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For the past two months we have been looking at A. W. Tozer’s writings on guarding against being deceived spiritually.  Of course, the problem with being deceived is that one does not know he is deceived! Let’s review:

1 Timothy 4:1-2 1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Matthew 7:15-16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits…

The Sevenfold test: What is this doing to me? How may I know if some new thing is from above or below? We have covered three of these tests:

1. One Vital Test Of All Religious Experience Is: How It Affects Our Relation To God, Our Concept Of God And Our Attitude Toward Him?

2. The Next Test Is: How Has This New Experience Affected My Attitude Toward The Lord Jesus Christ? (Has this new thing drawn me closer or more distant?)

3. Another Revealing Test Of The Soundness Of Religious Experience Is: How Does It Affect My Attitude Toward Holy Scripture?

We ended last month with the comment, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Amen!   Still another test is:

4. We Can Prove The Quality Of Religious Experience By Its Effect On The Self-Life.

The Holy Spirit and the fallen human self are diametrically opposed to each other.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

Romans 8:5-7 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity {war} against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

Each will literally war against the other which is why we sometimes feel like two of us live in one body.  Paul calls it two sets of law at work in us. Because of this inner struggle, before the Spirit of God can work creatively in our hearts He must condemn and slay the "flesh" within us; that is, He must have our full consent to displace our natural self with the Person of Christ.

This is explained in Romans 6, 7 and 8. When the Christian has gone through the crucifying experience described in chapters 6 and 7 he enters into the broad, free regions of chapter 8. There, self is dethroned and Christ enthroned forever.

Romans 8:1-4 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

In light of this it is not hard to see why the Christian's attitude toward self is such an excellent test of the validity of his religious experiences. Most of the great masters of the deeper life have warned against pseudo-religious experiences that provide much carnal enjoyment but feed the flesh and puff up the heart with self-love.

A good rule is this: if this experience has served to humble me and make me small in my own eyes it is of God; but if it has given me a feeling of self-satisfaction it is false and to be dismissed as emanating from self or the devil. Nothing that comes from God will ever minister to my pride or self-congratulation.

If I am tempted to be complacent and to feel superior because I have had a remarkable vision or an advanced spiritual experience, I should go at once to prayer and repent of the whole thing. I have fallen victim to the enemy. Anything that “puffs up” our self-life will displace Christ Jesus from ruling our lives. Our next test, then, becomes:

5. Our Relation To And Attitude Toward Fellow Christians Is An Accurate Test Of Religious Experience.

Sometimes an earnest Christian will, after some remarkable spiritual encounter, pull back from fellow believers and develop a spirit of faultfinding. He may be honestly convinced that his experience is superior, that he is now in an advanced state of grace, and that the church where he attends is led wrongly and he alone a true son of Israel.

This is a dangerous state of mind, all the more dangerous because it can justify itself by the facts. It is not that he is mistaken in his facts which put him in error but that his reaction to the facts is of the flesh. His new spirituality has made him less loving and has removed him further away from God than prior to the experience.

Any religious experience that fails to deepen our love for our fellow Christians may safely be written off as spurious. Indeed, John makes love for our fellow Christians to be a test of true faith.

1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.

1 John 4:7-8 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

As Scripture states, nothing matters but faith working through love and though we have faith to remove mountains but don’t have love, it is not at all profitable. May we all, as we examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith, use love as the litmus test. Amen!