TRY The Spirits; JUDGE The Prophesying; SEARCH The Scriptures; COMPARE Spiritual With Spiritual; PROVE All Things
By Curt Wildy
Introduction to Part Two
In Part One, we covered the need to always be willing to hear, with spiritual ears to hear, and with attentiveness and impartiality of mind (as the Lord enables), what others professing the True Gospel have to say concerning God’s word. By the Spirit of Truth, the words of God are spirit, and He teaches us as He causes us to spiritually receive those words (as read, or when faithfully expounded upon) with all readiness of mind. All true doctrinal/interpretative statements stem from God’s collective word, His collective prophecy and testimony, which is the entirety of His Holy Scripture. It is therein and therein alone, that we will find all of the God-breathed, inerrant words of God, and nothing but the God-breathed, inerrant words of God. It is only through these Spirit-wrought words, that we can be led into all truth. We can learn through providence, experience, nature, faithful exposition, etc., but we can only do so in light of what Holy writ alone already affirms and declares; for it is therein that God teaches us the very Mind of Christ as we are moved to compare His spiritual words with His spiritual words (with the Spirit of God bringing said words, and their collective meanings and teachings, into our spiritual minds).
As we receive readily, hear objectively, search out diligently, compare spiritually, and prove/test/try all things (i.e. all that the one speaking has to say, all that they speak forth), we are commanded to then judge whether their words, their spirits, are true. It is this precept that I hope to cover in more detail in this second part. Likewise, I aim to show precisely what the nature of spirits is when the Bible speaks of both trying and discerning the spirits. The aim is to show conclusively that trying the spirits, trying words, discerning the spirits, searching the scriptures (daily), proving all things, judging prophesyings, etc, are all one and the same precept and principle. God is reiterating the same truth, using words translated differently in the AV/KJV, but that are nonetheless either directly the same root word, formed by the very same root word, or else (nonetheless) highly synonymous even if the root words differ.
Moreover, this second part will also delve more deeply into how the terms spirit(s), and word(s) [as well as other terms related to communication that can be read or heard] are used in either a synonymous manner (depending on the verse at issue and its immediate context) or a derivative manner (likewise depending on the verse at issue and its immediate context). The point is to show that the words of a person are exceedingly closely connected to their spirit (so much so that trying the words of a prophet is the equivalent of trying and discerning the spirits of a spirit).
I hope that this portion (as with the whole) will be edifying. As with all posts, I do not desire to be right for the sake of being right; I want to put forth my reasoning and proof-texts so that all reading can act in the very manner that I am now writing about. My desire is that in hearing this, in objectively reading my words/prophesying/teaching/interpretations pertaining to this biblical doctrine, you too will strive to be “more noble” Bereans as you test my words, try my spirits, etc. all by examining (even scrutinising) my words in light of Scripture, and proving for yourselves (as God enables) whether this doctrine is true (good) or false (evil). You must prove all things, whether it be my articles or anyone else’s, and you must do it from God’s entire word alone.
Why is this such a vital issue? Again, the underlying doctrine of How one is to receive, hear, try, search out (by comparing, so as to prove), and how one is to respond to all such doctrine being put forth and tried, in a real sense governs not only what they believe, and why they believe it, but it also governs their walk (Christian or otherwise) in light of the doctrines they either hold to or reject. If the underlying methodology is flawed, the doctrines are more apt to be flawed, which means that one’s walk is prone to be more problematic. Of course this is all subject to God’s sovereign will, purpose, and effectual working; however, as discussed in Part One, God does work via means.
Believe Not Every Spirit, But Try The Spirits; Discern The Spirits; Search The Scriptures Daily, Whether Their Words Are So; Judge What They Bring Forth; Prove All That They Say; Doing So By Comparing Spiritual Things With Spiritual (God-Breathed Words With God-Breathed).
A. Trying, Proving, Searching (out), Comparing, Discerning, Judging Equates To Dokimazō, Anakrinō, Diakrinō, Sygkrinō, via Krinō.
In 1 John 4:1-2 we read “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits…;” likewise, in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 we read “Prove all things…;” and in Acts 17:11 we read “[Search] the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Now the word try in 1 John 4:1-2 is the same Greek word as the word prove in 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Both represent the word Dokimazō/G1381 which is translated in the AV/KJV ten times as prove; four times as try; three times as approve; twice as discern; twice as allow; once as like; and once as examine. It is a word that means “to test, examine, prove, judge, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals; to recognise or discern as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy.”
Note that this word Dokimazō/G1381 is synonymous with Anakrinō/G350, which is the word translated as search in Acts 17:11 above. Anakrinō/G350 is also translated as examine six times in the AV/KJV; six times as judge; twice as ask question; and once as discern. Like Dokimazō, Anakrinō means “to investigate, examine, enquire into, scrutinise, sift, question, specifically in a forensic sense of a judge to hold an investigation; to interrogate, examine the accused or witnesses; to judge of, estimate, determine (the excellence or defects of any person or thing).”
In 1 Corinthians 14:29, we read “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.” That word judge is Diakrinō/G1252 and in the AV/KJV it is translated as doubt five times; judge three times; discern twice; contend twice; waver twice; and five other times in miscellaneous manner. Like Anakrinō/G350, and Dokimazō/G1381, it has the same connotation of judgment, discernment, trying, proving, etc. though it more literally means “to separate, make a distinction, discriminate, to prefer; to learn by discrimination, to try, decide; to determine, give judgment, decide a dispute; etc.”
Note that both Diakrinō/G1252 and Anakrinō/G350 stem from the same dominant root word krinō/G2919 which is translated in the AV/KJV as judge eighty-eight times; determine seven times; condemn five times, go to law twice, call in question twice, esteem twice, etc. Krinō ‘properly means, “to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, punish:—avenge; conclude, damn, decree, determine, discern, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.”
If you remember in part one, we encountered the word sygkrinō/G4793 which is translated as comparing in 1 Corinthians 2:13 “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which The Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing/sygkrinō Spiritual things with Spiritual.” Remember that sygkrinō literally means to judge of one thing in connection with another (in light of the definition of krinō above and in light of the other root word, syn, meaning with or beside). We found that we are to judge (discern) spiritual words next to, with, and along with other spiritual words; that is how we are to go about comparing them. We discern that meaning and use to come to a clearer understanding (discernment/judgment) as we fitly join together God’s words to come to truth on the matter (all as the Spirit of God enables).
The point is that we are clearly commanded to believe not every spirit, but to try the spirits, whether they are of God. This instruction is precisely the same as the command to prove all things; or to judge the prophesyings being heard; or to compare the words of the teaching with (or against) the words the Bible; or to search the Scriptures daily to see if the doctrinal teachings received (with all readiness of mind) are really so. The passages referenced are all the same instruction, namely, to prove all things; however, as is common with parallelism, they each address the very same precept from a slightly different vantage point to allow us to see more fully how this doctrine is to be implemented in real, life practice. The bottom-line is that we must determine whether that which is being stated is really accurate; we must strive to determine, in right manner, whether the teaching really holds true. Anything can sound good, anything can seem reasonable; this is even more so if the speaker is esteemed, charismatic, deemed an expert, etc. However, all these things are meaningless; what counts is ‘what does God say about the matter via His holy and inerrant word?’
B. The Key Terms And Principles
Remember the key words specified above: Holy Spirit, spirit, words, word, speak/spake, testimony, prophecy, prophesying, book, and Scripture. Consider them for this section below, but also keep in mind the key terms like prove, try, search, discern, judge, examine, scrutinise, and so on. To begin, note the tie-in of the above with:
1 Corinthians 14:26-40 “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27 If any man speak in an [unknown] tongue, [let it be] by two, or at the most [by] three, and [that] by course; and let one interpret. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If [any thing] be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not [the author] of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues;. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.“
The above passage is very important to a right understanding of all of these referenced passages. First, it teaches that all men who have something spiritual to say should be allowed to say it in the assembly (and by implication, any time they are gathered together in person, in a forum, etc.), albeit decently and in order. They are to be heard with a ready, discerning mind. This is affirmed in passages like:
1 Thessalonians 5:11-22 “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you [1 Timothy 5:17], and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. [And] be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all [men]. 15 See that none render evil for evil unto any [man]; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all [men]. 16 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not The Spirit. 20 Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove All things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
1 Corinthians 14:1-3,12 “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy. 2 For he that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [him]; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men [to] edification, and exhortation, and comfort… 12 “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.”
Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Christians are to both (1) prophesy (preach/teach/witness/declare God’s word from Scripture) and to (2) receive willingly the prophesyings of other Christians. As we so receive, we are to thoroughly prove that which is being put forth before us; as we should expect our own words to be tried, tested, and proved. All of this is to be done in love, with meekness, with the express purpose of edifying the saints of God — all as God enables. Yet we are not to run from, shrink back from, or speak ill of such testing or of being tested. Affirm all via Scripture and hold to nothing that cannot be firmly affirmed by it.
But notice something very important… The above passages (including 1 Corinthians 14:26-40) are all primarily focused on words related to that which is written, spoken, proclaimed. For example, note such speech-related words as psalm, doctrine, tongue, revelation, interpretation, prophet, prophesy, communication, mouth, speak, hear, and word. These words are oft-repeated to drive home the precept that it is the words, the testimony, the prophecy/preaching/teaching that is primarily in view concerning what we are to try via Scripture.
C. What Are The Spirits; How Do We Try The Spirits; How Do We Prove All Things; And How Do We Judge Such Aright?
Note the phrase in 1 Corinthians 14:32 “And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets;” now note the phrase in 1 John 4:1-2 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God;” then consider 1 Timothy 4:1-2 “Now the [Holy] Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy;” and finally 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 “But the manifestation of the [Holy] Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of Spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.“
Now consider in particular, 1 Corinthians 12:10 “To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues…” Did you notice something above? There is a parallelism going on in part of this passage. We read “to another prophecy;” immediately followed by “to another discerning of Spirits.” We then see “to another [divers] kinds of tongues;” immediately followed by “to another the interpretation of tongues…” I submit to you, that the counterpart to the gift of prophecy (i.e. prophesying, preaching, teaching from scripture in our day) is the gift of the discerning of spirits; just as the counterpart to having the gift of diverse kinds of tongues (i.e speaking known languages previously unknown to the speaker) is the gift of interpreting said tongues. In the same way that those speaking in tongues are to have an interpreter, those prophesying, are to have their words, even their spirits, discerned. The words of the prophecy are the spirits of the prophecy, they are the spirits of the prophets who are prophesying. To discern the spirits is to discerning the prophecy, being prophesied, by the prophet (it is to discern the words of the preaching, being preached, by the preacher or the words of the teaching, being taught, by the teacher).
In 1 Corinthians, and elsewhere, prophesying and speaking in an unknown language are yoked; basically, speaking in an unknown tongue is prophesying but in a way wherein no one else can benefit unless there be an interpreter. That teaching, psalm, interpretation, doctrinal exposition, etc., spoken in an unknown tongue, immediately equates to prophesying once translated/interpreted for the benefit of others. 1 Corinthians 14:1-2 affirms this: “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy. 2 For he that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [him].” We see this same association in 1 Corinthians 14:4-5 “He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater [is] he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying;” and in 1 Corinthians 14:39-40 “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order;” and in Acts 19:6 “And when Paul had laid [his] hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” So once the unknown tongue is interpreted (or understood by the native speakers hearing), that formerly unintelligible message from the prophet (from the one prophesying and interpreting) now becomes prophesying. It becomes spirits that need to be rightly discerned and tried for their spiritual accuracy to ensure right biblical adherence.
The word discern is diakrisis/G1253; a variation of Diakrinō/G1252 discussed above, and thus, another synonym of the aforementioned Anakrinō/G350; sygkrinō/G4793; and Dokimazō/G1381. Do you see the important, and continued, God-breathed tie-ins? They are like golden chains linking these precepts together. In the AV/KJV, Diakrisis/G1253 is translated once each as the following: discerning, discern, and disputation. This word literally means, just like its root and fellow synonyms, a distinguishing, discerning, judging. So to discern, is the same as to prove, which is the same as to try, which is the same as to judge, which is the same as to compare; which is the same as to search (as in, to search the scriptures daily to see if these things being heard, or read, are so). Again, these are but a few examples of the incredible golden chains linking God’s word together.
Now consider how that after one first hears the spirits (with all readiness of mind, not quenching the Spirit or despising prophesying); they are to begin to try/prove/judge/discern the spirits; by daily searching the Scripture to see if these spirits are so; and in so doing, in searching the Scripture (the Law and the Prophets) to ensure adherence and conformity; the spirits of these prophets are being made subject to, or subordinate to, the inerrant Prophets — even the entirety of the Bible. Said another way, one discerns the words of the prophecy being brought by the prophet (the words of the preaching/teaching being brought by the preacher/teacher), by first readily hearing the words of the preaching/teaching; and then trying/judging/proving those words; by daily searching the God-breathed words of God (the whole of Scripture) to see if the words being put forth conform to, and thus are subject/subordinate to, the very words of Scripture. Thus, when you begin to see that words relate to spirits and that prophets are to be judged, i.e. their spirits are to be tried, based upon the words they put forth concerning scriptural matters — things begin to rightly fall into place. By discerning the words, we can discern the man and we can discern the man by discerning his words (which are his doctrines, teachings, preachings, prophesyings, etc.). If the man consistently speaks spiritual truth then it is a blessing; He is speaking in conjunction with the words of God which are spiritual. However, if his words are consistently false, then he is speaking in accordance with a lying spirit, a vain spirit, an empty spirit of ruwach/wind.
Yet, can the above be proven? Without a doubt; but first, remember to keep the key words mentioned above in mind, even the heavy use of the terms related to words, speaking, proclamations, spirit(s), the Holy Spirit, and such. As you keep them in mind, consider, again, the following quoted passages (along with some new ones) in light thereof:
John 6:63 “It is The Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.”
1 Corinthians 2:13 “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
Proverbs 1:23 “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out My Spirit unto you, I will make known My words unto you.”
Nehemiah 9:30 “Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by Thy Spirit in Thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands.”
Psalm 106:33 “Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.”
Zechariah 7:12 “Yea, they made their hearts [as] an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in His Spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.”
Joel 2:28-29 “And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.” [See also Acts 2:17-18]
John 16:13 “Howbeit when He, The Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, [that] shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.”
Matthew 10:19-20 “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”
Matthew 22:41-45 “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose Son is He? They say unto Him, [The Son] of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My Right Hand, till I make thine enemies Thy footstool? 45 If David then call Him Lord, how is He his Son?”
Job 7:11 “Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
2 Samuel 23:2 “The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and His word [was] in my tongue.”
2 Thessalonians 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Note: Remember the importance of Hebrew Synonymous Parallelism, noting that mouth, spirit, and soul are emphasizing aspects of the same, essential thing, even the inward being of the person. Likewise, spirit, word, and letter are also pertaining to communication. The same goes with Spirit/Spake with Word/Tongue where Spirit/Word tie-in and Spake/Tongue tie together as well. All of this, and much more, evidences that what comes out of the mouth (or is otherwise communicated forth) is tied to one’s spirit, and the words and the spirit go to the whole of the being.
Luke 9:54-56 “And when His disciples James and John saw [this], they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55 But He turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save [them]. And they went to another village.
Ezekiel 13:2-3 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD; 3 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!”
Micah 2:11 “If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, [saying], I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.”
1 Kings 22:20-23 “And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. 21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. 22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade [him], and prevail also: go forth, and do so. 23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.”
Acts 16:16-18 “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”
Job 8:2 “How long wilt thou speak these [things]? and [how long shall] the words of thy mouth [be like] a strong wind [ruwach/H7307]?
Jeremiah 5:12-13 “They have belied the LORD, and said, [It is] not He; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine: 13 And the prophets shall become wind [ruwach/H7307] and the word [is] not in them: thus shall it be done unto them.
Job 16:3 “Shall vain [ruwach/H7307] words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?
Note: In the above verses, lying words and vain words (whether correctly or incorrectly perceived as such) are all associated with wind in a negative sense; they are deemed vacuous, the true word is not in them or with them (at least not concerning the false/vain words being spoken). But note that the word wind in the above verses is ruwach/H7307. Out of its 378 instances in the Bible, ruwach is translated as spirit 232 times… which is over 60% of the time]. So we see that faithful words, spiritual words, are of the Holy Spirit (either unto inerrancy in the biblical canon (pre-Revelation 22:18-19) or unto right proclamation and exposition as it relates to faithful biblical reading, teaching, and preaching). However, unfaithful words are, at best, of the spirits of men and, at worst, of lying/devilish spirits.
So we see that God not only uses word(s) interchangeably, or derivatively, with spirit(s), He also uses spirit(s) interchangeably with either person(s) or that aspect of a person wherein all aspects of spiritual communication and endeavors take place (prayer, preaching, teaching, witnessing, testifying, bearing forth the fruit that the Spirit bears in us, walking uprightly, etc.). Proper exegesis does not allow us to declare that there is any substantive difference between a spirit and a person when God is clearly using the terms in a synonymous/derivative sense. The same idea goes for the words soul(s) and person(s). The most obvious example of this is the fact that God the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Triune Godhead. Likewise, a Lying Spirit, or the spirits of Devils, represent the person/being of those spirits/devils. Finally, that long list of verses immediately above clearly evidences that man speaks from his own spirit, the Holy Spirit operating in them, or else, from a lying, seducing spirit, even an enticing spirit (which are devils). There is simply no grounds to say that one does not speak from their spirit; especially after hearing the very clear words of Job as we read in Job 7:11 “Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” Interestingly enough, consider also the following passage wherein wind/ruwach is used to actually describe the words of this same righteous man who was in such deep anguish: Job 6:24-26 states “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. 25 How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove? 26 Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, [which are] as wind [ruwach/H7307]?”
Summary of Part Two: So what is in view by trying the spirits; discerning the spirits; and the spirits of the prophets in general? These phrases relate to the words spoken, that is, prophesied, proclaimed, and preached by men. Their words reflect their spiritual state; for believers, it goes to whether they are led by the Spirit for a season or led by the flesh for a season. For unbelievers, it goes to being led by their own spirit or a false/lying/unclean/wicked/devilish spirit. We are to determine whether their words are in keeping with the Doctrine of Christ or the doctrine of devils; this is what we must discern; this is why we must try the spirits and prove the words.
We try the spirits by judging the doctrinal and interpretative words the prophet/preacher/teacher speaks in light of the God-breathed words of God as found in the Bible, the word of God. Making “The spirits of the prophets subject to the prophets” is the same thing as saying “they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” which is the same thing as “”Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things” which directly corresponds to “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.“When we rightly judge according to the Prophets, the word of God, we are making the prophesying that uninspired men bring forth subject to God’s word. Therefore, if a preacher/teacher comes with what they claim to be spiritual words of biblical truth, they are coming as a prophet in the biblical sense. But the spirits of such a prophet must be subject to THE PROPHETS (with prophets being a word meaning Scripture just as the word law means Scripture, both being synecdoches — hence the term “the Law and the Prophets,” though separately they also mean the same.” The words anyone brings are subject to the God-breathed words of God as found in Holy Scripture. This is why we are to search the Scriptures daily whether their words are so. We prove all things; we do not quench the Spirit or despise prophesying, but we prove the prophesying by comparing it to what God has revealed in His inerrant prophecy, the entire word of God. Thus everything we teach must be hypotassō/G5293 to, that is, subject or subordinate to, what the word of God alone teaches. One must submit to the authority of the Bible as a whole, if one is to claim to be a faithful preacher or teacher of truth. We can know whether a prophet/teacher/preacher is faithful, or false, by the doctrine they consistently put forth. No man in this flesh, save Christ, is inerrant. However, no man should be preaching or teaching if their doctrine is consistently erroneous, especially if their vital doctrine (concerning the Doctrine of Christ or the Preaching of the Cross) is unsound.
Consider also that like love, law, world, etc., the term spirit has different connotations when read in its biblical context in each passage wherein it is found. However, seeing that the entire thrust of almost all of the above-quoted passages is what is spoken, written, or otherwise communicated, we must understand the term spirits to refer to both the words that one speaks and the state of one’s being (temporal and/or eternal) as reflected by their words. So God’s scriptural words are spirit because they are breathed out by Him. The words of false prophets are (false) spirits because are of a lying spirit. So spirit refers, again, both to the words being spoken and the being bringing forth, causing, or speaking those words. So we judge the spirits (prophets) by their words (prophesying, preaching, teaching) seeing that it is completely logical to judge a prophet by his prophecy, or by his prophesying, or by what he proclaims/preaches/teaches. In light of this, the Christians is not to believe every spirit; we are not to believe every word; we are not to believe every teaching/doctrine/interpretation/prophecy; but we are to try the words, try the teachings, try the doctrines, by comparing spiritual things with spiritual (God’s spiritual words with His spiritual words) so that the prophets (those who are prophesying/preaching/teaching) are made subject to the established, canonical, biblical prophets (seeing that, per 2 Peter 1:19-21, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost;” and likewise, per Luke 1:70, “[God spoke] by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began.“).
That concludes this part. In the next part, I want to address what we are to do once we readily receive the spirits, hearing them objectively, proving them via God’s word, and coming to the right biblical determination as the Holy Spirit enables. For those who may not have seen my position on this, it may be a bit eye-opening; my hope, more importantly however, is that it will be thoroughly accurate and truly edifying — all if the Lord wills; to Him be the glory!
To be Concluded In Part Three.