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Testing the Spirits

Everywhere I look I see signs of the ever-darkening apostasy gathering around us. One of the signs that alarms me the most is the growing number of dynamic teachers who encourage believers to cultivate a relationship with the Holy Spirit that is free from the traditional evangelical dependence on the Bible — a dependence which they smear as slavish or legalistic. They, for all practical purposes, discourage testing the spirits.

This instruction is a recipe for disaster. When men look to the Spirit for guidance independent of the Bible, they throw the doors wide open for spiritual deception. Don’t be fooled for a moment by the smug insistence that God won’t allow sincere followers of his Spirit be led astray. This is a dangerous half-truth that needs to be qualified. The whole truth is that God won’t let men be led astray IF they follow his manifesto for being led of the Spirit.

So what is God’s manifesto for being led of his Spirit? Three simple but profound points:  1) The Spirit’s job is teaching truth,  2) The truth is the Bible, and 3) We are to test the spirits by the Bible.  If we refuse this manifesto, we have no way to discern what is the leading of the Spirit and what is the leading of a spirit pretending to be the Holy Spirit — we guarantee that we will be led astray.

Regarding the first point,  John 16:13 says, “when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”

Regarding the second point,  John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth.” John 8:31-32 says, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” And Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Though this is Old Testament, the principle still holds true in this age.)

Regarding the third point, Acts 17:11 says,  “[The Bereans] were more noble than the Thessalonians, for they received the Word with all  readiness of mind and searched the Scripures daily, whether these things were so.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Test all things. Hold fast to that which is good.” And 1 John 4:1 adds, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

This boils down to the absolute centrality of the Bible — the Holy Spirit leads the believer into the Bible and teaches him through the Bible, and the believer uses the Bible as spiritual litmus paper to test every teaching, every teacher, and every spirit that comes as a messenger of light pretending to be the Holy Spirit.

Ultimately the whole mass of professing Christians is going to be divided into the remnant and the whore church by this acid test. The true followers of Jesus will test the spirits by the Bible and reject every voice as false that departs from its teachings. Those following the siren songs of the whore church will, through the teaching of deceiving spirits, test the Bible and find it lacking — whether insufficient or filled with errors.

Are you prepared for the deception of the last days? 2 Timothy 3:1-13 says, “In the last days perilous times shall come … as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so men of corrupt minds will resist the truth … evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” And 1 Timothy 4:1 adds, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” If we are not testing the spirits, by an infallible standard—the Word of God—we are guaranteed to fall prey to error.

“Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire.”

Lee W. Brainard


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