11 May 2008

The gift of discerning of spirits.

Subtitled, “Beware of deceiving voices.”
At the Union Pentecostal Meeting, Chicago, Nov. 3, 1922.
Published in the Latter Rain Evangel, December 1922.

I want to speak to you this morning on the subject of the Gifts. These are days when all the saints need to be furnished with the graces and the gifts of the Spirit and we must keep in mind that it is impossible to find the gifts of the Spirit made manifest without the graces; they always work harmoniously and the person filled with the power of the Spirit will find that the one will help the other to strengthen the person in the needy hour.

We need a clear knowledge of the Word of God; we cannot put too much emphasis on that. Then I want to say also that God demands of every believer who has been baptized in the Holy Spirit that he should have some “acts” and if you do not have them you had better get face to face with God and demand from Him your acts. When I was baptized in the Holy Ghost I received from God an utterance as all people do when they receive the Baptism; it was not an earthly language, but heavenly, and I was satisfied that God had granted unto me the Comforter, the Holy Ghost. But for nine months after that I never spoke in tongues and then God gave to me the gift of tongues. I cannot say that I was very anxious or very hungry in asking for this as I was longing more that I might speak as the Spirit gave utterance but God knew what I needed to be able to help others along this line.

The next evening after I had received the gift of tongues, I was walking down the road, loaded with bundles and God came upon me mightily and tongues began to come forth in terrific force. I walked down the road without stopping, but soon I began to realize that this had no intelligence in it for me and neither was it a profit to anyone else. There were some men working in a garden near by and as soon as they heard this peculiar noise they stuck their heads through the fence to find out where it was coming from. Right then I said to God, “I will not leave till You give me the interpretation. You have poured forth a language, now You must interpret,” and suddenly God gave the interpretation and that message has been fulfilled to the very letter over and over again. Since that time I have always claimed the right to have the interpretation. I believe God wants us to be definite and I don’t want you to run away with any wrong impression; if you come out on anything else but a definite side then God has not spoken. I am not here to make children but men and women of you, men and women after the mind of God; in spirit we must be children but in understanding we must be men and women. So if God says to us that we must understand spiritual gifts you put your name right under that “must” and apply it as your very own. I believe as long as you dwell in the Spirit it is impossible for you ever to become twisted. You never heard of a Roman Catholic being filled with the Spirit as long as he was a Roman Catholic;* the same is true of a Russellite,* or a man who believes in New Theology.* Scripture is clearly against it for it says that no man can call Jesus, Lord except by the Holy Ghost and every man who has the Holy Ghost believes all the Bible. The man who is filled with the Holy Ghost is filled with that which gave the Bible; he is filled with the very matter of the Bible for the Word is Christ and the Holy Ghost has come to manifest Christ.

You will always find that all the blessings and all the manifestations of the power, of God which you receive, come always on the line of faith; every saved person is saved by faith and saving faith is not something which you can take down and then hang up again. The saving faith of God is a permanent thing which God gave and which will remain with you. It is a gift and because of that I know that everyone in this place can choose that gift but you have to come into that blessing under the shadow of the blood and claim your rights in the Scriptures. I want to say, however, that no man can come to God and claim His blessings if he knows that God can put His finger on any sin in his life. God never will hear sinners and if you expect any blessings don’t come to Him with sin in your life. When a man repents God is gracious and full of mercy and forgives all sin and that man can begin from that moment with the knowledge that God has removed the past from him.

There are two points in this 12th chapter of Corinthians which have helped me more than anything else and I am sure they will help you; one is this—Paul prayed for a keen conscience and also that he might not have his conscience seared. Do you know that a keen conscience is the greatest blessing anyone can have? A keen conscience is one which is easily disturbed, one which is easily broken and brought to repentance before God, one which will not permit you to sleep until everything is made right with your brother; a keen conscience is the place where God reigns supreme as a Refiner of fire.

What is a seared conscience? It is a conscience which once was keen but the person got out of the will of God and failed to repent after committing a sin. God could not come in before that sin was undone and the person went on sinning until he got to the place where he thought he had a right to sin. This is the most horrible place to be in. I pray that God will keep us in the place where we may hear His voice and heed it.

I want you to notice that I am trying to show you, by the grace of God, that if you keep in the fulness of the Spirit you will have such a revelation of the Word of God in your life that it will save you and keep you from stumbling. “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth him.” And, “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord.” He shall hide thee in the secret place, in the cleft of the rock, and in the time of adversity He shall raise up a standard against the enemy. It is the Lord who reigns supreme over His household whose House ye are, His establishment, and ye shall not be moved. This means that God establishes His Kingdom in you and in me. Oh how we need to be filled with the joy of the Lord which is our strength and to have a fresh inflow of His life and love!

A man who is filled with the Spirit must have three things flowing through him; the ministration, operation and manifestation of the Spirit. It is to your detriment if you have not these three working in your life. If you are to keep your path all clear and bright you must remain steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. We must abound in hope, rejoice in tribulation and then God will make straight paths for our feet. The man who has faith is never ruffled; he does not run off as if he had been shot but he is always resting, knowing that God is over all. We must understand these principles because faith is God. Faith is the knowledge of God. Faith is that which lays hold, which will not let go. Faith is inwrought God, faith is God inwrought; faith is that which brings heaven on earth and lives in it.

The word which God would bring before us this morning is found in the 10th verse of the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians: “To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.” The first we have to deal with is the discerning of spirits. Perhaps this is the most necessary thing in this present day. In connection with this we must speak on the different kinds of voices for so many people are disturbed by voices. They have an idea that it is the voice of God but begin to find themselves in difficulty as a result of obeying that voice. We are told in the 4th chapter of the Epistle of John that we must be able to discern the spirits. “Beloved, believe not every spirit but try the spirits, whether they are of God.” So God would have us know the difference between false prophecy and the spiritual, divinely appointed prophecy.

There are voices of all descriptions. I have for some time had to deal with people along this line. If ever you find a person under the power of the evil one you will find that that spirit will never acknowledge that Jesus came in the flesh; so if you want to test any spirit you can tell by that, because often the voice will come right out and say, “No, Jesus did not come in the flesh,” and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus came in the flesh is not of God. In the 4th chapter of Luke we see how Jesus dispelled the power of Satan. If you test a false spirit by the inward presence it will disturb the peace of God and you will know it is of Satan. Make that thing worship the Christ within and the devil will flee. No person need be captured at any time with an evil thought, because we are to understand the wiles of the devil. Many people are disturbed with thoughts, evil thoughts which usually come early in the morning, but if these are tested the person will always find that they will deny that Jesus came in the flesh. Perhaps some will ask, “Is not that a gift of the Spirit to discern the spirits?” Yes, it is a gift, but I want to say right here that if you are living in the fulness of the Spirit you will have this gift at any moment when needed. It will not be an abiding gift, just a gift for the needy moment. Every one of you without exception will find that as you go on and on with God you will have to be in the Spirit of God or you will be a failure. It is not possible to love the present evil world and have the Holy Ghost within; you cannot love carnality and have the Holy Ghost. When the Holy Ghost comes in, every evil power will be dispelled till your whole body is free from sin and death. Oh you need to be filled with the Holy Ghost to be ready at any moment for Satan’s power!

I want to show you how terribly deceiving these voices can be. One time when I was ministering in a certain place, two young ladies came into the room about five o’clock in the afternoon and instantly we perceived that something had taken place. One of them had on white kid gloves which were spotted with blood. The excitement of these two ladies was such that one could see there was no peace abiding within. If ever you get out of the will of God and Satan comes in you will find there is no rest. I have learned that if anything disturbs my peace it is always Satanic. Neither one of these girls was willing to tell us what had happened. Now that is another way to test voices; God never reveals anything that you cannot tell on the housetop; everything God says to you, you can preach out and if you feel you dare not tell what you have heard this voice telling you, you may be sure it is evil. I know people pride themselves that God speaks to them differently from everyone else; if ever you get to that place you are on the wrong track, you are going one notch downward. It is the false pride of the devil. Some people seem to believe that the devil comes around only with horns and a long tail, big ears and big eyes. Don’t you believe it; the devil was turned out of heaven because of his pride and you must never forget that he is called the “angel of light.” He has never lost that pride. And to you ministers I would say that whenever a person comes to you and says, “I never heard a man preach like you,” you can make sure that is the voice of the devil every time.

These two girls were working in a telegraph station and Satan came as an angel of light to one saying, “If you will obey me, I will make you the biggest and the best preacher in the world.” Now God never speaks that way. The girl became so excited about this and was sure it was the voice of God. She asked off from work for an hour and she became more excited as the voice repeated those words over and over; she got so worked up that she dug her nails into her flesh until the blood came. Then the voice further said to her, “You go to the station at 7:30 and, a train will come in. Buy two tickets. Don’t tell anyone what I have said except your sister. You will find a train leaving for Glasgow at 7:32. When you have purchased the two tickets you will have six pence over.” Sure enough after she had the two tickets she had the six pence left. “Oh,” you say, “that surely was the Lord speaking to her.” Then another part of the message came true for the train came in exactly at 7:32. She was to find in one of the coaches a gentleman sitting with his back to the engine and this man was to have all the money that the girl wanted and was to have it deposited in a certain bank. It needed only brains to think it out, but the people who get to that place do not use their brains and will not let anyone else think for them. They say, “Don’t you try to stop me for no one can stop me. You do not need to talk to me, you have not had the Lord speak to you.” This is a dangerous place. These two girls went up and down the coach, the full length of the railway train and failed to find anyone fitting that description. Someone said she had better come down for the next train, so they stayed there until nine o’clock. Then the voice said to her, “Now that I have found you will obey me, I will make you the best and biggest missionary in the world.” You have no idea what it took to get those two girls out of that awful delusion, but God prevailed and both are now on the mission field doing good work. Never be unwilling to take advice for God has other people who know His voice and you must be willing to learn.

While ministering in another place I had a letter from York, England, saying that they had about fourteen people who were seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit. They were asking me to come and give them a few addresses on this important subject. So I went and upon arriving I heard the best news anyone could wish to hear. The people said, “We have had one of the finest men to join us that you have ever seen; he is a fine teacher. We will just wait and see if he receives the Baptism and then we are thinking of keeping him here as pastor.” That was all very good. The preaching went on and God manifested Himself; the power of God came down and people began seeking. About 10:30 that night we saw this promising young man laid out under the power of God. The saints could hardly keep quiet, they rejoiced so over God’s dealings. They would say, “Now we have him; when he receives his baptism we will have the best man,” and they were so jubilant. Everything went well and then about 11:30 the power of God slew him and divine utterance came forth and we were all so glad and had a good time praising God. When he was getting ready to go home the saints came around and said, “Oh, we are so glad you got through! you certainly are the best teacher.” And then one woman went up to him and said, “I shouldn’t wonder if you were not the second John the Baptist.” That night, while on his way home, the devil came to this young man and said, “I shouldn’t wonder if you were the second John the Baptist.” But he was able to throw it off and would have nothing to do with the voice. But listen, in the middle of the night the devil awakened him, “You are John the Baptist. Arise.” He was unable to shake that off and the next day he went up and down the street shouting, “I am John the Baptist.” Who spoiled him? The saints. Who was to blame for his downfall? Those people who should have had more sense. Never tell a preacher how wonderful he is. He knows he is nothing if he is in the right place, and don’t you try to make him something. If you do you will get out of the will of the Lord and get him out, too. Is there deliverance for these people? Oh, how we need to distinguish the voice of God from that of Satan. We need to know that God the Holy Ghost has a better plan for us than that. I have met such wrecks. I came across one of the finest men in the ministry, such a good teacher who had been blessed to all the assemblies. It makes me weep now to think of it. You couldn’t teach him anything and if you spoke to him he would tell you that God had not spoken to you as to him, adding, “Don’t you know that God has made me a prophet?” You couldn’t move him.

The important point is, How can we tell the difference between the voice of Satan and the voice of God? It is very simple. If you don’t aspire to be something you will never get into that dangerous place; it is when your own heart desires it that the devil can switch you there. Never desire to be anything, for in the true Christian’s life no man wants to be anything but desires Christ to be his all and in all; it is to live only for the glory of God, to be filled with the power of God, to be kept at all times in that place where you know you are nothing and can do nothing but for the grace of God. If you ever think you are anything of importance consider Jesus and if you consider Jesus you will find there is no room for exaltation, only brokenness of heart and contriteness of spirit. The Kingdom of God is brought forth in righteousness and truth. What is truth? Truth says that Jesus is the Way; truth says that Jesus is the ideal for us, and we must be like Him; no man who truly follows Jesus and reads the words in Philippians can say any more about himself. Jesus who was the Son of God made Himself of no reputation, took on Himself the form of a servant and humbled Himself even to the death of the cross.

Discerning of Spirits. How much we need it! Sometimes I have been shut in for weeks with demon-possessed men and in the middle of the night-watches these evil spirits have jumped upon me but in the midst of it I have held my ground for God and prayed the man right into perfect deliverance. I am especially reminded of one man. I was shut in for weeks with him and every time an evil spirit was cast out of him it leaped on me. The last one to be cast but laid hold of me so that I had to deliver myself first before I could deliver any one else. In this case the evil spirits used to come out of this man and bind me so that I had to stand still. I couldn’t move and the man who was possessed would stand and look at me. As I commanded the evil spirit to leave I would be free again. That man today is perfectly delivered and preaching the Gospel. It took someone who would lay hold of God and not let go until the work was completed. I have learned many things by experience, and if I can make you see this morning that you never will be anything I will be able to get something done here. Anything that is not done for the glory of God is not worth having; God sees in secret and will reward openly; we will have to have secret power with God; we will have to meet God face to face in the closet and then we can come out strong for Him.

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Apostle of Faith

  1. “First the blade…”
  2. An helpmeet for him.
  3. “Then the ear…”
  4. Endued from on high.
  5. After receiving the Baptism.
  6. The ministry of healing.
  7. In labors more abundant.
  8. Miracles in Australia and New Zealand.
  9. Visits to Switzerland and Sweden.

Ever Increasing Faith

  1. Have faith in God. (12/22)
  2. Deliverance to the captives. (2/23)
  3. The power of the name. (1/23)

Faith That Prevails

  1. The faith that comes from God. (9/22)
  2. Like precious faith. (10/14/22)


I started this site ’cause I took a Pentecostal history class in grad school, used several Wigglesworth articles for a paper, and rather than just throw away my source materials, I stuck ’em on the internet. I’ve been adding to them since. Thanks for the encouraging feedback!

Yes, the Wigglesworth articles are edited for spelling, punctuation, paragraph breaks, and verse references. But that’s all. Most of the source materials are transcripts of what he spoke aloud, so I believe such alterations are justifiable. I’ve included scans of the original publications in case you wish to compare. Any further typos are because the OCR software made them and I didn’t catch them. Sorry.

If you come across another version of these articles with significant differences (including in print!) it’s because their editor decided to take further liberties with Wigglesworth than I would. There comes a point when such editing becomes less about Wigglesworth’s own words, and more about editors wishing to reshape Wigglesworth to suit them. Or the times. There are certain things Wigglesworth said and taught where I personally can’t agree, and honestly don’t believe the scriptures back him up. (You want my view, visit Christ Almighty.) But as an historian I’m posting what he said, disagreements or not. I wouldn’t appreciate it if people bent my words in like manner, and I’m not editing him for anyone’s theological sensibilities—neither mine nor yours.

You have my permission to link to this blog, and make fair-use quotations of it. But as for republication, the rights don’t belong to me. Thanks to Disney’s continued lobbying for copyright extensions, they won’t be out of copyright in the United States till 2042—if ever. So the copyrights belong to Wigglesworth, the respective publications, and their successors. All rights reserved.

Bible links go to good old Bible Gateway. Wigglesworth used the Authorized (King James) Version, and any discrepancies are because he impressively quoted from memory.

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—K.W. Leslie

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