How To Identify Genuine Gifts Of The Spirit

It is a good thing for Christians to use their talents and gifts to assist the mission of the local church. However, how do you know if the gift you think you have is one that is truly given by God to be used in the church. How do you know if you are helping or hurting the ministry? The answer to these questions is found in the first three versions of I Corinthians 12:

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:1-3 NIV)

I interpret this passage as saying that all things we do are either done under the influence of the Holy Spirit or against it. Few activities, if any, are truly neutral. When we are genuinely serving God, our actions glorify Christ, and when we are not serving God our actions stifle true worship of Christ.

Paul here warns the Corinthian believers not to be uninformed about which gifts are of the Spirit and which ones were not. Before they were saved the Corinthians had been influenced and led astray to mute idols. Obviously the pagan rituals that they performed at that point of their lives were not done under the influence of the Holy Spirit. They had gone from being enemies of God to his children. They must understand that the pagan rituals were not neutral. When one participates in a pagan ritual that promotes false deities, one is essentially saying that “Jesus be cursed since the true Jesus is the one only God, creator of the universe. But later, after becoming Christians, they were clearly acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit when they praised Jesus as Lord, since no demonic spirit seeks to worship Jesus as God.

This same test needs to be applied to our activities in church today. True worship praises Jesus as Lord both in it’s explicit message, and it’s implicit message. But activities that disrespect the name of Christ are not inspired by the Holy Spirit.

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