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.’

Apostolic Mission | The Sending of Sons

The orphan to son paradigm is the definitive apostolic paradigm of the heart. This is the paradigm that Jesus, the Beloved Son brought from heaven to earth. “God so loved the world that He sent His Son!” The Father sent forth His Son because only a Son can reveal the Father. Everything about sonship prophetically declares the reality of fatherhood and everything about fatherhood prophetically declares the reality of sonship. Jesus said to the orphanage of humanity; “I will come to you!” His mission was to come to the orphans to miraculously absorb them through the new birth into the same dimension of divine union with the Father that He Himself has eternally enjoyed.

The apostolic mission of Jesus is not complete until the love with which the Father loved Him is experientially established within the hearts of the adopted sons and daughters. Salvation is not the goal, it is merely the gateway of access into the love of the Father. Once this love has been experientially restored to the human heart He can then say to us, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”1John 20:21 The apostolic paradigm is all about ‘sending.’ An apostle is a ‘sent one.’ Jesus told a parable about the wicked vinedressers who had commandeered the vineyard; a metaphor for the nation of Israel.

A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty- handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty- handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him. ’But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.”2Luke 20:9-16

The Father speaks over humanity in their lost and broken state and says, “I will send My Beloved Son!” God has now spoken through His Son. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” 3Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV The Apostle John said, “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become the sons of God; children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” 4John 1:12,13

Both Paul and John were sent forth by the Father. They became apostolic fathers because they had fully embraced the apostolic paradigm of the heart. Both of these glory-filled sons made this paradigm the core of their preaching ministry in order to raise up a generation of beloved sons and daughters who would enter into the fullness of the joy of the life of the beloved. They understood that it was the glory of the Father to send forth a company of beloved sons and daughters into the world, whose sonship would prophesy of the love of the Father, just as Jesus’ Sonship revealed the glory of His Father. “We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” 5John 1:14 NIV

Paul focused upon the glory of our adoption and John focused upon living in the love of the Father. “Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.”61 John 3:1 There is nothing more prophetic on the face of the earth than orphans becoming beloved sons and daughters. This is the heartbeat of apostolic/prophetic ministry. Jesus, the ultimate prophet, prophesied of the glory and love of the Father. The deepest essence of His prophetic ministry was to reveal the love of His Father and to bring adopted sons and daughters into the rich experience of the Father’s love. Whenever ‘prophetic ministry’ is dislocated from the revelation of sonship it becomes a bastardized message. The writer of Hebrews described Christians who reject the loving discipline of the Father as “bastards and not sons.”7Hebrews 12:8 KJV

God is again seeking to restore the fullness of true prophetic and apostolic ministry where He speaks through His beloved sons and daughters to this orphan generation. God speaks through His sons. The essence of human brokenness is defined in the word ‘orphan;’ but the essence of human wholeness is defines in the word ‘son.’

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References

References
1 John 20:21
2 Luke 20:9-16
3 Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV
4 John 1:12,13
5 John 1:14 NIV
6 1 John 3:1
7 Hebrews 12:8 KJV