Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Distinguishing Strange Fire from a True Work of the Spirit (Part 6)

Today we turn to the second positive sign that a work is of the Spirit of God. Edwards said, "when the spirit that is at work operates against the interests of Satan's kingdom, which lies in encouraging and establishing sin, and cherishing men's worldly lusts; this is a sure sign that it is a true, and not a false spirit."

Working through 1 John 4, Edwards has come to v. 4-5 in which John says, "Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them." Edwards wants to drive home the point that a true work of the Spirit causes us to overcome worldliness, not to press further into worldliness. He argued that his readers need to understand John's use of "the world" as defined by 1 John 2:15-16.

Edwards rightly argues from his understanding of 1 John that a spirit that is at work "after such a manner, as to lessen men's esteem of the pleasures, profits, and honours of the world, and to take off their hearts from an eager pursuit after these things; and to engage them in a deep concern about a future state and eternal happiness which the gospel reveals--and puts them upon earnestly seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and the spirit that convinces them of the dreadfulness of sin, the guilt it brings, and the misery to which it exposes, must needs be the Spirit of God."

As a short summary, we have learned so far that 2 positive marks of a true work of the Spirit are that He causes in us (1) a growing esteem for the biblical Jesus, and (2) a growth in holiness as defined by turning away from worldliness and the vileness of sin unto Christ and his righteousness.

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