1 John 4:1-6 – 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.
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.
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.
Don’t believe everything you hear. How many of you heard that from your parents at one time or another? I know I did as a child. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that as an adult. The other day I mentioned to my sister that I had read that those who chew gum are more likely to have more wrinkles. This basically made me think I should probably stop chewing gum. My sister instantly retorted that she didn’t think that was true. She said that probably those who smoke make up a large group of those who chew gum, and it’s more likely smoking that makes someone more wrinkly than chewing gum. I don’t know if she’s right (she probably is – I always think she’s right!), but I did think it was a good reminder not to believe everything I hear. It’s important as residents on this earth to be discerning about what we hear. It especially important when we’re talking about spiritual things. There are so many theories out there. So many ways people say you can be your best you, live your full life and be all that you can be. Some of the information can be useful, but some can lead you away from the Lord, putting your faith in things that have no truth and pull your attention away from Jesus.
But test the spirits to see whether they are from God
It is important that we test the things we hear against what we know is true in scripture. We can sometimes learn something from the self-help books, studies and gurus of this world, but the verse above tells us exactly how to test these spirits and ideas, “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.” Any theory or idea that doesn’t acknowledge Jesus came as a man, but is also God is a pitfall for leading us astray. Even if they do have good pieces in them, they can be more damaging to us than they are edifying. Don’t believe everything you hear!
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.
We have overcome these false spirits, because we have the truth. We have God’s word which does tell us about Jesus as man and God. God has given us His Holy Spirit, and His Holy Spirit is greater than those spirits of the world. Our God is greater. He has the true answers. Not answers for the temporary things of this world, but for our life now and on into eternity. So many of the theories of this world have come and gone, some persist, but unless they jive with the word of God, they are meaningless.
They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.
Don’t be surprised when those you care about use these theories of the world, these gurus and philosophies to try to help you. They’re probably well-meaning, but these theories only work in the temporary, the here and now. They’re only about you. They’re not about others. It’s self-help for a reason – it’s all about you. The world loves that, because it is our human nature to think our problems are more important than anyone else’s problems. My husband’s arm hurting? He’s a wimp. My legs are sore, I’m practically dying. What’s the difference? One is about me and one is about him. I don’t care as much about his as I do my own pain (selfish I know, I got a lot of work to do). We’re all a bit like that. When we allow ourselves to think how the world thinks, we can’t see past ourselves. We think it’s OK to do whatever we want, because “I had to do what was right for me.” We need to be careful people. When something like that comes out of our mouths, it may very well not be from God. He tells us to love others as ourselves, and that flies in the face of that statement.
We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.
Just because our truth is from the Lord, don’t expect people to accept it that way. Those who know God will likely listen and be able to apply any wisdom that is based on God’s word, but those who are still living according to the world probably won’t. They may hear us, but more than likely they’ll pass off our ideas and scriptural references as strange, kooky Christian talk. They won’t be able to take it seriously, because they don’t know the Lord. Does that means we stop believing what we believe, or stop professing what we believe? No, but it does help us to have realistic expectations of what is likely to happen. It’s not going to be all rainbows and butterflies.
This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
Our God is greater. Even though we might have doubts or struggle with a Biblical truth, we’ve got God, and our God is greater than all of the gibberish our world. Even the information that is helpful for this world is a far cry from what our Lord has told us and has planned for us. Our God is greater.
Don’t believe everything you hear – test it against God’s word.