Testing the Spirits
One thing I have observed from the Word is that every biblical record
of a person exercising the power of the Spirit was a mature believer,
who had been in the Word and discipleship for a long time. It seems
plain to me from these testimonies that the power of the Spirit comes on
the heels of an intimate relationship with the Father fostered by a deep
study of, and obedience to, the Word of God. One possible exception is
Balaam's donkey, but she wasn't a person and I think this just
demonstrates that the Father can use any vessel He chooses. And don't
get me started on the puns I can make from this. Ass me no questions and
I'll tell you no lies. Another possible exception might be Cornelius in
Acts 10, but it is clear from the context that he has been at it a long
time. It doesn't appear to me from the Word that 'rookies' had a great
deal to do with relaying the power of God.
In Hebrew, the words
for Holy Spirit are Ruach haKodesh (roo-akh ha-koe-desh), meaning
literally 'wind' or 'breath' of the Holy One. And the Word is said to be
"inspired" by the Father (2 Timothy 3:16), which means "God-breathed."
The words used to describe both the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are
the same. Jesus is also called the Word of God (John 1). So it would
seem to me that if we want to be filled with the Spirit we must be
filled with the Word. If we take in and act on His written Word, we are
taking in the Messiah, and at the same time we are becoming
Most of us know the story of Elijah and the 450
prophets of Ba'al, and how he kicked their collective butts on Mt.
Carmel. By his own account he did this because of God's word, in order
to turn the hearts of the people back to the Father.
By now, the water was flowing around the
altar, and it had filled the trench. Then, when it came time for
offering the evening offering, Eliyahu (Elijah) the prophet approached
and said, "Adonai, God of Avraham, Yitz'chak and Isra'el, let it be
known today that you are God in Isra'el, and that I am your servant, and
that I have done all these things at your word. Hear me, Adonai, hear
me, so that this people may know that you, Adonai, are God, and that you
are turning their hearts back to you." (I Kings 18:35-37 CJB)
Elijah was able to exercise this power because of God's Word. God's
Word and God's power are intimately connected, but even though God can
exert awesome force He chooses to communicate to us in a quiet, subdued
voice. After the famous butt-kicking, Elijah has an encounter with God
on His mountain, and His power is very quiet.
He said, "Go outside, and stand on the
mountain before Adonai;" and right then and there, Adonai went past. A
mighty blast of wind tore the mountains apart and broke the rocks in
pieces before Adonai, but Adonai was not in the wind. After the wind
came an earthquake, but Adonai was not in the earthquake. After the
earthquake, fire broke out; but Adonai was not in the fire. And after
the fire came a quiet, subdued voice. When Eliyahu (Elijah) heard it, he
covered his face with his cloak, stepped out and stood at the entrance
to the cave. Then a voice came to him and said, "What are you doing
here, Eliyahu?" (I Kings 19:11-13 CJB)
By the Spirit of God Zechariah chastises people for not following the
Words of God.
Zechariah (2 Chronicles 24:20)
Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he
stood above the people and said to them, "Thus God has said, 'Why do you
transgress the commandments of the LORD and do not prosper? Because you
have forsaken the LORD, He has also forsaken you.' "
Nehemiah connects the Ruach haKodesh directly to the commandments of
God, and makes them the same. Neh. 9:20
"You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,
Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, And You gave them
water for their thirst."
The Ruach (Spirit) worked through the prophets for the express
purpose of turning people back to His Law according to Nehemiah 9:29,30.
...and admonished them in order to turn them
back to Your law. Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your
commandments but sinned against Your ordinances, by which if a man
observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and
stiffened their neck, and would not listen. However, You bore with them
for many years, and admonished them by Your Spirit through Your
prophets, yet they would not give ear. Therefore You gave them into the
hand of the peoples of the lands.
Jesus helps us with a way to tell what teaching is from God and what
is not. If it glorifies God, it is from God. If it glorifies the
speaker, it is not from God.
So Jesus answered them and said, "My teaching
is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone is willing to do His will,
he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak
from Myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who
is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is
no unrighteousness in Him." (John 7:16-18 NASB)