By Roland Wiesbrot on May 1, 2021.
One of the most important practices for a Christian is that of discernment. This becomes even more clear when applied to the spiritual realm.
Unfortunately, our fallen world is filled with an awful lot of grey areas, and since the Bible does not address every single issue and circumstance exhaustively, the only way to know the “right” course of action is through discernment. For the Christian, discernment is a process intimately tied to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who guides us into ever greater truth and righteousness (cf. John 16:12-15).
As Scripture tells us, however, there are actually a variety of “spirits” that exist in the spiritual realm, meaning that a person can be possessed by a spirit other than the Holy Spirit and thus be lead astray (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4).
According to my observations, the most common of these other “spirits” is the Zeitgeist or Spirit of the Age. This is a spirit which inculcates in those in which it dwells the very opposite of the fruit of the Holy Spirit: instead of love it fosters hate, instead of joy it fosters despair, instead of peace it fosters conflict, instead of patience it fosters rashness, instead of kindness it fosters contempt, instead of goodness it fosters wickedness, instead of faithfulness it fosters hopelessness, instead of gentleness it fosters harshness, and instead of self-control it fosters indulgence (cf. Galatians 5:22-23a).
Consequently, we as Christians must always discern the spirit that dwells within us. Is it the Spirit of the Age or the Holy Spirit? The only way to tell is to look at the fruit your life produces as Jesus says in Matthew 7:16. If you are not growing in faith, hope, and love, but are instead growing in the opposite direction, then pray that God would remove the Zeitgeist and fill you with His Holy Spirit instead.
Pastor Roland Weisbrot is the associate pastor at Victory Lutheran Church and president of the Medicine Hat Ministerial Association