A primary way of recognizing spiritual fruit among the people in your Christian world is to get to know them by how they handle offenses and confrontation..
The first fruit to look for is the fruit of love. The Apostle Paul wrote that we know each other in the Lord by how much a professing believer loves the brethren. Love is most demonstrated by truth and not by meaningless platitudes or words of comfort by people pleasing people. Jesus defined love as our faithfulness to keep His commandments. When we do, then we abide in His love. And his first commandment is to love the brethren.
In order to love the brethren, trying the spirits is a means of recognizing a child of God when you see one. This is a particularly challenging command in the church age of Laodicea— an age of rampant spiritual deception where the wheat and the tares are not only growing together in the world but also in the organized church and in various ministries. Counterfeit spiritual births have really muddied the waters where spiritual discernment of the truly saved is concerned.
There is an effective way to try the spirits to determine if a person is NOT saved. Simply ask them in casual conversation to share with you how they became born again. If there is no emphasis or even mention of sin, godly sorrow, repentance, the cleansing power of the cross, forgiveness, then the person simply had an ecstatic, mystical experience that did not emanate from the Holy Ghost’s ministry of conviction of sin. Do not be fooled if you are told about a miracle that took place if the evidence of repentance is not in the testimony of conversion. Recently I heard the testimony of someone who was instantly healed of a substance abuse addiction, with not even a desire for drugs in years, yet addiction is manifested in other areas of her life, ie. to food, gambling, and other obsessive/compulsive behaviors. In a few days, the lack of love for the brethren was clearly apparent.
Besides a Spirit-led repentance, there are other obvious ones who when you ask them to define what they mean when they say “Jesus was raised from the dead,” you will discover that they do not really understand the Lord’s bodily resurrection. Simply put, you can be assured that salvation did not occur for them. As Paul warned the Corinthians, anyone who does not comprehend this fundamental Christian truth, “their faith is vain and they are STILL in their sins.” (I Cor 15:17)
What I have discovered lately is that there are those among the brethren whose testimony seems to be completely in line with the scriptures concerning repentance and resurrection, yet they too are not saved. These imposters are extremely dangerous because like Judas Iscariot, they are completely delusional. Once discerned, they should be treated kindly yet held at a spiritual distance as with a long-handled spoon and of course, prayed for if you are so led. Those experienced at trying the spirits can discern them because the Lord will open your eyes “to really SEE them” for what they are. In such instances, you must be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove. Like my Grammie used to say, “When your hand is in the lion’s mouth, EASE IT OUT!”
The way to discern spiritual counterfeits is rather simple for the Lord said “you will know them by their fruits.” The fruit most obvious as it relates to discerning the saved is that born again people will always have a special love for other Christians, even when we may disagree on spiritual subjects that do not hinder anyone’s salvation. .So if you really want to try the spirits, get brave enough to go to those who claim to be in Christ and tell them of your offense. If their reaction is belligerent, argumentative, with no care or concern that they have hurt your feelings, and you are assured that YOU are one of the elect of God, then there is your answer. That person is NOT saved regardless of how many bible scriptures they can quote. They are in disobedience to the word of God where loving the brethren is concerned.
I see this kind of thing operative on Facebook ALL of the time among people who claim to be “among the brethren.” Each so-called Christian puts out a post, in competition to others. If you are not a part of their clique, then they will not comment on anything that you post, unless they can criticize. For example, I posted an article on Eddie Long’s sexual abuse scandal and I got a bunch of “that’s in poor taste, Pamela”. Then everybody got quiet when one of their own posted the same article. They read everything I post, yet they refuse to comment or even press the “like” button. These are people who really have no love for ALL the brethren.
They are respectors of persons.
Rejection of the brethren is a major strategy of the devil, particularly when another alleged “child of God” is the messenger. I spent 25 years of my spiritual life around counterfeit believers who had no love in them. Yet, because they were so religious, it never really crossed my mind that they were not saved. Remember that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against devils and demons. Therefore, devils and demons are forced to use people as their messengers. Consequently, the enemy’s natural and spiritual emissaries are usually false brethren.
I have found that once my spiritual discernment has been exercised sufficiently to recognize good from evil, a counterfeit emissary cannot remain around me for very long. There are times when I am contacted by email by people who have either visited my website or read one of my books or articles who sense that we are on the same spiritual track. Yet as soon as a difference comes to the surface, they behave in unfriendly, unseemly and even disturbing ways. No one should have to agree with you on EVERYTHING for them to continue loving you. Christian love is manifested as tolerance and acceptance. Whether you left their home church or not, if they are true Christians, they ought to accept the fact that you love Christ and you are in obedience to Him, even though your path may be different from theirs.
So a lack of tolerance, flexibility and acceptance is a sign of a religious demon and or a counterfeit birth. True brethren may not approve of your doctrine or even your lifestyle but to them, acceptance and understanding is essential to Christian love. Rejection based upon doctrinal differences is of the devil. So keep this in mind. Since the religious demon assigned to you has an agenda centered on causing YOU to lose your salvation, he will use human vessels to bring you to a point of discouragement by any means necessary. Whatever causes you to feel hopeless and without God in the world, is not the same factors that can be effective against someone else. So this demon will use different strategies but the goal is the same. He will do whatever he is permitted to do by God in an effort to seduce you to hate God. Like Job’s wife, the enemy will find someone in your life to say by their actions and their message, “Curse God and DIE!” The enemy knows that if you curse God, he has YOU in HIS pocket!
To know more about the many facets of the religious spirit, you need “Faces of the Religious Demon.”