- Dr. Jeff Horacek
Jesus or Satan~Who's Sitting Next to You?
~An Exercise in Critical Thinking and Spiritual Discernment~
Critical thinking is disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, reasoned, logical, analytical, and informed by the available facts, evidence, observations, and arguments to form a judgment that strives to be unbiased and open-minded. Emotions are not excluded but tempered with clarity of thought.
Spiritual discernment is the distinctive ability to perceive with assurance whether certain behaviors or words, purported to be of God, are truly of God, merely human, or actually satanic in their origin. It is a sensitive and insightful perception of the Word of God and the things of God and anything that is insincere or otherwise. Spiritual discernment requires knowing and understanding God’s Word, a strong relationship with the Holy Spirit, and a sensitivity to the Divine Whisper.
In our electronic-information age, we are constantly bombarded with information, much of it true, but much of which is partial, biased, misrepresented, deceptive, or clearly false. As diligent assimilators of this information, we must use both critical thinking and spiritual discernment to determine the truth and think, speak, and act accordingly. As Christ-followers, we must use our critical minds and the Word of God and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit into understanding and living in all truth.
~So here is the exercise~
You’re sitting alone in a room, and in walks a man who looks just like the Jesus you know in your mind, and he sits down next to you. A moment later, another man walks in who looks precisely the same and sits down next to you on the other side. Both men are dressed the same, look exactly the same, and sound the same as they speak. They appear identical in every perceivable way, yet you know that one must be the real Jesus, and one must be an imposter, the masquerader, Satan.
What one identical question could you ask each man to determine Jesus from Satan?
(We’ll assume that each man must give an answer, and one man truly is Jesus.)
On a good day, if your spiritual discernment is impeccable, the Holy Spirit may clearly indicate who’s who. But you must be correct, so you initiate your excellent critical thinking skills to ask a single question that will prove the correct identity of each and expose the scheme of the enemy by their own answers. Being the exemplary Christ-follower that you are, you know the Word of God quite well, and the following Scriptures guide your critical thinking and what question to ask each man.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 NIV
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 NIV
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31 NIV
Concerning Spiritual Discernment
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:1–3 NIV
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 NIV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NIV
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14 NIV
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9–11 NIV
Jesus is the light without darkness, life eternal, the way to heaven and the Father, and the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Satan is the antithesis of Jesus—pure evil and darkness without light, death and destruction, the liar and father of lies without truth, the pusher of propaganda and cunning deceiver, and the greatest masquerader.
So, what question will you ask? Hopefully, you’ll do some critical thinking and seek the Holy Spirit for direction. There are probably many versions of this scenario available and possible responses, but here is the question that I would ask and why:
“Is Jesus Christ the Son of God, the One to be worshiped?”
This is a polar interrogative question requiring a simple yes/no answer. Any answer other than a yes/no (or equivalent affirmative/negative) is an answer of attempted deception, skirting or side-stepping the question to avoid a direct answer. Clearly, the only correct answer is “Yes” or “He is,” both stating the affirmative, and this is precisely what Jesus would answer. Jesus, being truth, is not the author of confusion, but Satan will answer indirectly in a clever and deceptive way. Now you can begin your questioning to determine who is who.
Proceed by asking your question to the first man who walked in. For ease of discussion, let’s assume this is Jesus, and He answers “Yes” to your question. That is the correct answer, but you still need to ask the other man your question as well because if this first man were Satan, he would be cloaking himself in deception to fool you, as is the character of the masquerader. You then ask the second man who entered the room your question. If this second man was Satan, let’s critically examine his possible answers and how you would positively identify him as the liar.
· Silence. We’ve assumed that each man will answer your question, but Satan, of course, never plays by rules. Not to worry—silence would be an indicator of Satan, the deceiver.
· “No.” By answering “No,” Satan would be acting according to his lying nature, but this would instantly give him away as being Satan himself, the liar, since the question must be answered in the affirmative to be truthful. Satan is much too clever and cunning to answer in this way.
· “Yes.” This possibly could be an answer that Satan might give, and if so, you have a bit of discernment to enact. That would be stating the truth, something contrary to the nature of Satan, but he is the great manipulator and masquerader. However, both men cannot be Jesus. But by stating yes to the question, Satan has condemned himself as he has affirmed the very fact that he so ruthlessly opposes—that Jesus is the Son of God and the only one worthy of worship—the one thing that Satan himself desires. Therefore, at that point, you can command in the name of Jesus that Satan, the imposter, bow down and worship the true Jesus according to Philippians 2:9–11 above. Satan must oblige or, at the very least, walk away in defeat (all things in God’s time). Again, the answer of yes is highly unlikely due to the character and nature of Satan.
· “I am he.” This is the response that I would expect from Satan—covert, cunning, clever, and deceptively seeming to be an affirmative answer. But it is a direct avoidance of the truth. It is claiming to be Jesus without affirming that Jesus is the Son of God, the One to be worshiped. The question has not been answered, and a false claim has been made instead. That is exactly what Satan would do. Any such avoidance of a direct answer would immediately identify Satan.
You’ve done it! Using your critical thinking and spiritual discernment, you have uncovered the schemes of the enemy and stopped him in his tracks. Well done, good and faithful servant!