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Testing All Spirits

A.W. Tozer once said "It is no sin to doubt some things but it may be fatal to believe everything."

Testing All Spirits
In 1 John 4:1-3 it is written, "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. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world."
1 John 4:1 tells us to try or "test the spirits." Why? Because there are false prophecies given by false spirits not only outside the Church but inside. God provides for the testing or trying of the spirits for our own protection. A false prophecy is tested through doctrine, not through what is being said, or human ideology.
God has actually at times raised other prophets to prophecy against false prophets. That tells us that God is concerned about the state of His people, and that He would not have them be cheated by supernatural falsehood. In fact on Ezekiel 13:2-3, it says, "Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, 'Hear the word of the LORD!'" Thus says the Lord GOD: "Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!" So it is possible for one to say or do certain things as if it is the Lord speaking or working through them while in fact it is their own fresh or spirit at work, or worse still using other mediums.
In addressing issues of prophecy, Paul stated that there has to be some order. In 1 Corinthians 14:29, it is written, "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge." Every supernatural act, including preaching and prophecy is to be judged by others who have the same gift or discernment. This provides for the required accountability and thus reduces error. It also acts as a deterrent on those used of God to think that they are a leader in supernatural gifts, or more preferred by God, or even for them to think God can only do mighty things through them. Or God is no respecter of persons.
The cardinal litmus test of a prophecy is how it lines up with the Word of God and how it brings glory to the Lord. However there is need to recognise that while judging the supernatural, such a process should not quench the same. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 it says, "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." We should be ready to receive the workings of God at the same time we should not be naive. The scriptures encourage the church to PROVE all things. That word "prove" is the Greek word “doldmazo”. It means to discern or examine in order to prove whether or not a thing is acceptable. Truth be told, there is spiritual evil as well as a worldly evil out there. To PROVE all things means to test miracles as well as prophecy and teaching.
It is nonsense to think that everything that looks supernatural and everything that looks good is from God. There are witches who can perform powerful miracles, witches who can heal, that doesn’t mean it is of God. In the same way, we cannot hold is as a fact that only God heals. To say so is being myopic for the reasons already mentioned. There are counterfeits and if they can take place outside the Church, there is no justification for anyone to say they can't take place inside as well. In fact counterfeits flourish more where the genuine exists.
The Spiritual and Scriptural Threats
Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-2: "Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." This is one passage of scripture which has been misused in many quarters. Everyone who does not want people to PROVE their spiritual acts, be it preaching, teaching, prophesying tend to use this verse as a defense for any scrutiny of their falsehood and wrong theology. You will notice that the scripture says that “you will be judged; and by your standard of measure” This is because we all different measures. Jesus in eccence is saying, if we make judgments on others, then we are to submit to be judged by the same standards. If we judge another's teaching by the Word of God, then our teachings must also coincide with the truth of God’s Word. We cannot help, correct, rebuke and reproof another without ourselves being ready to be helped, corrected, rebuked and reproofed. This teaching is aimed at ridding the church of any hypocrisy. If we preach the Word, of God, we should realise that the preacher is subject to the same Word of God like the receiver of the Word. No one is exempted.
James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” There should be a stricter way of judging those who are leaders. The measure of judging apparently is not the same.
We are to submit to each other in love so we can walk in humility. Those who do not want to be discerned in their teachings, use Matthew 7:1 “do not judge” out of context to protect their own flawed theology. This is proof that a person is walking in pride and does not have the mind of Christ. The verse is therefore used to protecting their trickery and deception.
It is interesting to note that in the same chapter Jesus spoke about “do not judge” He also gave a warning about false prophets. In Matthew7:15 He said, "Beware of false prophets that come to you in sheep’s clothing.” False prophets are enemies of people. They have a tendency to bring people into bondage. On the outside, they are like every other prophet, you can only know them through their word and deeds. They are ravenous wolves, they come to devour the sheep. And like David we need anointed shepherds who will not tolerate the sheep to be devoured. David was ready at all times to kill the enemies of the flock.
Matthew 7:16-17 continues to state that, “You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree brings forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree brings forth bad fruit... "therefore by their fruits you shall know them." Simply put, Jesus is saying, by the way someone lives, acts and says things, you can know him or her.
When it comes to judging, we cannot judge someone’s heart, intentions or motives. It is only the outside that can be used to tell the inside. The outside will also tell what someone believes and stands for. We therefore are expected to differentiate between the good and the bad. A good tree (a good doctrine) cannot produce a bad fruit. If the tree is bad (false doctrine) it will show in what is taught and how their lives are lived.
Jesus is explaining how to determine a false prophet. He tells us that what they do, will either authenticate them or not. He states that though the prophets may exhibit power and the supernatural in miracles and exorcisms, signs and wonders, but He will end up saying, He never knew them, he had no relationship, with them.
A humble man of God will not be concerned with what others are saying, or how they judge. A massager’s job is to communicate the message, he is not so much to worry how the message has been received. We therefore need the mind of Christ in all spiritual matters.

Prophecy Should Be Judged By Others Who Prophecy
In 1 Corinthians 14:29 the Bible teaches that a prophecy is to be judged by others who prophesy. It says, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.” The Greek word for “judge” is “diachronic” and means “to doubt, discriminate, or separate thoroughly.” This guideline stresses the importance of truth accepted and error rejected. It also stresses accountability, for what one says is to be judged, which reduces the margin for error.
Acts 17:11 tells us that when Paul came to the Berean's, they reacted to his teachings by searching the Word of God to see if Paul was preaching the truth. Paul called them more noble than the Thessalonians because they were concerned with discerning Truth, using Scripture as the standard. Paul did not discourage them from questioning his teaching even though he was an apostle. He approved of it.
If those who are teaching, preaching and prophesying would teach, preach and prophecy in purity, they would not have to be concerned or afraid of their listeners or others checking their teaching, preaching and prophesying with the Word of God, because they would be on target and accurately conveying the truth of the Bible. Only those who know they are off-course will cry, “Don't discern or judge!”
The cardinal rule again is, “All supernatural events must be tested before they can be embraced as truth.” Don't be intimidated by big names who would threaten you not to judge. It's your spiritual right, even your obligation, for your own protection.
Spiritual maturity is measured by the ability to discern. Hebrews 5:11-14 says, “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
God wants to protect his people. There is even a supernatural gift of testing the Spirits that goes beyond the normal way of discerning by the word. This is one gift that is not be sought after in the Church. In 1 Corinthians 12:10 it says, “To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues” We need to distinguish, judge, or discriminate whether a spirit is from God or some other source--possibly evil (Gr. Diakrisis).
Most importantly, the Word of God is available to everyone. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” So we are to use it for ourselves and others to discriminate concerning a teaching or what exactly is transpiring in a supernatural service. Jesus also warned that error occurs for not knowing the scriptures. Matthew 22:29 says “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”
Romans 16:17-18: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.”
These men have an appetite and we need to not be naive'. We identify these people for the brethren’s own safety, we are to identify false teachers for the purpose of protecting the sheep in Christ's Church.
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