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Topical - Holy Spirit - Discerning of Spirits

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of Spirits

  I.     Two Coexisting Worlds.

       The gift of distinguishing between spirits is another gift that is mentioned only once in the New Testament (in the list at 1 Cor.12:10), but the nature of this gift connects it with a number of other passages that describe the spiritual warfare that occurs between Christians and demonic spirits. We may define the gift of distinguishing between spirits as follows: Distinguishing between spirits is a special ability to recognize the influence of the Holy Spirit or of demonic spirits in a person.

A.     The Spiritual World.

1.       Ministering Spirits (Hebrews 1:14)

       We are grateful for the Holy Spirit, and for His influence upon our lives for good, convincing us of sin, drawing us to Jesus Christ, and molding and shaping us into the image of Jesus

2.       The Army of Satan (Ephesians 6:12)

       There is another realm of spirit beings that is hostile to us & our walk with Christ.  These spirits try to exert and extremely negative influence upon us.  A battle goes on and all of us are engaged in it. 

a)        Evil Spirits are able to appear as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

1)        Transforming themselves (v.13, 14, 15). 

(a)      The word means, “to change in appearance,” “to disguise,” or “to masquerade.” They were false teachers.  This is an outward appearance not inward.

1.         Satan’s emissaries wear religious clothing, & can even stand behind a pulpit.  Use words as God, Jesus and the Bible.

2.         Satan is never more satanic then when he is carrying a Bible.  

(b)                                  Only God can change us on the inside, He is the one who transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:21).  As we continue to gaze into His glory we are transformed into His image (Rom. 8:29; 1Cor.15:49; Col. 3: 10).

b)        The Inability to Discern.

Sometimes we try and analyze our own thoughts: Did that thought come from God, from my flesh, or from Satan?  Who planted that thought in my mind?

1)        Matthew 16:13-17 Confessing Jesus as “Christ, the Son of the living God”

2)        Matthew 16:22-23 Rebuking Jesus.

(a)      Man’s human capabilities cannot bring understanding of the things of God (1 Cor.2:14).

(b)      When a person confesses Jesus as Lord & Savior, has fellowship with Him through His Word, the Spirit opens their minds more & more to the things of God. 

(c)      “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).

B.     How Does This Gift Operate?

1.       A Definite uneasiness within you, having an unrest.

a)        Picking Up On Something that’s Not Obvious to Everyone Else.

1)        Walking in the Spirit, being Spiritually attuned.

(a)      When you walk in the Spirit & are sensitive to His leading, you will sense the power of darkness strongly and clearly (Marylyn Manson Video – Music Awards).

(b)      Remember, because you pick up on it does not mean everybody else will!

C.     Telling True Prophets From False Prophets.

1.       To Some Degree the Presence of Demonic Activity is Outwardly evident.


a)        1Cor.12:2 Dumb Idols

1)        Led astray (apagoµ) was used of prisoners being taken under armed guard to prison. (2 Tim. 3:6). Before a person is saved he is a captive of Satan and of his own depraved nature (2Tim.2:26).

2)        Paul implies that the Corinthians had experienced the effects of evil spirits in their former pagan worship (Psalm 115:1-8).

3)        Remember, Satan is a liar who disguises himself as an angel of light and his servants as ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13–15).

(a)      Jesus warned, “False Christ’s and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect”  (Matt. 24:24).

The sad fact is, however, that they will end up misleading many churchgoers. Mere verbal confession of a doctrinal statement does not guarantee genuine regeneration (cf. Matt. 7:21–23; Luke 6:46) & that is what FALSE TEACHERS HAVE!  In Matthew 7:21–23, Jesus said:

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.

Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?”

And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

2.       The Test of Religion (1 John 4:1-6)

a)        A proper understanding of Christ is a mark of genuine Christianity (2:22, 23; 4:15; 5:1, 5)

1)        What They Think of Christ—Test the Spirits – False Prophets

(a)      Was Jesus the Christ?  Was He the only begotten of the Father?  Was He God in the flesh?

(b)      Satan will always attack the Person & Work of Christ.

1.         Virgin birth, substitutional death, or resurrection.

2.         The Bible, its accuracy or authenticity.

3.         Broadness that would admit any other way to God outside of Christ (Matt.7:13-14)

2)        Through Flattery & Fine Speeches they Try & Rip You Off.

(a)      2 Peter 2:3

(b)      1 Timothy 6:5 if anyone teaches you that godliness is a path to riches, Paul say you can consider him or her a false prophet.

b)        Discernment in the New Testament.

1)        Jesus had the gift of discernment (John 6:64)

2)        Philip had the gift of discernment (Acts 8:5-25)

(a)      #1 mistake is “hearing & seeing the miracles he (Philip) did.”  They had their eyes on the instrument not on God.

3)        Paul also had the gift of discernment.     

(a)      Elymas was an instrument of Satan seeking to pervert the ways of the Lord (Acts 13:6-12)

(b)      A girl possessed with a spirit of divination (Acts 16:16-18)

D.     Counterfeit Christianity.

1.       The Warnings:

1)        Another Gospel:  Galatians 1:6-9
2)        Another Jesus:  2 Corinthians 11:4
3)        Another Spirit and Gospel:  2 Corinthians 11:4
4)        False Apostles:  2 Corinthians 11:13
5)        False Prophets:  Mat. 7:15; 24:11, 24; 13:22; 2 Peter 2:1
6)        False Teachers:  2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1
7)        False Gifts and Miracles:  2 Thes. 2:9; Mat. 24:24 (cf. Mk 13:22)

2.       Using the Truth To Lie.

a)        False Prophets Often Times Speak Truth.

·         You can’t always tell a false prophet by the way he looks—he looks like a sheep

·         You can’t always tell him by what he says—much of what he says is true.

·         They change the definitions of words in order to deceive you.  Remember to . . .

ü   Define all your theological terms. 

ü   Make sure they define what they mean.

ü   Check all scriptural references and put them in the proper context.  Read at least two verses before and after each "proof text" they recite to you.

ü   Be able to give your testimony in language understandable to a non-Christian (don't use "born-again", "redeemed" or "saved" if possible.  If you do make sure you clearly define your terms).

The Mormon God

The Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

"We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."

"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! . . . I am going to tell you how God came to be God.  We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity.  I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. . . It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us al, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible." -- Journal of Discourses 6:3,4 (Also Times and Seasons Vol. 5, p. 613)

*      *     *

"As man is, God once was.  As God is, man may become" -- Prophet Lorenzo Snow


LDS-- believe Christ's death brought release from grave and universal resurrection--Salvation by grace is universal resurrection--beyond this man must earn his place in heaven.

Bible--Salvation is not universal but based on belief of each individual (Rom. 1:16; Heb 9:28; Eph. 2:8,9).


LDS--Baptism into LDS church.

Bible--We are spiritually dead until our spiritual rebirth (1 Peter 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:17).


LDS--Exaltation in Celestial Kingdom--ability to bear children in heaven--must have a Temple marriage.

Bible--Not limited to certain ones in heaven--no mention of parenthood or temple marriage but is given to ALL Christians (1 John 5:12-13).


LDS­­--Hell as an institution is eternal--inmates come and go as in jail--don't spend eternity there--stay until one has paid debt to God.

Bible--no mention of people getting out of Hell (Rev. 21:8,  Mat. 13:24-43, 47-50;  Luke 16:26).


LDS--Is a separate God from Father and Son--different from Holy Spirit--Holy Ghost is a person--Holy Spirit is influence from Father and not personal.

Bible--Same Greek word used for Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19).

If you are a true believer you must protect yourself from the danger of false teachers by…

·         A careful study of God’ Word

o   Studying to show yourself approved (2 Timothy 2:15 cf. Acts 20:32)

o   If you treat God’s Word in a superficial, careless way, you will be prone to accept Satan’s lies. Protect yourself from Satan’s lies by studying God’s Word carefully, diligently, and faithfully.

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