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Spiritual Gifts: Criteria For Trying The Spirits

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SIH TOA ICONIntroduction:

“Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)

 

In our previous studies we have seen that there are three basic types of Accrediting Gifts which include several gifts under each type. In the above passage, we find each type of Accrediting Gift is represented by one gift from each type …

 

Type Of Accrediting Gift Gifts Included In This Type Representative Gift Mentioned In1 Cor 13:8
Supernatural Revelation Of The Truth The Word Of Wisdom, The Word of Knowledge Word of Knowledge (or Knowledge)
Supernatural Indicators Of The Truth Faith, Gifts Of Healing, Working Of Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning Of Spirits Prophecy (or Prophecies)
Supernatural Proclamation Of The Truth Divers Kinds Of Tongues, Interpretation Of Tongues Diverse Types Of Tongues (or Tongues)

 

Please note the above verse (1 Cor 13:8), which includes one representative gift from each group, makes it plain that each type of Accrediting Gift will come to an end at some point in time. We now will turn our attention to the question at what point in time will these gifts go out of existence?

 

In this study, we will see that this question is answered by the Word of God using several different lines of teaching which all present the same answer for us. This will be the lines of teaching that we will be studying:
I.        The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”
II.        The 70 Year Accreditation Time Span
III.        The Death Of The Apostles
IV.        The Supernatural Beginning / Natural Perpetuation Of God’s Workings
V.        The Prophecies of False Miracles In The “Last Days”
VII.   The Criteria For Testing The Spirits

 

Lesson:

The Criteria For TheTesting Of The Spirits:

Please keep in mind, we have already seen that one of the principle tools used by false teachers to mislead others are false accrediting miracles. This can be clearly seen in 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 and Matthew 24:23-24…

But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

 

In 1 John 4:1-8, the Apostle John gives us a listing of criteria that is to be used when we “try the spirits” (ie putting ministers “to the test” to discern whether they are Godly ministers of the truth or false ministers of error.)…

“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. 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. 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. 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.”

 

Let’s take a look at the 1 John 4:1-8 passage and find out what five criteria we are to use as we put all teachers of the Word “to the test”…

 

Criteria For Testing The Spirits:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  

Here, John is affirming the existence of false prophets and teachers that seek to mislead others from the truths of Christ. Based upon their existence, John then explains the importance of putting professing ministers of the Word “to the test”. By doing so, we are discerning the motives of their ministry and the spiritual powers that lie behind their ministry.

 

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God:

John now gives us a listing of outstanding characteristics of true ministers of Jehovah God:

 

1. Christ as the central theme of their ministry

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.

The first basis of our judgment involves the presentation of Christ as the central theme of their ministry. The central theme of the Word of God is Christ (John 5:39). The testimony of Jesus is the theme of all Scriptural prophecy (Revelation 19:10). Therefore, any Godly ministry will hold Christ as its central, main theme.

Does their ministry center upon Christ above all other men, deities, and persons of the Godhead?

Does their ministry present the Scriptural truths about the person and work of Christ?

Is the central theme of their ministry the presentation of Christ and Him alone?

Does their ministry result in greater sorrow for sins, commitment for service and appreciation for Christ and His works?

 

2. Upholds Godly Living

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. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

John now points our attention to the victory that Christ gives over worldliness and the kingdom of Satan.   The Word of God clearly explains the “fruit” that is borne by followers of Christ in comparison to those who are in darkness (Galatians 5:19-23). The ministry of one that is genuinely of the Lord, is a ministry that will uphold Godly living in the midst of a sinful world (1 John 2:15-17).

Does their ministry appeal to the spirit of the regenerate man?

Does their ministry refrain from using motives, methods and means that appeal to the inward lusts of fallen man?

Does their ministry motivate others to live lifestyles characterized by Godliness and separation from the sinful aspects of the world?

 

3. Appeals to Saved Individuals and Is Opposed By The Lost

We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us.

The presentation of God’s Word results in two opposite reactions. For those who are saved, the truths of God are welcomed, accepted as truth and applied to the life (John 10:25-28). For those who are unsaved, it is rejected and actively opposed. Why is this? The teaching of Biblical truth involves the presentation of the existence of sin and it’s results upon mankind, mankind’s need of salvation, and man’s inability to gain this salvation of their own merit. All of these are themes that are unappealing and detestable to fallen man (John 3:18-21).

Does their ministry include speaking of man’s sins, need of salvation and inability to save themselves?

Does their ministry present clear teachings that come directly from God’s Word?

Does their ministry appeal to the saved by working revival in the heart through sorrow for, and repentance of, daily sin?

Does their ministry face rejection and opposition from the fallen world?

Does their ministry include warning, correction, exhortation and Scriptural discipline?

Does their ministry refrain from “entertainment” that appeals to the world, but centers on “worship” that only appeals to the saved?

 

4. Presents The Scriptural Truths of God Exclusively

Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

The Spirit of Truth will lead men to the truths of God and the proclamation of the entire counsel of God’s Word (John 16:12-15). The spirit of error will mislead men to pervert the truths of God and present a false message of salvation which appeals to the fleshly nature of man (2 Tim 4:3-4).

Does their ministry encourage personal Bible study and the use of other sound Christian literature?

Does their ministry use open Bibles during services and give Biblical references for all their major points?

Do all aspects of their ministry seek to present the Bible using Biblical methods and motivations?

Does their ministry teach against the false teachings of the world?

Does their ministry refrain from modern psychological theories and motivational methods?

Does their ministry use music that is Scriptural and Christ-centered?

 

5. Does their ministry exhibit and encourage a motivation of love for God and others?

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.”

A Godly ministry will display a heart of love towards all to whom they minister (Matthew 5:43-48). Their ministry will be characterized by a spirit of self-sacrifice, mercy, forgiveness and patience towards all to whom they minister. (1 Corinthians 13:4-12).   One of their chief goals will be to encourage and cultivate love toward God and others in the hearts of those to whom they minister (1 John 4:9-21).

Does their ministry exhibit a spirit of self-sacrifice for those to whom they minister?

Do they “practice with they preach” motivated by concern for the well being of those to whom they minister?

Does their ministry reach out to those who cannot give back to them?

Does their ministry refrain from favoring those who are powerful, wealthy and physically appealing?

 

 

May the Lord grace each of us as we seek to put all professing teachers of the Word to the test.

 

Additional Information verses mentioned in this study:

The Criteria For TheTesting Of The Spirits:

43) Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46) For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47) And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so?

48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

(Matthew 5:43-48)

 

23) Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not.

24) For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

(Matthew 24:23-24)

 

18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19) And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

(John 3:18-21)

 

39) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

(John 5:39)

25) Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.

26) But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand.

(John 10:25-28)

 

12) I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

13) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

14) He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.

15) All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.

(John 16:12-15)

 

12) But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

13) For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

15) Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

(2 Corinthians 11:12-15)

 

19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

(Galatians 5:19-23)

 

3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4) And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

(2 Timothy 4:3-4)

 

15) Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16) For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17) And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

(1 John 2:15-17)

 

1) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

6) 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.

7) Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

(1 John 4:1-8)

 

9) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

12) No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

13) Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

14) And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son [to be] the Saviour of the world.

15) Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

16) And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

17) Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

18) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

19) We love him, because he first loved us.

20) If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

21) And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

(1 John 4:9-21)

 

10) And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See [thou do it] not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

(Revelation 19:10)

 

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