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Godless Godliness?
by Dusty Peterson



Shocked.  I think I can safely say without fear of contradiction that, although the beginning of this article is unlikely to startle readers, many of them will be shocked by the time they reach the end.  

One of the most crucial questions we can ask nowadays is this:  What are the effects on a Christian of the true Holy Spirit?  The Bible seems unequivocal.  “[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23a).[1]  We’ve all heard or read that passage so many times that we can be tempted to rush through it somewhat.  This is certainly true of me.  For that reason I’d like to crave your indulgence and repeat these nine words.  As I do so, please take a moment to consider each one.  Love.  Joy.  Peace.  Longsuffering.  Gentleness.  Goodness.  Faith.  Meekness.  Temperance (or self-control).  

As an aside, note how this list does not include ‘zealousness for God’s kingdom’, or ‘eagerness to proselytize’ or even ‘desire to read the Bible’.  These are not listed in this passage because they are not safe tests.  After all, the Pharisees showed all three of these characteristics.  The Pharisees fasted and prayed a lot too, but these are likewise omitted – for they are not reliable indicators.  

It is also important to remember that the true Holy Spirit will produce all of the nine attributes listed, not just a few of them.  They are different features of the same piece of fruit, just as an apple has taste, texture, size, density, shape, colour and so on.  Hence the passage under discussion begins, “the fruit of the Spirit IS...”, not “the fruits of the spirit ARE...”.  Unless we exhibit all nine of these facets of that single fruit then we have not received that fruit.  We have not received the true Holy Spirit.  This is a very significant point, for we can often be fooled by someone who shows a couple of these facets even if they miss out other elements from the list, yet it can simply be the case that this individual was raised in a household where meekness or longsuffering or whatever was valued and was instilled into them.  It doesn’t mean they are actually manifesting the fruit of the Spirit.  

In recent decades there has been a growing openness within professing Christianity towards activities which claim to connect us with the Spirit of God.  These include, for instance, the various types of ‘Contemplative Spirituality’ practiced within the ‘ Emerging Church ’.  Although there are biblical tests which should be applied to all such activities before they are allowed into the Christian Church,[2] knowledge of Scripture is not what it was in the past and so these tests often get inaccurately applied or even go unused altogether.  However, there remains one vital indicator if all the other checks are missed, viz. this passage we have discussed regarding the fruit of the Spirit.  

A great many people claim to be operating in the Holy Spirit, but the Bible urges us not to be gullible[3] and also commands us to test people’s spirits (1 John 4:1-3).  How can we tell if these folks are indeed close to the Holy Spirit?  According to the passage with which I began this article, we can simply look to see if they exhibit the nine attributes of His fruit.  



“But surely”, some will say, “the only requirement is for the person in question to be willing to say the words ‘Jesus is the Lord’ – because Paul tells us: ‘no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost’!”.  Paul does indeed say this (see 1 Cor. 12:3), but there are at least three reasons why it would be naïve to imagine that a believer was necessarily involved in a movement of the Holy Spirit just because he or she was prepared to speak these few words:  (1) A saved person can confess that Jesus is the Lord and still get tangled up in activities which are not of God – even activities which involve a false spirit;  (2) Paul was not requiring the person merely to utter the phrase ‘Jesus is the Lord’ but to confess the Lordship of the true Jesus – rather than “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4);  (3) The Lord Himself clarified things still further when He said, “by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 7:20b-21a).  

“But surely”, some will respond, “if a person starts speaking in tongues for the first time at such a meeting it must mean they have experienced the true Spirit!”.  I sympathize with this position, but we must be as wise as serpents and recognise that there exist fleshly (and even demonic) counterfeits of the gifts of the Spirit.  However, Satan cannot simultaneously mimic all nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, so this is the test to use.  Let us also recall that the Bible says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1).  

Likewise, some may assert, “Surely if the person in question develops an increased faith in God then that definitely comes from the true Holy Spirit”.  Again, I can fully understand this view but, as already stated, all the elements must be present, not just one or two.  And we ought also to remember: “though I have the gift of prophecy, …and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).  

Finally, some may exclaim “Surely if the person develops a real sacrificial love for others and gives their life to do wonderful good works…?”  Again, the test God has given us is that all nine items must appear.  The Bible says “though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3).  



In order to pre-empt the change in understanding of the word ‘charity’ over the centuries, the Lord has graciously supplied a detailed definition of it in the next few verses of the above passage from 1 Corinthians.  Again I’d urge readers to consider each clause with care:  

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”  

The reader may well be thinking, “Hold on, you’ve switched the test from those nine characteristics listed at the start to this new passage about charity”.  Note however that every aspect of charity is reflected in some combination of one or more of those nine facets!  (I have given a brief illustration of this in the table below.)  In other words, this second Bible passage actually serves to confirm my point that all nine characteristics are indivisible parts of one fruit – summed up in the single word, charity.


Features of Charity (1 Cor. 13)

Facets of the Spirit’s Fruit

Charity suffereth long,


and is kind;

Gentleness, Love

charity envieth not;

Joy, Temperance

charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Meekness, Peace

Doth not behave itself unseemly,


seeketh not her own,

Peace, Joy, Meekness

is not easily provoked,

Temperance, Longsuffering

thinketh no evil;

Love, Goodness

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Goodness, Faith

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Faith, Longsuffering


Charity, as defined here, is an inevitable result of being indwelt by the true Holy Spirit.[4]  (According to 1 Peter 4:8 we are actually to have “fervent charity” toward each other, so basic charity is clearly mandatory.)  

Before I close this section, please note that one of the features of biblical charity is that we ‘rejoice in the truth’ (v6).  If the reader is tempted to reject the following material for any reason other than that they determine it to be untrue (i.e. unbiblical), they must ask themselves whether they possess charity – and therefore whether they possess the true Holy Spirit, for “the fruit of the [authentic] Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Eph. 5:9).  If the reader believes they have the Holy Spirit, I implore them to show His fruit as they read the rest of this article.  



Many people claim to ‘love Jesus’, but if a person genuinely loves the Jesus of the Bible then they will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit that Jesus Himself sends, i.e. “the Comforter …, whom I will send unto you … even the Spirit of truth” (John 15:26).  Such a person may well not be sound in every area of Christian teaching, especially if they are young in the faith, but if they truly love Christ they will show the characteristics of someone who has the Spirit of Christ.  (Naturally, the fruit will not be fully developed immediately after someone is saved!  A babe in Christ is to grow in the fruit, just as they are to grow in knowledge and wisdom.  As they walk daily with the Lord and He shows them areas in which they are weak, they will bring these weaker aspects to the cross to be pruned or otherwise dealt with.  Thus a maturing believer should be able to look back periodically upon their walk and rejoice as they see how the fruit of the flesh is diminishing and the fruit of the Spirit is growing.)  

Of course, we all stumble (although we should still be swift to apologise to those we have offended when we do so).  As I hinted above, we all have our limits too and these will vary between believers due to our unique backgrounds and circumstances – e.g. the quality of the spiritual nurturing we received as new believers.  If we feel provoked beyond our limits then we can sometimes snap (although again we should be quick to repent, and ready to explain any mitigating reasons to those souls in the firing line).  

Both our propensity to stumble and the possibility of mitigating factors are the reasons why the Lord commands His children never to be hasty when attempting to discern whether someone’s spirit is right with God or not.  But if a person claims to have been a sound follower of the Lord for a number of years, and if they say they are currently right with God, they must exhibit the fruit of His Spirit for the great bulk of the time.  If they do not do so then they are a deceiver – or else they themselves are deceived and need to humble themselves seriously before the Lord and seek Him as to the cause of the problem.  

Those in ‘full-time ministry’ are not exempted from all this.  Such folks can be tempted to believe they are too busy or too burdened and are therefore not required to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.  What they forget is that every Christian’s priority in this life should be to become ever more Christlike,[5] since it is only ever from this that the legitimate parts of one’s ministry will flow.  Was Christ ever too busy or burdened to be kind and patient and gentle?  If we are too busy to be these things then at least some of the activities with which we are occupied cannot be of the Lord.  In fact, the greater a person’s ministry the greater their responsibilities and therefore the more Christlike they need to be.  

A genuine and really mature servant of God will be able to say with Paul: “We then, as workers together with Him, … [are] in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, … By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, …” (2 Cor. 6:1-6).[6]  

            If you, the reader, do not believe you have improved from how you were before your conversion in the nine characteristics I have listed, it is very possible that you have been presented with an inaccurate version of the gospel.  I would humbly advise such folks to obtain a copy of a book I have co-authored which spells out the full, true gospel and which also provides a grounding in a number of other fundamental matters frequently mistaught today.  If this seems a mercenary comment on my part, please be aware that no royalties are accepted from sales of that book.  See this footnote:[7] for more details about the volume in question.  

I would urge readers to ask themselves whether the men and women they currently admire in the professing Church show the features we have been looking at.  The reason I make a special point of saying this is that some sheep get this whole matter upside down.  Paul had to tell one church, “ye suffer [i.e. you put up with it], if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, … [whereas] the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (2 Cor. 11:20; 12:15b).  This particular church seems to have had a very blinding spirit in operation, even though it was a church “zealous of spiritual gifts” ( 14:12 ).  There are still Fellowships like this today.  Churches exist which will happily accommodate a ‘super-apostle’ who abuses them in a variety of ways (as long as he or she is an entertaining speaker and is charming to be around[8]) but which will angrily reject a humble servant of God who gently tries to point out the truth of the situation.  I beg readers to consider their own Fellowships in this regard.  



This principle I have been examining can be applied to any movement within the professing Church. As it happens, I have felt led to give an illustration based on the ‘Toronto Experience’ (TE) of the 1990s.  (I was involved in this movement myself.)  Did the TE produce the fruit listed earlier?  If ‘ Toronto ’ was from the Holy Spirit then its recipients will have demonstrated an improvement in our nine tell-tale characteristics.  

Given what we have so far discussed, I was struck by a series of warnings I read in articles written by high-profile supporters of the Toronto movement.  I came across a number of such documents advising churches on the most effective ways to dispense the TE among the congregation.  One urgent warning found in these materials was that “Any attempt at hype or showmanship must be resisted at once”.[9]  The writer in question, a well-known individual who very much endorsed the TE, was suggesting that hype and showmanship would prove temptations within those churches that moved in the TE.  This seemed a bit odd to me, because the fruit of the Holy Spirit includes meekness, gentleness and faith – all of which are strongly opposed to hype and showmanship.  Thus it was a little strange that a TE promoter felt the need to warn about this.  It just seemed superfluous.  But there is no need for me to make a big deal out of this single warning.  

Similarly, I read cautions against allowing pride to follow receipt of ‘the Blessing’.  Obviously pride can be a danger when being used of God, but it is the very antithesis of what should happen when we’ve simply received the true Spirit of God.  The Holy Spirit convicts us, which is one reason why the fruit of the Spirit includes meekness.  But again I don’t need to dwell on this point.  

            Within these ‘ministry recommendation’ articles by TE leaders, I also noticed several references to self-control.  This would normally have been a good sign, since self-control is part of the fruit of the Spirit, but the documents in question were encouraging us to reduce our self-control[10] and were heavily indicating that reduction in self-control was one of the actual products of the TE.[11]  

Next, I saw within these advisory materials an apparent promotion of a somewhat highminded attitude.  Specifically, we were encouraged to automatically disagree with, and even look down on, those who questioned the ‘move’.[12]  At this point I took stock of what I had read.  From the pens of the TE’s own proponents it seemed that ‘ Toronto ’ was attended by the dangers of: Showmanship (hinting at love of self); Hype (i.e. boasting); Pride; Lack of self-control (a.k.a. incontinence); and Highmindedness.  It was then that I recalled a biblical prophecy in 2 Timothy 3 which refers to all five of these characteristics (among others) and which I will quote later.  

After noticing these five points of correlation, I started to wonder if the remaining cautions from TE leaders also matched this list from 2 Timothy.  I have presented the warnings from just TWO such papers (comprising less than eight pages of text between them) below.  I have endeavoured to do so in a way which will allow readers to decide the level of agreement for themselves – i.e. I have converted the list in 2 Timothy into headings and have followed each of these headings with pertinent quotations from the two pro-Toronto documents.  (This will all make sense shortly!)  

Admin. notes for the following section:

·         ‘GC’ stands for Gerald Coates and refers to the Guidelines for Leaders document prepared by Coates with help from other well-known TE promoters.[13]  A copy of that paper can be found on pages 111-115 of the book The Impact of Toronto (Monarch, 1995).

·         ‘MB’ stands for Mike Bickle and refers to pages 236-238 of Bickle’s book Growing in the Prophetic, (Kingsway, 1995).

·         Where I felt it would be helpful to include an explanation for the KJV terms I have used, or where it seemed sensible to bring out more of the meaning of the underlying Greek, I have done so.  Both types of annotation have largely been based on Strong’s data for the relevant word or phrase.

·         Several of the warnings given by these TE supporters could legitimately have been repeated under more than one of the headings below.  For the sake of space I have spared readers this – but it should be kept in mind.  



lovers of their own selves
(i.e. selfish; too intent on one’s own interests – after all, we are supposed to die to self)

According to its supporters, one of the explicit dangers of the TE was us “becoming distracted from focusing on God…” [MB, p237], and there was a risk of becoming too “individualistically-minded” [MB, p238].  There was even the threat of “self-righteousness” among recipients [MB, p237].  Furthermore, we were warned that, unless it was specifically opposed, “self indulgence will take root” [GC, p112].  

(i.e. avaricious; loving money and other temporal things; seeking reward)

The TE obliged its promoters to warn us, “do not seek personal gain … or benefit” [GC, p112].  We also had to be advised not to “neglect … paying tithes, bills and taxes” [MB, p237].  A person can be covetous for position as well, and indeed we were told “Do not seek … prominence” [GC, p112] and “be wary of competitiveness” between churches [Ibid].  

(also: empty pretenders)

We were cautioned, “Do not hype meetings” [GC, p112], and we were instructed to avoid “saying things which amount to triumphalism” [GC, p113].  We were even informed that the dangers surrounding the TE included us coming out with “arrogant boastings” [MB, p237].  (Just to make crystal clear what we are looking at here; all these quotes are from leading supporters of ‘Toronto’ who recognised that the TE had unfortunate side-effects but, for reasons I will discuss later, still chose to promote this movement to which they had already attached their reputations.)  

(also: imagining one’s self to be pre-eminent; overweening estimate of one’s merits)

We had to be told to eschew “superiority and elitism” [GC, p111], and that “We must seek to avoid the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ mentality at all costs” [MB, p236].  As I intimated earlier, we were also explicitly alerted to the fact that one of the perils of simply being “blessed by the Spirit” was that of “Falling into … pride” [MB, p237].  

(also: disrespecting or misrepresenting God)

The TE led to the distinct possibility of us misrepresenting God, for we were warned “do not transfer people’s faith [i.e. their faith in God] either to a person, a place or a method” [GC, p112].  Likewise there was a danger of “Exalting the … human instruments that God is especially using … We must avoid any kind of ‘hero worship’ within our hearts” [MB, p238].  We were also cautioned that TE recipients could end up “embracing strange … ideas. This problem must be addressed as it arises” [MB, p236].  Combine this with the TE-induced hazard of “casting off all … discipline” [MB, p237] and we obviously have a problem.  

disobedient to parents
(also: impersuasible by, and not compliant to, parents)

Toronto ’ could cause “neglect of … honouring parents” [MB, p237] and could lead to “fanaticism … [P]eople can get carried away into … unbiblical ideas” [MB, pp236-7].  On multiple occasions we had to be told to “Seek to submit to those in authority” [MB, p238].  

(also: ungracious)

TE leaders felt obliged to warn us against forgetting to “express… gratitude for the … grace of God” [MB, p238].  Part of the difficulty was that recipients of the TE might not “Maintain a focus on … Christ” [GC, p112].  This was so serious that we actually had to be openly told not to “neglect … daily devotions [and] secret prayer” [MB, pp236-7].  

(also: impious)

Space had to be taken up in these documents to remind us that “we need … ‘clean hands and a pure heart’ … Don’t invite criticisms and opposition” [GC, p113].  Additionally, we had to be specifically advised to “Be careful about prolonged times of men praying for women or women men” [GC, p113], and we had to be exhorted to “ensure that our behaviour is in line with the biblical mandate, with as little physical contact as possible” [GC, p113].  Beyond this, the TE was attended by a propensity to lie – i.e. to say “things which amount to … pure fantasy” [GC, p113] – and we even had to be told “Do not in any way manipulate the activity of the Holy Spirit” [GC, p114].  

without natural affection
(also: unpleasant; unsociable)

TE recipients apparently had to “Learn to disagree without being disagreeable” [GC, p113].  We also needed to be warned not to “neglect … showing mercy …, resolving relational conflicts, and being faithful friends” [MB, p236-7].  

(i.e. implacable; refusing to lay aside enmity or even to listen to terms of godly reconciliation; agreement-breakers – even among themselves)

To some extent this fruit was actually encouraged.  In particular, fans of Toronto were automatically supposed to “disagree” with detractors [GC, p113].  However, the leaders admitted that there needed to be limits and that one of the specific dangers was of “divisions” even among TE recipients [MB, p236].  Furthermore, there was the risk that “in their enthusiasm, people can get carried away into excesses…” [MB, pp236-7].  

false accusers
(also: opposing the true cause of God like a devil; slandering others, especially those who do not follow)

We had to be explicitly warned not to “marginalize those who do not understand” [GC, p115], and we were told that another pitfall associated with receiving the TE was that of “spreading rumours and misinformation” [MB, p237].  

(i.e. without self-control; intemperate)

As noted earlier, lack of self-control was one of the products that were not only acknowledged but actually promoted in these documents.  However, TE supporters had to admit that some boundaries were required, for there was a distinct risk of us losing “all restraints” [MB, p237].  However, even here Mike Bickle still instructed leaders to “be prepared to ‘swallow some gnats’” in this regard [Ibid].  

(also: not tame; angry without cause)

Regarding critics, we had to beware of “the ‘What do they know?’ attitude” [GC, p113].  TE leaders also felt the need to warn us to “Be prepared for criticism … This is a time for sensitive action not emotional reaction” [GC, p112].  We also had to take care to “remain calm, reasonable and rational” [GC, p113].  These leaders even acknowledged that, “when there is a reactionary note to what is going on, we can … get angry” [GC, p115].  (Incidentally, if the TE was of God then recipients would have been right to be grieved in their spirit by criticism – but surely not angry.  This is particularly the case with the TE, where there was so much legitimate reason to doubt it.  After all, the TE: was rooted in people with unbiblical beliefs and lifestyles; relied on unbiblical practices; and produced unbiblical manifestations.  See this footnote:[14] for more.)  

despisers of those that are good
(also: looking down on those that are in line with God’s good Word)

We were warned that “opposition will come from the religious as well as the godless … When we [come across such] … it is easy to be reactionary, cynical, dismissive or superior” [GC, p113].  We also had to be specifically instructed to be “gracious, kind and patient with differences in perspectives within the community of believers” [MB, p238].  Having said that, we were effectively encouraged to disrespect God’s Word when we were told: “Endeavour to read Scripture into what is going on” [GC, p113] whereas it should have been the other way around (i.e. we should have interpreted our experiences in the light of the Bible, not vice versa).  

(also: betrayers for personal gain)

We had to be warned not to “neglect … loving enemies” [MB, p237] but, more worrying still, we were alerted to the fact that one of the perils of the TE was that even our “love for … one another” might be compromised [MB, p236].  We also had to be advised to “Take no delight in … bad reports” [MB, p237].  

(i.e. precipitate; rash; reckless)

One of the infamous ways in which people were reckless regarding the TE was by rashly “exalting outward manifestations above the inward and hidden work” [MB, pp236-8].[15]  This inclination to be reckless extended to personal dealings, thus we had to be warned not to “neglect … suffering patiently” [MB, p237] but to “Be patient in ministry times” [MB, p238] and to “Wait on God. Things cannot be rushed” [GC, p114].  

(i.e. blind to the truth through haughtiness; self-reliant)

As noted earlier, this is one effect of the TE that was openly encouraged – at least insofar as it led people to be blind to the cautions of detractors.  Apart from this, the leaders of the movement acknowledged that the TE spirit could lead people to become “deluded” [MB, p237].  We were also warned that the TE might cause us to “become … religious” in the bad (i.e. self-reliant) sense of the word [GC, p112].  

lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God
(this heading needs no expansion)

A product of the TE was apparently that people would become carnal, and would thus be prompted to overlook godly spiritual activities – i.e. to “neglect … humble service, helping the poor, … retraining appetites, training children, working hard, doing chores and errands…” [MB, p237].  There was also a definite chance of recipients “simply running around to ‘get blessed’” [GC, p113] and a risk that the leaders wouldn’t “Take responsibility for what is happening” [GC, p111].  TE proponents were even forced to admit that one of the many hazards was that “love for God … [will not] remain the pre-eminent value” [MB, p236].  



The first thing to note about the above material is that ‘Toronto’ not only failed to generate the nine facets of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, it actually produced the very opposite.  Indeed, such was the spirit behind the TE that folks had to be specifically told to conceal its true effects.  (If any reader wonders why TE leaders warned us to curb the behaviour promoted by the “Blessing”, a key reason was that these leaders had already personally backed this movement to the hilt.  If we followers hadn’t been told to restrain our behaviour after receiving the TE, it would have been extremely obvious to many others that this move wasn’t of God – and thus that its proponents did not enjoy anything like the wisdom or ‘anointing’ they claimed to possess.[16])  

For additional articles I have worked on which demonstrate the real nature of the TE, please see the ‘Rubies’ section of the website. Readers are especially encouraged to take stock of the Open Letter I co-wrote on the subject, not least because the reply received back gives a vivid illustration of the spirit behind ‘ Toronto ’.  

The second point worth noting is that the TE spirit didn’t cause people to stop loving God.  That would have been far too conspicuous.  Hence the final heading above reads “lovers of pleasure more than [not ‘rather than’] lovers of God”.  It is clearly possible to maintain a type of love for God while developing all these other dreadful traits.  However, it should be remembered that true biblical love is not just a ‘sloppy emotional feeling’.  After all, this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3a).  

The next thing to say is that a close correlation plainly exists between the ‘2 Timothy’ headings above and the warnings, by its own supporters, about the effects of the TE spirit.  I only employed two such documents in creating the preceding section, both of which were very short, so the correlation isn’t absolutely perfect, but the match would have been even closer had I included further such papers[17] and, if we are honest with ourselves, the degree of similarity is already far too high for there to be any other explanation.  

It is now time to quote the context from which my headings were derived.  They came from 2 Timothy 3:1-5a which reads: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…”.  This leads to further observations, two of which follow:  

Note that the passage does not say such people won’t claim to be ‘in love with Jesus’.  Indeed, it explicitly confirms that they will have a “form of godliness” – and a ‘love’ for the Lord undoubtedly comprises part of this “form of godliness”.  However, note too that these people will “deny the power” of genuine, biblical godliness.  They will seek power in foolish places (e.g. in Eastern practices and visits to ‘super-apostles’) but will refuse to accept the fact that godly power only comes through purity of lifestyle and love of the truth.[18]  



            I encourage the reader to apply this test to the folks, especially the elders, in their own Fellowship:  Do these people remind us of Christ or of men like John the Baptist, or do they not?  The Spirit of God is eternally the same, so His fruit will be of the same type throughout history.  (I’d dearly love someone to make a film which compared the manner of the “meek and lowly” Christ (Matt. 11:29 ) with the demeanour of some of the exalted individuals in the professing Church today.  The contrast would be so striking that few sincere believers could remain under any illusions about the nature of the latter.)  

Important:  Just as someone can grow in the fruit of the true Spirit, so they can grow in the ungodly fruit of the 2 Timothy spirit.  A recipient of the TE does not become an ogre after just one or two sessions!  If they continue to associate with this false spirit then the nine godly characteristics will steadily fade and these eighteen ungodly ones will steadily increase, but in the meantime the person can potentially look very godly indeed.  The 2 Timothy passage we have discussed ends with: “from such [people] turn away”.  The greater the presence of the 2 Timothy attributes in a person, the more we need to turn away from that person, no matter how charming or sincere or servant-hearted or friendly they are, nor how many of the impressive but ambiguous qualities they possess which I mentioned in the ‘But Surely’ section of this article.  Ultimately such people will cause “perilous” times for us (see verse 1) if we have not completely separated from them long before they reach the state described in Romans 1:28-32 where they are utterly beyond help.  (It goes without saying that we must immediately turn away fully from the practices which produce this ungodly fruit.)  

            If the reader thinks they may inadvertently have associated with the 2 Timothy spirit, they need to renounce this spirit and thoroughly repent of their involvement in the practices which led to it.  I would also advise them to obtain a copy of the item cited in this footnote:[19].  

In closing, the next time a person claims their practices bring them into contact with the true Holy Spirit, ask yourself if that person exhibits the fruit of the true Holy Spirit.  It never ceases to amaze me that people try to convince me of their closeness to the Spirit while simultaneously demonstrating the opposite of His fruit – even though this is plainly one of the occasions when such individuals should be on their best behaviour.  If people exhibit ungodly fruit to us, we need to be on our best behaviour – i.e. ensuring we are demonstrating the fruit of the Holy Spirit – if we are to rescue them from the false spirit they have taken on board.  Either way, let us seek to be an example to all in this pivotal matter.  


[1] All emphases in quotes in this article are my own.

[2] Specifically, we ought to check that the doctrines and lifestyles of the people seeking to bring these ‘new’ things into our congregations line up with Scripture.  (Further, we must ensure that any practices associated with these ‘new’ things are biblical.  We cannot approach God in any old way.)

[3] E.g. see Eph. 4:14; 6:11 ; 2 Cor. 11:14; and Gal. 3:1.

[4] Confirmatory passages include Jas. 3:17; Col. 3:12-17; 2 Tim. 2:20-25; and 2 Pet. 1:5-9.

[5] This is a point I plan to develop in a future article, but for the time being please see passages like Eccl. 1:2-3,14; 12:13; Eph. 4:13,15; 1 Thess. 5:23; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; Psa. 127:1a; John 8:28b; 15:4; Mic. 6:8; Eph. 5:25-27; 1 Thess. 4:3a; and Isa. 30:1a.

[6] A crucial test of a true disciple is that they have (biblical) love for the brethren (John 13:35 ).

[7] The book is Alpha – the Unofficial Guide: World and can be obtained from Moriel.  Further details about the book, including other outlets, are available from the ‘Rubies’ section of the website.

[8] And especially if he or she can produce a few ‘signs and wonders’ (albeit of the lying variety – just as God prophesies will occur during these last days in Matt. 24:23-27; 2 Thess. 2:8-12 and elsewhere).

[9] Michael Green, Foreword to Wallace Boulton, Ed., The Impact of Toronto, (Monarch, 1995), p16.

[10] For instance, “We are still a very controlled people” [Gerald Coates, in an article contained in Boulton, op. cit., p114].

[11] Green [Boulton, op. cit., p14].

[12] E.g. see Green, Ibid, p16.

[13] Coates’ helpers were Bryn Jones, Sandy Millar, David Pytches and Vineyard USA .

[14] Fulsome proof of these claims can be found in the brand new ‘Church’ volume of a book I have co-authored entitled Alpha – the Unofficial Guide.  See the ‘Rubies’ section of for outlets.

[15] As we have now seen, if the true Spirit was involved then His “work” wouldn’t have been “hidden” for long!

[16] Among those ‘leaders’ who were false brothers, there was an even more sinister motivation for urging recipients to downplay the effects of the TE.  These ‘leaders’ naturally wanted to help the false TE spirit to spread with as little hindrance as possible.  If recipients had made it apparent that the TE caused increasing ungodliness then many potential ‘takers’ would have turned away and might even have actively opposed ‘the Blessing’.  Hence the frequent use of the deliberately ambiguous term ‘renewal’ to describe such movements.  (The TE couldn’t be called a revival because it simply didn’t cause the repentance that a revival would.)  Any activity involving a false spirit can safely be termed a ‘renewal’ since, if something changes in a person, they can be said to have been ‘renewed’ even if their new state is worse than before.

[17] E.g. chapter 7 of Rob Warner’s disgraceful book Prepare for Revival, (Hodder and Stoughton, 1995).  Note the way in which chapter 9 of that volume is devoted to ‘Vital Signs of an Outpouring of the Holy Spirit’, yet our Galatians 5:22-3 passage is only referred to once in the entire 20 pages – and even here the nine facets of the fruit are not actually listed.

[18] Given that foolish manifestations were a prominent feature of the TE, it is moderately interesting to consider that the 2 Timothy chapter we have studied continues “[T]heir folly shall be manifest unto all men”.

[19] Such readers should find the new book I have co-authored, entitled Alpha – the Unofficial Guide: Church, of real value.  It can be obtained from SMP Ltd, Tel: +44 1223 504871.  See the website for more details.




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