Yesterday we looked at “testing ourselves” to see if we are in the faith. Today we move from 2 Corinthins 13 over to 1 John 4:1-3. These verses state:
Beloved, 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. 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, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
John has been talking about the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:24) and now informs his readers that other spirits exist – specifically demonic spirits. He then goes on to say that these spirits produce false prophets and false teachers so that their false doctrines can be spread to believers in the Church.
It seems that the believers in John’s time were too open-minded to anyone who had a new teaching or revelation. They were not like the Bereans that are commended in Acts 17:11-12 who tested everything that Paul taught them to the known scriptures.
John says to “test” the teachings and revelations. The Greek word “test” is a metallurgist’s term used for assaying metals to determine their purity and value. He is stating that Christians must test any teaching with a view to approving or disapproving it – rigorously comparing any teaching to the scriptures to see if they contain any substance and anything of any value.
One commentary states: “By juxtaposing “spirits” with “false prophets” John reminds his readers that behind human teachers who propagate false doctrine and error are demons inspired by Satan. Human false prophets and teachers are the physical expressions of demonic, spiritual sources.” (Dr. John MacArthur)
Strong words but very wise ones. We must judge a ministry and a minister by his or her teachings and not by their ability to work or release supernatural happenings such as healings and signs.
Jesus warns us that in these Last days false prophets and false Christs will perform miracles, signs and wonders – great and astonishing ones.
Matthew 24:24 “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
And that is exactly what is happening today. Believers are too quick to flock to supposed ‘revivals’ and declare things to be “of God” when the teachings going forth are contrary to the doctrines of the Church as set forth in the scriptures.
Believers flock to prophetic conferences to hear the latest revelation some well-known author/minister has received – apparently never testing these revelations to scripture not judging them wrong when they don’t come to pass.
If the teachings and revelations are not in line with the Bible then the believer has the right to question the source of the miracles, signs and wonders.
As believers we must get to know our Bibles. Not a verse here and a verse there but the whole Bible from cover-to-cover. We must come to know the story of God’s interaction with humankind and His plans and purposes for the day we live in.
As believers we must “study to show ourselves approved”. More than reading a few verses in the morning – we are to take quality time – substantial lengths of time – to study God’s Word and come to understand it for ourselves.
As believers we need to learn how to interpret and apply the scriptures that we read and study.
As Believers we must test everything we hear in a teaching to the scriptures to see if it really is true.
As believers we must not think that all “attesting miracles” (marginal note re. “great signs and wonders”) are proof that the teaching and the teacher are from God.
As believers we must come to know the faith that we claim to believe and learn how to boldly defend it from those who teach another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4).
It is time to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (jude 1:3)
For a more indepth look at this topic – see my blog “The Apostle/A Cloud of Witnesses” as well as my blog “Evangelism and soul-winning/The Revival in Flordia” as well as “/The Third Heaven”