Scripture Reading: Acts 23: 6- But perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” As he said this, there occurred a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. And there occurred a great uproar; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks. But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.”
1Cor.12:7 - But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spiritfor the common good.For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
Here then is the spirit realm: God who is Spirit; angels, demons and human spirits.
Here are some scripture references to validate that:
Human spirit: Mary said, “And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. ” It is written of Christ: Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said,…’ Rom.1:9 – For God, whom I serve in myspirit…’ Rom.8:16 – The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. 1Cor.14:2 – My spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. Gal.6:18 – The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
Demonic realm: Lk.4:33 – In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice…’
Acts 19:11 – God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Angelic realm: Heb.1:14 – But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies A footstool for Your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?
All of this comes down to a very obvious question – or perhaps a two part question. Does that realm of the S/spirit have any influence upon the material order? And why are we so conflicted with that idea?
The answer to that first question is found from Genesis to Revelation. But nowhere is the relationship between these two realms set forth with such clarity as in Heb.11:3 -By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
The visible creation did not evolve out of the visible; did not evolve out of some material life form no matter how microscopic in size. The visible material creation appeared out of the invisible spirit world, and the medium of its appearing was WORD – spoken word: ‘And God said….’ That’s how closely aligned these two realms are. You cannot believe this book without accepting the interrelatedness of the spiritual and material realms.
Regarding this interrelatedness of the spirit realm and the physical realm there is a fascinating story in Numbers 22. In that story you will discover that a donkey saw an angel. And it gets even more fantastic for the donkey was given the ability to speak in the voice of a man and the language of the man who rode upon the donkey. Jump ahead a few thousand years and the apostle Peter gave this story a literal interpretation when he wrote: But he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.
In Matt.8, Mark 5, and Luke 8 you have the records of the deliverance of the demoniac. The demons made a request of Christ- that they be given permission to enter into a herd of swine. Mark reports that there was a bout two thousand pigs. Jesus gave them permission, and we cannot accept any interpretation other than this: The demons literally entered the pigs and with them came the same madness that was in the man they left. The entire herd ran headlong into the sea and was drowned. And as my friend in Virginia tells me – this was the original creation of deviled ham.
But for all of this the church remains highly conflicted regarding the realm of the S/spirit. In some quarters the Sadduceen position prevails: a total disbelief in the spirit world. In other quarters we have the Pharisaic position: a belief in resurrection, spirit and angels. But for the most part I think it tends to be like this: We profess the Pharisee’s position and live the Sadducee’s position.
For those of us who have been there – for those of us who are still there – everything was fine right up to this: But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit. Right there is where Paul messed up our “safe place.” We are fine with the idea of S/spirit; it’s that word‘manifestation’ that unsettles us and makes us nervous.
But hear this carefully – it is not just the Holy Spirit that is manifesting in this material order; that whole entire spirit-realm is manifesting twenty four seven.
In other words there is a spiritual reality – a spiritual inspiration – driving everything that gets established here: It may be the human spirit, the Holy Spirit, an angel or a demon. The process of that manifestation involves every part of our triune being: The spirit realm downloads directly into the human spirit. From there that download passes through the soul of man in the form of thought/imagination, which generates certain emotions or feelings, which in turn pushes the will to act. And finally it gets worked out through the body, first in our confession/words, and then in behaviour or works.
To arrive at the final truth of a thing we must work backwards from the material reality of the thing to the spirit that inspired it and continues to drive it. And that of course, raises the critical question: How can we know what S/spirit is at work within the works of man? The Bible gives us the answer, and there is only one: And to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit…… and to another the distinguishing of spirits.
To identify the spiritual base of anything requires this spiritual gift that comes right out of the Holy Spirit. The word ‘discern’ or ‘distinguish’ means to break apart or separate so as to arrive at or expose the truth or reality of a thing. It is only through the operation of this gift that the appearance of a thing can be broken apart and the true S/spirit of it revealed. The Bible speaks of lying spirits, seducing spirits, doctrines of demons, false signs, wonders and mighty miracles produced by evil spirits. Little wonder then that John wrote in his first epistle:1Jn.4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it coming, and now it is already in the world.
Listen to me parents – we had better start exercising a growing sensitivity to this Holy Spirit gifting, and especially when it comes to our children. Everything that daily washes over their souls – from education to the arts, from economic values to political positions, from religion/philosophy to recreation/sports – carries a spiritual reality or inspiration with it.
As Judson Cornwall once said concerning ministry: ‘A man’s pulpit ministry may be orthodox; but what is in his spirit is what gets sown into the corporate life of the community.’