Test the spirits to See

Don’t Believe Every Spirit
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.”

The Scriptures teach us that we must not believe every spirit, but that we are to test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. And yet, not many Christians, it would seem, at least here in America, are testing the spirits, but many of them are believing whatever they hear or whatever sounds good.

They assume that the government of the USA is who our leaders say it is, or that they are, and that our president is really the one running the country. They believe there is a literal left and right politically, which are literally opposed to each other. And they believe our votes matter, and that we really have a say in what goes on in our nation.

They believe the US government are the “good guys” of the world who are out rescuing people throughout the world from oppressive and totalitarian governments, and that they are in all these nations all over the world in order to wipe out the terrorists and to protect the people of our nation. And they believe our military are our heroes who are protecting our freedoms.

Many of them who claim faith in Jesus Christ are also believing smooth talking and fine sounding preachers, many of whom are jokesters and entertainers, and they trust that they are really telling them the truth, but they are not testing to see if they are. It sounds right or it sounds good, and so they just accept it as truth. It works for them.

Some of these smooth sounding preachers will use Scriptures, and so it appears that they are teaching the Scriptures, or that they are teaching them accurately, but sometimes the Scriptures are just there as props to make it appear that what they are teaching is biblical, or that there is a connection between the Scripture and what they are teaching.

Of those who are teaching the Scriptures, many of them are teaching them out of their context, and so they are twisting the Scriptures to fit their theology or the message they want to convey, and they are not teaching them accurately. Many of them do this purposefully in order to deceive, and in order to lead people astray, while others do so naively, probably because that was what they were taught, and they are just teaching the same.

Now, speaking of teaching things out of context, we cannot interpret this particular section of Scripture without the context of 1 John, as a whole, and without the context of the teachings of Jesus and his New Testament apostles. For many false prophets disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, so they will indeed verbally confess who Jesus is.

They are many “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who come in among the sheep disguised as sheep (followers of Jesus) but they are truly ferocious wolves out to kill and to destroy the sheep. So, just because someone confesses Jesus as the Christ, and as his Savior, or he professes to be a follower of Christ, it does not mean he knows Jesus Christ at all.

For, many will stand before God in that day, and they will say “Lord, Lord,” and he is going to say, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity. I never knew you!” So, it isn’t enough to just make a verbal confession of Christ as Lord or to even claim to believe in him. Jesus said we must deny self, die with him to sin daily, and follow him in obedience (Lu 9:23-26).

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.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, who have the Spirit of God dwelling within us, we also have the mind of Christ, and we have the counsel of the Holy Spirit who teaches us all things pertaining to Christ. So, when we test the spirits to see if they are of God, not only must we compare what they are saying to the Scriptures, in context, but we must pray for spiritual discernment, too.

Especially we must test those false prophets who are not necessarily teachers of the Scriptures but who are in positions of influence and authority in our nation, such as heads of government, and the news media, and others who are prominent in the world with regard to influence and power to affect our lives and our futures with the decisions they are making for us. We must test them so that we are not deceived by them.

On a spiritual level, one of the ways to test false teachers of the faith is to listen to what they are teaching to see if what they are teaching or promoting is godliness or worldliness. Are they blending in with the world? Are they teaching worldly philosophy? Does the world love them? Are they saying what appeals to the world and to the flesh, or are they teaching holy living and surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ?

Now, when this says, “whoever knows God listens to us,” this is assuming that what we are saying or teaching is correct doctrine and that we are not teaching worldly philosophy and feel good messages to appeal to human flesh. This is assuming that we are teaching dying with Christ to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness as part of obedient faith.

If we are teaching the truth, the godly should listen to us. If we are not teaching the truth, the godly should not listen to us. But the godly are not all who profess faith in Jesus Christ, but they are those who are saying “no” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and who are living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the power of God under his command (Tit 2:11-14).

But if a preacher is telling you that you can believe in Jesus and have heaven secured you when you die, but he tells you that you do not have to turn away from your sins (repent), and that you do not have to obey the Lord, and that you do not have to surrender your life to Jesus nor submit to him as master of your life, he is a false prophet who speaks from the world.

So, test everything you hear in prayer, praying for much spiritual discernment, then compare what you are hearing against the word of God, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but do this in context, for many false teachings stem from Scriptures taught outside their context. And also pray for wisdom about your governments, too, so that you are not led astray.

[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:7; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]

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.

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