The following is by my friend, Randy. It is longer than my typical posts, so what follows is an excerpt. You can read the full article here.
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-8)
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” II Corinthians 11: 3-4)
Both of the scriptures above were written by the Apostle Paul to churches. His concern was over Christians who had left or were in danger of leaving the true gospel. The enemy he identified was Satan who beguiled Eve or even an angel from heaven. These enemies had been able to deceive a certain segment of church leadership. The end result was that they were preaching “another Jesus”. In other words, they were presenting to the people a Jesus other than the one Paul had originally presented to them. This, obviously, is a very real danger or it would not be presented to us in the New Testament scriptures.
People don’t want to be deceived. They want to know what is of God and what is not. So the question arises “Then by what means may we know the true, the real and the godly?” In those same verses in Galatians where he identified the problem, we find the answer given. Paul says, “If a man come unto you preaching any other gospel.” We find in Corinthians that he uses a similar phrase “preach another Jesus” and adds something else “or have another spirit”.
There is a certain spirit in which the true minister of God will proceed. That spirit will permeate his ministry and it will order his words. The gospel that he preaches and the spirit of his ministry will bear witness in one.
We see Jesus using this acid test early in relationship to His own disciples. When they saw people ministering in the name of the Lord but not being part of their group, they wanted to rain down fire on them: “But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of” (Luke 9:51-55).
Jesus’ rebuke to them was telling. He could have dealt with right doctrines or introduced them to proper methods of ministry, but instead He went to the heart of the thing. “Ye know not what spirit you are of.” It is not the thing done or the method used that is of primary importance to the Lord. The first thing He notices and the thing of primary importance is what spirit it is ministered in.
We must understand that a man may do all manner of good things that appear to be carried out in a right spirit and yet be from a wrong spirit. Jesus noticed that the Pharisees were very diligent to pray and tithe but He also noticed that their “public ministry” had much to do with being seen of men. Their good deeds bolstered their ego and fed pride. The things done were done as much for themselves as they were for others. Men may take on a meek demeanor and speak with a humbled tone and yet do it all with the goal of finding wider acceptance. If the exterior becomes the basis of our judgment, we may find ourselves deceived by someone with a humble demeanor.
However, another man may speak with authority and firmness and be perceived by people to be hard or harsh. But his motives, when weighed by God, may be found to be in brokenness and humility. Such was the case with the prophet Jeremiah. His words are some of the hardest and most severe in the Bible. However, he is known as the “weeping prophet”. Why? Because every word was spoken in brokenness regardless of how harsh he appeared publicly.
A man may speak right words, even words about having the right spirit and yet that man’s spirit may be wrong. The acid test is not applied to the person’s words, demeanor, or subject material first. It is applied to his true spirit. Yes, there are little “give aways” within his words and little actions that show his heart, but these are not first the proof. They are fruit but the root is the determining factor.
The true spirit of who and what Christians represent is seated on the throne of the universe: it is the spirit of the Lamb. Beware of the false.