Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Spirit and the spirits

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 12:2-3

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit who delights to exalt Jesus.  His mission in this last age is to bear witness to Christ, to open eyes to the reality of who Jesus was and is - and in this way to bring people to faith and into unity with Christ (and to reveal the reality of sin and judgement in those who will not believe).  Always his focus is Christ Jesus.

Sometimes people ask me 'how do we balance Jesus and the Spirit?' - meaning, how do we take seriously the objective revelation of God in Christ as Scripture bears witness to him, and also take seriously the mysterious subjective revelation of God in the Spirit?  The answer is that we don't.  Taking the Holy Spirit seriously means setting our spiritual eyes, our hearts, our minds on Christ Jesus.  Any spirit which distracts from Jesus, any spirit which does not exalt him, and spirit which does not confess his incarnation - his death, resurrection, and ascension - as the central reality of human history and each individual human life: that is not the Holy Spirit, but is the spirit of antichrist.

This can be subtle.  There is teaching which makes much of Jesus, but not quite enough.  There is teaching which makes Jesus the noblest of human beings (but not God, at least not in the fullest sense) - this is implicit in a lot of liberal teaching (and there is a lot of it masquerading as evangelicalism at the moment, but that's another matter); and there is teaching that makes Jesus divine in some sense (but not a real human being) - although this side of the equation is perhaps less popular in the current cultural moment.

But the Holy Spirit says 'Jesus is Lord' (that is, the LORD), and the Holy Spirit says 'Jesus came in the flesh' (that is, in genuine humanity, in which he suffered, died, and rose).

Test the spirits, and listen to the Spirit.

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