Test the Spirits
1 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.”
This testing of spirits is something that is severely lacking in today’s church, at least here in America. So many people are being led astray and are being deceived by master manipulators disguised as pastors and evangelists, and/or by those who say they are preachers of the Word, or by people who call themselves prophets or apostles in this present generation. But, we need to be those who test the spirits to see whether or not they are of God.
But, lest we be deceived even here, let me say here that a false prophet or a false teacher may very well acknowledge Jesus by a verbal confession of him as Savior of his life, for the false prophet/teacher may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, pretending to be one of the sheep in order to deceive the sheep. So, a person may confess Christ with his lips, but not truly believe in Jesus with his heart, and therefore his confession is false.
So, just because someone gives lip service to Jesus Christ does not mean that person is from God. So, this confession of Christ goes much deeper than that. It is a confession with one’s heart, too, in full belief in Jesus Christ as God, who came in the flesh to die on a cross to deliver us from our bondage to sin and to empower us to live to him and to his righteousness. And, it is a confession with one’s lifestyle, as well. For, we will know them by their fruit.
The World Listens to Them
1 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.”
Now we are getting at the crux of the matter. This is how we truly are able to discern truth from error. Those who are false prophets and teachers speak from the world and the world listens to them. And, to speak from the world means to speak from the lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And, it is to say what tickles itching ears and what appeases the flesh, and what makes people feel good about themselves in their sin.
But, in order to deceive Christians in the church, they have to disguise their worldly teaching as truth, so they teach a mixture of the world and the truth in order to make it appear as though what they are teaching is truth and as though it is from God, and so they do reference Bible verses. But, they generally teach them out of context so as to give a worldly twist to them.
As a result of their false teaching, which is worldly teaching, a large majority of people professing faith in Jesus Christ, at least here in America, have deserted the way of holiness, and they are going after a way of wickedness, instead. For, they have been convinced that their salvation from sin is merely deliverance from the punishment of sin and the promise of heaven as their eternal home, and so how they live no longer matters to God.
They have been persuaded by these false teachers, in fact, that all that is required of them is some nondescript faith in Jesus Christ, which can be a mere surface acknowledgment of him, or some superficial acceptance of his grace and forgiveness, or some words repeated after someone else after which they are congratulated that they are now part of God’s family and that heaven is secured for them, and that it can never be taken away.
And, in some cases, they are even being told that they don’t have to turn away from their sins and follow Jesus in obedience to his commands. They have persuaded them, in fact, that repentance and walks of obedience to Christ is works-based salvation which they are to avoid. And, they convince them, too, that they are not to listen to people teaching repentance and obedience to Christ as necessary components of believing faith in Christ.
And, the result, again, of this false teaching is that many professers of faith in Jesus Christ are living for the flesh, living for self-pleasure, and are engaging in all sorts of wickedness, thinking that it doesn’t matter to God, or that God cannot even see their sin anymore. They believe they are going to heaven when they die, so how they live is really a matter of their choice.
And, so the church, overall, is on a massive moral decline, marriages are breaking apart, families are, too, and a large number of those who make a profession of Christ are believing a lie, thinking they are free from sin and bound for heaven, when truly they are still imprisoned to sin and bound for hell, instead. And, this is a crisis situation!! For, this was one of Satan’s plots to destroy the church and Jesus, and his gospel, and his messengers.
Let us Love One Another
1 John 4:7-12, 19-21 ESV
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
To love God is to obey him. And, to love others with his love is to be willing to lay down one’s life and reputation in order to see others free from their slavery to sin and empowered of God to walk in his holiness and his righteousness. It is to do what is God’s best for others, and what is for their benefit spiritually, and it is to not do them harm or to sin against them.
So, if we truly love other people, we aren’t going to lie to them. We aren’t going to convince them that they are going to heaven while they are still bound in slavery to sin doing what their flesh dictates. We are not going to coddle them in their sin, either, or assist them in continuing in their sins. But, we are going to speak the truth in love to them, and teach them what the scriptures truly say about their sinful lifestyles and how that impacts their eternal security. For, this is what Jesus did.
So, not everyone who “loves” (feels love) knows God or is born of God, but everyone who loves (in action) as God loves is. For, if we “love” with worldly love, just being “nice” to people so that they will like us, but we don’t obey the Word of God, then we don’t really love God or know God. For, again, to love God is to obey His Word and it is to love others like he loved us.
Thus, we are not going to live according to the flesh. We are not going to have this attitude that we don’t have to obey Jesus, or that we don’t have to repent of our sins. That is like a person telling his spouse that he loves her (or her him) but then to be willfully and defiantly unfaithful, adulterous, abusive, manipulative, deceptive, and to use trickery against the spouse, too, and then to cover it all up with lies. That is not love! That is hate!
So, the kind of love this is talking about is not some sentimental feeling that comes and goes, but it has to do with how we treat God and with how we treat others as God treats us. And, God tells us the truth. He doesn’t lie to us to make us feel better about sinful practices. He doesn’t cheat on us or trick us to try to trip us up, either. He is totally truthful and completely faithful, and that is how we are to be, too, in his love.
By Ann Aschauer
Well, some folks think that “love” means emotion,
So it comes and goes their whole life through.
Some folks never know that when the magic goes,
If you keep on lovin’, it’ll come back to you.
I was so afraid we’d lose the special feeling,
And someday we’d find our love wasn’t true,
But then God opened up my eyes and made me realize,
Love is not what you feel, it’s what you do.
And so we stood side by side at the altar,
As our wills and God’s power combined.
With His help I could say, “I do love you today,
And I will for a long, long time.”
c 1987 Ann Aschauer