Test the Spirits

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for 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 from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 1 John 4:1-3

You hear about God every Sunday at church, but that’s not the only place you encounter teaching about spiritual things. You might hear a spiritual message from a friend or family member, or see an article posted on Facebook, or get a new book for devotions. Which ones are true? Can you tell?

John says we have the ability to discern the truth. He tells us to “test the spirits.” What does John mean by “the spirits”? Both true and false prophets (or teachers) will claim that the Spirit of God gives them their messages; we’re supposed to determine whether their claims are actually from the Holy Spirit, or if they come from the “spirit of the antichrist” and are opposed to Jesus Christ and His truth.

God gives us the ability to judge messages we hear in the church. When you hear a new idea about God or the Bible, do you immediately consider whether it is true? John exhorts us to do this in order to protect ourselves from false prophets who could deceive us.

Questions for reflection and discussion
1. Have you heard a new spiritual teaching lately (at church, something someone told you personally, in a book or article)?
2. Did you consider whether it was really true? If so, how did you decide?

Dear God, protect us from false teachings and help us be wise about the knowledge we accept as true. We know you are the Truth; guide us into truth. Amen