It seems that, hey most folks they are tripping
Cause His name’s been marred by much emotionalism
The mark of His work isn’t yelling and confusion
It’s fruit like we see in the text, and it’s through Him
Be content with His revealing, the Bible is closed
His revelation is sufficient so abide in the scroll
Many acts crazy and say it’s Him, but hear this
If it don’t match His Word, then it’s not of the Spirit
Trip Lee, Behold The Spirit
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1
Do you know how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) trains their agents to identify the many forms of counterfeit currency? Contrary to what many would think, they don’t start by carefully examining the most popular types of fake dollar bills or coins. They don’t begin by studying the history of counterfeiters and look at how they did it. Instead, the FBI has their new agents investigate the official currency over the course of months and years. FBI agents study the money so carefully that eventually, they can spot a fake from a mile away. John, the Apostle, gave us the same technique to “test the spirits.”
In a time when so many people claim to be spiritual, and have supernatural insights, it is crucial to recognize not every spirit is of God. We have to evaluate to determine which type of spirit is being referenced. tweet
Here are a few criteria that are crucial tests of authentic and counterfeit spiritual encounters.
- Is Jesus Christ recognized as Lord?
This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.
1 John 4:2-3
This test is pretty simple. If this spirituality doesn’t point to Jesus Christ as Lord, then it isn’t from God. If the mission of Jesus Christ isn’t central to what the ‘spirit’ is saying, then it’s also to be avoided. Lord means ‘Master, Ruler,’ not simply divine. We know this because of Jesus’ description:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
2) Is the fruit of the Spirit evident?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.
Notice that these expressions of the Spirit-filled life are character-based, not ability-based. Throughout time, there have been people that try to claim they are ‘more spiritual’ because they could shout the loudest, dance the hardest, or weep the longest. While shouting, dancing, and weeping before the Lord are all appropriate responses, they are not the primary indication of spiritual maturity. Love is. Peace is. Patience is. So is self-control. Interestingly, being filled with the Spirit means possessing self-control. Some celebrate being out of control as what it means to be ‘spiritual.’ But again, that’s counterfeit.
3) Are certain gifts prioritized as the main way the spirit works?
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all do miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in other tongues? Do all interpret? But desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way.
1 Corinthians 12:29-31
Another indication of counterfeit spirituality is the focus on spiritual abilities. The apostle Paul dealt with this same distortion in dealing with the church at Corinth, which is why he wrote in his letter to them:
I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ … because you are still worldly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not worldly and behaving like mere humans?
1 Corinthians 3:1,3
In spite of false claims that demonstrating spiritual gifts and abilities is proof of being spiritual, the Holy Spirit has made it clear that character matters more than capability, and godliness more than gifting.
4) Does it contradict the Bible?
Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
1 Peter 2:20-21
The writers of Scripture were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” to accurately express God’s message. The Spirit also won’t contradict Himself. God cannot lie, so if what people are claiming to be ‘spiritual’ contradicts God’s word, then it isn’t true. Any impulses or ideas we have about God, and the Spirit must be based on and confirmed by the authority of the Bible, the Word of God. We also know that the Bible contains all of what we need to understand the person and work of God.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
The only way to hold onto the truth and avoid deception is to test and evaluate if what is being claimed to be “spiritual” is coming from the Holy Spirit. There are spirits that, as John warned “are not from God” and therefore are not to be trusted. Like the FBI, we must continue to study the truth so carefully, that we don’t fall victim to being deceived by fool’s gold. As important as it is to know who the Holy Spirit is, it’s also important to understand who He isn’t.
How does the FBI technique of spotting counterfeit currency relate to testing the spirits?
What counterfeits have you experienced before?
Which truths about the Holy Spirit are clearer to you? Which facts are still confusing? (More questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org).