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 (who converted from paganism to Christianity and not Judaism) in Corinth. Before they had faith in Christ, they worshipped many gods, all of whom Paul refers to as “mute idols.” As they grew in their new faith, remnants of the old ways of practicing life and religion remained. Throughout this chapter of his letter, Paul guides them in a spiritual reorientation through spiritual examination.
Spiritual gifts had become quite popular among the Corinthians – too popular! They longed to practice spiritual gifts, especially those they thought most powerful and important. Paul explained that the exercise of spiritual gifts required a fundamental test or check: did everything they say or do exalt Jesus Christ? These new followers of Christ needed to understand that just because something was spiritual, it did not mean it was of the Lord. All they had to do was look back at their former lives when they worshipped many 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.
Paul made it clear they must test the spirits so as not to be uninformed. While Paul delighted in the Corinthians’ desire to exercise spiritual gifts, he wanted to be sure they would do so with the right focus and the right spirit by using this fundamental test of exalting 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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