Saturday, November 23, 2013

Spiritual Gifts: Dangers

Spiritual gifts are powerful and, as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility. The subject of spiritual gifts comes with four main dangers (flowing out of 1 Corinthians 12-14).

First, there is the danger of dismissal. There are a  number of reasons why someone might dismiss spiritual gifts. Maybe they've been led astray doctrinally (cessationism) or they are revolting again excess (charismania). Maybe they just aren't interested in serving ('just say a prayer' mentality). In any case, it is clear spiritual gifts are not to be ignored or dismissed. By no means should they be forbidden. By every means they should be eagerly desired.

Second, there is the danger of deception. The devil loves to counterfeit genuine spirituality. There are prophets and there are false prophets. There are teachers and there are false teachers. The church must be on guard. They must search the Scriptures. They must have discernment. They must have the gift of distinguishing between spirits. Otherwise the devil will be able to use false gifts to lead people astray.

Third, there is the danger of disorder. Spiritual gifts are exciting. But in the excitement some people forget that the gifts exist for the edification of the body. The display of spiritual gifts should not be a free-for-all. God is not a God of disorder, but of peace. Everything should be done in an orderly way. There are far too many examples of order being ignored in favor of so-called freedom. We need to rid ourselves of the thinking that anything having to do with the 'Spirit' must be without structure.

Fourth, there is the danger of division. Some gifts are displayed more prominently than others. This creates space for the twin temptations of pride and depression. A prominently gifted person may start to think they don't need the others. Someone with a behind the scenes gift may start to question their worth to the Kingdom project. Such mistaken notions lead to division within the body of Christ. The reality of this led Paul to spend a lot of ink on the body metaphor and on defining love in the middle of a discussion of spiritual gifts.

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