By Dee Raptor
On Oct 29, 2020
The contemporary Christian landscape is littered with fool’s gold. There is plenty that glitters but is spiritually worthless. Plenty that is attributed to the Holy Spirit that He is totally not involved with. 1 John 4:1–8 provides us five questions Christians can consider when evaluating a ‘’move of the Spirit’’.
(1) Does it oppose worldliness?
(2) Does the work exalt the true Christ?
(3) Does it point people to the Scriptures?
(4) Does it elevate truth?
(5) Does it produce love for God and others?
We will look at one test each week for the next few weeks.
The First Test: Does It Oppose Worldliness?
The average Christian when asked what the influence of the Holy Spirit is like in their life is likely to give one or more of the following answers. The classic Pentecostal will probably emphasize speaking in tongues, being slain in the Spirit, or some other real or imagined manifestation of miraculous gifts.
The mainstream charismatic will most likely reflect the teaching of popular televangelists by pointing to a form of faith healing or the hope of a financial prosperity. Based on such criteria, they identify themselves as ‘’Spirit-filled Christians’’.
Despite what is commonly emphasized in ‘mainstream Christianity’, the genuine evidence of the Holy Spirit’s influence in a person’s life is not material prosperity, mindless emotionalism, or supposed miracles. Rather, it is sanctification: the believer’s growth in spiritual maturity, practical holiness, and Christlikeness through the power and leading of the Holy Spirit (as He applies biblical truth to the hearts of His saints).
A true work of the Spirit convicts the heart of sin, combats worldly lusts, and cultivates spiritual fruit in the lives of God’s people. In Romans 8:5–11, the apostle Paul divided all people into two fundamental categories: those who walk according to the flesh and those who walk according to the Spirit. He explained that the former (the unbeliever) cares only for his sinful interests and has no regard for God while the exact opposite is true for those who live according to the Spirit.
People who live according to the flesh pursue the passing pleasures of this world. They are characterized by a carnal mind that “cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). The mind of sinful man is hostile to God, it does not and cannot submit to God’s Law. So, a true work of the Holy Spirit enables the believer with spiritual ability to submit to God’s Law.
Where the Holy Spirit is at work, sinful pursuits, passions, and priorities are rooted out as believers “put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13). The Spirit’s ministry is utterly opposed to the worldly desires of the flesh. As Paul explains in Galatians 5:16–17, “so I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires was is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature....”
When a move or congregation is characterized by worldly priorities and fleshly pursuits, it raises serious red flags about the spiritual forces behind it. On the other hand, as great theologian and Pastor, Jonathan Edwards observed, “when the spirit that is at work operates against the interests of Satan’s kingdom, which lies in encouraging and establishing sin, and cherishing men’s worldly lusts; this is a sure sign that it is a true, and not a false spirit.”
In other words, a true work of the Holy Spirit does not tempt people with empty pursuits or the lusts of the flesh; rather, it promotes personal holiness and resists worldly desires. Nevertheless, the most visible and obvious appeals of contemporary/ mainstream ‘theology’ relentlessly cater to overtly worldly values.
The main attraction is the fulfilment of carnal desires. From televangelists to faith healers to prosperity preachers, charismatic celebrities brazenly present the lusts of this world as if they were the true end of all religion. Their garish claims and gaudy lifestyles stand in glaring contrast to the biblical standard for church leaders (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9).
Within the paradigm of ‘’mainstream Christianity’’, genuine fruits of the Spirit (such as humility, patience, peace, and a sacrificial commitment to Christ’s lordship) are often obscured, replaced by a perverse obsession with physical health, material wealth, and temporal happiness. That emphasis on prosperity theology explains the phenomenal growth of the Charismatic Movement in recent decades—promising unregenerate sinners the things their hearts already desire, and then baptizing those carnal lusts in Christian language as if they represent the good news of Jesus Christ.
A true work of the Spirit produces holiness in the lives of people. The Holy Spirit is actively involved in sanctifying His people—empowering them to combat the flesh while growing in Christlikeness. Unrestrained fleshly desires, on the other hand, are characteristic of false teachers (2 Peter 2:10, 19).
Excerpted from Chapter 4 of Strange Fire by John MacArthur, pp. 55-66.
D. D. KUYET alias "Dee Raptor" is a Christian HipHop Artiste/Rapper. He is also a graduate of Food Science and Technology. He is a contributing writer at lightwk