Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God. I John 4:1
The injunction, then, is not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits whether they are of God.? You will observe, the Apostle does not enjoin his beloved brethren to try men’s words, but to try their spirits [attitude]. It is not words, so much as the spirit in which words are spoken, that really act upon the mind. Words come and go, according to the vulgar saying, -- they come in at one ear, and go out at the other: -- they leave no abiding impression: but the spirit, either for good or evil, that is, the working of God the Spirit on the heart, or the working of Satan, the evil spirit, in the carnal mind, leaves an abiding impression for good or evil. John, therefore, does not bid us watch men’s words: for a man may say anything, and the baser and blacker a hypocrite he is, the more boldly and confidently can he speak. Nor does he bid us weigh men’s actions, though actions are often great indications of men’s minds: but he carries us beyond both words and actions, and, by bidding us watch men’s spirits [attitudes], takes us into the secret chambers from which words flow, and to the hidden springs by which actions are influenced.
Philpots's Sermons. "Trying The Spirits". J.C. Philpot. Gospel Standard Strict Baptist Trust Ltd. 8 Roundwood Gardens, Harpenden, Herts AL5 3AJ England. 1977. Volume VIII, pg. 120
It is easy to win battles on the outside, slaying heresy wherever it is found, while continuously losing battles within. One wonders at times about those who are always hunting heresy, with never anything positive to say about the truth. If you find someone whose "ministry" is wholly negative, you will almost always find a person whose own personal battles are being lost. The negative must indeed be exposed and the battles with error must indeed be fought, but the reason must always be the glory of the Lord and the welfare of His church. And one must always be sure that his own life is up to snuff when he ventures out into the battlefield to attack sin in other people. His eye must be free from the log before he can remove the speck from others. Then, too, his motives must be right. The positive outlook - honoring God and building up His work (not merely tearing down the enemy's strongholds) - must always dominate. Unfortunately, some Christians feel more at home with the wrecking crew than with the construction gang.
"Winning The War Within". A Biblical Strategy for Spritial Warefare. Jay Adams. Timeless Texts - http://www.timelesstexts.com/ Woodruff, SC. 1989. Page 81.
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