What is a Different Spirit?



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  • What is a Different Spirit?

    Little is taught on the teaching of another spirit. Is it really important?

    While in prayer a couple weeks ago, I noted the Holy Spirit was pressing upon me a subject I was only familiar with due to scriptural reference. Over the course of the past few days, the details kept crystallizing and expanding. I logged onto a few sermon sites and dug through my library and found little to reflect on, other than quotes in reference or general overview. Please bear with me as the Paraclete leads from a blank slate.

    We first need to read what Paul wrote in regard to this matter. "For if someone comes along and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or should you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you are all too willing to listen." 2 Corinthians 11:4 ISV

    What exactly is a “Different Spirit”? There is the different spirit Christian’s receive as a result of conversion, which is not of the world. There is also the different spirit of wholehearted obedience that results in God’s blessings, as we read in Numbers 14:24 about Caleb trusting God. In this discussion, we are looking at the “Different Spirit” which results in opposition to the Spirit which correctly reveals the teachings and person of Jesus the Christ (Messiah).

    Some reading this will immediately decide this topic doesn’t concern them, whereas they are on a steadfast path of righteousness in absolute truth. It is possible to be largely in alignment with truth, but still be holding onto erronious tangents that may taint the whole. One only has to reflect on the 33,820 denominations (World Christian Encyclopedia, 2001) which are slightly or gravely alienated from another by interpretations of scripture. We are taught that Christ is the one head... represented by the body fragmented? We can read the letters addressed to the various churches in Revelations as indication that problematic positions were already an issue, sufficient to warrant the removal of the Christ’s Spirit if changes were not made. Nearly every church mentioned had adapted to some measure of error. Up to this day, the issue of problematic “differences” has been magnified many times over, not only in the ecclesiastical institution, but equally within the hearts of the souls contained.

    Paul laments the divisions arising from the arguments and quarrels, during a time in which the church was being founded. "Brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, I urge all of you to be in agreement and not to have divisions among you, so that you may be perfectly united in your understanding and opinions. My brothers, some members of Chloe's family have made it clear to me that there are quarrels among you. Is the Messiah divided?" 1 Corinthians 1:11; 13 ISV

    What are some examples of “Different Spirits?” There are endless deviations possible, but some are more prominent than others. “Different Spirits” may not entail a complete departure of the faith, but in themselves sufficient to defer us from moving toward the high mark of our calling in Christ Jesus. Remember, "it only takes a little leaven to make the dough rise." 1 Cor. 5:6 or a morsel of error to corrupt the whole.

    The spirit of self righteousness: This is a spirit that has bound the religious communities since the origin of man. Christ chastised the religious elite during his ministry, with great zeal. I dare say that there is nothing more repulsive to the Creator than man glorying in their own religious stature and abilities. Satan, the most accomplished divine narcissist, was cast from the presence of God for this one offense—pride.

    The spirit of legalism: This spirit is no stranger to the church. Essentially, it is a strict adherence to a law or code of conduct, as to attain moral perfection through one's own efforts. Usually consisting of misguided rigor, pride, and superficiality. Paul’s letter to the Galatians addressed this issue head on, as well as in Colossian 2:20-23.

    The spirit of false humility: Taking pride in one’s own self-abasements, earthly denials and service to the least. This can include abstaining from certain activities, or consumption of worldly pleasures for the sake of arriving at some devout piety. False humility is steeped in pride, and wants to appear pious while proud of its portrayal of humility.

    The spirit of mysticism: This has taken the church by storm as of recent years, but has always been found among the brethren going back to Gnosticism. Rather the zealous charismatic who demands the impartation of tongues as evidence to being filled, to the practice of mantras or speaking to the departed through mediums. In some churches, there is little difference between the New Age occult practitioner and a deviate brand of Christianity brought under its spell. The combination of ignorance and tolerance has left the powers of darkness much space to ferment. Sometimes the worst enemy is within, not without.

    The spirit of division: Here again, we have another attribute of pride. Paul said some religious discussions are not only profitless but engender strife and division. Those who are puffed up in their own knowledge will be those who cause strife and divisions. Paul was severe when addressing trouble makers. He wrote in Romans 16:17 "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." We know that Christ claimed to cause division (Luke 12:51), but Paul's concerns were different. He was speaking of someone teaching doctrines and subtle nuances that are contrary or beyond the established and revealed truth.

    "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the pointless discussions and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge. Although some claim to have it, they have abandoned the faith." 1 Timothy 6:20-21 ISV

    There are endless numbers of possibilities, but we can decidedly define that pride and self-deception are the essential dynamics of any departure from sound Christology. The grave problem in this is a person deceived is not aware they are, thus the nature of deception. We can be certain we are right, but be fully in violation to truth. Since we cluster as social creatures, we will seek out those who most think like us to support our views, even if in error. Likewise, we are instructed to not only avoid teachings that depart from sound doctrine, but to avoid those who promote the error. The writer of 2 John even warns that if we accept the counsel of those under the spirit of error, we become equally reprobate as accomplices.

    "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds." 2 John 1:9-11 ISV

    It is our personal responsibility to not only increase in the knowledge of what scripture teaches, but to also adhere to it with genuine humility. Genuine humility, in that we must realize we could be misguided in our affirmed positions. We should always be open to possible revisions; it is this humility that allows spiritual revelation to expand. Error may not only deceive a person or a community of believers, but the whole church during a marked period of time. Not to pick on the Catholic Church, because no denomination is above reproach, but they did ex-communicate Galileo in 1616 for espousing the Copernican doctrine that the earth was not the center of the universe. He was later tried by the Inquisition in 1632 and found "vehemently suspect of heresy." This position was not objurgated until 1979, and then finalized in March of 2008.

    “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8 NASB

    “Jesus answered them, "You are mistaken because you don't know the Scriptures or God's power.” Matthew 22:29 ISV.

    Only those mature in the faith can be trusted to rightly discern scripture (Hebrew 5:13-14), and even then with great care and reverent submission. The dictionary explains that maturity is being fully developed or a perfected condition. Our maturity is evidenced in our character. The mark of a mature disciple is he or she who fervently seeks to adhere to the walk of holiness outlined in scripture, even when no one is around to observe them. Although we will never achieve perfection, ones private life and thoughts should measureably become more Christ-like daily.

    James tells us maturity does not come from age, appearance, or academics. Maturity involves our attitudes of heart in subservience to truth. The outward profession without the inward submission is nothing more than noise without substance. Equally, a mature person remains optimistic under pressure. James reminds us that trials and challenges are going to be part of lives, but that “testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…” James 1: 3-4

    A mature person is ever sensitive to the feelings of others, considering others before themselves. The self-absorbed person, who worries only about their own needs, is still operating as an undeveloped child. Many of adults grow advanced in years, and are still consumed with what they lack, want or worse, who they have to supercede to feel better about self. James 3: 9-10 also shows us that a mature person has mastered his tongue, and can hold reign when the emotions demand otherwise. Gossip about others is sure sign of an unbridled tongue. Speak well of others or speak nothing. Finally a mature person is a peacemaker, who is patient and prayerful.

    "Do your best to present yourself to God as an approved worker who has nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of truth with precision." 2 Timothy 2:15

    I thought it important to define what entails maturity, whereas I have known babes in Christ who were only a few years in the faith, not yet skilled or proven by what only time provides, the proper discerning of truth from error. They might entertain certain occult teachings, mystical tangents or be subject to peer pressure and mirror certain manifestations as to fit in. If we think we have attained a plateau of inerrant truth, then we cease to grow and become potentially distorted in our grasp of scripture revealed truth. Paul was adamant in 1 Cor. 13:11 when he said “For now we see through a glass, darkly” as to say, we cannot see clearly all things in this life. We shall never attain to the perfection of truth, but the scripture provides us sufficient revelation as to realize victory in the faith.

    “Do not let anyone deceive you with meaningless words, for it is because of these things that God becomes angry with those who disobey.” Ephesians 5:6 ISV

    To the degree that we adhere to error, to that same degree are we promoting it. There is a dualism that occurs, as one does when stretching an elastic band, both ends must be pulled equally to sustain equilibrium. What is worse, we can retain a stance in error our entire life, unless sufficient revelation frees us. We should pray as the Psalmist wrote in 139:24 "Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”

    To complicate the issue, we also subscribe to certain biases or “prejudices” that distort the frame work of our concept about life, others, our faith, God, etc. Plotting a course through our multi-dimensional personas is a feat that only the Holy Spirit can properly navigate. All to Him we must yield, unreservedly and with fervor.

    Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 The key is to “hold to His teachings.” This must be done through truth rightly discerned, fully encompassed by the Agape (unconditional) love of Christ. This is a subject that could be expanded on, until a book is written.

    This topic would not be complete without mentioning the instruction to test the Spirits in 1 John 4:1. The writer offers a test by which the Spirit's inspiration may be discerned, and that is the test of the substance of one's teaching; specifically, one's teaching about Jesus Christ (vv. 2-3). The emphasis on true confession indicates that John is talking about accepting the affirmations about Jesus that have been handed down from the apostles. The ultimate question of faith: knowledge and worship of the one true God. For denial of Jesus would be tantamount to worshiping a false god, since only through Christ is knowledge of the true God mediated (5:21). The conflict that the author has to deal with is not a blatant rejection of Jesus; it is a distortion about the acknowledgment that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. In light of this, the prophets who apparently deny that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh manifest the spirit of the antichrist, because they deny Jesus. All who deny Jesus are called the world (4:3-5).

    "There are many areas of Christian thought, and because thought then is also life, where likenesses and differences are so difficult to distinguish, we are often hard put to it to escape complete deception. So skilled is error at imitating truth that the two are constantly being mistaken for the other." A.W. Tozer

  • #2
    Lead astray by complacency

    From my reading, without pondering on it too deeply, the "different sprit" or spirit of self righteousness, legalism, false humility, mysticism, division, etc. seem to all be on the same team to to do one thing, pull you away from the Lord Jesus Christ and wreck your ability to be lead by the "Holy Spirit"

    When I first heard the good news of Jesus Christ at age 14 I liked it, but did not really take any of it into my heart like what happened to me at age 40. Then I had an event that brought me truly to the Lord Jesus and was filled with the Holy Sprit, I have it and am confident that I have it.

    I thought that any other "spirit" trying to enter my soul would not go unnoticed since I now know the Holy Spirit, but that just confirms even more what is said in Colossians 2:8 and others I am sure.

    I will now not take for granted that any other "spirit" creeping into my soul would not go unnoticed.
    May the Holy Spirit always move within you!


    • #3
      Commentary Really Hits Home

      I liked your commentary on this matter. It is something that we all need to be aware of so that we may better be able to understand if our spirit is "in tune" with His Spirit. I liked the way you handled the subject matter, but then, you always write well and are able to express complicated subjects in a very understandable way.

      I think your commentary especially good as it echoes what the Bible teaches about wisdom, noting several kinds, and stating that they are not all "from above". (James 3: 13-18) Where this commentary really hit home is in the way you show how the different "spirits" manifest in the lives of those who have them, even as the James passage points out how the different wisdom will manifest itself. Knowing what the Bible says on a matter and being able to apply it to your life are two vastly different propositions. You have given an excellent commentary on what the Bible says on the subject as well as what to look for in our lives as a "warning marker" that we should better "guard what has been entrusted" to us.

      Your writing skills and exposition of truth are a wonderful gift from God!


      • #4
        Thanks for posting this topic. So many distractions within the church itself. This just re-emphasizes the reminder to fix our eyes on Jesus.

        I have a friend who belongs to the Church of Christ and see how legalism is. They try so hard to obey Jesus teachings...always emphasizing being obedient, being obedient. I do not see the peace and love of Christ dwelling in their lives and that deep love relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. (which transforms our lives).

        It's good there are places like this where we can see topics like this come up. And I am glad I can now post it to my facebook to share with others. Thanks and many blessings! ROM 15:13


        • #5
          Different spirit

          2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, all things have become new.

          What is the process that causes someone to have a spirit of self righteousness,spirit of legalism etc.

          Was it already there at the new birth or is it a slow perverting of the spirit.


          • #6
            An excellent question! I will be more than happy to share my thoughts on this matter. As always, be noble like those at Berea.

            I think the best way to approach this is to start at the beginning. Man was created in the likeness and image of God. Man was in a state of - for lack of better term - purity. Man, did not heed the word of the Lord and fell from this purity into a new state - call it corrupted. However, even in his "new" corrupted state, man still carried the likeness and image of God. For example, the abilities to love, create, nurture and obey were not lost, they just became much harder to accomplish. If you look at the temptation of Eve you can see the real battle was about what is truth ("Did God say...") and who would be supreme. ("you will be like God..") In essence, our desire for preeminence was accelerated after the fall. We see this in Cain and Able and all through the Bible.

            Then comes Christ, the second Adam who, "did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped". Christ invites us to live as He did in this manner and even promises the Helper to aid us. If we are in Christ, we are a new creation. The fullness of God's Spirit dwells within us. The Spirit prays for us and teaches us what we should say. Let's call this a state of "grace". Just as we carried the image of God into our "corrupted" state, we still carry the corrupted flesh into our new state of grace. This is why Paul cries out, "Wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death!" Paul was in a state of "grace" at the time he wrote those words. These different spirits are holdovers of the corrupt flesh we inherited from Adam. They are the remnants of our own desire to be "like God", to place ourselves on the throne of our lives.

            The book of James states that we our tempted by our own desire - again the flesh warring with the spirit. The Bible goes so far as to say that without God's Spirit it is impossible for a man to say, "Jesus is Lord." (1st Corinthians 12:3) What a wonderful new creation we become through Christ. That which was not possible becomes possible.

            Let me illustrate this through scripture. Through faith and obedience Peter walked on water, but when his flesh considered the waves and storm he began to sink. Christ came to his aid and admonished Peter for taking his eyes off of Him.
            This is my way of understanding this. I hope it gives you food for thought as you study this out yourself.

            Take care,


            • #7
              Different spirit

              Thank you Daniel.
              God bless


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