Testing the spirits


Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 9.31.49 AM

I know this is going to be controversial, but bear with me if you will. We see a lot of “supposed” manifestations of the Holy Spirit active in the Church today. Bear in mind that I have indicated that these are “supposed” manifestations of the Holy Spirit. And when I say that we see these manifestations in the Church today, I am also using the word Church as a broad term. Obvious not every Church that calls itself a Church, is actually part of the Church, the body of Christ. Mormons for example have churches but that does not necessitate that their churches are actually part of the body of Christ, due to their doctrines and beliefs which do not agree with orthodox Christianity.

There is also wide spread disagreement within the Church as to whether the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are actually still operational with our modern churches. A lot of people believe that these gifts were operational within the Church during the early years of Christianity but after the New Testament was formalized and recognized as authoritative, that these spiritual gifts dissipated until they basically disappeared. Conversely, there are a lot of Christians who do not believe that these spiritual gifts are no longer available to the Church, but are indeed still available.

It is not my intent to argue for or against the continuance of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit within the Church today. What I do wish to highlight is what are legitimate manifestations and what are not legitimate manifestations.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit equip the Church to express the fullness of God’s love to the world. Manifestation gifts are one “category” of spiritual gifts that are given to the Church to benefit both believers and unbelievers. These gifts represent the work God does through the life of a believer in a given situation to demonstrate His supernatural power.

Nine manifestation gifts are listed in I Corinthians 12:7–11:

  • Word of wisdom
  • Word of knowledge
  • Faith
  • Gifts of healing
  • Working of miracles
  • Prophecy
  • Discerning of spirits
  • Divers kinds of tongues
  • Interpretation of tongues

After listing the manifestation gifts, the Apostle Paul added this critical statement: “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (I Corinthians 12:11). Remember that the Spirit of God is the Source of these gifts, and they are manifested to bring God glory.

The Apostle Paul also states in 1 Corinthians 14:31-33 NIVFor you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.”

I should also note that all of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are not given to everyone. Paul indicates the following in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 NIV “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a 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 distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” 

And in 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 NIV Paul also states “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.”

The Apostle Paul concludes the instructions and insights of I Corinthians 12–14 with this exhortation: Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Corinthians 14:40).

So I want you to note these three things:

1. All of the operations of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are under the control of the individual who God exercises these gifts through. In other words, the person can stop whenever he or she actively wills to do so. At no time does the manifestation take over total control of the individual. The individual is always in control.

2. There is decency, peace and order associated with all of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit being in operation. That would mean that nothing that would be deemed as indecent, chaos or disorder would be associated with the operation of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

3. In 1 John 4:1-6 NIV it reads “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  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.

Notice that if a spirit manifestation is present, be it a prophecy via a prophet or a word of knowledge, or an interpretation of tongues, it is the spirit operating within the individual who must acknowledge whether Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and is from God, if so challenged.

Conformity with the Word of God, control of all of your facilities, order, decency.

Is being “slain in the Spirit” biblical?
Is having your body controlled by sharp twists of the head biblical?
Is crawling on all fours and making animal sounds biblical?
Is laughing uncontrollably biblical?

The answers are no, no, no and no. Yet all of these manifestations were present within the “Toronto Blessing”, one of the root benchmarks of the NAR movement and at Bethel Church in Redding, California.

You would think that would make people stop and think wouldn’t you.






  1. Hi Bruce. There is a lot to digest in this post. Due to time and space constraints, I’ll state my immediate response to your well thought-out and constructive teaching in brief.
    There is a psychological response to a gathering of like-minded people. Sometimes it can elevate the spirit and bring a sense of false well being among otherwise sensible people. It may be kind of harsh to compare this to mob mentality but the psychological aspect is the same.

    I do believe the Word when it says we are all given gifts. How we use those gifts for good is the responsibility of the person endowed. I’m in your camp in thinking there is some other motive to those who seem to have no other purpose than putting on a show of how gifted they believe they are.


      • Yes, that sounds more likely the source. Yet the conduit I believe remains those psychologically impacted to act like lemmings jumping off a cliff. Thank you for your response and for your post.


  2. Hi Bruce,
    Although this is not controversial to me, you are correct to state it may (will) be to others not familiar with these Biblical concepts.

    R. Scott Clark of “The Heidelblog” had a relevant quote about this today.

    Objection. 1. But the wicked receive many of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who nevertheless do not ask or desire them. Therefore these things are not merely given to such as desire them.

    Answer. The wicked do indeed receive many gifts; but not such as are principal nor peculiar to the elect, as faith, repentance, conversion, remission of sins and regeneration. And still further, the gifts which they do receive do not contribute to their salvation, but to their destruction. And should any one reply, and say that infants do not desire the Holy Ghost, and yet receive him, so that he must be given to more than those who ask and desire, we answer that the Holy Ghost is not given to any except such as desire him, which is to say, to adults who are capable of asking and seeking him. And yet even infants desire the Holy Ghost after their manner, in that they have in possibility an inclination to seek him just as they according to their manner believe, or have an inclination to faith. “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength.” (Ps. 8:2.)

    Zacharias Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, G. W. Williard (Cincinnati, OH: Elm Street Printing Company, 1888), 619–20.



    • Can’t see how the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given to Christians to build up the church and bring glory to God would be given out to non-believers. I think the content in this post leans more towards manifestations in the church that do not originate from the Holy Spirit.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Once in our church ,years ago, we were getting ready to elect officers. One man ” running ” for elder gave his introduction speech and claimed to have “all” of the gifts. LOL. He thought very highly of himself.


Comments are closed.