King's Business - 1913-10



I would never have attempted. Some­ one is directing' me from the spirit world; if not Jesus, who is it? To me it is a thing incredible, impossible of acceptance, it should be anyone else.”* No slavery more awful can be imagined than the acceptance of an evil spirit as God: no peril, perhaps, is more to be dreaded (Matt. 24:24) in the last days: and probably no child of God has ever harboured a seduc­ ing spirit without submitting it to tests; but they were his own tests and not God’s. Nor do we find ourselves possessed of any infallible discriminating power within us. One fact alone is suffi­ cient to disprove decisively any in­ herent power of discernment in a dis­ ciple. Among the nine miraculous gifts of -the Holy Ghost appears the gift of “discernment of spirits” (1 Cor. 12:10): that is to say, even the miraculously gifted of the apostolic church could not infallibly discrim­ inate one spirit from another unless possessed of this special gift. Much less can we, devoid, as we are, of mir­ acle and inspiration. In direct, in­ spired safeguards of Scripture (if such there be) can be our only possi­ ble safety; and to doubt, or disregard, or deny such Divine safeguards, once discovered, while resting on our own powers to unmask man’s most subtle foe, is to fling away the sword and to fight with the scabbard. Now it is true that there are two general tests, both doctrinal (Gal. 1:8; 2 John 7), and a third that in­ volves both preed and life (Matt. 7: 15-20) : these tests, applied at leisure, are often sufficient to unmask a de­ mon. But a sudden encounter with a spirit requires a more immediate and decisive test, and this is supremely supplied in 1 John 4:l-3.f Here is ♦Christian Commonwealth, Nov. 30, 1910. îT hese te sts have superseded those given through the Law (Deut. 13:1-3) and the

our final safeguard. (I append some obvious inferences in brackets). Beloved [who alone are qualified to put the test (Duke 10:19], be­ lieve not every spirit [for faith in a spirit can be deadly], but prove the spirits [for a spirit either from Heaven or Hell may manifest him­ self at any moment] whether they áre of God : because many false prophets [men really inspired, but by demons, i. e., mediums] are gone out into the world. Hereby [as a God-given criterion] know ye the Spirit of God [therefore the other “spirits” named are also personal beings] : every spirit [who is to be directly addressed, to the ignoring of the prophet (Acts 16:18)] which confesseth [in response to the chal­ lenge] that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh [ a test never before given, and therefore not operative earlier] is of God : and every spirit which confesseth not 1 Jesus [silence or ■shuffling is as fatal as denial] is not of God.* The importance of this inspired test • it is impossible to exaggerate. The Word of God here makes itself re­ sponsible' for the result: if evasion or deception by demons be possible, not only will a spirit’s answer prove to be no criterion, but the whole pass­ age is rendered misleading and un- Prophets (Jer. 28:9). The tests in the Gos­ pels and G alatians are peculiarly valuable where evil spirits are suspected, and yet there are no supernatural m anifestations. ♦It is tru e th a t demons confessed in His lifetime th a t our Lord w as the Holy One of God. B ut (1) this w as not in answer to test, whereas God now commands the putting of a direct challenge to each com­ m unicating spirit; (2) it occurred before these tests had been given to th e Church, and thereforé presum ably before a prohibi­ tion Of evasion had been laid upon the unseen .world; and (3) w hether through policy or compulsion, it is a fact of expe­ rience th a t unclean spirits thus unerringly reveal them selves since oür Lord’s resur- reçtippt

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