Test the spirits

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Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist,which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

1 John 4:1-3

Oh my word, what a timely text!  With the previous chapter ending by saying that we can know that Jesus lives in us because of the (Holy) Spirit He gave us, now John takes another step forward in our experience.  How can we tell who is right and who is not?

Simple!  Test the spirits!

Well, it is actually simple, but at first it sounded a little creepy to me. On closer examination, however, it isn’t creepy and it isn’t hard.  Does a teacher or commentator acknowledge that Jesus Christ came in the flesh?  Do they acknowledge Him at all? If they do, they are from God; if they don’t they are not from God. If they are not from God, they are the spirit of the antichrist! This is not complicated, and we might take John’s teaching here into consideration when we watch the recent Evolution debate on You Tube. If they don’t acknowledge Jesus, they aren’t from God, they are antichrist. If this is so, would we consider them a reliable source of insight?  Well, you can decide that one…

 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

1 John 4:4-6

John finishes this thought in these verses, making his point even clearer.  We have overcome the spirit of antichrist, because the Holy Spirit within us is greater by far that the spirit of antichrist could ever dream of being.  Interesting point to bear in mind when reading commentaries, blogs and books!  These false teachers speak from the viewpoint of the world, not from the viewpoint of God, and the world will listen to them. Yes, and while the world will listen to the false teacher, the spirit of antichrist, the world will not generally listen to us, for they simply can’t fathom what we are talking about, so let’s not be surprised by this.

I’ve spoken with many Christians who fear that they might be tricked and led astray, and I always tell them that they will not be tricked and led astray if they have a strong relationship with Christ.  That is precisely what John is asserting here.  It’s so simple to tell the difference, and when you were little, your mother or father probably told you how to recognize who is credible and who is not, for I’ll bet they told you to  “consider the source.” To put it another way, I wouldn’t recommend that we take spiritual advice from an atheist, nor would I suggest that we should take Bible instruction from a non-believer.

See how simple this stuff is?

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
This entry was posted in Christian Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Test the spirits

  1. Little Monk says:

    I’m really enjoying your series through John’s Letters. One thought came to me as this post ended. Most of the folks I know who seek help with “discernment of spirits” aren’t really confused between a choice of guidance between a Christian source and an atheist or non-Believer. Most of those who speak of this with me, are confused by conflicting guidance or advice between two or more sources, each confident and certain that they are right, each of whom claim and carry the label of “Christian”. Sometimes these are competing churches, competing ministers, or just opposing Believers of different traditions.

    I know, when I was quite young, this situation caused me a great deal of discomfort, sometimes even confusion.

    The best teaching I ever got on this was that while almost all “Christian antagonists” defend their “opposing positions” by “quoting scripture”… the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Seek THAT spirit… the Spirit of Christ… when we evaluate and test spirits. In other words…

    “Is this impulse or inspiration consistent with the words and walk of Jesus Christ, as we see Him travel throughout His ministry for three years, in the Gospels?”

    If the inspiration of that spirit is one we can readily see Jesus Himself doing or saying… only the Holy Spirit can do that. If it is not, then we cannot assume it comes from Him.

    I, for one, need stuff “simple”, or I get easily confused. This teaching helped me a lot. I’ve normally found that spiritual inspiration pretty readily sorts itself out one way or the other, fairly quickly and simply.

    Grace — LM

  2. paulfg says:

    This trip is helping – a lot!

  3. Oh how timely, indeed! As I watch the “soothsayers” and “fortune-tellers” of mainstream media flummox and baffle with their smoke-and-mirror truth, it’s no wonder people have lost their ability to discern truth. Proverbs 3 tells us not to lose our “common sense and discernment” for they refresh the soul and keep us safe. If we keep our truth rooted in God’s Word, cling to the truth of Jesus, and use discernment through those unclouded eyes, then seeing “the source” of a person, their core, if you will, should be simple. Thank you so much for this eye-opening reminder to draw nearer to the only Truth Who matters.

  4. Sharon says:

    Thanks again for the “like” on The Word. To God be the glory. Regarding your post, it is simple. Sometimes I think that is why some don’t comprehend or understand because they think it should be harder to get to Jesus. Not the case. He wants ALL to walk with Him so He makes the way easily available. We ourselves make it difficult. I enjoy your posts. Thanks for sharing. Continually seeking Him, Sharon

  5. vwoods1212 says:

    This just about blows my mind; the reason I say this is we as believers spend so much time trying to beat down each other, denomination etc. yet when Jesus disciples came to Him saying “John said unto him, Teacher, we saw one casting out demons in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followed not us” Mk 9:38 (slight paraphrase of course); Jesus said pretty much said, forbid him not if he is not against us he is for us (paraphrase again). Makes me think, if you are calling on Jesus He will come.

  6. I agree with you that if Christians have a strong relationship with Christ, they won’t be tricked or led astray. In order to recognize the counterfeit, you need to know the real thing first! God bless


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