Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1
Have you ever come across the word Selah in the Bible, only to pass it over and continue along reading? Ironically, the word Selah, used throughout Scripture, is a combination of two Hebrew words which come together to mean “stop,” “pause,” “to lift up,” or “to measure.” So when we encounter it in God’s Word, we are to do just that—pause. And let God’s Word have its proper weight on our hearts.
In a similar way, we are called to test, weigh, or examine different spirits in order to determine which are true, right, and glorifying to God.
The enemy is out to kill, steal, and destroy.
The first step in discerning between spirits is to realize that there are very persuasive lies being put forward by the enemy. As followers of Christ, we cannot simply gloss over the fact that John very plainly tells us there are evil, lying spirits in this world whose goal is to trick and deceive us. Even Jesus Himself said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” We are instead to “grow up” in Christ in order that we are not continually tossed about by the winds of scheming and deceitful men (Ephesians 4:14-15).
In order to test a spirit…
1. Does this sound like my Shepherd’s voice?
Jesus reminds us that His sheep know His voice, and they follow Him (John 10:27). Do you know the voice of your Shepherd? The Holy Spirit testifies that we are God’s children, as Paul says in Romans 8:16. But how does the Spirit do this? How does the Spirit’s testimony express itself in your life? When we listen to and live by the Spirit of truth, fruit is sure to follow.
2. What would be the fruit of obeying this spirit?
What action would follow if you were to obey this spirit? Scripture reminds us exactly what the fruit of the Holy Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. Is this spirit enabling me to produce these spiritual fruits?
Humble yourself under God’s almighty hand.
In His kindness, God gives us an open door to ask Him for His wisdom and discernment when ours is lacking. “If anyone lacks wisdom, let them ask of God, who gives generously” (James 1:5). God extends wisdom to us when we humbly ask for it in faith.
What circumstance or spirits are you encountering now that you need to test? Have you spent enough time with Jesus to know His voice above all others? Pray to God, “Father, give your servant a discerning heart…to distinguish between right and wrong” (1 Kings 3:9).