In the 2004 movie, the Phantom of the Opera a young girl with a beautiful voice (Christine) finds herself being cared for by an acquaintance of her father's after her father's and mother's death. Also, she had a childhood sweetheart (Raoul), and they both had enjoyed hearing stories told by her father before his death. One story was of an "Angel of Music" that her father promised to send to her upon his death to watch over her, protect her and train her voice.
Enter the phantom of the opera (Erik) - the disfigured murdering but highly intelligent sociopath that masquerades as the "Angel of Music." In the dark hours of the night he seduces and deceives Christine into thinking he is the one sent by her father to protect her; however, what he desires is to have her for himself. His idea of love is enslavement in prison in the depths of the opera house. This is not unconditional love - a love that seeks the best for the other person - but rather intimidation, manipulation, domination and control that aims to satisfy his sociopathic disease. Furthermore, Christine is deceived into allowing herself to be taken to the dungeon lair by Erik the Phantom of the Opera. Yes, predators depend on the altruistic nature of the innocent. However, Raoul who loves her with a love that seeks the best for Christine, his future bride, is willing to die to save her from the Phantom and succeeds in rescuing her and they lived happily ever after. However, the Phantom continues to lurk in the background.
Similarly, the fallen angel Lucifer (Satan) (1) masquerades as an "Angel of Light" (2 Corinthians 11:14) who through the ages has victimized many with his seductive tales and empty promises of a better life (1 Peter 5:8. John 10:10). Starting with Eve and then Adam (1) he deceived the human race into rejecting the God that loved them thus condemning the human race to the cruel antics of this murdering yet highly intelligent creature with the traits of a psychopath (John 8:44. Proverbs 12:10). Hence I referred to Satan as the Phantom of the Ages! Nevertheless, Jesus our true lover came and rescued us from our inevitable fate of eternal torture and suffering in Hell by taking our place (1) paying our penalty for sin and then coming back to life (1) (John 3:16-18).
With this framing or perspective, we enter into the time of the first Christian church at Corinth. Corinth (1) was a port city in Greece that was full of the vices that typically are found in port cities. It also contained the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, with 1,000 cult prostitutes. The city was so full of wickedness that the expression “corinthianize” was used to describe the effects of immorality and the term "Corinthian girl” was synonymous for a prostitute. It was in this setting where people actively worshiped idols that converts to Christianity were made, and they formed the Corinth church.
Furthermore, realize the worshipping of idols is actually worshipping and fellowshipping with Satan's spiritual pawns or minions called demons (Leviticus 17:7. Deuteronomy 32:17. Psalms 106:36,37. 1 Corinthians 10:20,21).
Consequently, these people were accustomed to being deceived by demons and that behavior had to be unlearned now that they were Christians. The risk was that in their desire to listen to and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit they may be deceived into following their former unholy spirits' offers of counterfeit Holy Spirit things. The manifestation of counterfeit gifts by immature Christians at Corinth was the main issue and not carnal Christians operating in the true gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Realize that Satan aggressively markets both the opposite of the truth (e.g., atheism, agnosticism, Satan worship) and a cornucopian rainbow of counterfeits (2 Corinthians 4:4). These counterfeits range from the direct worship of other gods or deities to some of the more sinister Christian knock-offs (i.e., look alike or cults). For example, LDS appears to worship the Christian Jesus and center on His death on the cross. However, if you go deeper into their theology (unfortunately this information is not readily available to those first joining this church) you will find that their "Jesus" does not meet the requirements (1) to save us from our sin. That is, He is not God the creator that became a man and bore our sin by the shedding of His blood but rather a brother of Satan! (2 Corinthians 11:3,4) Furthermore, their salvation is based on performance (Colossians 2:8) and not grace received by faith (Ephesians 2:8,9. Galatians 1:6-9. 1 Timothy 4:1). JW's is another cult in this "knock off" category.
Another type of counterfeit involves Christian churches that identify with the true Jesus; however, they allow compromising of God's Word to occur. That is, they are a "Bible informed" church juxtaposed to a "Bible-based" church. For example the Bible is very clear that all sinners are loved by God (Romans 5:8); however, the lifestyle of homosexuality is condemned as a sin (1 Corinthians 6:9. 1 Timothy 1:9,10. Romans 1:18-32). Therefore, in a "Bible-based" church the homosexual would be unconditionally loved and not condemned, but the sin of homosexuality would not be condoned (John 8:10,11). In a "Bible informed" church they might say that they are aware of what the Bible says about homosexuality, but they have the Holy Spirit providing an update that homosexuality is now acceptable (Jude 1:17-19. 2 Corinthians 11:13. 2 Peter 2:1,2). Well, the Holy Spirit authored the Bible through men (2 Peter 1:20,21) and does not change (Malachi 3:6. Hebrews 13:8). What we have here is someone (and perhaps a sincere person) confused and deceived by a counterfeit spirit telling them what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3,4).
Consequently, the Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (i.e., letter) to the church in Corinth to teach them the genuine spiritual things (including but not just limited to spiritual gifts - 1 Corinthians 12:1,2 [see NET note 1 by left-clicking "Read More"]) of God so they would recognize the counterfeit demonic spiritual things of that ancient phantom masquerading as an "Angel of Light" Satan (2 Corinthians 11:14. Acts 8:9-24).
FYI, teaching the genuine in order recognize the counterfeit (and not vice-a-versa) is the way the US Secret Service trains their agents to recognize fake money.
Paul, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), then started this teaching on spiritual things by giving them a test or indicator of the source of the spiritual (1 Corinthians 12:3). This test was latter supplemented by the Apostle John (1 John 4:2,3). He then discusses the division of labor amongst the three in one God (1) that we serve (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
Paul then introduces the "ministry" gifts of the Holy Spirit by stating that they are given to Christians to profit everywhere and everyone (1 Corinthians 12:7). Consequently, we are not to be afraid of them or allow our gifts to puff us up with pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). Interestingly, there are two extremes seen in the Christian church today. Some in the Christian church are so afraid of being deceived by a counterfeit gift that they ignore them or teach that they are no longer for the church today (Matthew 25:24-29. 2 Timothy 3:5. 2 Peter 3:16). On the other hand, some in the Christian church have not learned to discern the genuine; therefore, they have unintentionally practiced a counterfeit gift(s) in their eagerness (2 Corinthians 11:3). Sadly, there are also some that practice the counterfeit intentionally (Matthew 24:24). Nevertheless, we are directed to DESIRE spiritual things but instructed to SEEK to develop the character of Christ so that we will not be deceived (1 Corinthians 12:31.1 Corinthians 14:1.Philippians 1:9-11).
Paul then lists the ministry gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). I categorize them as follows:
Three to help them BELIEVE -
- Word of Wisdom - a simple definition of wisdom is the ability to use knowledge. Many have heard of the engineer that can design a door but cannot open it! (Realize I am an engineer, so no offense intended to my fellow engineers) The point is we may have a lot of knowledge but still not know what to do. When the Holy Spirit activates the Word of Wisdom gift it is as if the "so simple a child" could do it solution "drops" into your mind (i.e., the light bulb turns on!). What a joy to have this breakthrough for what seemed an impossible situation. Think of the belief stirred when God gives you the solution for someone that is facing an utterly hopeless situation. Recall that Jesus performed ministry while on Earth NOT in His ability as God but rather in the power of the Holy Spirit (1). Therefore, I have included an example of this gift in operation from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Matthew 17:27).
- Word of Knowledge - This gift provides you with information that you had no other way of knowing. Suddenly you know the name of someone that you have seen for the first time or you know they have suffered some trauma. This is not to be a party trick but rather helps others open up or "take off the mask" that likely was causing them to not believe in God or believe that He loves and cares for them. Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Matthew 17:24,25).
- Gift of Faith - This gift allows the one ministering on behalf of another to go beyond their present level of faith. For example, a disheartened pastor mentions that some child's foot was caught in a riding lawnmower while the Dad was driving them around. He relates the doctors do not think the lower leg can be saved. All of a sudden it is as if someone opens a valve in the back of your head and all doubt drains out! You find roaring out of your mouth, like a lion, that the child will not lose the leg or the function! The pastor gets it, the parents receive it, and God brings it to pass! Glory to God! Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (John 11:23).
Three to help them RECEIVE:
- Gifts of Healings - This gift when ministered overcomes the obstacles a person might have in receiving from God and starts and/or accelerates the healing process. For example, a sick person believes that God wills to heal them from some disease but are so worn down or have so much emotional baggage that they cannot receive from God. Note the word gifts is plural meaning that the one ministering the gift, similar to specialists in the medical profession, may have a gift to that is more effectual when dealing with certain sicknesses but not others. Also, the healing may vary from instantaneous to progressive (i.e., taking some period of time but typically twice faster than normal Isaiah 61:7). Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Matthew 8:16,17. Isaiah 53:5. 1 Peter 2:24).
- Working of Miracles - Where a person with a disease needs healing a person with a physical defect or damage to their body needs a miracle. Realize, prayer efficiency can be enhanced if we ask for what we need precisely. That is, healing is not what a person with a broken leg needs but rather a miracle to mend it. However, healing may be required for any infection that might have occurred. For the record, I have nothing against the medical profession as I both utilize them, and I have children that work in this field. However, we must always turn to God first then man for our needs (2 Chronicles 16:12,13). Even pain relievers should be prayed over (similar to blessing our food) before being taken (1 Timothy 4:3,4). In fact, God may send you to a doctor and/or have medicine prescribed for you. The point is where is your treasure - in man or God (Jeremiah 17:5. Luke 12:34). Note also that it is a "working" of a miracle meaning that typically there is something required of the receiver. For example, the man that was blind received a miracle of functioning eyesight after washing in the Pool of Siloam (John 9:1-7). Note that a miracle to restore the damaged, since being born, seeing system was needed and not only healing of a disease impairing vision. Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Luke 17:12-14).
- Prophecy - This gift is more about speaking a message fresh from God than foretelling the future. Utilizing this gift the Holy Spirit may choose to speak a message that edifies, exhorts and comforts a person about how, when and where they might receive what they need, etc. (1 Corinthians 14:3). It can also be spoken and applied to a group of people. Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Mathew 5:1-12).
Three to keep them from being DECEIVED:
- Discerning of spirits - This gift allows sensing the spiritual realm. It could be that you are allowed to see God's angels or Satan's fallen angels and/or demons. This allows you to know what demonic infiltration a person might have thus alerting the church so that they are not deceived. It also will allow you to minister salvation, healing or deliverance precisely as Satan routinely hides the root of an issue and will have a decoy to keep you ineffective. For example, a person has the symptoms of chronic migraines, but the source of the issue is sex with their spouse before marriage. Cleverly, the migraine headaches did not start until shortly after the wedding which was a long enough time that the connection to the sinful sex is not suspected. Furthermore, this gift is not about constantly "discerning" something critical about others! Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Mark 9:25).
- Kinds of Tongues - When speaking with our minds we have the ability to insert our paradigms into the discourse thus altering the message and deceiving others and ourselves. Even in prophesy this can be an issue as you might choose to not say something because of how the audience might react (1 Corinthians 14:32). However, this issue is circumvented when speaking from your spirit in a language you do not know with your mind. However, the message does others no good (1 Corinthians 14) unless it is interpreted by God through others or directly to the person (Acts 2:4-6). No matter what you believe about tongues do at least respect and obey the Bible's mandate not to forbid speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39). Yes, and even carnal Christians know two verses - drink a little wine (1 Timothy 5:23) and do not speak in tongues unless you have an interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:28). To which I agree with 1 Corinthians 14:20. Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (John 11:33,38*. Romans 8:26).
- Interpretation of Tongues - Interpretation of a discourse in tongues is not typically given to a person all at once. This is done so that faith is required for you to declare that God is going to use you for the interpretation. Typically, you have only the first few words and no more until you start speaking and then the rest is revealed like the opening of a scroll - line upon line (Isaiah 28:10,11). In this manner there is no time to insert your opinion and if you stop without saying something it will be obvious to all. Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (John 11:41-43).
Lastly, more than one gift may operate simultaneously in a given situation, and not all gifts are given to all individuals(1) (1 Corinthians 12:29,30).
(1) Left click on underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.
*YLT John 11:33 Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, did groan in the spirit, and troubled himself, and he said, 38 Jesus, therefore, again groaning in himself, cometh to the tomb, and it was a cave, and a stone was lying upon it,
KJV John 11:33 When Jesus, therefore, saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
NKJ John 11:33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.