Spirit of Truth or spirit of error?

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.”

Test the Spirits

As human beings we are made up of body, mind, and soul (spirit, heart). The spirit is the core of our being, the essence of who we are in character.

So, when we are being told here to test the “spirits,” and it is speaking about false prophets, who are human beings, it is speaking of testing the spirit of humans to see whether they are of God or of Satan, i.e. whether they are under the control of the Holy Spirit or under Satan’s control.

Thus, this means we are not to believe every human being who says he comes from God, or who says he has a message from God, or who claims to believe in Jesus Christ, or who claims to be teaching the true gospel of Christ, but we are to test what we hear from them against God’s word (in context).

Understanding the Test

So, the test here for knowing if someone is from God or from Satan is if he confesses that Jesus has come in the flesh, i.e. if he confesses that he is indeed the promised Messiah of Israel, the Christ, the Savior of mankind – that he came, and he died for our sins, and he rose from the dead, and he ascended back to heaven and he is coming again.

But, isn’t it true that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and that his servants masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness? And, this is why we are not to believe everyone?

So, this isn’t speaking of a mere verbal confession of Christ, for many false teachers do that. The word “confession” here literally means to agree, or to conclude, or to align with the belief that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

Thus, if someone truly believes in Jesus Christ, and he aligns himself with Christ, in full agreement with him, with who he is and with why he came, and with what he did for us in dying on a cross for our sins, it will be evident in how he lives and in what he teaches.

Speaking Lies or Truth?

So, this is why the true test of these false spirits is not what they profess with their lips, but what they live, and what they teach. Do they live what the Scriptures teach regarding how we are to live, in practice? And, do they teach what the Scriptures teach regarding how we are to live in practice?

Or, are they teaching a diluted gospel based off some “cherry-picked” Scriptures which they twist and which they teach out of context in order to promote their false doctrine of salvation from sin?

For, there are many false teachers today within the gatherings of the church (or in the institutional state church) who proclaim Jesus Christ as Savior, and who profess that they are teaching the truth of God’s Word, but who deny Jesus by their lifestyles and by the lies which they teach as truth.

For, they are teaching faith in Jesus as a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ, or as some words repeated after someone else in a prayer, or as a mere acknowledgment of Jesus’ existence or of his grace to us.

But they are not teaching denial of self, and death to sin, and living to righteousness as evidence of a life transformed of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. In fact, many are teaching against repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ, calling these “works-based salvation.”

But Jesus called us to repent (to turn away from our sin) and to obedient faith in him. He said we must deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin) and follow (obey) him if we want to come after him. And, he said we must lose our (old) lives for his sake if we want eternal life with him (Lu 9:23-26; cf. Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9).

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.”

We Have Overcome!

If we are truly in Christ, by God-given faith in Jesus Christ, we have died with Christ to sin, we are daily dying to sin, and we are living to Christ and to his righteousness, by the grace of God, in the power of God’s Holy Spirit living within us (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9).

So, we should no longer be among the deceived who are believing the lies of Satan and who are following after the lies while rejecting the truth. We should be among those who do NOT believe every spirit, but who are testing the spirits to see if they are of God.

Far too many people who call themselves Christians, nonetheless, are not testing the spirits to see if they are of God, but they are believing whatever sounds and feels good, and whatever tickles their itching (craving) ears. For, the lies permit them to continue in their sin while promising them heaven.

For, the lies come from Satan, and they come from the world, and from the worldly church which is trying to attract the world to their gatherings. So, the worldly church has altered the gospel to make it more attractive and acceptable to the flesh of man.

But, if we are in Christ, by God-given faith in Jesus, we should be able to discern the lies from the truth, and we should be able, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to see right through the lies and to recognize them for what they are. They are a deception of Satan to keep people still in bondage to sin.

If we are those, thus, who know the truth, and who are speaking the truth of God’s word, in love, those who are also of the truth should listen to us. But those who are following after the lies will reject what we have to say, because they want to continue living in their sin. That’s the bottom line!

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

3 thoughts on “Spirit of Truth or spirit of error?

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