Here is an excerpt from a recent sermon. I felt to share it as a stand alone post…
1 John 4:1-3 NIV – “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. 2 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, 3 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.”
John recognised that false teachers with ulterior motives were coming into the church to lead people astray. John warns us to test the spirit that is behind what they are saying.
When someone says, they have a word or teaching from God there is three places it can come from – God’s Spirit, the human spirit or Satan.
Messages from God’s Spirit line up with Scripture and have a sense of rightness or truth about them. Messages from the human spirit feel like they miss the target and have a sense of selfishness, worldliness or ambition attached to them. Messages from Satan are designed to lead us astray and can often sound right, but are not right when tested.
So how do we test if someone is from God or not? We can observe them over a period of time and prayerfully ask these questions.
- Does what they say line up with the Bible, or as one of my Bible teachers used to say, “Does it sound like God?”
- Does their life and character line up with Scripture? (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Timothy 3:8-12)
- Do they bear fruit worthy of Christ or what is the fruit of their ministry?
- Do they respect other believers and have good standing in their previous church/es?
- Does what they say about Jesus line up with the Bible? (v2-3)
These things, especially what they say about Jesus is key to knowing if what they are saying is from God. John warns us to test the spirit behind what people say. That is why we need to take it slow when new people come to the church before we give them opportunities to serve in a place of responsibilities and speak into the life of our members.