Discerning the Subtle

Discerning the Subtle

In understanding the times, the bar has been raised in discerning the subtle means the enemy has been employing to undermine and derail spiritual leaders and agendas.

In October of 1996, following the funeral of our 30 year daughter, who had been murdered, I asked the Lord to help me understand. I wasn’t playing games of “what if” or “if only”, but rather I wanted to know what had been happening in the spirit-realm. What were the evil factors operating  that had contributed to the unexpected, violent death of one who had been serving the Lord. I did not expect the answer I got.

The insight I received pointed to subtle issues affecting and employed by ones wielding mantles of spiritual leadership. While it was a discernment issue, it was also a reflection of gaps, blind spots that can confuse success with God’s blessing and be tolerated in those in the ranks of leadership. These subtleties prey on the trust of the unsuspecting. They also mark the pride of position and power that never should be associated with the mature who are wielding spiritual leadership.

The issue clearly broached the dividing asunder between soul and spirit in setting the operating parameters between those within and those on a fast-track, closing in to the camp of the elite. It was an issue in which perceptions were defiled due to immature presumption. It unveiled the means by which the enemy usurps the anointing to employ the unsuspecting in accomplishing his agendas.

In short, it exposed short-sighted thinking, that in practical terms self-righteously employs subtle occult-based tools, such as slander and gossip, in the conduct of Christian affairs.

It called into question the words of Jesus that: “Many are called, but few are chosen.” It landed on the use of misguided tongues among the ranks of those regarding themselves as the “few,” but in reality are still serving as the “many,” who are in the proving stages among the called.

Today, it is no different, although the stakes are higher and so are the subtleties.

The Process of Maturity
I recently felt led to give a copy of a book to two Millennials with whom I’m acquainted. At the same age, as a young Christian, fervently pursuing God’s calling, this book had a profound influence on my life.

The book was Andrew Murray’s “Humility: The Beauty of Holiness.” I was by no means a baby Christian when I picked it up the first time. Yet, the truths it exposed me to in the first few chapters challenged my maturity level. Scripture tells us: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord.” The message and the spiritual subtleties of this book was more than I could absorb at that stage in my walk with the Lord. It was above my pay-grade. I was unable to finish my first reading of this book.

However, I prayed about its message and put it aside for another time. That time did come when the message represented a richness I had previously never encountered. Years later, I read it through a third time and got even more out it. He, Jesus, must increase and we must decrease. The outcome of this journey with Him can be summed up with that truth.

Rick Joyner speaks about the “cloak of humility.”

One of the young people I gave this book to embraced it with eagerness. The other, actually younger in the Lord than the first one I gave it to, but professionally more accomplished, was offended, eventually accusing what I considered a mix between being led by the Spirit and a father’s heart, of my being judgmental.

Humility. It will be the subtle things that differentiates the called from the chosen. In the process of spiritual maturity, pride, offenses, rejection, manipulation, self-ambition and the like are more than just indications of the carnal lurking. They are seedbeds of distortion and undermining, when ignored or allowed to operate as a pattern of leadership, that impede spiritual agendas, hearing God accurately and the potential of wholesome community growth. They represent a shroud over matters requiring finely-tuned discernment.

The Preparation and the Battle
In describing the full armor of God, Paul doesn’t mention the cloak of humility. As a man who in the 1960s spent over two years in hard combat, I understand why he didn’t. Paul was speaking about requirements at the time of battle. Rick Joyner is speaking about the times in-between the battles, where so much of the journey of our lives take place, in walking out our callings.

It is the same way in the military. The time between the battles is where the preparation and the discipline needed for the battle take place. It is during the times of preparation and discipline that we need to identify the subtle and root out the tendencies that get people hurt in the time of battle. It is where discernment is developed for the subtleties of battle.

Understanding the times. Within our own sphere, the early 1980s was a time following some amazing times of revival. Spiritually and economically, things were good with opportunity peaking and perhaps going higher.

I was a part of a group of hungry business owners who were meeting regularly for prayer, reaching for a dimension in God, that in retrospect was a precursor of what is now this marketplace move of God. At least a couple of the highly capable members of the group were in transition, awaiting God’s next steps for them. Vision and potential Kingdom-purposeful business strategies were being discussed. Each were reaching for more in God.

It was during this time that a man moved to our city. I remember having a sense of something strange when I was around him, but initially put it aside. This man began individually infiltrating the ranks of not only this group, but the spheres of other business and spiritual leaders within our community.

When I finally sat down with him one on one, he began telling me a story of how, following his father’s funeral and burial, his father had supernaturally appeared to him to give him instruction on the vision for the business initiative he had come to our city to fund and launch. Knowing Scripture forbids communication with the dead, I pulled back from further relationship with this man.

However, one of my good friends who was a part of this prayer group of hungry business owners, who had been the founder of the largest advertising firm in the state, was not so discerning. Despite warnings, what followed, as he partnered with this man and began financially getting behind the vision he was peddling, proved to be a shipwreck for him. He lost all his substantial assets and in the process his marriage went south. He had failed to recognize the subtleties of the battle he was in.

The Process of the Prophetic
The subtle things are not to be swept under the rug. Rather, they need to be immersed in prayer, allowing for the unwrapping of what may be hidden behind the first impression or preliminary spiritual insight. Like good planning, the prophetic is an ongoing process of continually looking deeper and more carefully into what is seen as unfolding, along with the strategy and the response to it.

This is becoming increasingly more important in today’s world in understanding the times. We have entered a time in which we cannot afford to skimp on this discipline and preparation. The realities around us are in flux and past assumptions may not carry the validity they once did. This crucible is tied to significant turnings and the outcome between the many who are called and the few who are chosen.

The soul issue that prompted the backlash of pride in the one who took offense at being given a book on humility represents the preparatory subtle things that need to be discerned before the battles. As I have on many previous times stated: “It is not what we can do for God, but rather what we allow God to do through us.” Give attention to the subtle things.

The Discipline of Discernment
Today, destinies are being determined by the maturity and discipline needed to accurately discern God’s guidance. The cloak of humility is a must for those times between the battles.

The discernment I received following our daughter’s funeral over two decades ago is not only still appropriate, but the subtleties being thrown at the elect, to distract and derail, are operating today at still higher and even more subtle levels. The elect are being targeted with subtleties of seduction designed not only to lower the standard, but to entice a shift to the carnal when nothing short of the spiritual will suffice.

The need to discern the subtle begs the question of whether the infiltrators are plants or simply misguided. Unfortunately, the impact is the same. Remember Judas. Likewise, Isaiah prophesied about replacing Shebna who had gotten his mantle and responsibilities so twisted and confused with his own ambition and carnal lusts that God sovereignly intervened to cut short the ripples from his foolhardiness.

Plants or misguided. Some may be identified by their ambition. It is always about them. Others reflect the observation of Paul in being those who are ever-learning, but never quite arriving regarding their knowledge and application of the truth. For these, it is always a head-thing. Discerning the subtle will uncover shaky foundations and the hidden things. If the foundations are defiled, then the fruit that results will be polluted and rotten.

Such ones taint and even corrupt the very vital issue of trust, which extends to more than just individual relationships. Trust is the basis on whether or not community, as God intended, will work or will fall short.

Those watchmen discerning these subtleties should give focus to the revelation needed to trigger the gift of repentance. If humility has become foreign to the perpetrators, then being humbled may be the last resort to a course correction. In either case, the unmasking will be God-directed, the timing of which will determined by either repentance or the humbling.

The Priority Beyond Yourself
In understanding the times, there are many who have been poised as Joseph was after prophesying to the baker and the wine-taster. Faithfully waiting. The enticements and subtleties have never been greater. The calling of Joseph was beyond him personally, which represented a dimension he had to enter before Pharaoh could have his dreams.

David also arrived at a place beyond himself. There was a time in David’s life, when having pulled out all the stops and seemingly having hit bottom, that the bottom dropped out. It was when returning to their base camp and their families at Ziklag, that David and his men learned that everything precious to them had been raided and taken.

David’s faithful followers had had it with David with the undercurrent within the ranks speaking of stoning him. Yet, in the face of that overwhelming situation, Scripture says that David inquired of the Lord.

The Thinking to Face the Spiritual Atmosphere
Ziklag in the Hebrew means despair. Yet David refused to be a victim. Despair was the spiritual atmosphere around him, impacting those who were his followers. David was prepared to resist this toxic spiritual atmosphere, demonstrating the thinking and leadership needed against the groundswell in the attitudes of his men as he sought the Lord.

Not only did the Lord answer David and tell him what to do to recover all that had been lost, but it released the authority for the turning into the long awaited promise for which David had been anointed by Samuel so many years prior. His actions set in motion, what was probably David’s greatest accomplishment in bringing all Israel together as one.

It was during that time following the darkness of the reality of Ziklag that David began walking in a dimension that Scripture describes as the Lord giving David victory wherever he went and winning a name for him (2 Samuel 8:6,13).

The Poise of the Soul for the Few Who Are Chosen
It was a time that keenly unveiled the subtle issue of our role in changing the spiritual atmosphere around us. This is the very vital dimension separating the many who are called from the few who are chosen. It begins and ends with our thought lives and the meditations of our heart that overcomes the toxic and the subtle occult enticements it carries.

While our thought lives are greatly impacted by the spiritual atmosphere around us, the subtleness of the task required, like David at Ziklag, bears on the choices we make. That choice is to resist the enticements sent by the enemy which in turn instead enables us to change the spiritual atmosphere around us. That is why it is so essential to spend that time with the Lord, to wash ourselves in His Word — to recalibrate from the often thoughtless, but nevertheless destructive assaults and clutter of what impacts us and what we pick up and are influenced by from the spirit realm around us. 

Ecclesiastes admonishes us to curse not the king in our bed chambers, neither in our thoughts, for the winged creatures will make the matter known to him.

We live in a time of incredible clutter and confusion in what is being spewed into the spiritual atmosphere. Yet the dividing asunder between soul and spirit that opens the gate into the realm in which the Lord gives you victory in all that you do and wins a name for you is based on what God’s word says for you, not on what comes from the clutter and clamor, or for that matter from those subtle tools of witchcraft that manifest as self-righteous gossip and slander laced with loose, misguided tongues.

Discerning the subtle involves majoring in the major things. It involves a resolve and alertness to reach for the God-standard. It is a refusal to accept or even entertain the short-cuts and the questionable. The Kingdom standard operates by a different playbook. For the times upon us, for the few who are chosen, that standard cannot be compromised.

He must increase and we must decrease. Yet in holding fast to this reality, it will be to the few who discerned the subtleties and paid the cost of waiting and faithfully preparing, who will not be disappointed. It will provide the unquestionable victory for the challenges that will mark the time of trouble prophesied by Jesus.


Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and spokesman for the higher dimensions of business leadership since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program, Mr. Ruddick imparts hope and equips economic community builders to be blessed to be a blessing where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.

He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.

Global Initiatives Foundation (www.strategic-initiatives.org) is a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 non-profit whose efforts are enabled by the generosity of a remnant of faithful friends and contributors whose vision aligns with God’s heart to mobilize economic community builders imparting influence and the blessings of God. Checks on US banks should be made out to Global Initiatives and mailed to PO Box 370291, Denver CO 80237 or by credit card at http://strategicintercession.org/support/

Likewise, email us to schedule a seminar for your group’s gathering on the Joseph-Daniel Calling or on anointing the creative in business.

2017 Copyright Morris Ruddick — info@strategic-initiatives.org

Reproduction is prohibited unless permission is given by a SIGN advisor. Since early 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors and leaders committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis. For previous posts or more information on SIGN, check: http://www.strategicintercession.org

One Comment

  1. Awoke this morning and read your article following my devotional time. We have seen a lot of things come into light over last few days and causing us to look at our own situations in life. Never read “Cloak of Humility” but plan to do so in the near future. Hope you are well as you continue to move forward in His calling on your life. Shalom.

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