Friday, November 16, 2012

How Often do You Test the Spirits . . . ?



1 John 4: 1-6

I read that an individuals attitude toward the incarnation of Christ will determine their origin and character.

This is true, if we are what we eat than we become what we believe. 

Some, during the 2012 election, wanted people to set aside their Christian values, from their decision making process, saying that one’s faith belongs at home and in their mind, not in the public fair.

However if, “ . . . The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength,” (1 Corinthians 1:25). I’d prefer to go with God’s wisdom and not man’s.
There must be no mistake in identifying those who deny Jesus as the Christ, God’s son and those who acknowledge the Spirit of God. (1 John 2:22). That is why John begins with this statement.

TEST THE SPIRITS

Verse 1
“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.”

What was the back drop of John's day in which he had to tell his friends not to believe every spirit and had to challenge them to “test” all spirits? Were they easily swayed by false teachings? Were people of faith confused about their faith?
Is it any different today? I’ve witnessed Christians who lay aside their values and good judgement to follow men and women who “claim to be Christians,” because these individuals are articulate, intelligent, and charismatic . . . Yet time tells a different story.
Paul spoke of this in 2 Timothy chapter four verse three, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (Italics mine).

It's no wonder John devoted time to warn us. You can’t know how good the book is unless you open it and test its contents. Does it line up with the Word of God, does it hold true to the teachings of the Gospel?

As in John’s time, we too, contend with a spirit of falsehood. A spirit of error baiting people into confusion.  Jesus clearly stated that, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God,” (John 8:47).  Ouch!
Jesus referred to these people as “children of the Devil.” I can only imagine those he offended with his remark. Jesus knows all to well  Satan's schemes. Satan who was a murderer and liar from the beginning, the one who tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, and continues to masquerade as an angel of light. (John 8-42-47; Matt. 4; 2 Cor. 11:14) 
If we travel back in time to the Garden of Eden, we'll witness Eve being deceived by Satan himself (See Genesis 3). The Devil twisted God's truth, which led Eve to tempt Adam and for Adam to disobey God’s will not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or the tree of life, which were planted in the middle of the garden. Sin entered the world by the spirit of lies—the father of lies, and he continues to warp God's truth and the Gospel of Christ.

TELLING THE DIFFERENCE

The world of the antichrist is bound in untruth. As Christians we should know the differences between the spirit of falsehood and the Spirit of truth. We need to train our selves to "test" the spirits.


I recall a time when I went to a special church function where a man claimed he was a prophet. He was doing awesome stuff . . . but in my spirit, I knew something wasn’t right. I did not question it, least I falsely accuse a brother in the Lord. In my opinion, this is probably why people do not call falseness out for what it is. 
A prophet, just for clarification, is one who speaks for God—he's like a mega phone. He foretells things to come, things told to him by God like in the story of Jonah. Johan is told by God to tell the people of Nineveh to repent or die. A prophet also edifies, exhorts, and comforts the body of believers.  
In John Bevere’s book, Thus Saith the Lord? How to know when God is speaking to you through another, he wrote, “ . . . If God has placed you in a ministry of a prophet, you will not have to put your title or spiritual office under your picture. He will make it known through the fruit of His words, as He did with Samuel, one of the greatest Old Testament prophets.”“So Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel has been established as a prophet of the LORD,” (1 Samuel 3:19-20).
There is no shame in “testing” a prophet to determine if they speak the oracles of God and are acknowledging the Spirit of truth. 

RECOGNIZING THE FALSE PROPHET

John states, “ . . . Many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Could you spot a false prophet? I hope I can. 
Verse 2 and 3
“This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh in 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.”

What more can be said? John exhorts—"every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist . . ..” 
I went to another special event at a church I attended. The speaker was recommended by another pastor from another city. Certainly, he came with credentials? As I listened to this “acclaimed prophet,” I found it disturbing that he used very little scripture from the Word of God in his “message” nor mentioned the name of Jesus. I’ll step out on the edge of a cliff and say this man was not a prophet of God but one operating as if he was for his own purposes.
Every spirit that does not  acknowledge Jesus is from God, is the antichrist. Period!
There are many “fellowships” who claim they are of the Christian faith yet do not acknowledge Jesus is from God. They cannot wrap their mind or faith around the Godhead—that in God dwells three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Verse 5 
“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.”

The antichrist and false prophets will speak from the world’s viewpoint, not God’s. The frightening thing is “the world listens to them.” We don’t have to stumble to far to see the fabric of godly morals being ripped to shreds and people being misled by false doctrines.

DISCERNING THE SPIRIT OF FALSEHOOD

Verse 6“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.”

We will find more people who will refute the Word of God, who will continue to label Christians as haters because our moral code is contrast to theirs. We are blamed for the moral decay of society, and being those who are right winged nuts. But it is bound to happen as Jesus said they will hate us because of Him. 
In the middle of his talk John stops to edify his dear friends, he said, “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.” (Verse 4)

What an encouragement to know we can “overcome” and discern the spirit of falsehood. The Holy Spirit abides in us, the Spirit of Truth, lives in the believer. We need to “tap” into that truth often. Also knowing our Bible is important to unraveling Satan’s twisted propaganda of God’s Word.
I hope, in the days to come, we can help each other to recognize spiritual falseness, to recognize deception in our world and to hold each other accountable in order not to be tossed like the waves of the ocean.

Heavenly Father,
       Open our spiritual eyes and ears to recognize the spirit of falsehood in our lives, in our church,  and world. Help us to rely on your wisdom and not our own. Sharpen our spiritual antennas so that we will walk in and speak your truth. We rejoice that YOU are greater in us than he who is in this world. Help us to stand strong.
In Jesus Name, Amen