Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Shepherd of Hermas: Eleventh Mandate

He showed me men seated on a bench, and another man seated on a chair. "These...are faithful, but the one seated on a chair is a false prophet who destroys the mind of GOD's servants; that is, he destroys the mind of the double-minded, not of believers. These double-minded ones come to him as to a fortune teller, and ask him what will happen to them. And that false prophet, not having the power of the HOLY SPIRIT in himself, answers them in accordance with their questions and their wicked desires, and fills their souls just as they themselves wish.

For since he himself is empty, he gives empty answers to empty inquirers, for no matter what is asked, he answers according to the emptiness of the man asking. But he does speak some true words, for the devil fills him with his own spirit, to see if he will be able to break down any of the righteous. So those who are strong in the Faith of the LORD, having clothed themselves with the Truth, do not associate with such spirits, but have nothing to do with them.

But those who are double-minded and frequently change their minds practice fortune telling like the pagans and bring greater sin upon themselves by their idolatries. For the one who consults a false prophet on any matter is an idolator and lacks the Truth and is senseless. For the SPIRIT given by GOD speaks everything on HIS Own initiative, because HE is from above... But the spirit that is consulted and answers according to the desires of the people consulting it is earthly and fickle, and has no power, and does not speak at all unless it is asked." ...

..."Hear about both the prophets, and on the basis of what I am going to tell you, you can test the prophet and the false prophet. Determine the man who has the HOLY SPIRIT by his life. In the first place the one who has the HOLY SPIRIT from above is gentle and quiet and humble, and stays away from all evil and futile desires of this age, and considers himself to be poorer than others, and gives no answer to anyone when consulted. Nor does he speak on his own (nor does the HOLY SPIRIT speak when a man wants to speak), but he speaks when GOD wants him to speak. So, then, when the man who has the HOLY SPIRIT comes into the assembly of righteous men who have faith in the HOLY SPIRIT, and intercession is made to GOD by the assembly of those men, then the angel of the prophetic spirit which is assigned to him fills the man, and being filled with the HOLY SPIRIT the man speaks to the multitude, just as the LORD wills. In this way, then the SPIRIT of GOD will be obvious. Such, therefore, is the power of discernment with respect to the HOLY SPIRIT of the LORD." ...

"Now hear...about the earthly and worthless spirit, which has no power but is foolish. In the first place, that man who thinks he has a spirit exalts himself and wants to have a seat of honor, and immediately is arrogant and shameless and talkative and well acquainted with many luxuries and with many other pleasures, and receives money for his prophesying, and if he does not receive money, he does not prophesy.

Now, can the HOLY SPIRIT receive money and still prosphesy? It is impossible for a Prophet of GOD to do this, but the spirit of such prophets who do so is earthly.

Next, he never comes near an assembly of righteous men; instead, he avoids them, and associates with double-minded and the empty-headed, and prophesies to them in a corner and deceives them. Everything he says is in accordance with their own desires and characterized by his own empty manner, for he is answering those who are empty. For the empty vessel placed together with other empty vessels is not broken, but they match one another.

But when he comes to an assembly full of righteous men who have the HOLY SPIRIT, and intercession is made by them, that man is emptied and the eartly spirit flees from him in fear, and that man is rendered speechless and is completely shattered, unable to say a thing. For if you store wine or oil in a storeroom and place an empty jar in among them and then later you wish to clear out the storeroom, you will find that empty jar you placed there still empty. So it is with empty prophets; whenever they encounter the spirits of the righteous, they are found to be just as they were when they arrived: empty.

You now have descriptions of the life of both kinds of prophets. Therefore, test by this his life and his actions the man who claims that he is led, inspired, filled by the HOLY SPIRIT. Put your trust in the SPIRIT WHO comes from GOD and has power, but do not trust in any way the earthly and empty spirit, because it has no power, for it comes from the devil.

Listen to this parable I am about to tell you. Take a stone and throw it toward the sky; see if you can reach it. Or, for another example, take a water pump and squirt it toward the sky; see if you can penetrate it. ...just as these things are impossible, so also are the earthly spirits powerless and weak.

Now take the power that comes from above. A hailstone is a very small pellet, but when it falls on a man's head, what pain it causes! Or, for another example, take a drop that falls on the ground from the roofing tiles, and wears a hole in the rock. You see, then, that even the smallest things from above falling on the earth have great power; so also the HOLY SPIRIT WHO comes from above is powerful. So put your trust in this SPIRIT, but have nothing to do with the other one." --The Shepherd of Hermas, Mandate 11 (mid second century AD)

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