So if the dead are merely sleeping, then who are the spirits mediums and psychics contacting? Revelation NKJV, says "But they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Fallen angels can deceive us by appearing as good beings, even spirits of people we are familiar with. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. No wonder the Bible is so adamant about not communicating with the dead. Throughout the Bible are more than a few accounts of people tortured by evil spirits.
And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. But God offers to anyone an alternative.
We see this eminently in young Josiah, and it was that special mark on which God put the broad seal of his approbation, "Because your heart was tender. But what makes the heart tender? When God begins his work of grace upon a sinner's soul, he puts his finger upon his heart, thus doing to it what he did to that band of men who went home with Saul, of whom we read, "whose hearts God had touched.
The touch of God in a man's soul makes it soft and tender. It is with the soul as with the earth and the hills— "He uttered his voice, the earth melted. This tenderness of spirit thus produced, manifests itself in its actings, movements, and dealings towards God and man. First, it is tender toward GOD ; for it is often very sore under divine pressure.
The hand of God is very weighty and powerful wherever strongly laid on.
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This made the Psalmist cry, "Day and night your hand was heavy upon me. So also, "Remove your stroke away from me; I am consumed by the blow of your hand. Under the pressure, then, of this hand, sin is felt as a heavy burden, and very many keen sensations agitate the breast, making the conscience sore, and causing it to smart under painful apprehensions of the anger of God, and of his displeasure against the sins we have committed and the evils that work in us.
This tenderness of spirit, God notices and approves of, for there is in it that brokenness of which we read— "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit" Psalm. Now it is by the keen sensations which are thus produced by the Spirit of God in the soul, that the gracious convictions of a child of God are distinguished from the natural convictions of a reprobate.
A man may have the deepest convictions, may be, to use a common expression, shaken over the mouth of hell, and yet never have the fear of God in his soul, never possess any one feature or mark of that tenderness of spirit of which I have spoken, of that contrite and humble spirit with which God dwells Isa. Natural convictions, however severe, if they are but natural, may drive a man to desperation, but they will never produce real tenderness of spirit Godwards.
Trying the Spirits | For Those Who Have Ears To Hear
After a time they will wear off, and his heart will become as hard toward God as a piece of the nether millstone; hardened, one may say, as the blacksmith's anvil, by the very blows which have fallen upon it. But the grace, the Spirit, and the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is tenderness itself, will ever manifest themselves by producing in the soul a tender spirit Godwards. This is especially shown in the tender sensations of a living conscience under a sight and sense of sin, not only in its guilt but in the discovery of the dreadful evils of the heart as they rise up to view, and as their exceeding sinfulness is more and more opened up as being hateful and detestable to God.
The soul under divine teaching is led to see and feel that he who touches God's people touches the apple of God's eye. This makes him tender of wounding the feelings of God's saints, of speaking anything to their injury, even thinking anything to their detriment; for having a tender feeling toward the Lord, he has a tender feeling toward those who are the Lord's.
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This tender spirit manifests itself as one of the first evidences of divine life in the warm love and gentle affection which spring up in the believing heart toward the people of God. The grace of God making the heart and conscience tender, kindles, produces, and keeps alive a tender affection toward God's saints as a conspicuous part of this tenderness; and it thus becomes the first sensible evidence of its divine origin; as John speaks— "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.
And again— "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. I have no good opinion of any man's religion which did not begin with a spirit of prayer. I know that mine began so, and that it came upon me without my seeking to produce it, and has more or less abode with me to this day.
FOUR SIGNS SPIRIT MIGHT BE TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION
This spirit of prayer indeed is one of the chief marks which distinguish gracious convictions from those which are merely natural. Do you find that Saul, or Ahithophel, or Judas ever prayed? Is not this spirit of prayer a special gift of God? Has not he declared that he will pour upon the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication? And what is the effect of this heavenly shower?
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Here we have the union of three gracious marks— a spirit of prayer to cry for mercy, a looking unto and upon Jesus whom they have pierced, and repentance and godly sorrow over their sins and over him. None of these things are found except in those on whom God shows mercy. The same mark is given by another of the prophets— "They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them.
We see this mark eminently in the case of Saul. Acts Wherever then there is a prayerful spirit, it is a blessed mark, and that it is the Lord's purpose to grant him every desire of his heart. Indeed, until God is pleased to pour out upon us the spirit of grace and of supplications, we cannot worship him aright; for God is a Spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth John ; nor can we, without this Spirit, offer up that spiritual sacrifice which is acceptable to him through Jesus Christ.
When this spirit has been once given and kindled in a believer's breast, it never dies out. It is like the fire upon the bronze altar, which was first given by the Lord himself from heaven, and concerning which God gave this command— "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out. This fire might sink low; it might be covered with the ashes of sacrifice, but it never was allowed to go out for lack of supply of fuel. So at times it may seem to you as if there were scarcely any spirit of prayer alive in your bosom; and you may feel as destitute of a spirit of grace and of supplication as if you had never known its lively movements and actings.
But you will find it drawn out from time to time by circumstances. You will be placed under peculiar trials, under which you will find no relief but at a throne of grace; or God will in tender mercy breathe again upon your soul with his own gracious Spirit, and by his quickening breath will revive— I will not say kindle, for it is not gone out, that holy fire which seemed to be buried under the ashes of corruption, that inward spirit of prayer which he gave you at regeneration, and which will never cease until it issues in everlasting praise.
This new and true spirit is also a CAREFUL spirit — by which I mean, it is utterly opposed to, and distinct from that careless spirit which I have denounced as eminently a spirit of falsehood and error. There is nothing of this recklessness and thoughtlessness in the new spirit, the spirit of truth. On the contrary, it is jealous over itself with a godly jealousy.
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It fears to be wrong, it desires to be right. Whatever the consequences or the sacrifices which to walk in the right way of the Lord may entail, the soul born of God desires to be right. And by this spirit of godly jealousy over self, by this earnest and unceasing desire to be made right and kept right, it is preserved from many of those snares into which others heedlessly fall, and by which they bring either destruction or misery upon themselves.
There is a distinction to be made between faith and the spirit of faith. The spirit of faith is faith in exercise.
Faith sometimes is like a day in which there is no wind blowing. It is so calm, that there scarcely appears to be any air stirring to move a leaf. But after a time a gentle breeze comes and blows over the earth. Thus it is with faith and the spirit of faith. Faith in repose is like the calm air of a summer's day, when there is nothing moving or stirring; faith acting, faith in exercise, is like the same air in the gentle breeze which makes itself sensibly felt. If God has given me faith, that faith is never lost out of my breast.
If once a believer, I always am a believer; for if I could cease to believe, I would cease to be a child of God; I would lose salvation out of my heart, for I am saved by grace through faith. And yet there may be many times and seasons when I may not have much of the spirit of faith. Faith may be very inactive, I will not say stagnant, for that would almost imply death, but still, quiet, calm, sleeping like a bird with its head under its wing. But in due time there is a stirring, a movement; a gracious blowing of the Spirit— "Awake, O north wind, and come O south wind; blow upon my garden.
This heavenly breath of the Holy Spirit acts upon faith, awakens it, revives and reanimates it, and draws it forth into lively operation. It thus becomes a spirit of faith, acting spiritually and energetically according to its measure. John was "in the Spirit on the Lord's day. He was not always in the Spirit by lively action, though he was never out of the Spirit by his extinction. So faith is sometimes, so to speak, in the Spirit; and then its eyes are open, like the eyes of John, to see spiritually what he saw visibly, the Person of Christ, and its ear open to hear inwardly what he heard outwardly, the words of Christ.
But the spirit of LOVE is one of the grand characteristics of this new and true spirit; for "love is of God, and he that loves knows God and is born of God. I may have hopes, expectations, and evidences, fainter or brighter; but I have no sure, clear evidence in my own soul that I have the Spirit and grace of Christ there, except I am blessed with the love of God; for until love comes, there is fear which has torment. And while we have fear which has torment, there is no being made perfect in love.
You have no clear assurance in your own breast that God has loved you with an everlasting love; nor have you any bright testimony that the Spirit of God makes your body his temple until this love comes into your soul. But when the crowning blessing comes of the love of God experimentally felt and enjoyed by his own shedding of it abroad in the heart, with the communication of the spirit of adoption to cry "Abba, Father," that is the sealing testimony of your possession of the true spirit; for it is "a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind;" and where there is this there is also a spirit of love and affection to all the family of God.
I am obliged to pass by various other marks of this true spirit, for I must not omit to bring before you the 'trying of the spirits' as one prominent feature of my present discourse. Observe the strong and striking language of John— "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
John here addresses himself to the family of God. He would not encourage that foolish, childish credulity which receives everything and everybody that makes a profession of religion. And this warning cry is addressed to us as well as to them, if we are among the "beloved;" and indeed was never more needed than now. There is much delusion abroad, many errors , many abounding evils.
There is then with us a kind of spiritual necessity not to believe every spirit, not to receive with superstitious credulity whatever any man or minister, however high in a profession, may tell us. We are to be upon our guard not to be imposed upon by erroneous men, however plausible or however popular, not to be beguiled by any false spirit, from whatever quarter it blows or from whatever mouth it comes; but in the calm, quiet depths of our own bosom, in all simplicity and godly sincerity, with meekness and humility, to try the spirits, to weigh them, to examine them well, and come to some decision in our own conscience what manner of spirit that is, which calls upon us for our acceptance as of God.
We are continually thrown into the company of professors of religion. What must we test then, in them that we may follow John's directions? Not their words altogether, though words sometimes are quite sufficient to manifest a man's real character, for a "fool's voice is known by the multitude of words. But men may say anything; and the more men's consciences are hardened the more boldly and presumptuously they can speak. What man in business trusts men's words, unless they have other evidence?
How deceptive words are! What imposition is continually practiced by plausible words and strong protestations, loud declarations, and repeated promises. Men of business look for something beyond all these words— they want realities, substance, facts, deeds and documents, responsibility and security. And shall we be less wise than they? Shall the children of this world be wiser in their generation than the children of light? We then have to try the spirits, our own and others, to see whether they are of God, leaving to novices and self-deceivers to be beguiled by the plausible words of 'hypocrites in Zion'.
But how shall we try them? There are four ways whereby we may try the spirits, whether they are of God. The first is by the word of truth. God has given us the Scriptures, blessed be his holy name, as a perfect revelation of his mind and will. There he has deposited his sacred truth in all its purity and blessedness, that it may shed a continual and steady light from generation to generation. We must then bring ourselves and others to the test of the Scriptures to know whether the spirit which is in us or in them is of God or not.
Now in this chapter John gives us several tests whereby to try the true spirits. One is the confession that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. In those days there was a set of pestilent heretics who denied the real humanity of our blessed Lord. They held that his body was not real flesh and blood of the substance of the Virgin, but a mere shadowy appearance. But what was the effect of this vile and damnable error? To destroy in a moment all the effects of Christ's suffering and death; for if his body were a shadowy body, there could be no taking of the nature of the children, no substitution of himself in their place and stead, and therefore no true sacrifice, no real atonement for sin.
Parallel Verses King James Version Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
We must then observe, that we may be able to discern the spirits of God which are to be followed, from impure spirits which are to be avoided. This is the second of a pair of twin verses which deal with substantially the same subject under two slightly different aspects. The thought common to both is that Christ's mission is the great revelation of God's love.
Trying the Spirits
But in the preceding verse the point on which stress is laid is the manifestation of that love, and in our text the point mainly brought out is its … Alexander Maclaren— Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John The Servant as his Lord ' As He is, so are we in this world. Large truths may be spoken in little words. Profundity is often supposed to be obscurity, but the deepest depth is clear.
John, in his gospel and epistles, deals with the deepest realities, and with all things in their eternal aspects, but his vocabulary is the simplest in the New Testament. God and the world, life and death, love and hate, light and darkness, these are the favourite words round which his thoughts gather. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. John has been speaking of boldness, and that naturally suggests its opposite--fear. He has been saying that perfect love produces courage in the day of judgment, because it produces likeness to Christ, who is the Judge.
In my text he explains and enlarges that statement. For there is another way in which love produces boldness, and that is by its … Alexander Maclaren— Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John Love Can you imagine a being placed halfway between this world and heaven?