I Corinthians 12:1-3 — Discerning the spirits

If there is one thing that you can count on Satan to do, it’s that he will counterfeit the good things God has created.  In place of a loving marriage, for example, he will promote sexual promiscuity.  In place of a lasting joy that fulfills, he will substitute temporary pleasures that ultimately leave you empty.

The same is true with spiritual gifts.  Satan counterfeits the very things the Spirit of God does in the lives of believers.  Within the cults and occult, for example, you will see counterfeit tongues, healing, miracles, and other things.

And so Paul was very concerned that the Corinthians be able to discern the real from the counterfeit.  He wrote,

Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.  You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. (1-2)

How were the Corinthians influenced and led astray is not clear, but in all probability it was through the counterfeit spiritual experiences Satan gave them.  So Paul gives them a very basic test to discern what was coming from God and what was not.  He said,

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (3)

One test that we see is that no one can curse Jesus and be led by the Spirit.  It is impossible.  Every once in a while we’ll see that extreme and those are easy to detect.  But Paul goes on to say that no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

So many people in the cults, occult, and other religions will say wonderful things about Jesus.  “He was a very good man.”  “He was a great religious teacher.”  “He was a prophet.”

But one thing they will not admit that he is Lord of all.  That he is indeed the one true God in human flesh.

A word of caution, however.  Just because someone says, “Jesus is Lord,” doesn’t necessarily mean their words come from the Holy Spirit.  I said before Satan throws out many counterfeits.  Did you know he also has a counterfeit Jesus.  Paul talks in II Corinthians 11:4  about “another Jesus.”

The Jesus of the Mormons is one of many gods, and is the spirit brother of Satan.  The Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the archangel Michael.

So whenever people say, “Jesus is Lord,” we also have to ask the question, “Which Jesus?”  The real or the counterfeit.  And the only way you can tell the difference is by comparing the Jesus they preach with the Jesus of the Bible.

The key thing then, when discussing spiritual gifts and spiritual experiences is to discern where these things are coming from.  Are they coming from God?  If they are, they will be completely consistent with what the Bible says.  And that starts with acknowledging who Jesus is.  That Jesus is the one true God come to this earth in the flesh, and that he is Lord of all.

So let us not just believe that every spiritual thing we see and experience is from God.  Instead, let us test all things, holding fast to what is good.  (I Thessalonians 5:21)


About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: crossroad-web.com 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください: crossroad-web.com
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