“It is the Spirit that bears witness because the Spirit is truth”
The most subtle and successful way that Satan has devised to rid men’s hearts of the Son is to teach that the Father’s witness of the Son, the holy Spirit, is no longer received as it was received in the beginning, when Jesus’ followers were baptized with the Spirit and began to speak in tongues. The religious system called Christianity depends on this teaching more than any other for its continued influence, for if (1) the body of Christ on earth is made up only of those who have received the holy Spirit, and if (2) everyone who receives the Spirit speaks in tongues when they receive it, then the religious system called “Christianity” is not the body of Christ. It is exposed as a fraud.
Paul taught that no one can say (with the knowledge that he is telling the truth) that Jesus is Lord without receiving God’s witness to His Son: the holy Spirit (1Cor. 12:3). It is only by receiving the Spirit that men can know that Jesus is alive, sitting at the right hand of God. Men can believe it before they receive the Spirit, but they cannot know for certain that it is true until they receive it, for the Spirit is the Father’s testimony to the world that His Son is with Him in heaven, and “stammering lips and another tongue” is the evidence that the Spirit has come (Isa. 28:11-12). In institutions where the witness of the Spirit is absent, man has nothing but his own ability with which to serve God, and where such a Spirit-less religion is practiced, sincere people grow discontent and find themselves praying, “God, there has to be more to it than this!”
In the apostles’ day, some began to claim to have received the Spirit without speaking in tongues, but God's servants told us how to recognize the real Spirit of God from the false “Spirit of God” that false teachers proclaim. This is a critical issue, for if anyone does not have the real Spirit, he does not belong to the real God (Rom. 8:9). Jesus coined the phrase “born again” in a conversation with Nicodemus, and he used the ever-shifting wind to teach Nicodemus that there was one constant in every new birth experience – and that something was a sound:
John 3: 7–8:
Don’t marvel that I told you, “You must be born again.” The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it’s coming from or where it’s going. This is how it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
So, although we cannot know where the Spirit has last been or where it is going, we do know that whenever it breathes the life of God into a soul, we will hear its sound. The disciples received such an experience on the day of Pentecost when “there came from heaven the sound of a rushing, mighty wind”. It was the Spirit of God being poured out from on high, and “they were all filled with holy spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4). This same speaking in tongues when one receives the Spirit was not just for those disciples! Jesus told Nicodemus, “so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Paul also taught this when he said that the Spirit “testifies” when it is received:
For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
When John explained how the saints can tell the real Spirit of God from the false “holy spirit”, his doctrine matched perfectly that of Jesus and of Paul. He told his readers that they could always tell when someone had really received Christ because the real Spirit of God confesses that Christ has entered the fleshly temple of a believer when it happens:
By this, the Spirit of God is recognized: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ when he has come into flesh is of God, and every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus Christ when he has come into flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now already, it is in the world.
This testimony of the Spirit is what John was talking about when he wrote, “It is the Spirit that bears witness because the Spirit is truth” (1Jn. 5:6b). He went on to say this:
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater, for this [the Spirit] is the witness of God that He has borne concerning His Son.
God himself is in charge of who receives the Spirit, and He cannot be fooled. Therefore, when His Spirit testifies that Christ has entered someone’s fleshly temple, we can know that person is really born again. Our faith is in God’s judgment, not in our own. This was how Peter, after a great controversy, finally convinced some doubtful Jewish brothers that the Gentiles had really been cleansed and received by God into His family:
And the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up and said, “Men and brethren, you know how that a good while ago, God made choice among us that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, who knows the hearts, bore them witness, giving them the same holy Spirit as He did to us.”
Peter knew that God had done this “for they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” (Acts 10:46). Peter’s testimony before the apostles and elders contained no Scripture; nevertheless, it “shut the mouths of lions”, so to speak, because Peter saw God baptize those Gentiles with His Spirit just as He had baptized the Jews on the day of Pentecost. Peter’s six Jewish companions “were astonished” at the sight of Gentiles speaking in tongues, but that sign compelled them to accept what God had done.
Ministers of the institution of Christianity reject this truth. They may disagree with one another about many things, but they all will agree that when the Spirit of God enters into a human temple, there is no longer a “sound of the wind”, no longer an audible witness of the Spirit “crying Abba, Father”, and no longer a verbal confession of Christ. Their great numbers and their unity in this matter is the principal reason Christianity’s speechless “holy Spirit” is trusted by so many. But God is not impressed or intimidated by numbers. He warned us through Solomon that regardless of how many join together in a wrong thing, they will not go unpunished (Prov. 11:21).
The devil has succeeded in getting rid of the real Son of God in every place where his ministers have gotten rid of the real Spirit of God and replaced it with a dumb Spirit that people must just assume they have received. But it has not been a difficult sell. Satan knew that if fallen men were offered a “holy spirit of God” that is not really holy and not really of God, they would opt for that one, and then hire men to tell them they have it, instead of truly repenting and receiving the real holy Spirit that comes from the real God to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).