Understanding the character and ways of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, will help us to distinguish between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, the will of God and deception. It is important to separate and test what we feel (our emotions) from what we think (our reason/intellect), when we need to discern a situation. If you wonder whether it is God or the devil at work in your life, you will find the following opposites a useful exercise to discern who is at work.
- Love versus hate: The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of love. Everything that falls within the framework of mercy, love and grace belongs in the Kingdom of God: love for one’s neighbour, love for one’s enemies, love for God and love of the truth. When Satan is at work, there is hate, indifference, contempt and disdain for God, one’s neighbours and one’s enemies. Where there is no love, God is not at work.
- Obedience versus disobedience: God’s Kingdom requires obedience from both people and angels. Within the Trinity, even the Son and the Holy Spirit are obedient to the Father. (Hebrews 5:8). When Satan is at work, disobedience, rebellion lawlessness and self-righteousness reign. When God works, people subject themselves to one another, and there are order, authority and submission: Children submit to their parents, employees submit to their employers, church members submit to the authority of the church, wives submit to their husbands and all believers submit to God.
- Holiness versus unholiness: When God is at work through the Holy Spirit, all is pure, holy, clean, transparent, in the light. Nothing is hidden; everything is transparent. Satan flourishes on impurity, immorality, perversity, sin, unholiness, filth – everything is in darkness; there is a pretence of honesty, but many things are hidden.
- Giving versus taking: Jesus was completely unselfish and selfless in all that He did. He gave Himself without expecting payment or reward. He came to teach us how to live selfless lives, to be generous, and to live lives full of grace and mercy. Jesus came to give: To give His life, to give us gifts, to give us the Holy Spirit, to give us eternal life. When Satan is at work in people’s hearts, there is selfishness, self-promotion, greed and ambition. He prompts people to gather as much as they possibly can for themselves, because they “deserve” it. With Satan, there is hoarding; not giving. People go overboard – they are greedy and stingy, and they find it very difficult to part with their belongings. In particular, they collect things that can be destroyed by moth and rust.
- Truth versus lies: The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of Truth. Jesus is the Truth and whatever comes from God is Truth. The devil is the father of all lies. When lies abound, God is not involved. Satan works with injustice, iniquity and fraud. God is never associated with fraud. Christians should never be involved in any form of fraud, falsehood or injustice.
- Hope and faith versus despair and doubt: The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of Hope. Hope characterises every aspect of a Christian’s life. When God is present, there is hope. All God says and does is born out of hope. The kingdom of Satan is one of despair, darkness, disbelief and doubt. When there is despair, darkness, unbelief and doubt, God is not at work.
- Humility and brokenness versus haughtiness and pride: Jesus said, “Learn from Me humility and gentleness.” When the Spirit of God is at work in the life of a Christian, they are characterised by humility, gentleness, brokenness, a willingness to sacrifice self-interest and to take on the position of a servant, putting others first. They do not seek recognition. They are willing to crucify ‘self’ and be the least. When Satan gains access to people’s hearts, there is self-elevation, seeking to honour oneself, recognition, pride, arrogance, snobbery, unbrokenness, affectation, superciliousness and boasting.
- Peace versus unrest: When God is at work, there is peace, satisfaction, restfulness and stability. When Satan does something, it is characterised by instability, war, arguments, anger, fighting, backstabbing, antagonism, envy, unrest and dissatisfaction.
- Unity versus dissension: God’s Kingdom is characterised by unity, being in unison, agreement and consent. Satan’s kingdom is characterised by division, strife, discord, factions and schisms.
- Gentleness versus hardness of heart: Where the Spirit of God is at work, there is gentleness, soft-heartedness, empathy, sympathy, mercy and grace. When Satan is at work in people’s hearts, they become hard-hearted, cold, unapproachable, brutal, merciless, cynical, critical and judgmental.
- Patience versus haste: In the Kingdom of God, there is patience, understanding, restfulness and self-control. When Satan is at work, he drives us to be hurried and overly hasty. He makes us impatient; he causes insanity, desperation and hysteria in our lives.
- Certainty versus uncertainty: In God’s Kingdom, there is certainty of salvation; there are security and balance. In Satan’s kingdom, there is uncertainty, imbalance, doubt and a life without purpose or meaning. When Satan is at work, people are full of fear, doubt and uncertainty. Where the Holy Spirit is at work, the fruit of the Spirit prevails: Love, joy, peace, patience, friendliness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-restraint. (Galatians 5:22-23).
Article taken from “Knowing the will of God” by Bennie Mostert