Discernment – Testing the Spirits
Spiritual Discernment: All doctrine, sermons, books and articles as well as discussions between people or at seminars and conferences should be able to be put to the test by all Christians to determine if they reflect Biblical Truth. The bible says:
- 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world”.
Discernment of False Doctrine
Every message of a religious nature, even some messages that are not religious but subliminally New Age have two dimensions to it; either the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth is at work, or an anti-Christ spirit of error is at work, who’s intentions are to deceive the whole world, most importantly to deceive as many people within the church as possible.
- John 16:13; “13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
- 1 John 4:6; “6We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
- 2 Peter 2:1-2; “2 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.”
How to Test the Spirits
How does one test? By carefully comparing the message with a fine toothcomb to the Word of God so as to determine if the message is authentic. If one does not test everything that is heard or read to the Scriptures, false teachings can be so easily incorporated into our thinking, and only because we lack Biblical knowledge.
- 2 Corinthians 11:3-4; “3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicitythat is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted-you may well put up with it!”
The Bereans listened to Paul’s Gospel message and then examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was saying was indeed true. Their eagerness and enthusiasm for the Scriptures as well as their high regard for the Apostle Paul did not stop them from critically and studiously examining what Paul had to say to ensure that what they believed was in full agreement with the Word of God.
- Acts 17:11; “11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
All Christians needs Discernment
A Christian needs discernment in order to correctly understand the Word of God. And it’s only the Holy Spirit who can provide us with spiritual discernment. The Holy Spirit enlightens the Christians mind to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy spirit will always guide the Christian in all truth and glorify Jesus Christ.
- John 16:8-13-14; “8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me;” …. “13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”
Newly converted Christians who are now ‘babes in Christ’, will not immediately understand all areas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have to be first fed with ‘milk’ or the basic principles of the Word of God. But as time goes by as you are filled by the Holy Spirit and He leads you into all truth you will no longer require milk, but solid food. A Christian should not be tosses to and fro between different doctrines; he should be able to demonstrate that he is capable of strong spiritual discernment.
- 1 Peter 2:2 “2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”
- Hebrews 5:12 “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”
- Ephesians 4:14; “14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,”
The new Christian most certainly will learn very quickly and come to understand the basic fundamentals of the Gospel of Salvation, but will still have a long travel ahead of them to become true strong spiritual Christians. They will however experience a huge conflict between their old sinful nature and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who regenerated them during their conversion.
- Galatians 5:17; “17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”
One needs to fully surrender your life over to Jesus Christ. When you are born again you become a new creature in Jesus Christ and because of this one needs to crucify the ‘old man’ and completely put on the new nature of Christ.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17; “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
- Ephesians 4:22-24; “22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Sanctification of the Believer
This sanctification of the believer, this deeper working of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life will give him enlightened eyes of the mind to better understand the hope of His calling and the glory of the rich inheritance of the saints.
- Ephesians 1:18; 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,”
The ongoing experience of sanctification starts the wonderful process of spiritual growth for the Christian and will continue for the rest of his/her life, as they move towards being established in the Word of God. The Christian will also progress towards perfection and holiness, and move away from deception and sin.
- 2 Peter 3:17-18; 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”
We will never reach spiritual completeness during our earthly lives, but this does not mean we must not progress in that direction by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit only.
- Matthew 5:48; Jesus said to His disciples; “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect”
- 1 Peter 1:16; “God says, “Be holy, for I am holy”
Christians who walk in the Spirit all walk at different levels of progress, as they grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ. Each Christian moves towards reaching the fullness of Christ. This is why no Christian is alike. We are all still learning as the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. When we are born again we are crucified with Christ and because of this our human agendas and self-interest dies. But with regards to final perfection; this will not yet be achieved until we as Christians meet Jesus face to face.
- Philippians 3:12 Paul says, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”
- Galatians 2:20; “20I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
We are subject to weakness and limitations because we are in a human body – these weaknesses include emotional, physical and intellectual. These human conditions hinder our ability to obtain perfection to which Jesus Christ calls us.
Rightly Divide the Word of God
These factors above as well as one of the biggest factors; Satan’s agenda to corrupt the world, we know that the Word of God is being misrepresented, twisted and contorted in one way or another to lead people astray. This is why it is imperative that the Christian must be able to rightly divide the Word of God in order to avoid deceptive/distorted misrepresentations of it.
- 2 Timothy 2:15; “15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The crux of the matter is this, even though Christians are fully able to comprehend with other saints the magnitude of the love Jesus Christ, they can differ on a number of very small issues, for example, is the fire in hell a physical fire or a spiritual fire. Therefore it is up to the Christian to take action and study the Word of God diligently like the Bereans to gain clarity when it comes to the more controversial issues, for example, does hell exist. Controversial issues can cause breaks in friends and family, and if it must be so, for the sake of Jesus Christ, then one must break away.
- Ephesians. 3:17-19; “17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Carnal Christians (those who profess to be Christians, agree with the basics fundamentals of Christianity, but continue to live as though unsaved, i.e., with no guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives). These people are led by leading pastors/theologians instead of the Holy Spirit. They allegorise and spiritualise Scripture. For instance the false doctrine of Replacement Theology gives them the platform to exalt human understanding over and above that of Scripture – thereby ending up with erroneous doctrines full of opinion and assumptions.
Many of these academically trained pastors (trained in false gospel institutions) have set themselves up in places ideal to influence (indoctrinate) students and other people who read their writings. They push out their doctrines of demons onto the unsuspecting such as Dominionisn/Kingdom now theology, Covenant theology (Reformed Theology), Mysticism, Predestination (Calvinistic view), Baptismal Regeneration, Lordship Salvation, British Israelism, denial of the Rapture, denial of a tribulation period, denial of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, denial of the Millennial reign, denial of fulfilment of Biblical prophecies, denial of Israel’s restoration, etc.
Many who call themselves Christians and pose as great spiritual leaders are not saved and only have a form of godliness, but deny God’s power. They deny some of the most basic fundamentals of the Christian faith such as the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, His physical resurrection and ascension, and even the significance of His atoning death on the cross, they even deny that the Bible is divinely inspired and the final authority on all things.
- 2 Timothy 3:5; “5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
Discernment all the time
As Christians we need to remain vigilant at all times.
- Matthew 24:4; Lord Jesus said: “Take heed that no one deceives you”
See article on Biblical Holy Spirit vs Unholy Spirit of Fire