1 John 4:1-3, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of 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 of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”
Beginning this new chapter we see the Beloved Apostle exhorting and instructing not just the Christians of his day, but through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, those True followers and disciples of Christ’s example in the days ahead, even to the end of days. John gives us ways in which to truly KNOW when another is truly inspired of the Lord and thus proceeds or comes from the leading of the Holy Spirit and those that are only doing it out of pretense. He is adamant in letting the reader(s) of this letter and Epistle the knowledge that already during his time and not JUST in future times, that the very spirit of Antichrist was already present and would remain present in the world until Christ Jesus returns to then completely vanquish the enemy and sin.
“Do NOT believe every spirit!” Again, he addresses the reader as beloved, with a parental style concern for their well-being. “Listen to this instruction closely,” it would almost seem that he is saying in the urgency of the message. He isn’t starting out with sweet platitudes, but relying upon the foundation of the previous chapter, that since you have the “spirit of Christ already abiding in you,” you should rely on that Holy Spirit to TEST the spirits, ANY spirits, to see, to discern spiritually whether they are of God or not!
One thing that when you consider the context with which he is leading up to this point, you should already understand that you have an ability that is not natural to the world of men. You have been given, not just given but actually abiding within you, the Spirit of God Himself, the Spirit of Christ Jesus, to empower you, guide and lead you in ways that are beyond the natural.
Our life, our journey and walk with Christ Jesus is not JUST some new way to live, it is a supernatural new way due to the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit! I truly believe, the sooner that a new child of God, a new Christian, a person whose life has been redeemed by a spirit reborn, the sooner they learn of the abiding, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the sooner they will realize what true surrender to His Spirit entails AND enables us in our life’s journey.
We are given gifts that allow us to do just what the Beloved Apostle is commanding, to not just believe carte blanche that everyone who states they are of God, truly are and we have gifts to determine, to discern the truth of a person’s statements. Again, remember, the only reason to even be remotely concerned with this fact is because as John states, there were already false prophets, false teachers who were disseminating false ideas and doctrines to any who would listen, all in the name of Jesus, the Nazarene. Remember this also, those gifts are not given just to protect ourselves, but in fact are given and used to protect the Body of Christ as a whole; your fellow brothers and sisters, many who may not be aware of the falsehoods being spread.
It is sad that I can give you very evident examples just from the time we now live in ourselves. Here in the United States it is easy to discern, if you are truly walking with your spiritual “eyes” opened, yet even in other well-developed countries such as Canada, Great Britain and Australia we have to be on the lookout because our comfortable (for the most part in general) way of life tends towards dropping our guard down. We have a tendency to accept others at face value until something happens that again brings our guard up, yet, we have to realize, we may be living in this world, but we are no longer citizens of it; AND we have other brothers and sisters that we should also care about in the spiritual or eternal scheme of things to also protect!
The point I am making in laying that out is to say that we have a LOT, an awful lot, of people who CLAIM to be Christians. Yet in their lifestyles and even in their overall conversations, they are far removed from being a follower or disciple according to Christ Jesus’ examples not just in His words, but His life! They may speak of “God” and they may speak of “love,” but when you let them continue to speak, or you follow their lifestyle, you recognize the WAY they are talking of is what Jesus actually warned us from:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” – John 14:16-17.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14.
Christ Jesus IS the Messiah, He IS the Narrow Gate, by which mankind can and needs a relationship with the Heavenly Father, God Almighty! Too many who profess to be Christians do so because they believe if you LOVE others (with the ‘feelings’) than you are guaranteed entrance and “God,” (anyone’s idea of God), will allow you entrance through that narrow gate. They will tell you for the most part that Jesus is/was just ONE of the many great teachers this world has known. Jesus is not the only Messiah, but just one of many that lead to a pathway to heaven. Yet the very fundamentals, the very foundation of what is TRUE Christianity is found in the person AND divinity of Jesus Christ!
Or, they will tell you, the Bible, which we KNOW to be the Living Word of God, is a good book of morality and how to get along with your fellow man! Christ Jesus IS the Word of God Incarnate! The Holy Spirit inspired many men to write down the Character, Nature and Attributes of God Himself and the way in which we could regain a lost intimate relationship with Him is through the very person of the Living Christ Jesus. Jesus told us, point-blank, the truth that is the foundation of True Christianity when He continued on in John 14:7-11, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”
The greatest test of any spirit is, “who do you believe Jesus (Christ) to be?” Jesus, Himself gave an example of this very test: “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” – Matthew 16:13-16, (Mark 8:27-29, Luke 9:18-20).
I know that I have told you often and I have to say it again; you only have to talk (or communicate) with someone for a short period of time to see what they truly believe in, where their heart lies and the things they love at their deepest. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Emphasis added for clarity) – Matthew 12:33-35, (Luke 6:43-45).
The spirit of Antichrist is the one that will attest that Jesus was a good man, a great prophet and teacher, and he may even admit that Jesus was “divine,” but he will not admit that Jesus is God Incarnate, come in the flesh to redeem men of sin. They may definitely acknowledge His manhood, but will by no means acknowledge His being God!
The spirit of Antichrist is also one that will twist Scriptures to meet their theology and philosophy rather than allowing the Scriptures to cause their lives to line up with truth. I love to use the example of a restaurant menu; you can open it up and pick and choose what you want depending on what YOUR desires are at the moment. The Bible, the Word of God, is not like that. Yet that same spirit of Antichrist will try and tell you that because the Bible was written by many men over many centuries, there are bound to be contradictions. To the Antichrist, the Bible is just a book that may teach morality, but most certainly does not have the Power of Life!
The Antichrist will NOT give acknowledgement due to the Holy Spirit, the power, guidance and inspiration behind the written, Living Word of God. To do so would be admitting there is more to the Bible, to the Scriptures than the spirit of Antichrist wants to admit and acknowledge. The whole point, the whole motive behind the spirit of the Antichrist is to deceive, to blind and mislead the world from the truth of the True Risen Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
In closing this section I want to quote you something from the much respected and beloved Biblical Scholar and Minister Matthew Henry (October 18, 1662 – June 22, 1714):
*”It was foreknown by God that antichrists would arise, and antichristian spirits oppose his Spirit and his truth; it was foreknown also that one eminent antichrist would arise, and make a long and fatal war against the Christ of God, and his institution, and honour, and kingdom in the world. This great antichrist would have his way prepared, and his rise facilitated, by other less antichrists, and the spirit of error working and disposing men’s minds for him: the antichristian spirit began betimes, even in the apostles’ days. Dreadful and unsearchable is the judgment of God, that persons should be given over to an antichristian spirit, and to such darkness and delusion as to set themselves against the Son of God and all the testimony that the Father hath given to the Son! But we have been forewarned that such opposition would arise; we should therefore cease to be offended, and the more we see the word of Christ fulfilled the more confirmed we should be in the truth of it.”
We are most likely in that culminating time in history where all the lesser antichrists have done and continue to spread their misleading and deceptive doctrines and yet, the discerning TRUE disciple and follower of Christ Jesus has been forewarned and forearmed with the necessary tools and gifts of the Holy Spirit to see through the spiritual lies that the world is blind too! Our Heavenly Father has not left His children defenseless, but rather strengthened for the sake of the Body of Christ as a whole and for the preparation of the Bride of Christ! All I can say is Glory to God in the Highest!!