Prophetic Discernment in an Age of Disinformation (Part Three)

Prophetic Discernment in an Age of Disinformation Part Three

© Phil Mason January 2021

“We live in a political world
Where peace is not welcome at all
It’s turned away from the door to wander some more
Or put up against the wall.”
– Bob Dylan: Political World, [Oh Mercy 1989]



In this series we have been tracing the current upsurge of political disinformation and its impact upon the church. In Part Two I sought to explore the nature of the invisible spirit beings who drive and energize political agendas and the way these powers negatively impact believers when they immerse themselves in partisan politics. In this article I want to dig a little deeper to uncover even further the unique spirits that operate behind the political veil. When it comes to power politics, we would be foolish to ignore the biblical revelation that ideologies are empowered by invisible spirit beings. Many of us may be aware of a recent proliferation of conspiracy theories. We’re not imagining it! Whilst there have always been bizarre conspiracy theories that circulate on the fringes of our culture, there has been a massive upsurge in these theories in the past few years with a number of them going mainstream. When it comes to the subject of political disinformation there is nothing more noteworthy than the power of a conspiracy theory to ignite people’s fears of hidden government agendas to control the populace. Conspiracy theories, more than anything, lead the way in trafficking in disinformation.

QAnon

One of the most influential theories has come to light is the current QAnon movement. Whilst it is not my purpose to explain this theory in any detail, I do want to highlight it because it has been adopted by millions of people who are susceptible to fanciful far right ideologies. The theory emerged in 2017, one year into Trump’s presidency. In a nutshell, it revolves around the alleged existence of a cabal of ‘deep state’ Satanists who control the left-wing political agenda and who are heavily involved in child sex trafficking. Amongst those who embrace the theory, Trump is seen as a heroic figure who is intentionally working to ‘drain the swamp’ of these dark and sinister forces. But there is widespread pushback from the deep state to resist his attempts to rescue the children who are being trafficked. The theory is perpetrated by a mysterious figure who identifies himself as ‘Q.’ This alleged White House insider releases somewhat cryptic clues to his followers, revealing what is really going on inside the Trump administration. If you want to find out more about this conspiracy theory, there have been numerous insightful online articles written to expose the dark conspiratorial mindset of its many followers.

Beyond the content of this particular theory, I am more concerned with what drives conspiracy theories? As I have considered this question, I have reached the conclusion that it is driven by a very unique and ancient spirit of deception. Paul warned us about deceiving spirits that propagate unique deceptions that have the power to co-opt unwary Christians. “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe; they will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons. These teachers are hypocrites and liars.” (1 Timothy 4:1,2 NLT) As I have been exploring the seductive power of these current conspiracy theories, I have seen a convergence of two unique spirits that have been targeting the hearts of God’s people. First, there has been a deliberate attack upon the church by a ‘political spirit’ and secondly, by a ‘gnostic spirit’ and these two spirits have combined forces to cook up a potent mix of deception. These are actual spirit beings that would fall under Paul’s definition of invisible ‘powers’ (Ephesians 6:12) with whom the church is wrestling in this unique season. Without a doubt I believe it is a gnostic spirit that drives and energizes the propagation of conspiracy theories. My purpose is to first explain the operation of the political spirit, followed by an explanation of the operation of the gnostic spirit. Then I want to follow up by explaining what happens when these two spirits team up together.

The Political Spirit

The political spirit is a spirit of strife and division.

When Christians comes under the power of a political spirit they are dragged down into an earthly political battle where they end up fighting flesh and blood instead of fighting principalities and powers. Paul said, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Sometimes partisan politics descends into an all-out war where those on the opposite side of the political divide become mortal ‘enemies.’ The political spirit stirs up intense enmity and it ignites unholy passions to defeat the enemy at all costs. It is this heated passion and rage that entices people to resort to the use disinformation.

It is the nature of politics to deliberately portray political enemies in the worst possible light.

Someone energized by this spirit deliberately searches out weaknesses and flaws in the arguments or the character of their political opponents, where they are enticed to step into an alignment with the spirit of accusation. Satan is revealed in the Bible as the ‘accuser.’ Uncovering ‘dirt’ on your enemy is the way of the political spirit. If there is nothing to uncover people will invent something. Politics traffics in mudslinging, hoping the mud will stick and the enemy will be defeated in the public forum. When this spirit infiltrates the church it always leads to divisive language and behaviors. You can see what happens to a follower of Jesus when they come under the political spirit; they turn aside from the high calling of love by participating in the political pastime of shredding those on the opposite side of the political divide. Cordiality and decency is thrown out the window because the enemy is at the gate and he or she must be exposed and defeated!

As we have previously observed, the political spirit consistently traffics in ‘political spin’ which manipulates facts to promote political propaganda. Politics thrives upon the use of propaganda. In the pursuit of advancing political propaganda, people under the political spirit resort to the dissemination of disinformation. This is not the accidental dissemination of misinformation but the deliberate distribution of false information in the service of an aggressive political agenda. When Christians come under the political spirit they inadvertently partner with a spirit of deception. Biblical truth and values are forsaken in the name of their political agenda. Christians who get drawn into the swirl of the political spirit deliberately turn a blind eye to the use of disinformation because the disinformation advances the prospects of winning the election and winning at all costs becomes the name of the game. This spirit works on both sides of the political divide.

The political spirit is always undergirded by a deep sense of national patriotism. Samuel Johnson famously said in 1775, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” Misguided patriotism and loyalty to empire can reduce an honorable person to a political scoundrel! Countless evils have been committed in the name of patriotism to someone’s country. Whilst it is good to love one’s country, Christian nationalism crosses the line into idolatry because it elevates a nation to a status that confuses loyalty to God with loyalty to a particular country.

Christians who come under the political spirit have already compromised their loyalty to King Jesus through their loyalty to their country and they end up fighting for a political agenda in the belief that they are fighting for God. Patriotism drives the political spirit. But God is above partisan politics. Remember when the Lord appeared to Joshua with a raised sword? Joshua said, “Whose side are you on—ours or our enemies?” What was the Lord’s response? “Neither. I’m commander of God’s army.” (Joshua 5:13,14 MSG) As soon as we think God is on the side of a particular country or political party we are on extremely shaky ground. It was this misguided patriotism that inspired Dylan to write ‘With God on Our Side’ in 1963. He cited a series of atrocities that had been committed in the misguided belief that God was on their side. He said, “You never ask questions when God’s on your side!” And “You don’t count the dead when God’s on your side!”

Jesus exposed the danger of the political spirit when He said, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” (Mark 8:15)

Leaven is a subtle influence that permeates the heart just as yeast permeates a lump of dough. The leaven of the Pharisees is the subtle influence of the religious spirit whilst the leaven of Herod is the subtle influence of the political spirit. Both forms of ‘leaven’ have a way of getting inside the church and defiling it. King Herod Antipas [a Roman tetrarch and son of Herod the Great] was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist. He had zero tolerance for his political enemies.

Some Jewish religious leaders came to Jesus to inform Him that Herod was out to kill Him and urged Him to flee from that place. Jesus told them, “Go and tell that deceiver [or, sly fox] that I will continue to cast out demons and heal the sick today and tomorrow, but on the third day I will bring my work to perfection.” (Luke 13:31,32 TPT)

The political spirit is at enmity with the Spirit of prophecy because it is driven by earthly political agendas.

Politics motivated King Herod to kill Jesus because Herod had been appointed King over Judea, but Jesus was emerging as God’s appointed King of Israel. Herod ridiculed the notion that Jesus was a king. “Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus. Finally, they put a royal robe on Him and sent Him back to Pilate.” (Luke 23:11 NLT) Jesus warned of the leaven of Herod because Herod was politically motivated in his opposition to Jesus as King. Herod was a shrewd politician who engaged in political propaganda and disinformation to preserve his own power. That is why Jesus called him a ‘sly’ or ‘cunning fox.’ The Strong’s Concordance points out that the Greek name ‘Herodes’ is a derivative of the word ‘hero.’ Herod, like so many of his kind, wanted to be seen as a heroic figure; the man for the moment. Perhaps Jesus was highlighting that the subtle leaven of ‘Herod’ is unveiled in every expression of political heroics, which is energized by human bravado and political power instead of the power of the Spirit. All political battles are fought in “the arm of the flesh.” (2 Chronicles 32:8)

The Gnostic Spirit

The gnostic spirit, on the other hand, entices believers into secret or esoteric knowledge.

Gnosticism is the exaltation of knowledge. ‘Gnosis’ is the common Greek word for ‘knowledge,’ therefore a gnostic spirit is a spirit of false or superior knowledge. People under the operation of this spirit are convinced they have been given insight into what is really going on behind the scenes. The gnostic spirit seduces people into a higher level of revelation that feeds upon human pride. It is the gnostic spirit that empowers conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories proliferate amongst people with an unhealed orphan heart. Spiritual pride seeps into the hearts of people who have a deep deficit in their sense of personal significance. They are always searching for a superior knowledge that will inflate their ego and provide them with a sense of significance that has not yet been met by the Father’s love.

Only the Father’s love can minister a sense of deep significance that is rooted in the spirit of adoption and sonship. In the absence of this impartation of the significance that comes from the revelation and experience of our sonship, people reach out for whatever will fill that void and make them feel significant. Their sense of significance and worth may be found in material wealth; it may be found in elevated social status or it may be found in the false sense of power that knowledge gives.

When the gnostic spirit infiltrates the heart, love immediately goes out the window. The Spirit of love moves us toward our brothers and sisters to build connection and unity whereas the gnostic spirit causes people to exalt themselves over their brothers and sisters and to break connection.

As a theologian, I have specialized over the past four decades in exposing the gnostic spirit wherever it infiltrates the church.

I have felt a life-long mandate to war against this spirit. It enters the Christian community through syncretism with New Age spirituality (which is modern Gnosticism in one of its purest forms), through false teachings and through false prophetic revelations. I have written a book titled The New Gnostics, which traces the way the gnostic spirit functions when it infiltrates the spiritual operating system of the Christian mind.

If our eyes are open to the operation of the gnostic spirit it isn’t hard to see the way in which conspiracy theories are driven by a gnostic spirit. Adherents to bizarre conspiracy theories end up believing they alone have the real inside story. It’s a closed-circuit system as well because its adherents are always warned against listening to other sources of information because ‘they’ (the perceived enemy) have infiltrated mainstream media whose reporters are under the sway of the conspirators. Through fear of being deceived, gnostic conspiracy theorists only get their information from ‘reliable’ online sources that are awake to the alleged conspiracy. This traps people in a closed circuit where anybody who tries to help them find a way out of this cultish way of thinking becomes the enemy who isn’t awake to the conspiracy. Fear and paranoia are the fruit of participating in conspiracy theories.

All of us were shocked by the political riots and the insurrection on Capitol Hill that we all recently witnessed on January 6, 2021. These expressions of far-right political extremism were fueled by the convergence of the political spirit and the gnostic spirit. The political spirit had already enraged people against their political enemies but the gnostic spirit, in the form of the QAnon conspiracy theory, radicalized people into a militant response to attempt to overthrow their political enemies and to subvert the democratic process. How disturbing was it to see ‘Jesus Saves’ and ‘Jesus 2020’ banners being waved in the midst of the insurrection? How equally disturbing was it to see the guy with the large ‘Q’ on his shirt and the self-proclaimed ‘QAnon Shaman’ dressed in horns and face paint. The insurrection was the result of a toxic mix of the political spirit and the gnostic spirit.

The QAnon conspiracy theory elevated the recent US election to the status of an apocalyptic battle. The election was “apocalyticized” (a new word) into some kind of final battle against the forces of Antichrist. The proposition that a cabal of blood drinking Satanists who had allegedly infiltrated and taken over the Democrat political party to rig the election and steal it from the Republicans turned the 2020 election into a final Armageddon showdown where the only solution was to go to war and launch an assault on Capitol Hill.

It was this same powerful combination of the gnostic spirit and the political spirit that inspired many well-known prophets to prophesy that Trump would win a second term. This ‘revelation’ turned out to be a false prophecy. At the end of the day, it was a ‘gnostic’ revelation empowered by a virulent political spirit and a tidal surge of Christian nationalism. People asked, how could so many good prophets get it so wrong?

Entanglement in nationalism, a political spirit and a gnostic spirit of revelation caused many otherwise respectable prophets to be publicly humiliated. Some have rightly apologized, but some prophets came so heavily under this combination of the gnostic and political spirit that they have doubled down on their false prophecy claiming that Trump would still be miraculously elevated to the presidency in spite of losing the election. There are still some ‘prophets’ clinging to their false prophecies in the belief that Trump will somehow be magically restored to the presidency through an eventual revelation that the 2020 election was rigged. This is what the Bible called a “lying spirit in the mouth of the prophets.” (1 Kings 22:22)

Paul warned believers against coming under “another spirit!” (2 Corinthians 11:4) He spoke this warning in a unique season in which the gnostic spirit was infiltrating and derailing the church in Corinth. The only way to explain the proliferation of false prophecies and the wildly inflated claims of Trump’s presidency and his alleged prophetic destiny to overthrow a great end-time Satanic conspiracy is to recognize that a spirit of false prophecy came over a significant company of prophetic voices. This is the fruit of the political spirit infiltrating the church coupled with a powerful gnostic spirit, with both riding on the back of a massive surge of Christian nationalism. What a toxic mix and what a great deception. The American church’s obsession with the end times also played a role in elevating the 2020 election to the status of a great apocalyptic battle.

How much was the QAnon conspiracy theory to blame for poisoning the minds of the prophets who prophesied Trump’s re-election? This is an open question and hopefully the answers will come out in time. But there is compelling evidence to suggest that at least some of the prophets were favorable to the QAnon conspiracy theory. This was revealed in their language of the ‘deep state’ and the existence of an evil ‘cabal.’ The blanket silence amongst prophetic voices in failing to openly condemn and renounce the QAnon theory speaks volumes. It is time for the prophets to recognize the potency of political disinformation and to call it out.

As the dust begins to settle there are many lessons to take away from this crazy season.

My main point has been to focus our attention upon the need for a whole new level of prophetic discernment that will become the essential equipping to avoid falling again into a trap that the enemy had set for the church in order to destroy its credibility and its witness to this generation. The world knows that recognized Christian prophets were in bed with Donald J. Trump, prophesying his success. The church’s believability is in tatters and it will take a long time to fully recover from the mess that Christian nationalism has made in the house of God. The political spirit and the gnostic spirit teamed up together to slam the modern charismatic movement and the enemy won a decisive victory in lowering the public credibility of the church. Secular watchdogs with an insight into the potency of political disinformation have demonstrated greater discernment than many in the prophetic movement. Somewhere along the line the prophets lost sight of the biblical mandate of speaking truth to power and ended up becoming nationalist prophets of right-wing politics. The silence in exposing the widespread use of political disinformation and conspiracy theories has been deafening!

Somehow the prophets ended up with an entirely different message to the clear message of Scripture.

The focus shifted from the advancement of the kingdom of God through the proclamation of the simple gospel to the success of a political brand that offered power to the church to change the heart of a nation through the arm of the flesh. We need to get back to the “more sure word of prophecy” that calls the church out of Babylonian captivity. John said, “I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, My people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.” (Revelation 18:4,5 NASB) We all need to hear this voice and to step up to an entirely new level of discernment that speaks truth to power. This is the heritage of the prophetic tradition.

It is time for prophetic discernment in an age of disinformation and chaos! Let’s seek the Lord for a radical discernment in this hour!

Prophetic Discernment in An Age of Disinformation (Part Two)

Prophetic Discernment in an Age of Disinformation [Part Two]

© Phil Mason January 2021

“We live in a political world; wisdom is thrown into jail
It rots in a cell, discarded as hell, leaving no one to pick up the trail.”

– Bob Dylan: Political World, [Oh Mercy 1989]

In this series we are exploring the challenging new environment of heightened disinformation in an age of information wars. My particular concern is the church’s engagement in the political process and its vulnerability to the dark spiritual influences that flourish behind the curtain. We cannot be blind to the operation of what Paul called the spiritual ‘powers’ that drive and energize the currents of political thought and action. In his own day, the Roman Caesars ruled with an iron fist and political intrigues and dark plots flourished inside Palatine Hill, the location of Caesar’s Palace. 

The Roman Empire was awash with political machinations where despotic political power ruled the land. Roman policy was driven by sinister political agendas to dominate and control the Roman populace. The book of Revelation sought to lift the curtain in exposing the beast and the false prophet who ruled the land through unassailable political power. (Revelation 13:4) 

Times and seasons have changed but the same dark powers still seek to infiltrate even the most transparent democracies. 

The church’s relationship with the political world is fraught with multiple dangers. Building alignments with political power may be a temptation too great to resist but the coded nature of the book of Revelation ought to cause the people of God to pause before engaging in a marriage between church and state. The entanglement of the church in overt power politics inevitably makes the church complicit with the dissemination of political disinformation and disinformation and political spin is the very currency of the political world. Cosying up to a political party is a wholesale selling out of the prophetic mandate to speak truth to power by turning a blind eye to the very nature of earthly political power. 

We inherit the great tradition of the Old Testament prophets who stood outside the King’s palace to speak heaven’s truth to political power. 

We have to recognize that in the pursuit of power, politicians do not hesitate to co-opt the church into throwing their support behind their political agendas. Don’t think for a moment that Christians cannot become pawns in the hands of shrewd politicians who are hungry for power. The church’s participation in, or cooperation with political parties that disseminate deliberate disinformation inadvertently become complicit with the spirit of Jezebel who sought to exercise control over the people of God through overt witchcraft and political disinformation. It is important to remember that Jezebel used disinformation to obtain Naboth’s vineyard for her husband, King Ahab. (See 1 Kings 21) 

The propagation of disinformation is witchcraft, pure and simple. It is an assault against the “Spirit of truth.” In this new age of information wars, politicians do not hesitate to weaponize information to manipulate the minds of the masses. Whether we like it or not, the church frequently gets trapped in the crossfire of political disinformation wars and often gets dragged into the centre of this earthly battle by compelling Christians to take sides in an earthly culture war. To the extent that the church is swept up in power politics, to that same extent the church becomes blinded to the spirits of deception that drive the dissemination of disinformation. 

Unquestionably, the church is called to engage government at all levels by prophetically speaking truth to power in the tradition of the prophets who deliberately stood outside the machinery of earthly politics in order to retain a prophetic objectivity to speak into government and those entrusted with power. There is only one organization in the earth that has the capacity to speak God’s truth to power and that is the church. 

The church engages in partisan politics to its own peril because the very process of power politics degrades and entangles God’s people in human agendas instead of God’s governmental agenda. God’s government is established through love and by winning over hearts to His kingdom agenda. It is noteworthy that in the defence of a political party and its policies, Christians are often found to be completely silent in speaking truth to power when it comes to calling out the lies and disinformation of their own party of choice. 

We urgently need to recognise the difference between a healthy participation in the affairs of government and an unhealthy participation with political parties and worldly political agendas. The fruit of power politics is an engagement in a battle against flesh and blood instead of our mandated battle against principalities and powers. As soon as any human being steps into this arena they are immediately engaging with heavy spirits of deception. If they lack high level spiritual discernment, they become extremely vulnerable to getting played by the invisible realm. Have you noticed that whenever earthly political battles infiltrate the church, it always leads to a spirit of strife and division within the body of Christ? Love immediately gets flushed down the toilet as brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers become vilified as the political ‘enemy.’ 

Loyalty to King Jesus

The church is called to live above the machinations of earthly politics in their loyalty to Jesus as King and their loyalty to His divine government. He alone is worthy of our unswerving loyalty. Then and only then can the followers of Jesus truly speak truth to power and call out the use of disinformation in the advancement of political agendas. 

You know you’re a Christian nationalist when your patriotism to Jesus is compromised by your patriotism to your nation. 

Politics traffics in idolatry, most notably the quest for political power and the advancement of nationalist agendas. These are some of the great idols of our time. One of the tasks of the prophets is to call out idolatry in all its forms. The Old Testament prophets called out Israel’s idolatry and apostasy and they called upon the people of God to be wide awake to the idolatry of political power. Imagine if the church recovered her royal assignment of speaking truth to power by raising her voice in the marketplace and calling politicians on their use of disinformation? We need to recover the fire and courage of the Old Testament prophets who spoke truth to power. The spreading of lies and falsehood in the name of political advancement is a gross injustice and a crime against the people because it trades in deception and confusion. 

As Dylan prophesied; “We’re living it times when men commit crimes and crime don’t have a face!” Disinformation is one of those faceless crimes. There is no greater injustice in the land than corrupt politicians in the seat of power. Imagine if the church again became the matrix in which courageous prophets were formed who could call out societal injustices in all of its forms. We need to recover some of the fiery prophetic language of the Old Testament prophets.

“God’s justice? You high and mighty politicians know nothing about it! Which one of you has walked in justice toward others? Which one of you has treated everyone right and fair? Not one! You only give “justice” in exchange for a bribe. For the right price you let others get away with murder. Wicked wanderers even from the womb, that’s who you are! Lying with your words, your teaching is poison.” (Psalm 58:1-4 TPT)

I love the Message Bible’s take on this passage.

“Is this any way to run a country? Is there an honest politician in the house? Behind the scenes you brew cauldrons of evil, behind closed doors you make deals with demons. The wicked crawl from the wrong side of the cradle; their first words out of the womb are lies.” (MSG)

From a biblical perspective, governmental leaders are called to uphold the values of righteousness, justice and truth. Walter Brueggermann, in his book Truth Speaks to Power, writes, “power that has been founded on something other than truth (e.g., deception, violence) is exposed as fraudulent [and] delegitimized.” Power based upon lies and disinformation is fraudulent power! It is the role of our political leaders to uphold truth in the marketplace. If truth is compromised in the political process, corrupt politicians become the target of fiery truth prophets. Jeremiah confronted a situation where truth was sacrificed in the name of political expediency.

“Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond. Say to them, “This is the nation whose people will not obey the Lord their God and who refuse to be taught. Truth has vanished from among them; it is no longer heard on their lips!” (Jeremiah 7:27,28 NLT)

When truth is slain in the streets through the dissemination of political disinformation prophets rise up and speak truth to power. The stories of the Old Testament are replete with tales of prophets calling out corrupt politicians and kings. Second in line were the ‘prophets’ and ‘preachers’ who were quick to jump into bed with the politicians. I especially love this prophetic oracle from Ezekiel;

“Your politicians are like wolves prowling and killing and rapaciously taking whatever they want. Your preachers cover up for the politicians by pretending to have received visions and special revelations. They say, “This is what God, the Master, says . . .” when God hasn’t said so much as one word. Extortion is rife, robbery is epidemic, the poor and needy are abused, outsiders are kicked around at will, with no access to justice. “I looked for someone to stand up for Me against all this, to repair the defences of the city, to take a stand for Me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn’t have to destroy it. I couldn’t find anyone. Not one.” (Ezekiel 22:27-30 MSG)

What an indictment upon the office of the Christian prophet and the Christian preacher if they become nothing more than the spokesperson of the beast! The book of Revelation identifies this total sell-out as the ministry of the ‘false prophet.’ 

In one of his many visions, the apostle John said, “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons…” (Revelation 16:13,14) 

Seeing Christian prophets becoming the heralds of Christian nationalism is a new low point in the history of the church.  In an age of disinformation, it is time to put some distance between our voice and the voice of earthly political power. It is time to interrupt the silence and to speak truth to power with one clear prophetic voice. Disinformation ought to be called out and exposed in the public square! Truth is at stake! What a troubling state of affairs we are in when the church becomes complicit in the dissemination of deliberate political disinformation.

The Government Will be Upon His Shoulders

God’s government is diametrically opposed to worldly political agendas. Jesus introduced His followers to an entirely different way of establishing His government on earth. God’s government rests squarely upon Jesus’ shoulders. (Isaiah 9:6) In His confrontation with Pontius Pilate, a Roman political governor, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight… but now My kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36) 

God’s government is established through love, winning one heart at a time to Jesus. It is extremely rare to see a Christian get drawn into earthly political battles who is able to retain love as his or her foremost value. Love usually becomes subordinate to the political agenda and that is an unequivocal sell-out of our birthright as sons and daughters of God. 

We are meant to be known for our love! Jesus rules through truth but truth that is always spoken in love. He spoke truth to power when He said to Pilate; “You say that I am a king, and you are right. I was born for that purpose. And I came to bring truth to the world. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” (John 18:37 NLT) The prophetic mandate of the church is to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) But as soon as truth is dislocated from the Spirit of love it loses its efficacy. 

I long for the day when we see a widespread awakening in the church where Christian’s eyes are opened wide to the nature of earthly politics and the spirits that operate in this arena, where Christians can call out the corrupt use of disinformation no matter which political party adopts such abhorrent practices, where Christians are awake to the idolatry of power and to the entanglement of nationalism and where Christians can boldly recover their high calling to speak truth to power. 

The calling of the church in her loyalty to Jesus as King is infinitely greater than a shabby allegiance to earthly political parties. I hear Jesus saying “come up here” to a higher place where we are seated far above principalities and powers, where we can discern the operation of political spirits, of spirits of deception, of Jezebelic strategies adopted by corrupt politicians who are hungry for power. 

We are living in the Age of Disinformation. That has become one of the defining characteristics of the times and the seasons we are living in. The political spirit has infiltrated the gates of the church and that spirit has to be driven out if we are to recover our true prophetic mandate.

In part three of this series, I want to explore more deeply the spiritual dimensions of the disinformation age so we, as the people of God, are thoroughly equipped to discern the times and the seasons and to know how to respond. We cannot be oblivious to the spirits that operate in the machinery of politics and its quest for power. 

I feel as though God has given me some helpful discernment and insight into a number of spirits that are operating in this current political climate, so I invite you to join me on this journey as you read Part Three of ‘Prophetic Discernment in an Age of Disinformation.’

Prophetic Discernment in an Age of Disinformation (Part One)

Prophetic Discernment in an Age of Disinformation [Part One]
© Phil Mason January 2021

In the book of 1 Chronicles, the author highlighted a prophetic company called “the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” (1 Chronicles 12:32). This was a God-given prophetic insight that enabled this prophetic company to discern the uniqueness of the times and the seasons that the people of God found themselves in and how to respond in correspondence to the uniqueness of the season.

We are told by Solomon that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV). Different seasons call for different strategies and different responses. Daniel prophesied that God is the author of the times and the seasons; “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:20,21 NIV)

The events of 2020 and 2021 have unquestionably ushered in an entirely new season. The question is, what are the unique characteristics of this new season? I believe we are in a season of a significant ‘reset’ in the church, as God brings His people into a greater alignment with His voice.

The battle always revolves around the stewardship of the truth.

The current season of global upheaval, both politically, socially and economically, demands an entirely new level of spiritual discernment that reaches beyond the discernment of the previous season. Only the church as God’s prophetic community on earth has the potential to step into the rarefied company of the sons of Issachar in knowing, from heaven’s perspective, exactly what is going on in the earth in any given season. Prophets function as the ‘ears’ of the church and they are responsible to announce the new season and the new strategies in response to the new season.

Amos prophesied; “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7 NIV) God speaks from heaven and it is the task of the prophets to corporately discern exactly what the Lord is saying to His church.

But a number of unique factors have emerged in the current season that have raised the stakes to a whole new level in the current battle for truth.

Information Wars

One of the things I have become certain of in this unique season is that with the advent of the digital information age we have been plunged into a global information war. We have never been here before and we are all in an entirely new and unfamiliar environment that is highly disorienting. Worldwide access to social media platforms guarantees a much quicker flow of information but it also paves the way for an explosion of misinformation and disinformation. The battle to discern truth from error has subsequently gone to a whole new level in this new season.


The Apostle John distinguished the sons of God from the sons of this world on the basis of their relationship to the Spirit of truth. “Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.” (1 John 4:5,6 NLT)

The apostles and prophets of the New Testament were uniquely anointed to train the people of God in discerning truth from error.

The battle in these days is to discern the voice of the Lord in the midst of a cacophony of voices, even within the church. God has set in place certain safeguards for the surefire discernment of His voice. One of these safeguards is our placement into the safety of a Spirit-filled prophetic community. Paul insisted that it is only “together with all the saints” that we can come to a comprehensive and certain knowledge of truth. (Ephesians 3:18 NIV) John said, “those who know God listen to us.” That is a big statement!

The ‘us’ to whom he was referring was the company of apostles and prophets upon which God has built His New Testament church. “We are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself.” (Ephesians 2:20 NLT) The only way to keep our heads above the season of this new global information war is to immerse ourselves into prophetic community where the voice of the Lord is discerned together.

The ascendency of postmodern relativism has given rise to widespread misinformation and disinformation and it is these subjective claims to ‘truth’ that have ushered in an information war where everyone on the planet has to ‘run the gauntlet’ of a plethora of lies. There has never been a time in history where so many people simply don’t know what to believe anymore.

One of the features of the information age is the weaponization of information.

In 2019 Richard Stengel published “Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do about It.” His book traces the use of Russian disinformation in the 2016 US Presidential election campaign and the counter-disinformation campaign designed to obfuscate the revelation of Russian interference. That was a classic ‘information war!’ Subsequently, a number of books have been published on the theme of disinformation and counter-disinformation. This is the season we are in. Many people simply don’t know what to believe anymore because the information age has turned the world into a global battleground of competing political agendas and we are all caught in the crossfire. We are literally drowning in a sea of political propaganda that fills the airwaves with both left and right wing media outlets disseminating conflicting political narratives that compete for our allegiance.

Disinformation

Politics is all about power. Politicians are always manoeuvring and scheming to gain greater earthly power over their political adversaries. Politicians consistently engage in the cunning use of political ‘spin.’ They put a deliberate spin on information in order to persuade and control the way people think about a particular hot-button topic. Political parties all participate in political propaganda in order to gain power and this propaganda always plays upon people’s fears. To be equipped in discerning the times and seasons we have to recognise the power of political propaganda and the use of both misinformation and disinformation.

Disinformation is different to misinformation. Misinformation, by definition, is “false information that is spread, regardless of intent to mislead.” Someone who inadvertently spreads misinformation may themselves be simply misinformed. They have got their facts wrong and they are accidentally spreading false information.

On the other hand, disinformation means “false information, disseminated by a government or intelligence agency in a hostile act of tactical political subversion.” It is also used more generally to mean “deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda.” Disinformation is a tool of power politics to deliberately sway people to adopt their political position through the dissemination of propaganda and lies. Disinformation is as old as Satan’s temptation in the Garden of Eden.

That was the first example of disinformation for the purpose of misleading and deceiving. Eleven times in Genesis we read the words, “God said…” before the serpent uttered the challenge; “Has God indeed said….?” (Genesis 3:1) Satan is the “father of lies,” and disinformation is his key weapon. The use of disinformation becomes fertile soil for the spirit of witchcraft, or the deliberate control of the hearts and minds of the masses. Disinformation is a deliberate attempt at thought control. Paul said, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1) Another translation says, “Oh, foolish Galatians! What magician has cast an evil spell on you?” (NLT) Lies can be a potent force for political advancement.

Fake News

Disinformation trades in deception and is fuelled by the deliberate intent to deceive. Part of the widespread phenomenon of disinformation is the explosion of so called ‘fake news.’ Fake news is untrue information presented as genuine news. The rise of social media has facilitated the deliberate dissemination of fake news stories. Fake news reduces the impact of real news by intentionally competing with it. We are inundated daily with fake news stories designed to confuse and disorient people. Some politicians resort to using the term ‘fake news’ to describe any genuine news story that disseminates negative press coverage about them. They seek to cover up unfavourable media coverage by writing off the news story as a piece of ‘fake news.’ Politicians frequently engage in ‘smear campaigns’ against their political opponents. They always seek to cast their political enemies in the worst possible light. Accusing one other of fake news is a deliberate obfuscation of the truth and it happens all the time in mainstream politics.

Both left-wing media and right-wing media frequently accuse one another of disseminating fake news. The politicization of the language of ‘fake news’ sews widespread confusion into society. The deliberate creation of fake news is driven by a spirit of deception. This is all part of the flood of deception that is sweeping the earth and behind this agenda to lie and deceive is Satan, the father of lies. “The serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.” (Revelation 12:15) This is the season we find ourselves in. Satan targets the church with his own disinformation campaign! Living in the midst of such a toxic and vitriolic information war, the church is often tossed to and fro by manipulative political propaganda and deliberate disinformation.

Staying free of all this ought to be our goal.

The question remains: can a Christian engage in the political process and remain undefiled by the spirits of deception that flourish in such a heated and hostile environment, where dragging political opponents down through deliberate disinformation becomes the primary goal of the political process? If love is meant to be the defining characteristics of the true followers of Jesus can we afford to get swept up in a deliberate agenda to depict other human beings as the ‘enemy?’ Love is the first thing to be thrown overboard when Christians get dragged down into earthly political battles. Time and time again I have seen good people getting drawn into open hostility toward perceived political enemies. We are called to win others to Jesus and to the truth through love, not politics.

If a Christian chooses to get swept up in earthly political battles my suggestion is to hold on tight to love as the highest virtue of all and to keep your eyes open to the spiritual powers that flourish in the political sphere. Being established in mature love ought to be a primary prerequisite for engaging in the political world. There are many lessons to take away from the season we are in. The sons of Issachar not only understood the times and seasons, they also knew what the people of God ought to do. In other words, they knew how believers ought to walk in the context of the uniqueness of the season.

In the second part of this series, I want to explore further how we are called to walk in the midst of the information wars and the age of disinformation. If my thesis is correct, that an accurate understanding of the times and the seasons necessitates an awakening to the role that disinformation plays in the shaping of popular culture, we need an entirely new operating system to navigate the times so we don’t get swept along by the currents of popular culture.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, keep an eye out for Part Two in ‘Prophetic Discernment in an Age of Disinformation.’

Kardiognostes | Only God Knows the Heart

“Even the depths of Death and Destruction are known by the Lord. How much more does He know the human heart?”1Proverbs 15:11 NLT

We are often deeply aware that we have problems in our relationships but how often do we fail to describe exactly what the source of the problem is. “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”2Proverbs 20:5 NIV One of the greatest skills of a counsellor (or a man or woman of understanding) is the ability to probe the deep places of the heart and to draw out the issues that have caused the impasse. Only then can the couple identify the source of the problem and begin to move forward to resolve the impasse.

Why would Solomon describe the purposes of a man’s heart as ‘deep waters?’ Well, the problem with deep waters is that you cannot see down to the bottom. At some point, as a diver goes deeper and deeper into the ocean the light fails to penetrate any further. What lies beneath becomes dark and mysterious. Without the aid of another light source those things that lie at the bottom of the ocean will never come to the light.

Only God fully knows the human heart. From Genesis to Revelation it is clear that apart from divine revelation we are completely cut off from the means of knowing the true condition of our own heart. Jesus is the consummate ‘Man of understanding,’ and He has come specifically to reveal the sinful and broken heart of humanity in order that those who are lost might come to repentance and salvation. Only a man or woman of prophetic understanding can draw out that which is hidden.

In fact, if we were to try to define the exact nature of the ministry of Jesus we could effectively say that He came to unveil people’s hearts and to unveil the heart of God toward broken people. Without this initial unveiling of the fallen condition of our hearts we cannot be saved. Once we have come into the kingdom of God we need to adjust our spiritual eyes to the light like a person who has emerged from years of living in the deep darkness of some subterranean cavern. Learning to live in the light means that we are learning to live in an intimate relationship with God who sees into the depths of our hearts but He loves us even in those times when we He sees us still living in bondage to sin and selfishness.

The Hidden Person of the Heart

As we have already seen, the Apostle Peter spoke about what he called the “hidden person of the heart.”31 Peter 3:4 Paul spoke of the ‘inner man’4Ephesians 3:16 or the ‘inward man,’52 Corinthians 4:16 and both of these ideas correspond to Peter’s concept of the hidden person of the heart. This ‘hidden person’ is the true inner person who needs to be distinguished from any false perception we may have generated about ourselves or which we may have projected upon others. It is not a matter of who we wish we were but who we are in reality. This is the person that God sees when He looks into our hearts.

The Greek word used by Peter for ‘hidden’ was ‘kruptos.’ This word means ‘concealed, private or secret.’ Paul used the same Greek word in 1 Corinthians 14:25 when he spoke of the “secrets of the heart.” He also used the word ‘kruptos’ when he said that God “will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.”61 Corinthians 4:5 NIV The language of the Scriptures continuously points us to the fact that, unaided by divine revelation, we are incapable of discovering or knowing the true condition of our hearts. We are entirely dependent on God for this knowledge.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jeremiah stated that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?”7Jeremiah 17:9 This verse states emphatically that no one, without the assistance of divine revelation, can come to an accurate knowledge of his or her own heart. Immediately following this verse Jeremiah wrote: “I the Lord search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”8Jeremiah 17:10. When God looks into the heart of the unbeliever this is what He sees.

God searches the heart and He tests the mind. The Hebrew word for ‘mind’ is ‘kelayot’ and it actually means “the kidneys” in ancient Hebrew. Colin Brown, the author of the Dictionary of New Testament Theology tells us that the kelayot are “frequently mentioned in close connection to the heart. They are, in a metaphorical sense, the seat of the deepest spiritual emotions and motives, so secret that men cannot fathom them. Only God is able to search and test them.”9Colin Brown; Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol. 2 p.181-2

As we have already seen, it is the Lord’s purpose to “bring to light what is hidden in darkness and [to] expose the motives of men’s hearts.”101 Corinthians 4:5 Jesus is claiming that He is the one who searches the deepest motives of the human heart. He is the One who spoke in Jeremiah 17:10. No-one can know the depths of the human heart except God. In Jeremiah 17:9 God searches the heart of the unbeliever but in Revelation 2:23 He searches the heart of the believer.

We read earlier in the book of Hebrews that “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”11Hebrews 4:13 In Proverbs we read, “Even the depths of Death and Destruction are known by the Lord. How much more does He know the human heart!”12Proverbs 15:11 NLT David was contemplating the awesome omniscience of God in Psalm 139 when he said,

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.13Psalms 139:1-6

While we may find the omniscience of God unfathomable to our finite minds we are faced with the reality that God knows everything about us, every single detail, every thought, every hidden attitude and every hidden motive behind our actions. Jesus said, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”14Matthew 10:30 Such knowledge is indeed beyond us but on every page of Scripture we are confronted with the truth of a God who numbers every grain of sand and every star in the sky. In the light of this revelation David exclaimed; “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!” It is truly breathtaking!

In the book of Acts we find Luke using a specific Greek word that is not used anywhere else in the Bible to describe God’s comprehensive knowledge of the human heart. The first time this word is recorded it was on the lips of the eleven Apostles as they sought to determine a replacement for Judas who had committed suicide. “And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen.”15Acts 1:24

The word that Luke used to describe this aspect of God’s omniscience was ‘kardiognostes’ which literally means “the knowledge of the heart.” In this context it appears to have been used almost as a divine title so that we could say; God is “the Knower of Hearts.” Peter, who reported the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles, also used the same Greek word: ‘kardiognostes.’ “God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us.”16Acts 15:8 NIV

This all-knowing God, who intimately searches our hearts and minds, does not look at people the way we do. Many of us would remember the words of Samuel the prophet on that remarkable day he came to the house of Jesse to anoint David as King over Israel; “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”171 Samuel 16:7

God consistently looks beyond outward appearances and looks deep into our hearts. Jesus spoke this discomforting reminder to the Pharisees, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.”18Luke 16:15 The outward religion of the Pharisees might have convinced those around them but it didn’t convince the Lord. God could look straight into their hearts and see through the walls of religious pretence.

For Solomon, the penetrating gaze of God into the human heart was one of the fundamental principles of divine revelation. On the day of the dedication of Solomon’s temple he prayed to God saying; “Forgive, and deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart: for you alone know the hearts of men.”192 Chronicles 6:30 David said to Solomon just before he died, “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.”201 Chronicles 28:9 NIV The hidden motives behind our thoughts and our actions are extremely important to God. He always perceives what motivates our behaviour even when we cannot.

It would seem that the entire foundation of David and Solomon’s thoughts orbited around this fact of infinite divine omniscience. The book of Proverbs is an encyclopaedia of these kinds of profound insights into God’s knowledge of the human heart. Solomon had been trained by the Holy Spirit to look beyond outward human appearance to the deeper issues of the heart. “All a mans ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”21Proverbs 16:2 The more I meditate upon the Scriptures the more this immoveable fact becomes the rock to which my life is anchored: God knows my heart and He searches my deepest motives. And even when He sees me still stuck in my brokenness He unconditionally loves me!

References

References
1, 12 Proverbs 15:11 NLT
2 Proverbs 20:5 NIV
3 1 Peter 3:4
4 Ephesians 3:16
5 2 Corinthians 4:16
6 1 Corinthians 4:5 NIV
7 Jeremiah 17:9
8 Jeremiah 17:10
9 Colin Brown; Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol. 2 p.181-2
10 1 Corinthians 4:5
11 Hebrews 4:13
13 Psalms 139:1-6
14 Matthew 10:30
15 Acts 1:24
16 Acts 15:8 NIV
17 1 Samuel 16:7
18 Luke 16:15
19 2 Chronicles 6:30
20 1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV
21 Proverbs 16:2

The Intimacy Paradigm

“The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God [the Father] and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”12 Corinthians 13:14 The Message

In 1990 I attended a Vineyard conference where the theme of intimacy with God was centre stage. My whole framework was profoundly challenged and my life was literally turned upside down. I was confronted with a quality and depth of ministry that was completely foreign to me. The speakers were flowing in the prophetic and words of knowledge were freely flowing through their lives. They were ministering into areas of the heart that hindered authentic intimacy with God and they were offering healing prayer to hundreds of broken lives. People streamed forward at the invitation and many people went through dramatic deliverance.

My life was transformed by that single conference. I had undergone a profound paradigm shift. I had embraced what I now call the ‘intimacy paradigm.’ But it is one thing to embrace something conceptually. I had turned a corner theologically and conceptually which set in motion a journey of moving from the head to the heart in order to become established in this new paradigm. Living exclusively from my head was no longer an option. I had been upgraded to a new level of reality and I could never be the same again. But living in the intimacy paradigm of an authentic heart journey with God has been the greatest challenge of my life as a believer. The Vineyard movement in the 1980’s and 1990’s were renowned for their pioneer work in new frontiers of intimate worship. Their CD series, ‘Touching the Father’s Heart’ helped me to go much deeper in my heart journey of devotion.

The centrepiece in this battle to lay hold of the revelatory knowledge of the heart of God is the pursuit of intimacy with God. If we are content to merely know God from a distance, to know about Him instead of knowing Him personally, experientially and intimately then that is all we will ever attain. I once heard a preacher facetiously say, “Blessed are those who expect nothing; they shall not be disappointed!” God has called us to such a depth of intimacy in relationship with Him that it massively transcends our intellectual comprehension. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”21 Corinthians 2:9

Paul taught that this intimate knowledge of the heart of God completely transcends our intellectual faculties. Theological knowledge is merely an invitation into the deep waters of spiritual intimacy. Those who have come into relationship with God through the new birth are now privileged “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”3Ephesians 3:19 This includes all theological knowledge.

And of course, God in His brilliance has already made a way for us. Through the new birth He places us in Christ, planting us right in the fiery centre of that most intimate of all relationships: the relationship between the Father and His Beloved Son. This new intimacy is a gift. It is not something we earn! John said, “Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God.” 41 John 4:15 The Message

Intimacy with God is intended to be the defining characteristic of the Christian. The essence of true spiritual intimacy is a oneness that is characterised by a deep supernatural love. Every Christian is intended to carry the aroma of divine intimacy so that their very presence invites others into their own experience of intimacy with God. Paul said, “Pray for the insight and ability to bring others into that intimacy.”51 Corinthians 14:13 The Message

We read in the Psalms a brief phrase that powerfully captures this call to radical intimacy with God: “Deep calls unto deep.”6Psalms 42:7 The inner depths of God’s heart cries out for intimate fellowship with the deepest places in the hearts of His children. We were designed and fashioned for intimate relationship, not only with God but also with other human beings. God is the very author of intimacy and He has created us in such a way that we will never be satisfied unless we experience this gift of deep spiritual intimacy. Gordon and Gail MacDonald, in the opening paragraph of their book, Heart Connections, discuss the nature of this intimacy.

If food is fuel for the stomach, intimacy is fuel for the soul. Without the one there is physical starvation, without the other there can be spiritual starvation. Intimacy implies a deep and lasting connection between persons. Age, intellect, class, gender, and all other such classifications are all irrelevant when it comes to experiencing this intense rapport. Yet some of the most intelligent and powerful people in our lives appear to know almost nothing about intimacy.7Heart Connections, Gordon and Gail MacDonald

As appealing as the concept may be it has proven as elusive to humanity as the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. For try as we will to reach this place where two hearts meet and stay connected, the promise somehow continues to elude us. As a pastor, the number one complaint I hear from people is the sense of not being able to connect with God in their hearts. The Apostle John came to the conclusion that the same factors that destroy intimacy with one another were the very same things that hinder intimacy with God. “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”81 John 4:20

Intimacy is all about relationships, whether that relationship is with God, our spouse, our children, our parents or our friends. Whenever we come face to face with a roadblock in growing closer to another person we will inevitably find that this very same issue will hinder us in drawing nearer to God. Our human relationships actually become a mirror which reflects the depth (or lack of depth) of our intimacy with God. Intimacy has to look like something! John said, “Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.”91 John 2:6 The Message

The moment we purpose in our hearts to seek to cultivate intimacy with God we must begin to deal with the deeper issues of the heart because intimacy is all about the connection of two hearts. Just as a married couple must work at cultivating intimacy in their marriage, so we must work at developing a closer walk with God. But if a Christian never sets their heart to pursue intimacy with God they will never come to understand just how many roadblocks there are in our hearts to growing in intimacy.

The tragedy is that many Christians are content to know all about God without ever experiencing the gentle touch of His warm embrace that comes when we seek to gain a firsthand, experiential knowledge of His heart. But once we embark upon this journey there is no going back. This is the ‘intimacy paradigm’ and it is an essential ingredient in developing a biblical understanding of the heart. For far too many Christians this intimate relational paradigm is totally foreign. We are strangers to the experiential knowledge of God and we have somehow become acclimatized to this sub-standard level of Christian experience.

In order to embrace the intimacy paradigm we must learn to cultivate the intuitive dimension of the heart. We may very well have a cognitive understanding of the concepts of intimacy and love but the reality of these concepts are embodied in the experience of love. The art of Christian love and intimacy is better ‘caught than taught.’ There is always a valid place for intellectual analysis in the Christian life but the experience of intimacy transcends rational analysis. It is an experience! As I mentioned in the first chapter, my own personal journey has been one of a slow and gradual deliverance from an ‘unfeeling heart.’ My capacity to feel and to express my feelings has been deeply compromised because I came from a highly unfeeling family but it was not their fault. They were the product of unfeeling parents where emotions were something to be avoided. Many people have grown up in a family where feelings were never expressed and this can exercise a crippling effect upon the heart. It creates a deep wound because love was never expressed and love simply cannot grow in an unfeeling heart.

Our ‘heart’ is that part of us which is able to experience the intimate touch of our loving Heavenly Father, whereas our minds are capable only of intellectual analysis.

If God seeks to draw us into intimacy with Himself He will not appeal to the intellect but to the heart. In fact, intellectual analysis has the capacity to kill all intimacy! Many Christians are so locked into ‘analysis mode’ that they are unable to experience any kind of intimacy with God. I often feel as though my own spiritual journey has largely been characterised by an attempt to escape the vice-like grip of cold-heartedness where so often I find myself continually stuck in my head. And I know that many other Christians can testify to the same struggle.If our rational and intellectual faculties stand in the way of entering into an intimate relationship with the Lord then ‘analysis’ must be recognised as a stronghold of the mind that is capable of hindering our spiritual growth.

Knowing God intimately and knowing His heart toward us is the very essence of the Christian life. Intimacy with God is the foundation of every aspect of the Christian life. Without this intimate knowledge of God’s heart we cannot enter into the fullness of our calling to participate with Christ in revealing the Father. This is the ultimate purpose of the intimacy paradigm and God is actively seeking to promote this paradigm shift among His people. Paul asserted that it is our high calling in God to pursue this intimate knowledge of the heart of God.

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection… Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.10Philippians 3:8-14 NIV

References

References
1 2 Corinthians 13:14 The Message
2 1 Corinthians 2:9
3 Ephesians 3:19
4 1 John 4:15 The Message
5 1 Corinthians 14:13 The Message
6 Psalms 42:7
7 Heart Connections, Gordon and Gail MacDonald
8 1 John 4:20
9 1 John 2:6 The Message
10 Philippians 3:8-14 NIV