Do Not 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.”

With regard to testing the spirits to see whether or not they are from God, we need to read this in the context of the whole of the book of 1 John.

For in 1 John 1:6 we read:

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

And in 1 John 2:3-5 we read:

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.”

And in 1 John 3:7-10 we read:

“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

And then we need to compare this to other books in the New Testament, for Jesus Christ, and at least the Apostle Paul, taught the same thing as this. Especially look at these verses:

[2 Co 11:13-15; Php 3:2; Matt 7:15-23; Matt 24:11-14; John 10:1-15; 2 Peter 2:1-22; 1 Tim 1:3-7; 1 Tim 6:3-10; 1 John 4:1-6; Jude 1:3-23]

For false teachers don’t always show their true colors. Many of them come to us as wolves in sheep’s clothing. So they are going to outwardly profess Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh, for they must make an appearance of aligning themselves with the fundamental truths of the Scriptures in order to be able to deceive the masses. But we will recognize them by their fruit. And if we know the Scriptures, and if we test their words against the Scriptures, taught IN CONTEXT, that should also tell us who they are.

Then, with regard to the original meaning of this word translated as “confess,” this should read “every spirit that fully agrees with God, that speaks to the same conclusion as God, that has the same mindset as God, and that is aligned (united, allied) with God regarding Jesus Christ and who he is, that when he walked the face of the earth that he was God incarnate, God in the flesh, fully God yet fully man, this one is from God.” And this alignment with God should be obvious.

So, just because someone says he is a believer in Jesus Christ it doesn’t mean he truly believes in Jesus Christ. For Jesus said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. For many people will stand before God in judgment one day proclaiming all the things they did in the name of Jesus and he is going to say to many of them, “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness” (see Matt 7:21-23).

So it is not enough just to make a verbal confession of Jesus as Lord or to make a profession of faith in him and to say that you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Again read these verses in their full context. For Paul clearly taught that God is going to render to each one of us according to our works, and for those who are self-seeking and who do not OBEY the truth, but who obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury (Rom 2:6-8). So we need to read all of Scripture, not just selected verses.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; 1 Jn 1:5-10; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:23-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

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.”

John was teaching this to those of us who are of genuine faith in Jesus Christ according to what the Scriptures teach in their fulness, not according to a few select Scriptures taught outside their context. So, in context, he is referring to people who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, who have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, and who are not making sin their practice, not walking according to the flesh, but now according to the Spirit in obedience to our Lord and to his commands.

We are from God who are no longer walking sin and who are obeying the commandments of our Lord (New Covenant) in practice. We are those who no longer practice sin but are those who practice righteousness in how we live day in and day out. And we are those who love other people with the love that comes from God, which is pure, righteous, holy, godly, honest, faithful, and morally pure. And so this kind of love will not willfully practice what is harmful and sinful to others, but we will do what is for their good.

And what is for their good is what God calls “good,” not what man calls “good.” So, in addition to meeting people’s legitimate needs from a physical perspective, we will also share with them the truths of the Scriptures for their spiritual benefit. And if they are from God, as we are from God, and if what we are teaching is the truth, taught in context, then they should accept what we are sharing from God’s word. But so many people professing faith in Christ are being taught to reject the truth and to embrace the lies.

Now those who reject the words we share – words which are in agreement with the Scriptures (in context) – they are from the world, and so they are listening to the world, which includes the worldly “church.” Now some of them may do so naively, being convinced that what they are believing is the truth and that what we are sharing is not or is partially not. But they should still be willing to check it out against the Scriptures and to not just ignore it, and to not combat it without knowledge, which many do just that.

So, my encouragement to anyone reading this is to test everything you read or hear or think you see – as much as can be tested against the Scriptures, test it all, but do so in the biblical context and not according to what your preacher or your church denomination believes, but according to the whole of the New Testament, in particular.

And again, context is critical. Don’t quench the Spirit by ignoring what others are teaching if you have not done due diligence in searching the Scriptures to make certain if what they are teaching is a lie or the truth. For you may be believing lies unaware (see 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).

A Believer’s Prayer

An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

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