Wednesday, 3 December 2014
Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3
This verse is commonly misunderstood because the context has been ignored. If this were a stand-alone verse, it would seem to say something completely different than is intended. But Paul begins with the word “therefore” to show us that the entire verse is dependent on what has already been said. He has been speaking of “spiritual gifts” as opposed to “dumb idols.” A true spiritual gift is one which is given by the true Spirit of God. As the Spirit is a member of the Godhead, then what issues forth from the Spirit will never contradict what the Godhead has proclaimed or ordained.
The Godhead is in full agreement in all things and so any gift which has come from the Spirit will be in line with that precept. Knowing this with all surety, Paul says, “Therefore I make known to you…” His words are given so that the Corinthians will be able to absolutely discern whether a supposed “gift” is really from the Spirit or not. This then must be in response to a matter raised in the letter written to him. Someone must have claimed to prophesy “in the Spirit” and what he prophesied was seemingly contrary to what they thought was truthful. Hence, Paul is giving certain clarification concerning the matter.
In his words, he notes that “no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed.” The term “no one” is the Greek oideis. It could be a man speaking out of his own head, whether rational or insane, or it could be speaking of a demon influencing a person or somehow (if possible) appearing in order to make a proclamation. In other words, any word spoken by anyone or anything who claims inspiration “by the Spirit of God” is to be considered in this. If that claim is made, it cannot be true if they call “Jesus accursed.” The word for accursed is anathema which carries the idea of being banned or set apart for destruction. It is impossible that the Spirit would say such a thing through someone and therefore, if someone made that statement and claimed they were in the Spirit, they would be proven false.
Likewise, Paul says that “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” Again, he is talking about someone who is claiming inspiration by the Spirit. Anyone can actually utter the words “Jesus is Lord” but if they are not truly under the influence of the Spirit, then the words have no meaning. However, if they are in the Spirit, then the words are certainly true. The matter here isn’t concerning human ability, but rather influence of the Spirit.
The reason why this is important is that there are all kinds of false teachers who stand in the pulpit claiming that Jesus is Lord, but don’t truly believe it. Nor are they influenced by the Spirit. This verse cannot be used as a source for following someone simply because they make an oral pronouncement. Instead, it is given as a means of discerning whether a proclamation is truly of the Spirit or not.
Life application: As all Scripture is given by God, nothing that Scripture contains will ever contradict itself nor will it be aligned against the purposes of God. Further, any action within a church which is not in accord with Scripture cannot be of the Spirit. This will become immensely important to understand later when Paul gives the directions for speaking in tongues. If those directions aren’t in line with Scripture, then they are not of the Spirit.
Lord, today I would like to lift up those people I know who are facing troubles and trials in their lives. So many with hearts that truly love You are facing really difficult times. Let their faith not be shaken and let them know that You are with them even through their trials. Remind them of the promises of Your word and help them to keep their eyes and hearts steadfastly on those things. Be their Comforter and their Rock of refuge. Thank You Lord. Amen.