By Brooke Holt
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” - 1 Corinthians 12:1-3
The Apostle Paul writes to the converted Christians in Corinth. These people were not converted Jews but converted pagans. Before Christ, they worshipped many gods, all of whom Paul refers to as “mute idols.” As they grew in their new faith, there seemed to be remnants of the old ways of practicing life and religion. Throughout this chapter of his letter, Paul guides them in a spiritual reorientation through some spiritual examination.
Spiritual gifts were mighty popular among the Corinthians! They longed to practice the spiritual gifts, especially those which they found most powerful and important. Paul explained that with the exercise of the spiritual gifts, there was a fundamental test or check—did everything they say or do exalt Jesus Christ? These new converts needed to understand that just because something was spiritual did not mean that it was of the Lord. All they had to do was look back at their former lives. They worshipped gods and sought spiritual guidance, yet they did not know the one true God. Many spirits speak, yet only the Holy Spirit will lead one to declare that Jesus is Lord. Anything else is not of him.
Paul was clear that they must test the spirits so as not to be uninformed. While Paul delighted in the Corinthians’ desire to exercise spiritual gifts, his focus was that they would do so with the right focus and the right spirit. The fundamental test is the exaltation of Jesus Christ in word and deed which requires submission to the Holy Spirit.
At the heart of Paul’s letter was the desire to see God’s people living in submission to the Lord Jesus; that submission allows for God’s Holy Spirit to dwell within his people and then to do his holy work. It was and is all about Jesus!
In our world today, there are many spiritual forces at work. How can you utilize this spiritual reorientation and test provided by Paul to test the spirits? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian small group Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. The Spirit-Filled Life small group curriculum centers on a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Begin to experience the gift today!
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