Question 40: What do the terms “testing the spirits” and “discernment of the spirits” mean?

Answer: The term “testing the spirits” comes from I John 4:1, which says: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. There are certain tests that can be applied to see if something is of the Lord or of a demon (I Jn. 4:2‑3; I Cor. 12:3; I Jn. 5:6‑7).

The gift of discernment of spirits (I Cor. 12:10) is the God-given ability of some to recognize immediately whether something is demonic or not. For those who do not have that spiritual gift, they are responsible to test the spirits by asking specific questions to determine whether something is demonic or not.

For details on this, see MBS082 Demonology, available from Ariel Ministries.

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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.