What does it mean to test the spirits?


#1

Need some help with the following: From a non Catholic point of view, what does it mean in 1 John 4:1 when it teaches to test the spirits? How does one test the spirits?

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”


#2

By their fruits you shall know them. That which produces division cannot be of the Unifier - the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, always and everywhere, leads to humble submission and unity.


#3

It's a warning against false prophets. A prophecy can come from God, man, or the devil. We should discern if a word is false or not with the help of other faithful men and if it agrees with scripture and Church teaching.


#4

The bible says that a spirit that is not from God is unable to acknowledge Jesus is Lord.

I don’t have the quote in number but I’ve remembered the words.

Demand they speak the words, “Jesus is Lord” The bible says they CAN NOT DO IT.


#5

I think that basically the Holy Spirit will draw a person and influence others towards the church, whereas a spirit not of God, will push one & others away from the church. I think there is a constant battle always to stick with the church; there are always forces pulling/pushing people away, however God will always draw people close. I think we need to remember that just because we find ourselves in church, that it doesn’t mean that we will be free of the forces that try to pull/push us away.


#6

My question more in context is this: There are many Christian communities out there and all do not share the same theology of salvation but all claim the Bible as their source of truth. How does one in such a community test the spirits to determine if the spirits are good or bad? They all claim good fruits, many claim they are growing in community numbers, and they embrace their faith with conviction and passion. So, how does one advise them to test the spirits?


#7

The Haydock Commentary compiled by Fr. George Leo Haydock (1774-1849) says we should keep the faith and doctrine of the Church as the measure.

Try the spirits; i.e. every doctrine that you hear: for now are many false teachers, false doctors, and false prophets. Wi. — Try, &c. viz. by examining whether their teaching be agreeable to the rule of the Catholic faith and the doctrine of the Church. For, as he says, (v. 6) "He that knoweth God, heareth us: (the pastors of the Church) . . . by this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." Ch. — The Church only, not every private man, hath to prove and discern spirits.


#8

That answers the question for a Catholic. However, what about a non Catholic passionalte Christian testing the spirits and concluding there are good fruits emanating from within there Christian coummunity. How does one help such individuals to know the truth by using this Scriptural teaching?


#9

You must focus on the Holy Spirit, who always and everywhere leads to humble submission and unity. Ephesians 4 is excellent reading in this regard.

The Holy Spirit unites.
The demon divides.


#10

[quote="georgemiller, post:8, topic:313538"]
That answers the question for a Catholic. However, what about a non Catholic passionalte Christian testing the spirits and concluding there are good fruits emanating from within there Christian coummunity. How does one help such individuals to know the truth by using this Scriptural teaching?

[/quote]

I think Protestants that do, would generally use the Bible as a direction for a way of life, not so much for doctrine. Probably they may be led to certain Bible passage or through Bible meditation and study. Then to test the spirit as to how and what that particular verse or passage speak to them especially if it involves a change in way of life. The guideline would be whether the ‘message’ they get from the passage is in line with the message of the scripture as a whole or whether it is in anyway contradicting it.

As for testing the spirit for doctrine, that would be more difficult which perhaps are for their leaders. From Catholics POV, this is really problematic. Who have the Holy Spirit if two persons or more who claim they are being led by the Holy Spirit but got different interpretation or understanding?

And yes, the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin and turn us into humble submission that generally leads to unity among the believers and the Church. It will also bring peace. Any effects that are in contrast to that may not be from the Holy Spirit; that is, they can be from human spirit or even the Evil One. The human spirit is more subtle and difficult to discern but the Evil One as a rule would be more in direct opposition to God though it has been found to be very sly and shrewd sometimes to deceive us.


#11

non catholic point of view? those verses are in the bible… those are GOD’s words… so what are catholic point of view anyway ?

test the spirits… i know i got the idea

EVERY RELIGION has miracles, have seen their gods, have their prayers answered, have seen their saints

EVERY RELIGION has visions, prophecies, claims to be from GOD

and EVERY RELIGION attacks other religion…

now search youtube and google and you would see what i mean… every religion has stories to tell about encountering their gods, prophets, visions, miracles, casting away demons …blah blah and blah

no wonder EVERY DEDICATED BELIEVER OF EVERY RELIGION sticks to their religion…

BUT THE QUESTIONS ARE… IS IT FROM GOD?
ARE WE SURE WE ARE TRULY HEARING FROM GOD?
ARE WE SURE WE HAVE THE RIGHT DOCTRINE?
ARE WE FOLLOWING GOD OR DOCTRINES OF MEN? TRADITION OF MEN?

EVERY RELIGION, EVERY RELIGION AND EVERY RELIGION has encounters with god

BUT IS IT FROM GOD? ONLY ONE ROAD IS A WAY TO GOD…

to test the spirit is simple… ASK GOD HIMSELF AND NEVER GIVE UP PRAYING

GOD CREATED ALL THESE MOUNTAINS, ALL THE PLANETS…

HE CAN ANSWER A VERY SIMPLE QUESTION WHO HE REALLY IS AND WHAT IS THE RIGHT DOCTRINE

CLUE: listen to GOD, more than you listen to people
people lie, GOD doesn’t. GOD answers people who really are seeking HIM
nurture your relationship with HIM


#12

[quote="georgemiller, post:1, topic:313538"]
Need some help with the following: From a non Catholic point of view, what does it mean in 1 John 4:1 when it teaches to test the spirits? How does one test the spirits?

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

[/quote]

Test the spirits...to determine what is from God and what is not. Example, those claims of apparitions, revelations...that the Church investigates.

One criteria is that it does not contradict what has been handed down...and obedience to authority.

How does one test the spirits....if you go read farther down from 1john 4...at verse 6:

from 1John 4.....6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.


#13

[quote="pablope, post:12, topic:313538"]
Test the spirits...to determine what is from God and what is not. Example, those claims of apparitions, revelations...that the Church investigates.

One criteria is that it does not contradict what has been handed down...and obedience to authority.

How does one test the spirits....if you go read farther down from 1john 4...at verse 6:

from 1John 4.....6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

[/quote]

As a practical example, Saint Padre Pio, when ever a spirit would appear to him, before listening to it, would demand that it bow and worship God. Demons cannot do that. This was in a the manner of Mary asking how it was to be that a virgin could conceive. It was a form of testing of Gabriel. John, who wrote of testing the spirits, was made Mary's son, and so probably heard much about it.

The rest of us, being slightly less Saintly, have a different path to follow I would guess.


#14

[quote="georgemiller, post:8, topic:313538"]
That answers the question for a Catholic. However,** what about a non Catholic passionalte Christian testing the spirits and concluding there are good fruits emanating from within there Christian coummunity. **How does one help such individuals to know the truth by using this Scriptural teaching?

[/quote]

Well, are there good fruits emanating? The fruits of the Spirit are:
love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, faithfulness and self-control

This is the fruit that the Spirit of God produces. Where He is, this fruit will be present.

Furthermore, through John's epistle, we know that no one can say "Jesus is Lord" save by the Spirit of God. To say "Jesus is Lord" is to declare His Lordship, it is to confess Him as being deserving of all primacy and obedience. Where obedience to Christ is preached, there the Spirit of God is. The Spirit of God will lead people to obey Christ's commands. We also learn in the Gospel of John that the Spirit convicts of sin. *So the conviction of sin, preaching of obedience to Christ, and submission to Him in obedience are the work of the Spirit alongside the fruit mentioned in Galatians.
*

The Apostle Paul tells us that those who are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. So if I were looking to determine if a person or place was full of the Spirit, I'd look for the above and, as Jesus said, you will know them by their fruit.


#15

[quote="Aussieman88, post:4, topic:313538"]
The bible says that a spirit that is not from God is unable to acknowledge Jesus is Lord.

I don't have the quote in number but I've remembered the words.

Demand they speak the words, "Jesus is Lord" The bible says they CAN NOT DO IT.

[/quote]

On the contrary, demons spoke of Jesus, "I know who you are! The Holy One of Israel!"

The discernment of spirits spoken of in the Scripture passage to which you are referring, is discernment of spirits that move our own thought, and not, rather, actual manifestations of individual beings. The Spirit of Jesus says, "Jesus is Lord," whereas the Spirit of Antichrist will not acknowledge as much.

The surest guide to discerning spirits is found in acknowledging that the Holy Spirit is in fact Holy, and commands holiness. Thus, nothing that comes from the Spirit of Christ will ever command, or even seem to command, sin. Everything that comes from a spirit that is of God will tend toward holiness, and conversion from sin, and anything that does not tend toward these things cannot be from God. Church Unity is, of course, included in holiness. But not a false unity based on compromise, only a true unity based on Charity, and Charity always includes conversion from sin.


#16

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