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Try the Spirits


(This study is written in Easy English.)

There are many times when we must judge other people, and say if we believe they are right or if we believe they are wrong.

We do this when people in our group have a disagreement and we are asked to listen to their arguments. (1 Corinthians 6:1-5) We do this when talking to people on the street, and we choose between spending time with them, or not spending time with them because we think that other people need our time more. (Matthew 7:6) We do this when a person wants to join our group; we must say if we think they are joining for good reasons or for bad reasons. (John 6:26, Luke 11:29; Luke 14:25-26) And we must be able to judge ourselves too, to know if we are doing things for good reasons or for bad reasons. (1 Corinthians 11:31)

We call this "trying" the spirits. In a court, where a judge must do the same thing, they call it a "trial" because the judge is "trying" the person who is in front of him or her.

Below is a list of spiritual tests that can help you to judge in the right way. (John 7:24)

A. Fruit/Love

One test is to look at the effects (or fruit) of what a person is saying. (Matthew 7:20) When a person does or says something, ask yourself, "Why is this being said, and what will it lead to?" Any spirit that comes from God will come from and/or lead to spirits like love, happiness, honesty, and humility. (Galatians 5:22-23)

When people are saying why they disagree with another person, they may be doing it because they love the other person. (Hebrews 12:6) But if they are not acting out of love, there will be anger in what they are saying, with very little thinking about how to fix the problem. They will be more interesting in hurting the other person. This is a bad spirit.

B. Teachings of Jesus

Here is another test. Look at how much a person loves the teachings of Jesus. (2 John 9) Many people say they are Christians, but they do not think the teachings of Jesus are very important. (Luke 6:46) They argue against obeying Jesus, for one reason or another. These people have a bad spirit.

There are other people who do NOT say they are Christians, but they show a real interest in the things that Jesus said. If people receive the teachings of Jesus, they are the true Christians. (John 1:11-12) When we are teaching the things that Jesus said, we know that people with a good spirit will be interested in what we are saying and in what we are writing. If they are not, it is a good reason to think that they are not interested in following God. (Matthew 10:40)

C. Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is another test. The word comes from two words in another language that mean "filled with God".

When someone is very interested in (enthused about) things that lead us closer to God (like the teachings of Jesus, being able to work for God, loving others, or learning new truths) it shows they have enthusiasm (or God in them). (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19)

If you must push people to make them do these things, it is not a good sign. They do not have "enthusiasm". If people are enthusiastic, they will be thinking about the things you say long after you have stopped talking. They will want to know more. They will learn new truths by themselves.

At times they will not understand what you say, or they will disagree with you, and because of this, they will ask questions... not to argue, but to understand better. And they will listen closely to your answers.

If you give a good answer to a question that a person asks you, and they quickly change to a different argument, it is a sign that they do not want to hear good answers; all they are looking for is a way to argue against (or to move away from) the teachings of Jesus. If people say that they agree with all that we say, but they show no interest in saying or hearing more, most likely they have not truly listened to what we said.

D. What they Say

One of the easiest ways to know what spirit is in a person is to listen closely to what they say. The spirit that is in them will come out through their mouth. (Matthew 12:34-35)

People who do not have God's Spirit will try to talk about "spiritual" things, but in the end, they will not be able to stop talking about "religious" things. Real truth changes people, and these people do not want to change. To hide from real truth, they will talk about things like heaven, hell, rules about God, churches, the name of Jesus (or God), and other teachings that will not change their lives. (Matthew 22:23-28) They will ask questions about our group name, how we started, what our understanding of God is, and who is our leader, but not about our interest in the teachings of Jesus. Religious people are almost never spiritual people.

Do not talk to people who want only to argue about words. (2 Timothy 2:14, Matthew 16:6) People can talk about how they understand words differently, but when it becomes an argument, and when it happens each time you try to talk about the teachings of Jesus, it is their way of saying that they do not want to obey what the teaching is saying. Arguing will not change them.

E. Talking in Secret

People who do not have God's Spirit are not honest. They say different things to different people. They do not want many people to listen when they say things. They want to talk to you away from other people. This is because they want to tell you lies about people who are not there, and because they will be free to tell lies about what you said in return.

If a person is telling the truth, they will want others to hear what they are saying. (John 3:20-21) Do not talk to people who want to talk to you secretly. (Luke 12:1-3)

F. Money

The last rule is to study the way people act and talk about money. The Bible says that it will tell us much about where their heart is. (Matthew 6:21-23) If they lose interest in working for God when there is no money in it for them, and if they are quick to give arguments against giving money to others, or if they only become enthusiastic about something when they receive money for doing it, it is a good sign that they do not have God's Spirit. (Titus 1:11)

(See Also Thou Shalt Judge.)

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