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Are You Confident That You Know How To Test The Spirits?

Aug 4, 2008
It is perhaps surprising that even mature Christians struggle to explain how to test the spirits as we are commanded to do.

1 John 4 v 1 says, '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.'

Jesus makes it very clear in Matthew 7 v 22 that in the last days there will be people who prophesy in the name of Jesus, who will cast out demons in the name of Jesus and who will perform miracles in His name, but to whom He says, 'Away from me you evil doers I never knew you'.

Disturbing reading ~ but how can we recognise a false prophet?

1. When we know the 'real', the 'genuine' then it is much easier to recognise the false. How well do we know our Heavenly Father? The Almighty, Holy Creator of the Universe'? What is the passion of His heart? The more we know Him, the quicker we will recognise the counterfeit.

2. The Creator's instructions are all in our manual. The better we know the Bible the quicker again we will see deviations. Anybody who says or does anything that contradicts what is in scripture is a false prophet. We are not talking here about people who love their God but do wrong as for example David with Bathsheba from which he had to repent. We are speaking here of people in an authoritative position who teach things that are not scriptural; who employ practices that are not scriptural; who enlarge upon scripture in such a subtle way that sounds good but which actually lead to ideas or experiences that are not scriptural.

3. If we have followed our Lord's command to repent' believe and be baptised then we will have gone on to be baptised in the precious Holy Spirit (Acts 2 v 38). Our relationship with Him is crucial. Those who have been baptised in Holy Spirit have Holy Spirit living with them. We cannot have more of Him or less of Him ~ we either have Him or we don't. We can allow Him to speak to us more clearly and flow through us in more power by spending time with Him and studying the Word, by getting to know Him more. Let Him teach us (John 14 v 26).

Jeremiah 17 v 9 says, 'the heart is deceitful above all things'. We often accept deceptions because of our own carnal nature. They look good, sound good, feel good or appeal to us. The forbidden fruit appealed to Eve and look at the consequences for the whole of mankind!

We would do well to question everything, chat to Him about everything, study His Word and heed that inner small voice. Allow Him to change us.

4. A sign of a false prophet is if the prophecy he gives doesn't happen but that could entail waiting weeks, months or in some cases even years.

Some people like to sit on the fence saying 'let's wait and see'. They refer to Gamaliel in Acts 5 v 38 ~ 39 who said that if the activity is of man it will fail, and if it is of God we don't want to be seen to be fighting God!

This 'wait and see' approach is leaving it too late in these last days. Gamaliel of course, was a Pharisee and was speaking to the Sanhedrin, the elders of Israel. They were religious people but not believers. As with religious people everywhere, they were not able to understand the spiritual side of the situation which is evident by the fact that there is no mention by Gamaliel of the work of the enemy. It is, therefore, understandable that they took a 'wait and see' approach.

Believers cannot afford to take such an approach.

Let's take a slightly more detailed look at this testing the spirits. Acts 2 v 42 says, 'they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer'. The early church and new believers needed to be taught and so do we.

What are the apostles doctrines? Hebrews 6 v 1-2 says, 'Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrines, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement'. How well do we know these elementary doctrines of our faith?

How often have we gone to hear speakers on the recommendation of someone else? We've liked what we've heard and we've gone forward for prayer with the laying on of hands. Have we had time to test what they have had to say with scripture? We accept the writings of Paul to be sound and part of scripture which is right but it wasn't always so. In Acts 17 v 11 Paul was preaching to the Bereans and it is said that, 'they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true'. How can we possibly judge the soundness of a speaker without examining the Scriptures?

What does Paul mean when he writes to Timothy saying, 'do not been hasty in the laying on of hands and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure'? (1 Tim 5 v 22). If we receive prayer with the laying on of hands from someone who is walking in error according to the Scriptures can we become contaminated? Is this why Paul says 'Keep yourself pure'?

Another simple test is, does what is being said or done by the power of Holy Spirit bring glory to Jesus? If the Father is not being glorified in every action and teaching then step back and see if it is really a work of Holy Spirit. Does the speaker draw attention to himself/herself? Sadly much glory is for the benefit of the speaker.

Money! Oh this is likely to raise more emotions than everything else put together! Look at the lifestyle of the speaker ~ what happens to the money you give? Is it helping to bring the gospel to the nations? Is it helping to clothe and feed the poor? Is it helping to care for orphans and widows?

Remember Jesus said, 'Away from me you evil doers, I never knew you'. Watch, fast and pray to seek the truth of this word from Jesus.

Finally Hebrew 5 v 14 says, 'But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil'. Let's be diligent in seeking Him, studying His Word and grow up into Him the author and perfecter of our faith.
About the Author
Copyright 2008 Penny Shellswell Jointly leads training courses in Intimacy with the Father. Holy Spirit is stirring believers across the UK to intercession. True intercession is touching God's heart for His strategy, with our prayer and travail until God's assurance is received. The goal? Winning the lost and dying of the UK through the setting up of 800 Intercession groups. www.OutOfAfrica-uk.org
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