Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Try The Spirits

I Corinthians 12:1-3

A lady told about coming to the United States for the first time as a young girl, just after World War II. She’d heard about taking showers, instead of baths, and couldn’t wait to take one. The first night in the hotel, she asked how to take one. Since the only restroom was at the end of the hall, she went in, locked the door and undressed. Stepping into the shower, she turned one of the knobs. Hot water shot out of the wall and hit her in the face. She panicked, fled from the bathroom and down the hall to get away. The people she was with couldn’t stop laughing when they realized what had happened.

Just as the Lady had had no prior experience with showers, The Corinthians had had no experience with the Holy Spirit, although they had dealt with religion for years. Their lack of knowledge made them susceptible to false teachings. It would be very easy for a false spirit to mislead them in various ways, and Paul will address this danger.

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (I Corinthians 12:1-3)

The First thing that was needed was a way to identify whether it was the Holy Spirit, or a false spirit. A test was what was the attitude toward Jesus Christ. If he discounted or hated him, he could not be led of the Holy Spirit. If he acknowledged him as Lord, as the one he obeyed and served, he must be led by the Holy Spirit. John goes into more detail as to what this means in I John 4.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (I John 4:1-3)

The Holy Spirit empowers the Christian, enabling them to gain victory over sin. Paul tells us “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” in I Corinthians 4:20. Acts 1:8 tells us the Holy Spirit will give power, and Romans 8:9 tells us that anyone who does not have the Spirit is not one of God’s. I John 4:4 describes this. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world."

People who are led of the Spirit will hear God’s word and listen. This is one of the ways we know whether the spirit is from God. If the focus is on things of the world, and the world appears very receptive of their ideas, they are of the world, not of God. Being of the world does not mean there is no good there, but it is worldly, not godly. John says, ”They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (I John 4:5-6)

Finally, an attitude of selfishness, or unloving ness indicates that the Holy Spirit is not in control, as the kind of love described in I Corinthians 13 is part of the fruit of the Spirit. I John 4:7-8 makes it very clear that a lack of love indicates that the spirit is not of God. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Love is the very essence of God, and Jesus commanded us to love each other, John 13:35 says that this is the way the world may know that we are his.

Throughout I Corinthians, Paul has stressed the idea that the contentious attitude of the people was not of the Holy Spirit, clearly stating it in I Corinthians 3:1-4. If Jesus is truly Lord, there will be obedience to his word, victory over sin, and love to other Christians. If these are not there, then Jesus is not Lord in a persons life. He doesn’t rule their life. It is not Holy Spirit directed.

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