Chapter 12 is about “spiritual” matters. It identifies at least four different ways or diversities of gifts (verse 4) in which the Holy Spirit operates.

Why did Paul first remind the Corinthians that they worshipped dumb idols? Because, they had been deceived. The brethren needed a test to discern whether someone really believed “Jesus is Lord.” If someone spoke in a tongue, yet behaved in an ungodly manner, that would indicate falseness, and even danger.

The Living Bible paraphrases verses 2-3 as follows: “You will remember that before you became Christians you went around from one idol to another, not one of which could speak a single word. But now you are meeting people who claim to speak messages from the Spirit of God. How can you know whether they are really inspired by God or whether they are fakes? Here is the test: no one speaking by the power of the Spirit of God can curse Jesus, and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and really mean it, unless the Holy Spirit is helping him.” 

There is a Holy Spirit, and there is an unholy spirit. Counterfeit spirits can present themselves as holy. Fortune tellers, astrologers, money-hungry church leaders, and other counterfeits are trying to deceive people. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (ESV), “…even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness…” These spirits might say that Jesus is Lord, but “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and really mean it, unless the Holy Spirit is helping him.” 

Acts 16:31 (ESV) reads, “…Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” The Greek word for “in” is “eis” meaning “into.” One must continually believe into Christ after confessing him as Savior. A momentary, solitary act of belief—the mere declaration that “Jesus is Lord”—is not sufficient to save one. A person must unreservedly consecrate his life and recognize Jesus as his Lord on a continuous basis. Then Jesus would be Master in the full sense of the word. 

When Jesus asked his apostles, “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter replied, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17). In other words, that information was conveyed to Peter by God’s power. 

Excerpted from Bible studies with Frank Shallieu.