself in a situation where somebody said something, particularly a family member, and found my emotions were raised and thus letting the rejecter rule me? The pure facts are, it was forming the opposite of my spiritual gift, lying to cover up my insecurities. Pure idolatry is what this was. By allowing people’s opinions to rule me vs. that of Christ, I was agitating idolatry's boundaries. I soon discovered that playing-god made and formed my greatest enemy – my flesh.
Satan has one single tool to trip-up authentic believers, our flesh. Not only that, he can’t make us use our flesh. He knows the believer must choose it. Once the indwelt Christian extracts the lie out of “believer,” he, Satan, becomes impotent.
Until next time...