“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 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. 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.” 1 John 4:1-6 (KJV)
John begins by telling us about the messenger, the person who brings the message. He says many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Prophets profess! They speak There is a spirit behind words or messages spoken. He tells us to examine, look closer, deeper, at the prophets to know or discern the driving force beneath their “professing”. We are not asked to believe the prophets but the spirit. Not just what they say, but the spirit or power that inspires or propels such words.
In Acts 16:
“And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” – Acts 16:16-17 (KJV)
A young slave girl followed Paul and Silas, saying “good and God-sounding things”, but the spirit behind her message was evil! NO MATTER HOW GOOD A THING MAY BE OR SOUND GOOD, IF THE SPIRIT BEHIND IT IS EVIL THE THING IS EVIL!!!
PREACHING IS NOT ENOUGH!!!
We need to look behind or beneath the message to know what inspires it!
(a) Does the Messenger acknowledge That Jesus was born of a virgin, crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, and is the Son of God?
“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.” – 1 John 4:2-3 (KJV)
“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.” – 1 John 4:5-6 (KJV)
“Confessing” in the New Testament means more than just speaking but goes beyond to establish and confirm the thing spoken by testimony. Some Ministers have denied the Deity of Jesus unknowingly, by claiming to be of some “divine birth”, being anointed before accepting Christ! I can hear Simon the sorcerer claiming same!!! And the seven sons of Sceva before God exposed them!!!
It is not the miracles done, what do they believe? Belief dwells in the heart, in the deep recess of the being, the fountain of Living waters; from where the Spirit flows. What do they believe? On the surface this won’t show (deception), but through the microscope of the Holy Spirit, it can be perceived! (1 Cor 2:10)
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” – Rev 12:11 (KJV)
WORD, not words! Confessing means to “declare”; to speak or say something: one thing, a “testimony” (not testimonies), a life-time investment, what you believe and are ready to defend or die for. The first rule of discipleship is to defend the Faith!
(b) Does the Messenger or Minister convince people of Jesus Christ? He should point or lead people to Christ, not to himself!
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” – Matt 24:5 (KJV)
Today, we advertise ourselves: how wonderful and eloquent we are, where we have been, and people we have met or have in our circle of friends. The mention of Jesus in messages has become more of reference than The Subject. Paul says “we preach Christ.”
“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” – 1 Cor 1:23 (KJV)
(c) Does the Messenger confirm or establish the minds of people in Christ? He should deepen the root of his hearers in Christ by giving them hope and peace in Christ and in His word.
“Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” – Col 2:7 (KJV)
The Messenger of God should make people know their hopelessness without Christ. There is a false hope given to the people today; “WHAT YOU CAN CONCEIVE YOU CAN ACHIEVE THROUGH A POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE!” This sounds good! But it is half Truth and so is not of God! This makes people believe in themselves and in their ability, not In God, Christ or His word! There is absolutely nothing of God in that teaching, which was exactly the same preaching Nimrod gave the people to make them build the Tower! Did they conceive the idea? Yes! Did they build? Yes! Was it of God? No! That was why He scattered it. A false hope is only but for a moment! Enduring hope can only be in God, not in man!
“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” – Jer 17:5-7 (KJV)
(d) Does the Minister or Messenger stir in his hearers, higher and more noble thoughts of Jesus than they used to? He should encourage people to love Jesus more and trust Him more; even through his own life style. Is the messenger a person of integrity? When people see the messenger, do they glorify the name of the Lord or do they loathe “the God” of this messenger?
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matt 5:16 (KJV)
Like sensitive children would look at and study a person closely before accepting a gift, we should test the spirits driving the messenger before accepting his “gift”.
To be continued.