What Does 1 Corinthians 12:3 Mean?

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:3(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

More often than not we have to discard certain preconceived notions, acquired biases, legalistic practices, and even some cultural traditions when we become a Christian. We are to put off the old and put on the new, for if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 

Oh, not all pre-salvation customs and activities are wrong, but Paul gave a clear, identifying mark, of the spiritual man or woman, who was growing in grace as opposed to the unbeliever. "Therefore, I make known to you," Paul explained, "that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus is accursed,' and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit."

Before their salvation, the Corinthians believers had been led astray by mute idols of wood and stone, that neither spoke nor lived, but despite being born from above, there were some deep concerns about the lack of spiritual growth among these believers. They were all well-endowed with spiritual gifts, but most of them were far from being spiritual men and women. We read that Paul thanked God for the grace of God which had been given to each one, and for their testimony of Christ - "so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, and are eagerly awaiting the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ", but he did have to address some problems within the congregation.

They had been endowed with certain gifts of the Spirit, but they were not spiritual. They often used their spiritual gifts for self-gratification but were not being led by the Holy Spirit. They had an appearance of spirituality but they were not walking in spirit and truth. There were times when the ungodly behaviour, incessant arguments, and sexual promiscuity of certain Corinthians believers resembled that of their unbelieving, pagan neighbours, causing Paul to chasten them sharply and accuse them of fleshly carnality, and stunted spiritual growth.

Because of this lack in their spiritual development, these believers were prey to false teachers and unbiblical doctrines. Because of their lack of spiritual discernment, they were vulnerable to apostate teachers. In their naivety, they failed to test the spirits of others, to see whether they were from God or not. Paul knew that many false prophets had gone into the world and so he made it very clear to them that, "no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus is accursed' and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord', except by the Holy Spirit."

False teachers, 'charismatic' behaviour and so-called 'inspired utterances' do not always indicate spirituality, although such ecstatic exploits often deceive immature believers. There are many people who hold to an outward form of godliness - a pseudo-spirituality, but deny its power in their heart. Paul cautioned Timothy to "Stay away from such people."  Paul was warning the Corinthian Christians that they too, needed to be sober, and vigilant; because their adversary, the devil, can come as a deceptive angel of light, OR as a roaring lion, who walks about, seeking to devour gullible believers and shipwreck their faith.

Christ told us that when the Holy Spirit was sent, He would testify of Jesus and point us to Him. While Jesus always points us to God the Father, the Spirit always promotes the Lord Jesus Christ, and Paul was reinforcing this truth. Warning bells should always ring when a minister is promoting themselves rather than pointing us to Jesus.

John the Baptist told us that Jesus must increase and we must decrease, and Paul was reinforcing this principle to the believers at Corinth when he insisted that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will denigrate the Lord Jesus. And similarly, and no one can lift up the name of Jesus and confess, "Jesus is Lord," except by the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The enemy of our soul is no less deceptive in our day than he was in those early days of Christianity. We, in the 21st century, should be equally alert to the wiles of the enemy. We are no less likely to be deceived by charlatan teachers and unbiblical doctrines, and should be able to discern true spirituality as opposed to a false form of godliness.

Like the Corinthian Christians, we need to be awake, alert, and able to discern which men or women who are truly spiritual people, as opposed to the one that displays a false spirituality... with a magnetic personality that promotes self, rather than our God and Saviour - Jesus Christ. 

We should be ready and able to judge the trickster in our midst. And one of the greatest tools at our disposal is the Word of God. Let us study to show ourselves approved unto Him and lift high the lovely Lord Jesus Christ, Who alone is worthy of all praise and worship.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You that Jesus is my Lord and my God, and that He came to earth from heaven to die on the cross for my sins, and the sins of the whole world. Thank You that You lifted me out of the slave-market of sin and seated me together with Christ in heavenly places. Give me wisdom and discernment to identify pretenders in the faith, who are sheep in wolves clothing... and increasingly open the eyes of my understanding to know You more, and to love You better. This I ask in Jesus' precious name, AMEN.

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