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“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell” (Matthew 5:21-22 New Living Translation). 

Jesus equated anger, mocking someone, and cursing at people to killing that person. Why? Jesus knew we would be born into a demeaning, hate-filled, and strife-ridden culture. He knew that we could be attacked and belittled. He set the standard for us and calls us to be loving to those that hate us. The greatest fruit of the Spirit and the most significant proof we are Christ-followers in our love for others. 

Once we understand the length we have to go to in our love of others, we can now look at discerning or testing other spirits. The Greek word for “test” is “dokimazo,” which means “to discern, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not).” God wants us to discern whether the spirit a person is walking in is from Him. We are not to blindly follow anyone, allowing any spirit to influence us. As we learn to discern, we need to understand that there are three kinds of spirits in the world:

  1. Spirits of Men (Flesh, Natural, Carnal) 
  2. Spirit of God (Holy Spirit, Angels) 
  3. Evil Spirits

When we are testing the spirits, we are looking to see if we are dealing with God, man, or the devil. This comes into play in our work, families, churches, schools—everywhere. Don’t believe everything you HEAR! Be rooted in Christ’s love and discern the counterfeit, by becoming familiar with the genuine!

This might be strange or difficult for some reading this book. This might be the first time you have heard a teaching on spirits—good or bad. This might be the first time you have heard that we are to test them. There are large segments of the modern-day church that discounts the supernatural. When people are unfamiliar with the Holy Spirit, they are incapable of adequately discerning what spirit is operating and declare anyone working in the Spirit of God’s gifts is false. The Holy Spirit is with us to help us, but if we don’t know how he functions, we won’t know how He is speaking to us.