Test The Spirits
1 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.
Paul praised the Bereans for their willingness to research what He was saying in Scripture to verify the veracity of his claims. We too should test those who claim to be from God, to see if they really are from God. And the Apostle John has provided us with a litmus test: everyone who acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. We must remember that the enemy is a liar and seeks to lead us astray.
We are to use discernment when we meet new people, and vet them to make sure that they are truly disciples of Christ before we believe what they say. Even Atheists have memorized scripture and twisted it to their own means. In these dark times, it is more important than ever to be careful in what we believe and in whom we believe.
Recognition to Remember
We must surely recognize that if anyone claims to be of God, but does not believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, they are not from God, and are preaching heresy. For it is only through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ that we are freed from the bondage of sin and made righteous in God’s eyes. Any other gospel is a false gospel, and should be avoided.
God has given us this so that we can use discernment in our dealings with others as they claim to be from God and yet are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They seek to lead the elect of God away from the truth, because they believe that their version of the scriptures is true. In these dark times, we must be vigilant to ensure that we are not misled into heresy. We need to diligently comb through Scripture to ensure that what we hear is truth. And in this, the whole counsel of God must be consulted to ensure that we are not misled.
Here is an example: The Church of Christ denomination believes that baptism is a requirement for salvation. Looking at the scriptures from one particular viewpoint, and excluding other scripture, a strong argument can be made for this position. However, in view of the whole counsel of God, baptism is seen in the same light as communion: it is a privilege given to believers, not a requirement for salvation. It is a practice to show identification with Christ and not a prerequisite for entry into the kingdom of Heaven. For if it was a prerequisite, how could Jesus declare the thief on the cross to be with Him in Paradise? Was he taken down and baptized? And what about the prophesy of Joel that states:
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
whom the Lord calls.
In the case of the thief on the cross: he believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. In Joel, there is no mention of baptism being required for salvation. Baptism is a privilege and should be desired by disciples in Christ. However, it is NOT a requirement for salvation. For there is no place in scripture that says, “You must be baptized to see the kingdom of God”, or “you must be baptized to be saved.” Jesus merely says,
“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
The Greek word orthodoxy is made from two root words: ortho, meaning right, and doxy, meaning belief. We must have right belief. Right actions without right belief is self-righteousness. Right belief without right actions is hypocritical. The spirit of the antichrist (anything opposed to, or different from, Christ) is in the world today, and has been here from at least the time of the Apostle John. We must guard ourselves from its power and influence. We can be swayed when we hear things that tickle our ears. We must rely upon the Holy Spirit of God and the word of God to properly discern these heresies.
That is why it is critical that anyone who claims to be a follower (disciple) of Jesus Christ MUST crack open the Bible, study it, and memorize parts of it to place in our hearts so that we would be better prepared for those who intentionally or misguidedly attempt to introduce anti-Biblical teachings in our lives. A person who doesn’t know the word of God may be easily led astray. Guard your heart and mind against the teachings from the spirit of antichrist through diligent study of the Bible and personal prayer with God. And should anyone deny that Jesus has come in the flesh, recognize who they are and where they are coming from. Otherwise, you run the risk of derailing your faith.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I taking the necessary time to read and learn the Bible to guard against heresy?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have given us Your word to counsel us and to reveal Yourself to us. You have admonished us to be vigilant in our faith, and obedient in our practice. Father, please help me to better learn and understand Your word so that I would not be fooled by anyone who would try to lead me astray. Keep me faithful to You, and guard my heart against unrighteousness and desires that are not in alignment with Your word. Help me to get more of Your word from my mind and into my heart that I would live out all that You have commanded me to do. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.