Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Christians must test the Spirits!

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because 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 of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.  And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.  (1 John 4:1-3)

"Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits" means that we shouldn't believe everything we hear just because someone says it is a message inspired by God.  There are many ways to test teachers to see if their message is truly from the Lord.  One is to check to see if their words match what God says in the Bible (1 John 2:22; 1 Cor. 12:3).  Other tests include their commitment to the body of believers (1 John 2:19), their life-style (1 John 3:23, 24), and the fruit of their ministry (1 John 4:6).  But the most important test of all, says John, is what they believe about Christ.  Do they teach that Jesus is fully God and fully man?  Our world is filled with voices claiming to speak for God.  Give them these tests to see if they are indeed speaking God's truth.

John speaks of the spirits of teachers in a way similar to what Paul says about the spirits of the prophets in 1 Cor. 14:32. John is not referring here to demon possession, but to teachers who promote error. Believers have the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:24); but false prophets obey evil spirits.  A true prophet is one who receives direct revelation from God.  A false prophet claims to have received direct revelation from God but in fact promotes erroneous ideas.

When John states, “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh”, he seemed to be aiming this test at Docetists, which is a belief opposed as heresy in early Christianity that Christ only seemed to have a human body and to suffer and die on the cross.  This test may also be aimed at the followers of Cerinthus who claimed that Jesus and “the Christ” were two separate beings, one physical and the other spiritual.  In this letter, John is careful to use the name and title of Jesus Christ together to clearly express the complete union of the two titles in one person.

Cerinthus, a false teacher of John’s day, denied the Incarnation by teaching that the divine Christ descended on the human Jesus at His baptism and then departed before His crucifixion (1 John 2:22). John teaches that Jesus did not merely enter into an already existing human being, but He came as a human being.  The Greek tense of the verb has come and the meaning of the noun flesh indicates that not only did Jesus come as a human being; He was still a human being even as John wrote.  God the Son is forever fully God and fully man.  He is immortal and has received a resurrected human body that does not age or die.  A denial of Jesus’ full and true humanity proves that a teacher is not of God.

Some people believe everything they read or hear.  Unfortunately, many ideas printed and taught are not true.  Christians should have faith, but they should not be gullible.  Verify every message you hear, even if the person who brings it says it's from God.  If the message is truly from God, it will be consistent with Christ's teachings.

The antichrist will be a person who epitomizes all that is evil, and he will be readily received by an evil world.  He is more fully described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 and Revelation 13:1-18.  The "spirit of the antichrist" is already here.  Just before the world ends, one great antichrist will arise (Revelation 13:1-18; 19:20; 20:10).  We do not need to fear these evil people, however.  The Holy Spirit shows us their errors, so we will not be deceived.  However, we must teach God's Word clearly and carefully to the peripheral, weak members among us so that they won't fall prey to these teachers who “come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. “(Matthew 7:15).

Bob Deffinbaugh with has a great commentary on Deuteronomy chapter 18 titled "False Prophets" at this link.  One good quote from this link from Bob is - "False prophet’s play down the majesty and holiness of God.  They try, as it were, to ‘bring God down’ to our level.  They make us feel comfortable around “God” (or the “gods”), and they even seek to convince us that we can manipulate God to our advantage.  The true prophets did just the opposite.'" 

My question for you today is this:   Do you think there are false prophets in our world today?  Maybe you are attending a church that has a false prophet as a pastor or teacher!  As Believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, we must always test the spirits of our church leaders and those who claim to be God’s messengers.

References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), the Nelson Study Bible.


dfish said...

II Peter 2:1-3 warns that not only will there be false prophets, but that they will be among us, right in our own group, using the association to promote false doctrines in an effort to attain their own ends with no concern for the long term consequences. The letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 show that false prophets and teachers were already prevalent in John's day, just as Jesus repeatedly warned. They're growing in number today.

Great post.

Wanda said...

Very informative post. I do believe that false prophets are in existence and we must be on guard.

Ian Curtis said...

The crux of the New Age movement is to separate the historical Jesus from the Christ consciousness latent in all men. The full deity and humanity of our Lord is an excellent proof of a teacher's inspiration.
Thank you much for the post, Lloyd.

Shoshi said...

Thank you, Lloyd, for another excellent post. A large problem today regarding discernment is that people in the church are often ignorant of the Bible, so they cannot recognise when things don't measure up with Scripture.

Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog! Glad you liked my photo. It certainly was good enough to eat - it was delicious!

God bless you,

Crystal Mary said...

Oh Lloyd this is so true. We have a man who has risen up in Australia who claims to be Jesus. He is living with a woman,I don't think in marriage, and they say she is Mary. He is gathering a cult following from all over the world.
What gets me is how people believe what someone tell them instead of reading Gods Word for themselves. If they did they would realise from the above verse just how careful they should be. It is sickening.

Zim said...

Yes, I believe and I know, that there are false prophets - wolves in sheep's skins.

Rosy said...

Interesting; Very plan and put to a easy understanding way.

My first visit to your blog.

Your Personal Testimony sort of hit a soft spot in regards "something is missing"

susanwalkergirl said...

Thank you Lloyd for the reminder that we are to weigh a teacher's words, beliefs and fruit against scripture. Excellent post.

Oyindamola Adegboye said...

Hello Lloyd, told you I'd drop by. This post kinda caught my eye, because it is an immediate issue. Many Christians are no longer interested in the true word but only want to interpret God's word their way.Good one, straight form the heart and inspired only by God

Kittydel said...

Thank you Lloyd for inviting me to join your Blog. I believe we are living in the last days before the Lord Jesus returns for His church. In the last days, the Bible, warns us of false teachers. In Jude verses 3 & 4 we read: Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. We should test every spirit - we shouldn't accept everything which comes along. We should test everything by the Word of God. (1 John 4:4)

God bless you Lloyd - Kitty from Wales)

August Thurmer said...

Lloyd, I enjoyed reading your blog and your profile. I agree that we need to be cautious when meeting those that claim to be christians and their fruit does not match up with their words. God bless you! August Thurmer from Minnesota

crouserevealed05 said...

Good evening Lloyd,
I truly believe there are more false prophets than we even realize. I however, I am truly blessed that I am in a church where my Pastor is a true Man of God. And I still test the word thats brought forth after worship service is over. I have visited a few churches but when I hear error and see more of personality type atmosphere, rather than anointing and the word of truth I am truly done and out of there; quick fast and in a hurry. I so enjoyed your blog. Very informative and edifying to the Body of Christ...
God Bless

crouserevealed05 said...

Good evening,
I believe that there is not only false prophets , but false doctrines as well; disguising themselves as recovery and help for those with addictions. I have experience many Christians who have accepted and subscribed to these programs and do no realize the origins in which the literature has derived. I pray that believers will at some point begin to TRY these spirits, but so far many have been so indoctrinated and have allowed these strongholds to become truth for so that it's hard to get them to see the truth in God's Word.