Reconciling "do not test God" mandate with "testing all spirits" mandate


#1

In reading many of the posts on this stie about the Holy Spirit and how it tells people to act in certain ways, etc., I have noticed two recurring suggestions:

  1. An admonition to not test God, or to tempt Him.
  2. An admonition of skepticism that says not to believe every Spirit.

Both have roots in Scripture.

In Exodus 7, we read that the Israelites did wrong in not believing that God was among them and would provide for them. They tested God. Jesus, when the Devil tries to get him to jump off the Temple’s roof, Jesus replies by quoting Deut. 16.6–“Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

In 1 John 6 we read that one should “test the Spirits to see whether they are of God.” In 1 Thessalonians 5.19 we read, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” This verse comes immediately after a verse about the Spirit and then a verse about prophecy. It seems that we are to test all spirit to see if they are of the Holy Spirit–who is God. Is this potential testing of the Spirit the same as the testing of God at Massah?

In any case, I believe there are two types of testing–one which is a test that lacks trust in God, and another which does not compromise one’s trust in God, but which only seeks to discern God from evil.

Some people might say that we should not test certain groups claiming to be full of the Holy Spirit if they seem to bear good fruits. And it is true that we recognize what is of God by its fruits. However, it seems that in today’s world, when you have altrustic Wiccans, caring psychics and peaceful Buddhists, it is sometimes difficult to discern with this alone.

Does anyone have thoughts about how to reconcile the mandate ordering us not to test God and John and Paul’s statement to test the spirits (which might be the Holy Spirit)?

Thanks :slight_smile:


#2

This may be simplistic, but here goes:

If one is not certain that something is of The Holy Spirit, then test that spirit so that it may reveal it’s true nature. If it is evil, it will be vanquished, if it is of the Holy Spirit, our merciful and compassionate Lord would never scorn you for making certain that you are not being deceived.


#3

Continuing on Mickey’s thoughtful response on “testing spirits” to reveal their true nature, I think that, in contrast “testing God” refers more to situations where you try to say “If I do XYZ, then God has to promise to do something-or-other for me”, or “If God is really listening, he will do such-and-such”. It’s more about putting God on the spot, or trying to control Him to follow your own will. I think if you look up some of the OT references of how the Israelites put the Lord to the test in the desert, this is the kind of thing you will find.


#4

[quote=Bobby Jim]Continuing on Mickey’s thoughtful response on “testing spirits” to reveal their true nature, I think that, in contrast “testing God” refers more to situations where you try to say “If I do XYZ, then God has to promise to do something-or-other for me”, or “If God is really listening, he will do such-and-such”. It’s more about putting God on the spot, or trying to control Him to follow your own will. I think if you look up some of the OT references of how the Israelites put the Lord to the test in the desert, this is the kind of thing you will find.
[/quote]

You are correct Bobby Jim. God is not a Genie who is supposed to grant all our wishes!


#5

Ok, thanks everyone. What you said about “testing God” is along the lines of what I was thinking. To test God is to try to force God to do something. “If I do this, you better give me eternal life.” “Give me a vision of Christ or I will not believe in Him.” etc. :irish2:

whoa. Where did those Irish smilies come from?! :shamrock:

:irish1:


#6

Ok, I have a question about this too. What about Ahaz in the OT (I think it might have been Isaiah), when he didn’t want to test God? After Ahaz said this, it seemed like he was supposed to test God. Can someone clarify this for me?


#7

Here’s the passage about Ahaz:

Isaiah 7.10-12:

10 Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, 11 "Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights."
12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.”

The first thing I notice is that, unlike the Israelites at Massah, who prompted God to do something, here God prompts Ahaz to do something. God orders Ahaz to ask Him to show a sign, but Ahaz, in his disobedience (and, it seems, distrust and fear), misues Scripture as an excuse not to follow God’s orders. Ironically, Ahaz, in altering Scriptures with the hope that God will accept his use of Scripture, tests God.

That’s at least how I interpret it.


#8

How do you test spirits anyway? I mean, very specifically how? What do you do, ask “Are you from God, or from Hell?” and hope it tells you the truth?


#9

Originally Quoted by Cherub:

How do you test spirits anyway? I mean, very specifically how? What do you do, ask “Are you from God, or from Hell?” and hope it tells you the truth?

There are two methods I can think of that are shown in Scripture. The first is to demand the spirit, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to confess that the Lord Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. This is found in 1 John 6. The second method is to demand the spirit, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he confess that “Jesus is Lord.” According to Scripture, no spirit can confess that “Jesus is Lord” unless moved by the Holy Spirit.


#10

[quote=Madaglan]There are two methods I can think of that are shown in Scripture. The first is to demand the spirit, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to confess that the Lord Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. This is found in 1 John 6. The second method is to demand the spirit, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he confess that “Jesus is Lord.” According to Scripture, no spirit can confess that “Jesus is Lord” unless moved by the Holy Spirit.
[/quote]

Thanks. I have heard this before, but for some reason I always forget it. I think this would rule out what another poster was talking about earlier in the thread – how we are now in a world with peaceful Buddhists, etc… because I think you’d be hard pressed to get any of them to make those sorts of confessions.


closed #11

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.