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:
- An admonition to not test God, or to tempt Him.
- 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)?