Testing 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.”

Now I am going to begin here by stating that we need to test these words here against the rest of Scripture, and it helps to use an interlinear to understand what this word “confess” actually means, too. For this is not saying that if someone just makes a verbal confession of Christ as having come in the flesh that it means that person is from God. All of 1 John up to this point debunks that idea alone. And the word “confess” literally means to be in full agreement with and alignment with, which is evident in other ways.

Well, let’s think about this for a moment. First there is the Scripture which speaks of Satan’s (the devil’s) servants masquerading themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:12-15). And then we are warned against false prophets who come to us in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. We will recognize them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-23). And then we are warned against those who teach a different doctrine other than the one Jesus and his NT apostles taught (2 Peter 2:1-22; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 1 Timothy 6:3-10; Jude 1:3-23; Matthew 24:11-14; John 10:1-15).

So, what this tells us is that a person can verbalize a confession of Jesus as having come in the flesh but be a wolf in sheep’s clothing or a servant of the devil masquerading himself as a servant of righteousness. So, just because someone says something with his lips doesn’t mean at all that is what he truly believes or that what he confesses truly represents what is in his heart. For the way these false teachers are able to deceive the people is by making verbal confessions of Christ as Lord and as having come in the flesh, etc. But the way they deceive is through the doctrines that they teach.

So, in order to properly test the spirits to see which ones are of God and which ones are not, we need to do more than just look at what a person professes with his lips. For liars and deceivers abound who will profess one thing with their lips while they will live another. And they will say the right words to convince others that they are of true faith but in order to gain their confidence so that they can deceive them. For they will tell enough truth to be convincing while they begin to insert lies in with the truth to deceive.

And then if we look at these character traits of these false teachers, and if we see these character traits in those professing Christ as Lord, that should be an indication to us that these people are not of God, as well as we must test what they are teaching against what Jesus and his NT apostles taught (in context). So, one character trait of them is that they are liars and deceivers, and they are also lawless, for they do not obey the Lord and his commands (New Covenant), in practice. Many believe and are teaching that we do not have to obey the Lord or repent of our sins. Bad sign right there!

They will deny Jesus’ words and his teachings by the things that they teach, and they will deny him, too, by their actions. They will create their own gospels out of their own imaginations which are not consistent with the Scriptures, in context. Often these false doctrines are taught via Scriptures pulled out of their contexts and made to say what they do not say. For these liars are haters of righteousness which is why many are teaching against obedience and against repentance. And they are giving their adherents carte blanche to continue in deliberate and habitual sin, only now without guilt.

Many of them are also those who are sexually immoral, who are full of lust and greed. They are shepherds who feed only themselves and not their flock. Many are wild, uncontrolled, and undisciplined and they are teaching their followers to be wild at heart, too, and to be followers of the flesh and not of God. For they themselves are followers of the flesh and are those who wander from the truth and who follow after lies. For they are ungodly people engaged in ungodly deeds, and they are leading others to do the same. For they are worldly people devoid of the Holy Spirit (see noted verses above).

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, here again we must test these words against other Scriptures, because this is not saying that everyone who professes to be a child of God and a believer in Jesus Christ is truly from God and has overcome those who are liars and deceivers. And it doesn’t mean that everything we verbalize is from God and that everyone should listen to us and that if they don’t that they are not from God. Now, if what we are teaching is from the Scriptures, clearly in agreement with the full context of what is being taught, then those who are truly from God should be those who will listen to us. I agree!

Now I want us to take a look at what the first 3 chapters of 1 John teach so that we have the correct context here. For in 1 John 1 we read that if we say we are in fellowship with God while we walk (in conduct, in practice) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars. And in 1 John 2 we read that if we say that we know God but we do not keep (obey) his commandments (New Covenant), we are liars. And we read in 1 John 3 that whoever practices righteousness is righteous, but whoever practices sinning is of the devil. So we are not of God and they are not of God if what we practice is not of God.

So, we are of God if what we practice is dying daily to sin and to self, and righteousness, and obedience to our Lord. We are not of God if what we practice is sinning against our Lord, unrighteousness, and disobedience to our Lord and to his commands. And we should be teaching what the Scriptures teach in their context, and if we do, those who are also of God, in truth, should thus listen to us. But alas, many who claim to be of God are listening to the liars and deceivers, instead, and they are not listening to the truth, but they are rejecting the truth in favor of the lies.

So, test the spirits against the full context of these verses mentioned here and what they teach, including the ones I will yet post. For many liars disguise themselves as true believers in Christ in order to deceive you. So, test everything you read or hear or think you see in prayer against the fullness of the Scriptures and what they teach us under the New Covenant so that you are not led astray by those who fake their Christianity. And then follow Jesus in obedience and live holy lives to the glory of God, by his grace.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

My Sheep

An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV

My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.

So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.

Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…

They know my voice, so they follow me.

2 thoughts on “Testing the Spirits

  1. ” … they will tell enough truth to be convincing while they begin to insert lies in with the truth to deceive.” True! I also like the way Hal Lindsey said it: “The devil will use a lake of truth to hide a pint of poison.” God’s people would do well to be paying attention at all times

    Liked by 1 person

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