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Checklist for Discernment

A ninefold checklist for discerning spiritual experience:

1. Has experiencing this spiritual gift or manifestation taken your will from you? If so, it is not from God (1 Corinthians 14:1-5).

2. Is it peaceful? Is this phenomenon palatable and intelligible to other spiritual people? If not, it may not be authentic (James 3:13-18).

3. Has this occurrence glorified God? Is Jesus the center of your experience, or are you the center? It is very clear from the Bible that Jesus expected that manifestations of the spiritual realm, as authorized by him, would always keep him at the center. All biblically sound spiritual occurrences are Christ-centered (1 Corinthians 12:1-3; John 14-16).

4. Did this experience cause you to be respectful of others, or did it cause you to feel superior? If it caused you to feel spiritually above others, it was not an honest, legitimate manifestation (1 Corinthians 14:1-5).

5. Are you willing to submit the expression of your experience to the scrutiny of your pastor and church leaders? If not, your experience should be suspect (1 Corinthians 14).

6. Has this manifestation or insight strengthened your commitment to Christ, his Church and the foundational truths of orthodox Christianity? No legitimate experience or gift will take you to the extremes nor violate basic doctrine (Deuteronomy 18:9-22).

7. Has this experience caused you to be more concerned about others? If so, this experience is producing the kind of fruit that is biblical and legitimate (1 Corinthians 12-14). 

8. Has this spiritual event caused you to walk in harmony with Christ? If feelings of superiority and isolation occur as a result of your experience, it may not be valid (1 Corinthians 12).

9. Is this experience open to anyone? If you feel that it is for you only, it is probably not legitimate or genuine, for God is no respecter of persons when it comes to spiritual experiences (Acts 10:34-36).

- Doug Murren, The Baby Boomerang: Catching Baby Boomers As They Return to Church (Regal Books, 1990), 162-63.

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