Updated: Sep 18, 2020
4 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
TIP: When reading a book of the Bible, look for the context.
Who is the book written by? Who is the author writing to? What is the purpose of this book?
In 1 John, Paul is writing to a Christian community bc a group within the Christian community has embraced false teaching concerning the nature of who Jesus is and in turn, embraced immoral things into their lifestyle; another group within that same Christian community is concerned about their brothers and sisters falling away and being so convinced by the false teachings. The concerned group of Christians were unsettled. They wanted to know what made this group believe this so confidently! Did they know something that they didn’t?!
Important questions, indeed. Sounds kind of familiar with so many polarizing people claiming the name of Jesus, mega-church pastors, a bajillion different doctrines and versions of the Bible....but I digress.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
Two headings for this passage of Scripture:
1. Test the spirits by the truth (vs 1-3) 2. Test the spirits by the love of the truth (vs 4-6)
How can you tell what’s the truth? How can you KNOW?
The moral test: Someone who truly knows God and truth and lives out that truth in holiness, purity, and integrity. It’s not enough for one to just AFFIRM the right truth; you must LOVE the truth, be led by the truth, embrace the truth and the truth be evident in the way you live your life. If your life does not reflect the moral teachings of Christ, we can have zero confidence that you truly know God and what you have to say about God if you do not embrace His truth. (Yikes!)
The Mammon Test: (not from this sermon – added from another source) Matthew 6:24 “24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” --Truth is more important to money.
The Love Test: If we have been touched and changed by God’s love, we will be loving to other people.
Doctrinal Test: True faith must be grounded in who Christ is and what He’s done. Doctrinal error is not just a mistake. It’s anti-Christ. It puts you in the category of a false prophet if you are telling false things about God.
Test the spirits by the truth (vs 1-3 in 1 John 4) Vs 1 -> Test the spirits bc there are many false prophets. Our reality is spiritual. The Holy Spirit is not the only spirit in this world. Spiritual realities lie behind the physical world. This is acknowledged in verse one. Not acknowledging the spiritual aspects of this world will leave you looking to man or science for all the answers. This will lead to spiritual death bc man is fallible and the science is never settled. Ephesians 6:12 tells us of our spiritual reality also. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Jesus plainly taught that false prophets were a sign of His return/end times. How much longer? Read the parable of the 10 virgins. Once the door is shut, it’s shut. Matt 7:15 Matt 24 2 Peter 2:1 – Destructive heresies Parable of the 10 Virgins - https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/mat/25/1/s_954001 Vs 2 -> Discerning the spirits. The doctrinal test! Are they speaking the truth about Christ? That Jesus has been the Christ from the beginning? The one spoken of by the prophets? The Word? Born of a virgin, crucified, resurrected after 3 days, and ascended alive to the right hand of the Father? John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." More on The Word: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_219.cfm
Vs 3 -> Anyone speaking a false Christ, is an anti-Christ. 2k years ago, they were in the last days. Today, we are in the last days. Be thankful for another day. God is merciful. He wants all to know Him and receive Him. It's not our job to read God's mind, but it is our job to take Him at his word and to be found faithful while we wait.
Test the spirits by their love of the truth (vs 4-6 in 1 John 4)
Vs 4 -> We have already overcome the false teachers and prophets. We know and rest in the Truth. He who is in you is GREATER than the world. He abides in us by the Holy Spirit. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said we are in God's hands and no one can pluck us out. By his spirit, we can ward off false teaching. It requires work on our part! Work empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Vs 5 and 6 -> These verses speak for themselves.
Do you recognize God's voice?
More Scripture - Testing the spirits 2 Corinthians 11:4 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 1 Timothy 2:5 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
John 16:13 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
Galatians 1:8-9 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Romans 8:3-4 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 Qualifications for Overseers/Teachers/Pastors/Etc 3 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
So test all the spirits. Even mine. Truth should be spoken in love. If the truth is not spoken with genuine care and love for others, is it even truth?