Testing Every Spirit

God’s people have always wrested with understanding whether or not a doctrine or a practice is from God. However, God has not left His people without solution. In the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 18:20-22, God basically says that the prophets were to be tested in their words. If their prediction comes to pass, they are from God. However, their would be some times when prophecies would extend past normal lifetimes. In Jeremiah 28 and Amos 7 offers a litmus test: fulfillment, relevance, and agreement with the rest of God’s word.

“Testing Spirits”

Modern individuals continue to try to reinvent Jesus and His word, and we. Historically, there has been controversy over the identity of Christ and His teachings. I John 4:1 instructs us not believe everything we hear, but test them out instead to determine the validity of the message. Like the individuals of the Old Testament, we can look at a few key points to help determine the scriptural authenticity of a teaching.

  • Specialized terminology and unique definitions.
  • Beware of human reasoning.
  • Consistency with the rest of God’s word.

These points can abuse scriptures to make them say something that is not there, and it can be easy to follow these paths (especially the second). However, it is very important to respect the scriptures and retain the meanings the authors originally intended if we believe what the Bible has to say about itself.

In II Timothy 3:16, Paul affirms the inspiration of the scriptures. These words did not happen by chance or coincidence. They were not formed in the wisdom of man. They are whole and complete, furnishing us with all we need for godly living. I Peter 1:16-21 reaffirms that the words of scriptures came from God rather than man, and Hebrews 1:1-2 turns to Jesus for authority.

Mark 12:36 records Jesus claiming David spoke by the Holy Spirit. John 14:26 promises the influence of the Spirit on the apostles, and Jesus prays about the apostles’ reception of His words in John 17:8. I Peter 1:12 and Galatians 1:12 again claim divine intervention in the authorship of the scriptures. I Corinthians 2:10-11, Hebrews 4:12, and Matthew 4:4, all claim God’s influence while  II Peter 1:3 portrays these scriptures as all-sufficient.


If we claim to follow the Bible, then we must accept the origin it claims. Adhering to these words, we then have a foundation upon which to determine the scriptural accuracy of the talking points, doctrines, and debates we may encounter.

lesson by Tim Smelser