My wife heard on the radio the other day that resistance to Bush is clearly “Satanic.” “Christian” radio is promoting some strange ideas, but this is one in particular to be very wary of.

We do need to judge spirits, but according to Jesus backwards judging of the spirits is very dangerous. He says there is an unpardonable sin, and it has to do with mis-judging spirits – calling movements of the Good Spirit satanic.

Remember this story? 1) Jesus cast out a demon. 2) The powers that be in the religious world said he was a servant of the devil. 3) Jesus said,

“I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

(Matthew 12:31,32)

They may have had problems with the history of Jesus, or with some of his teaching. But if they could not acknowledge that he really was going around doing good, then something was deeply wrong.

When you attribute to satan what is obviously good, well-intentioned and truthful, you are lining up with those Pharisees and hypocrites. And that is a place you don’t want to be.

And that’s what’s happening here.

I. Some Things that Clearly are NOT Satanic.

To speak out of a heart of integrity heavily burdened by the deceitfulness of this President and his regime (and it’s servants in the media) is NOT “Satanic.” It is just being honest.

To speak against contempt for the poor and catering to the wealthiest of the wealthy is not satanic. It is just caring what happens to your neighbor.

To speak for peacemaking and against dishonest, incompetent, and corrupt warmaking is not satanic. It is just trying to be a truth-teller and a peacemaker.

To speak against the manipulation of the churches into arrogant hatred of other Americans (and even of other Christians), as the radical right has done so much lately, is not satanic. To speak against false prophecy is just a way of trying to defend the truly prophetic.

II. When You Call the Activities of the Good Spirit “Satanic”, That is Blasphemy.

Jesus acknowledges that you could be wrong about him per se, and still be not a lost cause.

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven …” (Matthew 12:31,32)

But He seems to think you cannot be aggressively wrong about what is blatantly good and what is clearly bad in the realm of the spirit and still be reachable. You have lost a sense of the distinctions between what is holy and what is evil. You make yourself an outspoken servant of evil, and the good no longer exerts an attraction on you. You are really in trouble.

This is not always easy for a third party to judge. But the principle seems clear, and Jesus obviously thought himself competent to judge it.

When you see the good being done in a good manner by a good man – as they saw in Jesus – if you have any spiritual health or integrity you can at least recognize that good. You may have problems with the history of the person you are dealing with, or with some of their specific teachings. But if you cannot see and acknowledge those who are doing crucial good out of deep concern and at real risk to themselves, then you are negligent and need to start being more responsible, OR you have been very deeply corrupted.

III. Living in Fear is Not the Way Jesus Lived; It is Not the Way He Taught; It is Not the Effect of the Holy Spirit.

The American Christian right today peddles fear. It cultivates bogeyman jumpiness in the churches. And the fear becomes hate rather than hospitality (xenophobia rather than philoxenia – Titus 1:8, I Pet 4:9) There is also a refusal to practice listening to the truth as the antidote to fear. Without the antidote (truth and love) the condition just gets worse.

Conclusion

Judge the spirits. The spirit of fear, falsehood and hate is NOT the spirit of Christ. That, at least, we know for sure.

If we cannot see that many or most of those complaining about Bush and his ways are doing so JUSTLY, and on a basis of fact and truth, out of a deep concern for traditional American and ancient Christian values, then somehow or another we have become very deeply corrupt.

It is not a good sign. Obviously I am not The Judge. But I say we should be very careful about condemning those who are speaking the truth – it’s a very dangerous spiritual pattern to get into. It corrupts the judgment. So we find people who listen to voices like Rush because “he tells it like it is.” Wrong. He is a criminal, an inveterate liar, an abuser, a colossal hypocrite. If we cannot acknowledge where the liars really are we have a big spiritual problem.

“… out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

(Matthew 12:34,35)