How To Try The Spirits
By A.W. Tozer
Continued from Part 2
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Atttitude Toward Fellow Christian
Continued in Part 4 (final part)
Our relation to and our attitude toward our fellow Christians is another accurate test of religious experience.
Sometimes and earnest Christian will, after some remarkable spiritual experience, withdraw himself from his fellow believers and develop a spirit of faultfinding. He may be honestely convinced that his experience is superior, that he is now in an advanced state of grace, and that the hoi poloi in the church where he attends are but a mixed multitude and he alone is a true son of Israel. He may struggle to be patient with these religious worldlings, but his soft language and condescending smile reveal his true opinion of them - and of himself. This is a dangerous state of mind, and the more dangerous because if can be justified by the facts. The brother has had a remarkable experience; he has received some wonderful light on the Scriptures, he has entered into a joyous land unknown to him before. And it may easily be true that the professed Christians with whom he is acquainted are worldly and dull and without spiritual enthousiasm. it is not that he is mistaken in his facts that proves him to be in error, but that his reaction to the facts is of the flesh. His new spirituality has made him less charitable.
The lady Julian tells us in her quaint English how true Christian grace affects our attitude toward others: "For of all things the beholding and loving of the Maker maketh the sould to seem less in his own sight, and most filleth him with reverent dread and true meekness; with plenty of charity to his fellow Christians." Any religious experience that fails to deepen our love for our fellow Christians may safely be written off as spurious.
The apostle John makes love for our fellow Christians to be a test of true faith. "My little
children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him" (1 John 3:18-19). Again he says, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God, and knoweth God. he that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8).
As we grow in grace we grow in love toward all God's people. "Everyone that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him" (1 John 5:1). This means simply that if we love God we will love His children. All true Christian experience will deepen our love for other Christians.
Therefore we conclude that whatever tends to separate us in person or in heart from our fellow Christians is not of God, but is of the flesh or of the devil. And conversely, whatever causes us to love the children of God is likely to be of God. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another" (John 13:35).
Relation To And Attitude Toward The World
Another certain test of the source of religious experience is this: Note how it affects our relation to and our attitude toward the world.
By "the wordl" I do not mean, of course, the beautiful order of nature which God has created for the enjoyment of mankind. Neither do I mean the world of lost men in the sense used by our Lord when He said, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever beleiveth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world though him might be saved" (John 3:16-17). Certainly, any true touch of God in the soul will deepen our appreciation of the beauties of nature and intensify our love for the lost. I refere here to something else altogether.
Let an apostle say it for us: "All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever" (1 john 2:16-17).
This is the world by which we may test the spirits. It is the world of carnal enjoyments, of godless pleasures, of the pursuit of earthly riches and reputation and sinful happiness. It carries on without Christ, following the counsel of the ungodly and being animated by the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). Its religion is a form of godliness, without power, which has a name to live but is dead. It is, in short, unregenerate human society romping on its way to hell, the exact opposite of the true Church of God, which is a society of regenerate souls going soberly but joyfully on their way to heaven.
Any real work of God in our hearts will tend to unti us for the world's fellowship. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?" (2 Cor. 6:14). It may be stated unequivocally that any spirit that permits compromise with the world is a false spirit. Any religious movement that imitates the world in any of its manifestations is false to the cross of Christ and on the side of the devil - and this regardless of how much purring the leaders may do about "accecpting Christ" or "letting God run your business."
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