Testing Spirit Manifestations

We must test all things by looking at the fruit or how it affects our lifestyle. We must all examine everything in the light of Scripture. We test all things to discern if these reactions are from God, the flesh, or the devil. We test it by seeing whether it honors the Scripture and bears godly fruit in people’s lives.

21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thes. 5:21)

16 You will know them by their fruits…17 Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit…20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Mt. 7:10-20)

11 They [the Bereans] received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)

We are exhorted to test the spirits or to discern the spirit behind a teaching and its fruit.

1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 Jn. 4:1)

In 1741 Jonathan Edwards wrote The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God. He called his readers to evaluate the awakening by looking past the enthusiastic behavior to see the fruit. He wrote of five distinguishing marks of the Spirit’s work. He stated that Satan would not counterfeit activities that led to these responses. If we can answer yes to these then we should regard the manifestation as genuine even if it is unfamiliar to us.

Does it bring honor to the person of Jesus Christ?

Does it produce a greater hatred of sin and a greater love for righteousness?

Does it produce a greater regard for Scripture?

Does it lead people into truth?

Does it produce a greater love for God and man?

In other words, what helps us determine a manifestation as the work of the Spirit is what results from it. It’s not whether we fall down but rather what happens after we get up. Manifestations are not in themselves marks of spirituality, nor do they in themselves guarantee spiritual growth. The confirmation that a manifestation is of the Spirit is seen in the spiritual growth it brings. Is there a new love, humility, and holiness? Is there more fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness? Is there good fruit in the overall ministry or is the leader’s focus on exalting Jesus or getting money, or trying to showcase how much power they have? Are people receiving training in the faith? Is there pastoral oversight? Are people growing in the fruit of the Spirit?

God has chosen foolish and despised things as the context for releasing power (1 Cor. 1:27-28). Therefore, we are not to automatically disregard a manifestation because it is strange or because we are unfamiliar with it. God has specifically chosen things despised by men to manifest power.

27 God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, (1 Cor. 1:27-28)

We respond by expressing gratitude with humility for the present grace of God while being hungry for more; by being humble “learners” instead of proud “experts” in our approach to the things of the Spirit; by being humble and patient with others in our differences of perspective; by making room or giving opportunities for the Spirit to manifest Himself, yet within the boundaries of biblical restraints to show love to others; by being open to freely receive from God without striving to “make something happen.”

We can be closed in our spirit when we are afraid. We fear what we cannot understand. We fear the unknown, the unfamiliar, and the unpredictable.

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