God chooses certain people to lead the church, those who move twards spiritual maturity and discernment to reject false doctrines and practices that have invaded the church throughout history. As Jesus warned:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15
Apostle Paul also warned churches in Acts 20:29 about people rising from within the church like predatory wolves, which won’t spare anyone but with evil and selfish motives, will invade the church by spreading false doctrines. Yet, surprisingly, the Holy Spirit may not hinder them. Sadly there were and will be such people who take advantage of the gifts of the Holy Spirit but won’t let him change their lives.
So, how can we tell if someone with spiritual gifts like miracles and divine healing is living a pure or a secret life? The answer is simple. Jesus taught us to discern and identify people by the fruit produced in their lives, the kind of lives, and what comes out of their hearts.
“For there is no good tree that produces rotten fruit; nor again a rotten tree that produces good fruit.” Luke 6:43
“By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles?” Matthew 7:16
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control” Galatians 5:22-23
The gifts of the Holy Spirit provide edification, encouragement, and sympathy to spread the Good News of salvation. Therefore, misusing those gifts for personal gain rather than caring for people will have dire consequences:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’ Matthew 7: 21-23
King Saul's life is another vivid example of people serving God with the wrong motives. Saul disobeyed God on many occasions, and consequently, he was exposed to an evil spirit. But when he was passing through a valley where God's prophets were prophesying, though he was chasing to kill David, the Holy Spirit came upon him, and he prophesied!
“Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying, ‘Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.’ … He went there to Naioth in Ramah. Then God’s Spirit came on him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. He also stripped off his clothes, and he also prophesied before Samuel, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 1 Sam. 19:15, 23, 24
We are at war with invisible powers of darkness, not humans (Ephesians 6:12). Therefore, we should be patient and not rush to judgment because occasionally, a new believer may look suspicious and act like someone with questionable motives! Therefore Jesus forewarned and instructed us to be aware and act wisely.
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” Matthew 13: 24-30 (NIV)
The Bible has recorded many stories of good and evil people. For example, chapter 31 of the book of Numbers tells about a greedy man named Balaam. He was a false and disobedient prophet. Although God gave him a mission and several chances to come clean, he lost those opportunities and was killed with a sword.
We are honored and responsible for building up, strengthening, and serving each other sincerely. The Scriptures in 1 Corinthians 12 encourage us to utilize our gifts effectively. If we are serving as leaders, our responsibility is not limited to using only our gifts but helping and providing the opportunity for other believers to use their gifts.
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- The Holy Spirit alone decides and divides spiritual gifts among the believers according to his discretion.
- Only those who speak unknown languages are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Forcing people to speak in unknown languages will hurt the church.
- Prophets reveal the truth or the secrets of the past or present, foretell future events, or bring a new message from God.
- True: 1 Corinthians 12:11 explains it entirely
- False: Those filled with the Holy Spirit may or may not speak in unknown languages. The fruit of the Holy Spirit or the change in one’s way of life is proof of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
- True: Any pressure on Christians who don’t have the gift of speaking in tongues will hurt the church.
- True: The gift of prophecy reveals the truth or secrets and consequently encourages believers.