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.
1 John 4:1-3
If this warning was for Christians then, after about 2,000 years, we should pay much more attention to the messages we hear and investigate what spirit is behind any prophecy or teaching. To understand what the apostle John wrote, we need to know to whom he was addressing and what was going on in those days. Even if the epistle does not begin with the specific identification of the church or group it was initially written for, the content shows that John, led by the Holy Spirit, wrote to believers of his time, in the first century AD. In 1 John 2:26, we also find the reason of this letter: “These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.” Even then, there were wrong teachings, taught by some false teachers and prophets infiltrated into churches (1 John 2:18-19). That is why the apostle warned them about the spirit of the Antichrist, of which Jesus had warned his disciples. (Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22).
What spirits should we test? Every Christian should search for the source of all information, not just those concerning faith, but from any area of life. The closer we walk with God and ask Him to enlighten our minds, the more He will give us of His perfect wisdom (James 1:5-6). It is for our benefit to examine what kind of spirit leads the one who prophesies, preaches or teaches, because it can be: the Holy Spirit, the spirit of man or a demonic spirit.
To interpret any biblical verse correctly, we need to analyze it in context, because the preceding and subsequent verses show us the framework for which that verse is valid. In order not to draw wrong conclusions and form false doctrines, the conclusion of that verse must be confirmed by one or more sections of verses, to make sure that the opinion is correct, as the Bible says that it takes two or three witnesses to establish the truth about a certain matter (“by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established” - Deuteronomy 19:15, and Deuteronomy 17:6, John 8:17). The spirit of the Antichrist has a precise purpose, which is to make Christians doubt the truth and promises of God’s Word and to prepare the ground for Antichrist, who will claim to be Christ, the Messiah, whom the Mosaic Jews who rejected the true Son of God, continue to await.
The Spirit of the Antichrist denies that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah and that He already came in the flesh to save us. In order for Jesus to pay for our sins, He had to be born with a human nature, but to be without sin. The devil did all in his power (Matthew 4:3-11, Luke 4:1-13) to tempt Jesus and cause Him to not fulfill God’s plan for the salvation of mankind. Because Jesus never sinned, He could take all the sins of mankind upon Himself and die in our place. But death could not keep Him. Because Jesus never sinned, the devil had nothing on or in Him, as the Lord said in John 14:30, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me” and the Holy Spirit raised Him from the death on the third day.
We are urged in 1 John 4:1, “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”, we are urged to test the source of what is told to us and to receive only what comes from the Holy Spirit, through the true prophets, and to reject what is false. How can we know what kind of spirit is behind the prophecy, or any message that claims to be the Word of the Lord? The general valid criterion is the identity of Jesus Christ. The most common lie was that Jesus was not the Christ, the Son of God, and that the true Messiah had not yet come and this lie is still believed today, by many.
The prophet or anyone who claims to be the messenger of the Lord and does not believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of mankind, must not be believed, because the source of his words is not the Holy Spirit. Jesus remains in him who is His and the Holy Spirit is the witness of our adoption into the heavenly Father's family, as the following verse says:
In the times we live in, it is increasingly difficult to identify whether the news or statements of the media or others, are true or false. As more people live in sin, they are increasing the power of the devil, and as a result, lies take the place of truth as they are more easily believed.
Whenever we choose to thank the Lord for everything, no matter the circumstances, we allow the fruit of the Holy Spirit to manifest through us, and it is easier to receive what the Lord tells us and to identify what is coming from another source. The Lord wants us to be thankful instead of complaining, because thanksgiving is the most beneficial attitude of the heart and mind, by which the Holy Spirit is most active in us. Let us verify everything we hear, read or see and keep what is in accordance with the Word of God, the absolute standard for truth.
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