Testing the Spirits

I John 4:1-3 ESV

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

What is a spirit? It can be an angel or a demon or a ghost. But, it can also be a human soul, the inner self, i.e. a person’s heart – attitude, character, nature, determination, personality and temperament. So, in essence this is saying that we should not believe everyone’s personality, character and heart, i.e. who people proclaim to be in the very center of their being.

But, we are to test these spirits, these characters and hearts of people, to see whether they are from God or not. Why? For many false prophets have gone out into the world. For there are many liars, deceivers and manipulators in the world who will try to convince you that they are one thing while they may be entirely another. But, they lie and deceive in order to trick you into believing them so that they can catch you in their trap.

And, just because someone confesses to be a follower of Jesus with his lips does not mean he is a follower of Christ, either. For, true confession of Christ is not with the lips, but with the heart, with the very essence of who we are down to the very depths of our souls. It is who we are when we think no one else is looking. It is what comes out of our lips, too, when we are under pressure or when we are around certain people we want to impress.

This is not saying that any one of us has to be absolutely perfect, though. Not saying that at all! But, our true character will be revealed by who we are consistently, over long periods of time, no matter who we are with, and no matter the circumstances we are going through. For people can perform, and they can put on facades, and they can play act, and put on a righteous appearance, but it will have holes in it which will be revealed when put to the test. So, we need to not believe that everyone is who he says he is.

I John 4:4-6 ESV

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

There is such a thing as people who are chameleons. They are those who often change their beliefs or behavior, depending on who they are around, in order to please others, or to succeed in some goal or purpose. For, they have a tendency to blend in to their environment and to be like whoever they are around at the time in order to be accepted or to deceive, or both.

So, these liars and deceivers may not always speak from the world, depending upon who they are with or what goal they are trying to achieve. With their lips they may speak righteousness. They may even preach great sermons on holy living, for they know the Bible and what it teaches, and so they can perform well for an audience when it suits their purposes. But, behind closed doors they may engage in all sorts of wickedness.

But, in essence, they are speaking from the world, because one of the things the flesh of humans likes to do is to impress people, and to make people like them. So, they will become whatever they think others want them to be, but not in reality, but in façade only, if they think it will get them accepted, and if they think they can fool people into believing them. And, this is the very essence of what it means to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

But, they are charmers, manipulators and deceivers, and they can be very convincing, and this is why we need to exercise much spiritual discernment all the time. If we are to overcome them, thus, we can’t believe every spirit which comes to us in the name of God, and which proclaims to be a servant of the Lord. For, they are really good at blending together lies and truth, and good and evil, but making it all appear as truth and as righteousness.

Ok, so this says that whoever knows God will listen to us, but whoever does not know God will not listen to us who are from God. Here I must offer a word of caution that we don’t wrongly interpret these words. I believe what this is saying is that if we are truly speaking from God the truths from his Word, in teaching what Jesus and his NT apostles taught, that others who are also from God will listen to us, i.e. there will be a witness of God’s Spirit in their hearts that what we are saying is indeed from God.

But, those who are truly from the world, who think and speak from the world, even if they are putting on a righteous front, won’t really listen to the truth. They may listen with their ears, and they may even give some acknowledgment as to what we are saying, that it is true, or they may not. But, even if they do listen, but their actions reveal they didn’t truly listen, then, at least, it reveals their hearts are not in a right place with God.

But, if what we are speaking is the truth, in love, and if that truth is being lived out in our lives on a consistent basis, but we are being ignored (truly ignored), and if our words are being met with rebuke, criticism and disdain, instead, then that certainly can be an indication that those who oppose us are not truly listening to the Lord, though they may believe that they are. So, we should not take their rejection as a rejection of us, but of God, if they are truly rejecting and responding with disdain to his truths, not ours.

I John 5:2-5 ESV

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

And, this is truth! Yet, many of these liars and deceivers are trying to convince the masses that obeying God’s commands is works-based salvation, and that God requires no obedience of us. Thus, they are reducing love for God down to some mere acceptance or acknowledgment of Jesus and of what he did for us on the cross, but absent of any true submission to his Lordship over their lives.

And, they are reducing love for others down to just doing “good deeds” and making people happy and entertained, and just saying what makes them feel good about themselves, even if they are in the depths of sinful addiction. And, this is why you see so many “Christian” gatherings that are not much (or any) different from those of the world, but are like those gatherings of people who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

For, these manipulators and deceivers are convincing Christians that they need to blend in with the world and become like the world in order to “win” the world. But, what are they winning the world to? Just more of the world.

And, they are winning them to these institutions of men which are being called “church,” but are human businesses being marketed just like any other business. Thus, these market-driven institutions are working to please man, not God, so what they are producing is sheep for them, not for the true shepherd.

But, if we are true followers of Jesus, then we should be winning hearts for him and for his kingdom, not for our earthly kingdoms. And, we should be telling people the truth of what God’s word teaches us, and not watering it down so that people will like us, and so they won’t be offended. But, we do need to be speaking in love, and with compassion and mercy. But, true compassion and mercy do not lie to people in order to make them feel good.

And, the truth is that Jesus died on that cross, not merely to forgive sins and to promise us heaven when we die, but that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 2 Co. 5:15).

So, when we truly believe in Jesus with childlike and God-given faith, what that faith will produce in us is that we will leave our old lives of sin behind us to follow our Lord in obedience to his will and to his ways. And, if we are truly following the Lord in obedience, we will love others with his love, too. And, this is the truth!

Living Water

An Original Work / November 21, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

My people have forsaken Me,
Their Savior, who died on a tree;
Made idols, and they worshipped them;
So empty, they will ne’er fulfill.

Lord, You are the hope of Your chosen ones.
Those who turn away from You will be shamed;
The Spring of Living Water left behind.

Living Water satisfies.

The thirsty, let them come and drink;
Believe in Jesus as their King;
The gift of Jesus given them,
So they will never thirst again.

Indeed, the Living Water flows within.
It springs up like a fountain cleansing sin.
Eternal life in heaven promised them.

Living Water glorifies.

Oh people, won’t you come to Him?
Obey Him and repent of sin.
Let Jesus come and live within.
Surrender all your life to Him.

My people, won’t you turn your hearts to Me?
Forsake your idols and then you’ll be free.
Won’t you come now to Me on bended knee?

Living Water sanctifies.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

4 thoughts on “Testing the Spirits

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