DISCERNING THE SPIRITS IS MORE THAN JUST A ‘FEELING’
BY: BRENDA IMUS
Too often it seems we Christians mistake our “feelings” about this person or that person for “discernment.” While it’s true that we may get an inward witness about someone’s spirit, there is a scriptural discernment test of the spirits that is much more reliable than merely counting on our feelings. It’s found in 1 John – and before you say, “Oh! I already know that test,” read on. There’s much more than meets the (undiscerning) eye in the verses we’re about to study.
I Jn 3:23-4:6 23] And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24] And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit, which he hath given us.
CHAPTER 4: 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.
Most of us have heard this taught as though all we have to do is ask the person we’re dealing with if he/she believes that Jesus came in the flesh, died, and was resurrected. Problem is, we ALL know that not everyone who professes Christ’s birth, death and resurrection are truly born-again Spirit-moved believers. I asked the Lord to show me, then, what is actually being taught. The truth was hidden in plain sight.
Part of the problem comes from the improper separation between chapters three and four. Note verse 3:23, and the emphasis on the fact that the Holy Spirit is the One who gives us experiential knowledge of Christ LIVING IN US. This is the Holy Spirit’s job – to make known the Son.
Now go to chapter four, and see that we can know if a spirit is of Christ by whether or not it acknowledges that CHRIST HAS COME IN THE FLESH. See where verse four emphasizes CHRIST IN US again? Now look at verse six: WE ARE FROM GOD, and whoever knows God LISTENS TO US; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. THIS IS HOW WE RECOGNIZE THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH AND THE SPIRIT OF FALSEHOOD.
Do you see it? What this is clearly teaching is that if the spirit at work within the other person is the Holy Spirit, He will recognize and acknowledge that JESUS HAS COME IN OUR FLESH, and will LISTEN TO WHAT JESUS IS SAYING THROUGH US. If he does not recognize Christ in us, and hear what He is saying through us, then that person is operating out of a false spirit, i.e.: ONE THAT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST LIVING IN US. The Holy Spirit recognizes Christ wherever He appears. False spirits deny Him.
Now a word of warning is in order here: we imperfect humans can operate out of different spirits at different times. It will be so until He has been perfected in us. An example of this is in Matthew, where Christ blesses Peter for manifesting revelatory knowledge from the Father, and then in the next passage rebukes him for speaking out of the spirit of Satan.
Matt 16:15-23: 15] He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16] And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18] And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19] And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 20] Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. 21] From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22] Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23] But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Ever wonder why Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about Him (verse 20)? This was because, even then, only the Spirit of God could reveal the Son to those whom the Father willed (v. 17). Those who learned who He was only according to naturally gained knowledge would know him only after the flesh. (While it’s true that the Holy Spirit wasn’t poured out until Pentecost, still God would reveal Christ by His Spirit to whomever He chose–v. 17).
Anyway, just because a brother or sister comes out of a wrong spirit at any given time doesn’t mean that person is “of the devil.” It only means that a false spirit is preventing them from recognizing Christ in a particular person, situation or teaching. When that happens, we pray that their eyes be opened to the truth, and trust the Lord to do His work in them as we hold them up in love. (See the rest of 1 John). Meantime, we must be very sensitive to the Holy Spirit as to what we do, or do not, reveal to them by the Spirit of Christ. We can do them more harm than good if we’re not careful. And that’s to say nothing of the harm they may do whatever cause Christ is working through us!
DISCERNING THE SPIRITS IS MORE THAN JUST A FEELING [Brenda Imus] 1