Now Concerning Spiritual: (1) Making The Distinction

Just because something isn’t spectacular doesn’t mean it’s not spiritual. The book of Esther is a wonderful example of God working within naturally occurring events to bring about His will. It’s a combination of human activity and God working supernaturally behind the scenes. Having the word of God, thousands of years of historical data, the teachings of Jesus, the new birth, and the Holy Spirit gives us the opportunity to cooperate with God to bring about His will in the earth — if only we would would take advantage of our advantages.

Nonetheless, sometimes the works of God are spectacular as we will see in this series. It’s important to distinguish between the moving of the Holy Spirit and the working of demonic power. Satanic power is deception, manipulation, and will profit and glorify the speaker. First Corinthians chapters twelve though fourteen were written to help us make that distinction.

Paul writes, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 12:1). This is a clear statement that God doesn’t want us to be ignorant about spiritual things. As I mentioned in the introduction the word “gifts” was added by the translators for clarity, but in this instance I think it fits better as “spiritual.” The next three chapters deal with spiritual things and not just the gifts.

The apostle continues, “You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:2, 3).

“Dumb idols.” Why would he say that? Because idols don’t speak, but spirits do, and, apparently, there were false prophets declaring, “Jesus is accursed.” What Paul is saying is there were those allegedly speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and saying that Jesus was accursed, but no one speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit would say, “Jesus is accursed.” He continues by stating that a demonic inspired prophesy cannot glorify Jesus by declaring Him Lord, but if the prophesy is inspired by the Holy Spirit then it will declare Jesus as Lord.

Why do I say this? Paul is talking about spiritual things. Someone in the natural can say whatever they want including, “Jesus is Lord.” I’ve seen them do it. They’re speaking out of their head. But someone speaking in the name of an idol by demonic influence cannot declare Jesus as Lord. Demons won’t declare Jesus as the son of God and Lord. False prophets will always preach another Christ and not the Biblical one.

“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:4–6). What does that mean?

Simple, really. In the body of Christ, there are different gifts, ministries, and activities. There may be those that have the same ministry but have different gifts related to that ministry or the may operate differently in their activities. This will become clearer as we delve into the manifestations of the Spirit, but lets look at the greatest ministry gift, Jesus.

Jesus operated in all the ministry gifts: the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. We see this in His earthly ministry. He also operated in all the manifestations of the Spirit except tongues and interpretation of tongues, which are only characteristic of the church age. Gifts of healings are prominent in Jesus’ ministry; yet, we see Him heal blind people in various operations. For instance, one time He touched the eyes of the blind and healed them (Matthew 9:27-31), another time He spit on the ground, made clay, and smeared it on the blind man’s eyes. Then Jesus told the blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam. When the man obeyed, his eyes were healed.

Why, did Jesus heal in different ways? I have no idea, but it’s according to how the Spirit wills. The point is God will use us how He sees fit. Though we may have the same ministry, or the same manifestations of the Holy Ghost, they may operate differently in each of us.

We need to learn to discern the moving of the Holy Spirit, and in order to do so, we must have a working knowledge of 1 Corinthians 12–14. Satan has his own false prophets and teachers, and we must be able to make the distinction between the false and the genuine.

Stay strong and prepared!

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