You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Holy Spirit’ tag.

The Baptism, or Fullness of the Spirit
 

 

Counterfeit

Counterfeit workings of evil spirits may accompany a true reception of the Fullness of the Holy Spirit, if the believer “lets go” his mind into “blankness,” and yields his body up passively to supernatural power. As a “blank mind” and “passive body” is contrary to the condition for use required by the Holy Spirit….The abstract result is great “manifestations” with little real fruit…a spirit of division from others, instead of unity.

True

An influx of the Spirit of God into the human spirit, which liberates the spirit from the soul, (Hebrews 4:12) so as to become a pliable organ or channel for the outflow of the Spirit through the believer, manifested in witness to Christ and in aggressive prayer service against the powers of darkness….Its special mark and result is known in power to witness for Christ, and in conviction of sin in others, and their turning to God.

There is but one reception of the Holy Spirit: with many succeeding experiences, developments, or new crises, resultant on fresh acts of faith, or apprehension of truth; various believers having varied degrees of the same filling of the Spirit, according to individual conditions. The enduement of power for service is often a definite experience in many lives.

****************

The Presence of God
 
 Counterfeit

The counterfeit of the Presence of God is mainly felt upon the body, and by the physical senses, in conscious “fire,” “thrills,” etc. The counterfeit of the “Presence in the atmosphere is felt by the senses of the body, as “breath,” “wind,” etc., while the mind is passive or inactive. The person affected by this counterfeit “presence” will be moved almost automatically to actions he would not perform of his own will, and with all his faculties in operation. He may not even remember what he has done when under the “power” of this “presence,” just as a sleep-walker knows nothing of his actions when in that state….

True

Known in of by the human spirit, through the Holy Spirit. When He fills the atmosphere of a room the spirit of man is conscious of it, not his senses. The faculties of those present are alert and clear and they retain freedom of action. The spirit is made tender (Psalms 34:18), and the will pliable to the will of God. All the actions of a person moved by the true and pure Presence of God are in accord with highest ideal harmony and grace

*********************

Consciousness of God
 
 Counterfeit

“Consciousness” of “God” in bodily sensations, which feed the “flesh” and overpower the true spirit-sense.

True

Felt in the spirit, and not by the physical senses.

*********************

Surrender to God
 
 Counterfeit

Passive yielding of spirit, soul and body to supernatural power, to be moved automatically, in passive, blind obedience, apart from the use of volition of mind. Evil spirits desire “control” of a man, and his passive submission to them.

True

Of spirit, soul and body, is simple yielding or committal to Him of the whole man, to do His will and be at His service, God asks the full co-operation of the man in the intelligent use of all his faculties. (Romans 6:13)

************************

Waiting on God
 
 
Counterfeit

A “waiting” for the Spirit to come,” in hours of prayer, which brings those who “wait” into passivity, which at last reaches a point of “seance” conditions, followed by an influx of lying spirits in manifestations.

 

True

The Spirit in restful co-operation with the Holy Spirit, waiting on God’s time to act, and a waiting for Him to fulfill His promises. The true waiting upon God can be co-existent with the keenest activity of mind and service.

***********************

God Speaking
 
 
Counterfeit

Evil spirits speaking, either puffing up, accusing, condemning or confusing the person, so that he is bewildered or distracted and cannot exercise his reason or judgment….

True

Through His Word, by His Spirit, in the spirit and conscience of the man, illuminating the mind to understand the will of the Lord.

************************

 

Divine Guidance
 
 
Counterfeit

Satanic guidance by supernatural voices, visions, leadings, drawings, are all dependent upon the passivity of the mind and reason, and take place in the sense-realm as a counterfeit of the true in the spirit.

 

True

Through the spirit and the mind; i.e., “drawing” in spirit, light in the mind: spirit and mind brought into one accord in harmony with the principles of the Word of God. (Ephesians 1:17, Philippians 1:9-11)

*********************

 

Fire from God
 
 
Counterfeit

“Fire” caused by evil spirits is generally a glow in the body, which the believer thinks is a manifestation of “God” in “possession” of the body, but afterwards results in darkness, dullness and weakness with no reasonable cause; or else it continues deceiving the believer into counterfeit experiences.

True

It is a purifying through suffering or a consuming zeal in spirit, which deepens into white heat intensity to do will and work of God, which no trials or opposition can quench. Fire from God is spiritual not literal, and therefore falls upon the spirit, not the body.

*************************

Trusting God
 
 
Counterfeit

Trusting evil spirits comes about through trusting blindly some supernatural words, or revelations, supposed to be from God, which produces a forced “faith,” or faith beyond the believer’s true measure, the result being actions which lead into paths of trial never planned by God.

True

A true faith given of God in the spirit, having its origin in Him, without effort reckoning upon Him to fulfill His written Word. Co-existing with the full use of every faculty in intelligent action. “Faith is a fruit of the spirit and cannot be forced. (Galatians 5:22, 2 Corinthians 13)

***************************

Notes

Without exception the manifestations of the Holy Spirit is marked by (a) a Christ-like Spirit of love, (b) soberness of spirit vision, (c) keenness of vision, (d) deep humility of heart and meekness of spirit, with lion-courage against sin and Satan, and (e) clearness of the mental faculties with a “sound mind.”

 

Taken from War on the Saints by

Jessie Penn-Lewis

 

Experiencing God – Part 4- Anton Bosch

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1Cor 2:9,10). The things of God cannot be seen with natural eyes, heard through natural ears or perceived through natural emotions because God is a Spirit and spiritual things can only be perceived by that which is spiritual.

In the same way as a man born physically deaf cannot understand the glory of music and a person born blind cannot begin to partake of the visual beauty of God’s creation, so spiritual things cannot be perceived through the natural senses and emotions. The only way you can receive and be affected by a glorious piece of music is by hearing it. You cannot hear music with your tongue or nose and you cannot “experience” God with natural senses. Thus “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor 2:14). The natural man is the man who operates in the realm of the carnal, fleshly or soulish and in that realm, he will not encounter God. Thus the first requirement to meet with God is that man needs to move beyond the natural to the spiritual. This does not only require that he be born-again, but that he be willing to meet God on His terms.

The man who is governed by fleshly and carnal desires will not be able to meet with God as his carnality will blind him to spiritual matters. Thus the church of Laodicea was pronounced “blind” because of their worldliness (Rev 3:17); the brother filled with hatred is in darkness (1John 2:11) and the person who is not diligently pursuing Christlikeness is shortsighted and blind (2Pet 1:5-9). There have been many very wise, sensitive and perceptive people on this earth who never met God simply because they could not or would not go beyond their human faculties.

As much as God cannot be “seen” by the natural man so He can also not be revealed by natural means. You can put on the most magnificent audio and visual display, throw in some smells, vibrate the building so you can feel the motion and then dish out some snacks to taste and thus assault every one of the five natural senses but none of this can, or will, give you an “experience” of God. This is true simply because God is a Spirit and spirit cannot be heard, seen, smelt, touched or tasted. The millions of dollars that churches spend on appealing to the natural senses can not and never will give people an experience of God. People have experiences all right, but it is not God! In the context of the first two chapters of Corinthians, Paul also includes excellent oratory, human wisdom and miracles as some of the things that are not able to cross-over from that which is natural to that which is spiritual.

On the other hand there are many that are propagating many mystical ways of accessing God. These include chants, meditation, mantras, labyrinths etc. Most of these methods have existed in the church for a long time but are also very much part of Eastern religions. These are simply different ways of stirring the soul within man and also do not go beyond the natural, except in those cases where demons hijack the process.

How then do I get to meet with God?. First we have to understand that we cannot meet Him through natural means. Then we need to realize that we cannot work ourselves into a spiritual state or earn the right to meet with Him. We have access into His presence through a new and living way. That’s right – no more sacrifices, chants, endless singing, ear-splitting decibels or trying to earn the right. We have access through three things: His shed Blood, His broken Body and His high priestly ministry (Heb 10:19-21). It has all been done for us.

Don’t let people deceive you by promises that they will allow you to experience God, usher you into His presence, bring the glory of God down etc etc. We have access. It has all been done by Jesus. If we are born again, we have every right to enter directly into the holiest of all. It is complete and anything added to this will simply drag you back into the Old Testament Laws and rituals. Why then do so many promote those things? Because it makes you dependant on them to “experience God” and that is how they make their money. We need none of those things. Jesus did it all at Calvary. The way is open. Anything else is smoke and mirrors and will lead you to experience something that is not God.

So is there nothing we need to do? Yes, there is one thing. “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6). That’s very easy, but also very difficult. Faith requires that I simply accept that I am able to draw near to His presence because of the complete work of the Cross. If we really believe that, then we will not need the manipulations of men or to work ourselves up to “feel” God. We will simply accept His promises that He will never leave nor forsake us (Heb 13:5).

Those who truly believe, do not need a sign, feelings or some display to prove that He is with us. “We will believe His Word in spite the absence of physical evidence of His presence, and walk with Him. As Paul said: “in him we live, and move, and have our being“ (Acts 17:28). Those who need the experiences are not approaching God by faith and He rejects those who do not come by faith. He also rejects, as thieves and robbers, any who come by some other way, except through the door – Jesus.

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Heb 10:19-23)

Anton Bosch

anton@ifcb.net

3310 W Magnolia Blvd

Burbank, CA, 91505

Tel 818 846 5520

http://www.burbankchurch.org

 
 
 

 

 

Be prewarned, this 5:09 YouTube video is one of the most disturbing of its kind I have seen. While it contains no profanity or sex, it is not suitable for children!

 

 

–Bud

 Christian Research Service

 

 

  

Experiencing God – 3

One of the most important statements Jesus made was: “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23,24) If we are to meet with God then it has to be in the realm of the spirit and of truth.

Spirit, or spiritual, in this context is the opposite of fleshly, carnal or soulish. Most interaction between God and man in the Old Testament was in the realm of the flesh. Men saw manifestations of God with their human eyes and heard His voice with their human ears. These men then responded to God by doing physical things such as bowing down, falling on their faces removing their shoes etc. While there were a few people in those days who had a deeper relationship with God which went beyond the physical, the vast majority of people had an external relationship with God which seldom entered the spiritual.

But God wanted something more for us and therefore made some dramatic promises which included: That the laws would no longer be externally written on tables of stone but would be written in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), we would not be totally dependant on human teachers but the Spirit Himself will teach us (Jeremiah 31:34), His Spirit will no longer come upon us as an external power, but His Spirit will dwell within us (Ezek 36:27), and we will no longer have to go to a specific place to worship God but will be able to worship Him anywhere (John 4: 21). All these promises, and more, pointed to a shift away from the external to the internal, from the fleshly to the spiritual.

Even in the Old Testament there were indications that the Lord intended the anointing of oil to be a very sacred and profound process. There were very clear and specific rules that governed the use of the anointing oil which was a type of the Holy Spirit and which foreshadowed what His expectations for New Testament believers would be. First, the anointing was in order that they may minister to the Lord (Exodus 30:30). They were not anointed for their own experience or pleasure but in order to equip them for service. Today people speak of receiving “the anointing” as a result of worship or some other form of service. No, the empowering of God is needed before we enter into His presence and before we touch anything for service. Also note that the purpose of the anointing with oil was to sanctify and consecrate them to serve. They were not anointed so their hair could shine or their skin would glow – it had nothing to do with their own benefit. It is also important to note that they were anointed to serve the Lord. Today everything is focused on man’s needs and pleasure, not on the Lord’s.

Second, “It shall not be poured on man’s flesh” (Exodus 30:32). It was to be poured on Aaron’s head and his robes but not on his flesh. Yet, today it all seems to be about man’s flesh. Without exception every modern experience and every single consequence, like shaking, jumping, being slain, and goose bumps are all manifestations in the flesh, in which it is claimed, “the spirit made me do it”. If the flesh was not to be anointed in the Old Testament, then it is even less to be anointed in the New Testament.

Third, it was not to be copied or imitated (Exodus 30:32). This was so serious that anyone who produced a copy of the anointing oil was to be cut off from the people (Exodus 30:32). Today there seem to be so many copies and imitations of God’s anointing and presence that the genuine is almost impossible to find. Sometimes people copy a manufactured product and actually improve on the original product. The copies of God’s presence are very bad imitations and it is sad that people are so undiscerning that they cannot differentiae between the genuine and the false. And do we excommunicate the charlatans that produce these fake “moves of God”? No, we worship them as mighty men of God and gurus who have discovered some new and unique blessing. Many are blatant enough to explain that this “latest move of God is a new thing God is doing” and that God does not work within the constraints of His Word. I pray that every reader will have the courage to banish forever everyone who dares simulate the workings of God and who dares create a human substitute for the Divine move of God upon our spirits.

Fourth, the oil was not to be placed on outsiders. (Exodus 30:33). It was strictly for those who had been sanctified and consecrated to the Lord’s service. Why is it then that in the last 30 years we have frequently heard about profane persons “receiving the Spirit”, or about unbelievers who manifest many of the weird and wonderful things that are ascribed to the Holy Spirit? No, God is Holy and His Spirit is specifically called the Holy Spirit. God has no dealings with the unsaved, except to lead them to repentance and if the oil was not to be put on outsiders in the Old Testament then neither will He give unbelievers his approval by giving them a spiritual experience, except to bring them to their knees in repentance.

Finally, the man so anointed was not to “go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God” (Leviticus 21:12). This speaks of a complete dedication to the Lord and His service. Today, we are the temple and He dwells with and in us (1Corinthians 3:16). Thus the Lord’s presence in our lives requires that we abide in Him and that we live holy and consecrated lives. The Lord has no interest in giving unsanctified and disobedient believers a spiritual “trip” so they can have some good feelings. Neither does He touch those who live their lives far from Him, steeped in the world all week but who want a quick spiritual experience on a Sunday morning.

The concept of brief and temporal “anointings” is an Old Testament concept. We have a promise of a far deeper and more enduring Presence in the New Testament. I pray that we will reject the false and seek the genuine.

“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you”. (John 14:16,17)

 

Next – Final Part 4

part one

https://kimolsen.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=409

part two

https://kimolsen.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=411

            relative_light_1024.jpg 

“How to Try the Spirits” is from Tozer’s book, “Man, The Dwelling Place of God”, and I found it to be even more relevant today than when it was written.  There are 7 sections dealing with how to test spiritual experiences by asking “How has it  affected my attitude toward and my relation to:”

  1. God
  2. Christ
  3. The Holy Scriptures
  4. Self
  5. Other Christians
  6. The World
  7. Sin

 

How to Try the Spirits

THESE ARE THE TIMES that try men’s souls. The Spirit has spoken expressly that in the latter times some should depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Those days are upon us and we cannot escape them; we must triumph in the midst of them, for such is the will of God concerning us.

Strange as it may seem, the danger today is greater for the fervent Christian than for the lukewarm and the self-satisfied. The seeker after God’s best things is eager to hear anyone who offers a way by which he can obtain them. He longs for some new experience, some elevated view of truth, some operation of the Spirit that will raise him above the dead level of religious mediocrity he sees all around him, and for this reason he is ready to give a sympathetic ear to the new and the wonderful in religion, particularly if it is presented by someone with an attractive personality and a reputation for superior godliness.

Now our Lord Jesus. that great Shepherd of the sheep, has not left His flock to the mercy of the wolves. He has given us the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and natural powers of observation, and He expects us to avail ourselves of their help constantly. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” said Paul (I Thess. 5:21) . “Beloved, believe not every spirit,” wrote John, “but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1) . “Beware of false prophets,” our Lord warned, “which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15). Then He added the word by which they may be tested, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

From this it is plain not only that there shall be false spirits abroad, endangering our Christian lives, but that they may be identified and known for what they are. And of course once we become aware of their identity and learn their tricks their power to harm us is gone. “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird” (Prov. 1:17)

It is my intention to set forth here a method by which we may test the spirits and prove all things religious and moral that come to us or are brought or offered to us by anyone. And while dealing with these matters we should keep in mind that not all religious vagaries are the work of Satan. The human mind is capable of plenty of mischief without any help from the devil. Some persons have a positive genius for getting confused, and will mistake illusion for reality in broad daylight with the Bible open before them. Peter had such in mind when he wrote, “Our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Pet. 3:15, 16).

It is unlikely that the confirmed apostles of confusion will read what is written here or that they would profit much if they did; but there are many sensible Christians who have been led astray but are humble enough to admit their mistakes and are now ready to return unto the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls. These may be rescued from false paths. More important still, there are undoubtedly large numbers of persons who have not left the true way but who want a rule by which they can test everything and by which they may prove the quality of Christian teaching and experience as they come in contact with them day after day throughout their busy lives. For such as these I make available here a little secret by which I have tested my own spiritual experiences and religious impulses for many years.

Briefly stated the test is this: This new doctrine, this new religious habit, this new view of truth, this new spiritual experience how has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to God, Christ, the Holy Scriptures, self, other Christians, the world and sin. By this sevenfold test we may prove everything religious and know beyond a doubt whether it is of God or not. By the fruit of the tree we know the kind of tree it is. So we have but to ask about any doctrine or experience, What is this doing to me? and we know immediately whether it is from above or from below.

1) One vital test of all religious experience is how it affects our relation to God, our concept of God and our attitude toward Him. God being who He is must always be the supreme arbiter of all things religious. The universe came into existence as a medium through which the Creator might show forth His perfections to all moral and intellectual beings: “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another” (Isa. 42:8) . “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

The health and balance of the universe require that in all things God should be magnified. “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” God acts only for His glory and whatever comes from Him must be to His own high honor. Any doctrine, any experience that serves to magnify Him is likely to be inspired by Him. Conversely, anything that veils His glory or makes Him appear less wonderful is sure to be of the flesh or the devil.

The heart of man is like a musical instrument and may be played upon by the Holy Spirit, by an evil spirit or by the spirit of man himself. Religious emotions are very much the same, no matter who the player may be. Many enjoyable feelings may be aroused within the soul by low or even idolatrous worship. The nun who kneels “breathless with adoration” before an image of the Virgin is having a genuine religious experience. She feels love, awe and reverence, all enjoyable emotions, as certainly as if she were adoring God. The mystical experiences of Hindus and Sufis cannot be brushed aside as mere pretense. Neither dare we dismiss the high religious flights of spiritists and other occultists as imagination. These may have and sometimes do have genuine encounters with something or someone beyond themselves. In the same manner Christians are sometimes led into emotional experiences that are beyond their power to comprehend. I have met such and they have inquired eagerly whether or not their experience was of God.

The big test is, What has this done to my relationship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? If this new view of truth-this new encounter with spiritual things-has made me love God more, if it has magnified Him in my eyes, if it has purified my concept of His being and caused Him to appear more wonderful than before, then I may conclude that I have not wandered astray into the pleasant but dangerous and forbidden paths of error.

2. The next test is: How has this new experience affected my attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ? Whatever place present-day religion may give to Christ, God gives Him top place in earth and in heaven. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” spoke the voice of God from heaven concerning our Lord Jesus. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, declared: “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Again Peter said of Him, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12) . The whole book of Hebrews is devoted to the idea that Christ is above all others. He is shown to be above Aaron and Moses, and even the angels are called to fall down and worship Him. Paul says that He is the image of the invisible God, that in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily and that in all things He must have the preeminence. But time would fail me to tell of the glory accorded Him by prophets, patriarchs, apostles, saints, elders, psalmists, kings and seraphim. He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. He is our hope, our life, our all and all, now and forevermore.

All this being true, it is clear that He must stand at the center of all true doctrine, all acceptable practice and all genuine Christian experience. Anything that makes Him less than God has declared Him to be is delusion pure and simple and must be rejected, no matter how delightful or how satisfying it may for the time seem to be.

Christless Christianity sounds contradictory but it exists as a real phenomenon in our day. Much that is being done in Christ’s name is false to Christ in that it is conceived by the flesh, incorporates fleshly methods, and seeks fleshly ends. Christ is mentioned from time to time in the same way and for the same reason that a self-seeking politician mentions Lincoln and the flag, to provide a sacred front for carnal activities and to deceive the simplehearted listeners. This giveaway is that Christ is not central: He is not all and in all.

Again, there are psychic experiences that thrill the seeker and lead him to believe that he has indeed met the Lord and been carried to the third heaven; but the true nature of the phenomenon is discovered later when the face of Christ begins to fade from the victim’s consciousness and he comes to depend more and more upon emotional jags as a proof of his spirituality.

If on the other hand the new experience tends to make Christ indispensable, if it takes our interest off our feeling and places it in Christ, we are on the right track. Whatever makes Christ dear to us is pretty sure to be from God.

3. Another revealing test of the soundness of religious experience is, How does it affect my attitude toward the Holy Scriptures? Did this new experience, this new view of truth, spring out of the Word of God itself or was it the result of some stimulus that lay outside the Bible? Tender-hearted Christians often become victims of strong psychological pressure applied intentionally or innocently by someone’s personal testimony, or by a colorful story told by a fervent preacher who may speak with prophetic finality but who has not checked his story with the facts nor tested the soundness of his conclusions by the Word of God.

Whatever originates outside the Scriptures should for that very reason be suspect until it can be shown to be in accord with them. If it should be found to be contrary to the Word of revealed truth no true Christian will accept it as being from God. However high the emotional content, no experience can be proved to be genuine unless we can find chapter and verse authority for it in the Scriptures. “To the word and to the testimony” must always be the last and final proof.

Whatever is new or singular should also be viewed with a lot of caution until it can furnish scriptural proof of its validity. Over the last half-century quite a number of unscriptural notions have gained acceptance among Christians by claiming that they were among the truths that were to be revealed in the last days. To be sure, say the advocates of this latter-daylight theory, Augustine did not know, Luther did not, John Knox, Wesley, Finney and Spurgeon did not understand this; but greater light has now shined upon God’s people and we of these last days have the advantage of fuller revelation. We should not question the new doctrine nor draw back from this advanced experience. The Lord is getting His Bride ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb. We should all yield to this new movement of the Spirit. So they tell us.

The truth is that the Bible does not teach that there will be new light and advanced spiritual experiences in the latter days; it teaches the exact opposite. Nothing in Daniel or the New Testament epistles can be tortured into advocating the idea that we of the end of the Christian era shall enjoy light that was not known at its beginning. Beware of any man who claims to be wiser than the apostles or holier than the martyrs of the Early Church. The best way to deal with him is to rise and leave his presence. You cannot help him and he surely cannot help you.

Granted, however, that the Scriptures may not always be clear and that there are differences of interpretation among equally sincere men, this test will furnish all the proof needed of anything religious, viz., What does it do to my love for and appreciation of the Scriptures?

While true power lies not in the letter of the text but in the Spirit that inspired it, we should never underestimate the value of the letter. The text of truth has the same relation to truth as the honeycomb has to honey. One serves as a receptacle for the other. But there the analogy ends. The honey can be removed from the comb, but the Spirit of truth cannot and does not operate apart from the letter of the Holy Scriptures.

For this reason a growing acquaintance with the Holy Spirit will always mean an increasing love for the Bible. The Scriptures are in print what Christ is in person. The inspired Word is like a faithful portrait of Christ. But again the figure breaks down. Christ is in the Bible as no one can be in a mere portrait, for the Bible is a book of holy ideas and the eternal Word of the Father can and does dwell in the thought He has Himself inspired. Thoughts are things, and the thoughts of the Holy Scriptures form a lofty temple for the dwelling place of God.

From this it follows naturally that a true lover of God will be also a lover of His Word. Anything that comes to us from the God of the Word will deepen our love for the Word of God. This follows logically, but we have confirmation by a witness vastly more trustworthy than logic, viz., the concerted testimony of a great army of witnesses living and dead. These declare with one voice that their love for the Scriptures intensified as their faith mounted and their obedience became consistent and joyous.

If the new doctrine, the influence of that new teacher, the new emotional experience fills my heart with an avid hunger to meditate in the Scriptures day and night. I have every reason to believe that God has spoken to my soul and that my experience is genuine. Conversely, if my love for the Scriptures has cooled even a little, if my eagerness to eat and drink of the inspired Word has abated by as much as one degree, I should humbly admit that I have missed God’s signal somewhere and frankly backtrack until I find the true way once more.

4. Again, we can prove the quality of religious experience by its effect on the self-life.

The Holy Spirit and the fallen human self are diametrically opposed to each other. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17). “They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit . . . . Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8: 5, 7).

Before the Spirit of God can work creatively in our hearts He must condemn and slay the “flesh” within us; that is, He must have our full consent to displace our natural self with the Person of Christ. This displacement is carefully explained in Romans 6, 7,and 8. When the seeking Christian has gone through the crucifying experience described in chapters 6 and 7 he enters into the broad, free regions of chapter 8. There self is dethroned and Christ is enthroned forever.

In the light of this it is not hard to see why the Christian’s attitude toward self is such an excellent test of the validity of his religious experiences. Most of the great masters of the deeper life, such as Fenelon. Molinos, John of the Cross, Madame Guyon and a host, of others, have warned against pseudoreligious experiences that provide much carnal enjoyment but feel the flesh and puff up the heart with self-love.

A good rule is this: If this experience has served to humble me and make me little and vile in my own eyes it is of God; but if it has given me a feeling of self-satisfaction it is false and should be dismissed as emanating from self or the devil. Nothing that comes from God will minister to my pride or self-congratulation. If I am tempted to be complacent and to feel superior because I have had a remarkable vision or an advanced spiritual experience, I should go at once to my knees and repent of the whole thing. I have fallen a victim to the enemy.

5. Our relation to and our attitude toward our fellow Christians is another accurate test of religious experience.

Sometimes an earnest Christian will, after some remarkable spiritual encounter, withdraw himself from his fellow believers and develop a spirit of faultfinding. He may be honestly convinced that his experience is superior, that he is now in an advanced state of grace, and that the hoi polloi in the church where he attends are but a mixed multitude and he alone a true son of Israel. He may struggle to be patient with these religious worldlings, but his soft language and condescending smile reveal his true opinion of them-and of himself. This is a dangerous state of mind, and the more dangerous because it can justify itself by the facts. The brother has had a remarkable experience; he has received some wonderful light on the Scriptures; he has entered into a joyous land unknown to him before. And it may easily be true that the professed Christians with whom he is acquainted are worldly and dull and without spiritual enthusiasm. It is not that he is mistaken in his facts that proves him to be in error, but that his reaction to the facts is of the flesh. His new spirituality has made him less charitable.

The Lady Julian tells us in her quaint English how true Christian grace affects our attitude toward others: “For of all things the beholding and loving of the Maker maketh the soul to seem less in his own sight, and most filleth him with reverent dread and true meekness; with plenty of charity to his fellow Christians.” Any religious experience that fails to deepen our love for our fellow Christians may safely be written off as spurious.

The Apostle John makes love for our fellow Christians to be a test of true faith. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him” (I John 3:18, 19). Again he says, “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” (I John 4:7, 8).

As we grow in grace we grow in love toward all God’s people. “Every one that loveth him that begot loveth him also that is begotten of him” (I John 5:1) . This means simply that if we love God we will love His children. All true Christian experience will deepen our love for other Christians.

Therefore we conclude that whatever tends to separate us in person or in heart from our fellow Christians is not of God, but is of the flesh or of the devil. And conversely, whatever causes us to love the children of God is likely to be of God. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

6. Another certain test of the source of religious experience is this: Note how it affects our relation to and our attitude toward the world.

By “the world” I do not mean, of course, the beautiful order of nature which God has created for the enjoyment of mankind. Neither do I mean the world of lost men in the sense used by our Lord when He said, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16, 17). Certainly any true touch of God in the soul will deepen our appreciation of the beauties of nature and intensify our love for the lost. I refer here to something else altogether.

Let an apostle say it for us: “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. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:16, 17) .

This is the world by which we may test the spirits. It is the world of carnal enjoyments, of godless pleasures, of the pursuit of earthly riches and reputation and sinful happiness. It carries on without Christ, following the counsel of the ungodly and being animated by the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience (Eph. 2: 2) . Its religion is a form of godliness, without power, which has a name to live but is dead. It is, in short, unregenerate human society romping on its way to hell, the exact opposite of the true Church of God, which is a society of regenerate souls going soberly but joyfully on their way to heaven.

Any real work of God in our heart will tend to unfit us for the world’s fellowship. “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” (I John 2:15). “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Cor. 6:140. It may be stated unequivocally that any spirit that permits compromise with the world is a false spirit. Any religious movement that imitates the world in any of its manifestations is false to the cross of Christ and on the side of the devil and this regardless of how much purring its leaders may do about “accepting Christ” or “letting God run your business.”

7. The last test of the genuineness of Christian experience is what it does to our attitude toward sin.

The operations of grace within the heart of a believing man will turn that heart away from sin and toward holiness. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:11-13) .

I do not see how it could be plainer. The same grace that saves teaches that saved man inwardly, and its teaching is both negative and positive. Negatively it teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Positively it teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly right in this present world.

The man of honest heart will find no difficulty here. He has but to check his own bent to discover whether he is concerned about sin in his life more or less since the supposed work of grace was done. Anything that weakens his hatred of sin may be identified immediately as false to the Scriptures, to the Saviour and to his own soul. Whatever makes holiness more attractive and sin more intolerable may be accepted as genuine. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psa. 5: 4, 5).

Jesus warned, “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect.” These words describe our day too well to be coincidental. In the hope that the “elect” may profit by them I have set forth these tests. The result is in the hand of God.

                      img_3927_web.jpg 

The Bible teaches that all Christians should grow in spiritual discernment.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
– Hebrews 5:12-14 NASB

Paul told the Thessalonians:
Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 NASB

While he encouraged the Thessalonians not to discount or dismiss the Holy Spirit – by despising that which was being taught as coming from God (prophecy) – Paul instructed them to test everything.

In other words, if someone preaches or teaches something that he or she claims was inspired by God, we are not to despise it – which would result in quenching the Holy Spirit.
However, we are to carefully examine that which is being taught.

Earlier, Luke called the people of Berea – where Paul and Silas had been sent to preach – “more noble-minded that those in Thessalonica,” because
they received the word with great eagerness, examining [anakrino] the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.
– Acts 17:11-12 NASB

Thus the Bereans did not quench the Spirit, but rather tested what was being taught, using Scripture as their guide.

How to grow in spiritual discernment

The only way to grow in spiritual discernment is
a) by relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit who indwells every true Christian, and
b) by stuyding God’s Word, the Bible.

These two go hand-in-hand:

The Holy Spirit

One can not expect someone who has just accepted Jesus Christ as his savior to have a full, working knowledge of Biblical theology. The Bible indicates that people come to Jesus because the Holy Spirit draws them and they respond to His invitation.

When someone accepts Jesus Christ, he becomes regenerated (born again – a new person, spiritually). Among other things, he receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which puts him at a great advantage over non-Christians. Paul puts it like this:
11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
16 For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct. – 1 Corinthians 2:11-16

The Bible

The Bible provides the standard against which all teachings must be tested:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB

Hand-in-hand

This reliance both on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and on God’s Written Word should keep Christians focused on God.

If Christians were to rely only on their ability to listen to the Holy Spirit, they would leave themselves open to all manner of private teachings and interpretations – without any rules by which to rest such revelations.

At the same time, it they were to rely only on their own ability to interpret and apply the Scriptures, they would leave no room for God’s guidance in revealing to them the riches of his Word.

As Christians our focus should always be on the living God, with whom we have an interactive relationship.

Relying on the discernment of others

No Christian is an island. There is much to be learned from one another, as we share the wisdom and insights God has revealed to us from His Word, by His Holy Spirit.

Sadly, though, many Christians leave the responsibility for discernment almost completely up to others. Their guidance comes primarily from televangelists, authors (and, more often than not, their ghost writers), their pastors, or their favorite websites.

That’s like being spoon-fed by someone else – marking one as an infant, rather than as a mature Christian:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
– Hebrews 5:12-14 NASB

By all means, let’s learn from one another – eagerly receiving the word, while also examining everything carefully.

Discernment as a spiritual gift

Christians who believe that the Spiritual Gifts are still available today, see the gift of “distinguishing between spirits” (discerning whether they are human, from God, or demonic), to be a special form of discernment (revealed, instead of learned):
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
– 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, NASB

This article taken from Apologetics Index

November 2019
S M T W T F S
« Oct    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Archives

a

Blog Stats

  • 1,663,067 hits

Donations

I do not ask or want donations for this blog. God supplies all I need to share His Word and His Way of Salvation. Revelation 21:6 says, “..I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. “