May 14, 2021 – Friday
1 John 4:1 NIV
1Dear 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.
I am touched by how this verse and chapter begins, Dear friends or in some versions Beloved. It is almost as if John is reaching across two millennia and calling out to us as fellow believers, Dear friends. And just as we would tell a personal dear friend of our own of a danger, John does the same for us. He gives us a caution, a waring, a need to be wary.
What is his warning? [D]o not believe every spirit! Okay, I added the exclamation mark (!), but that is how it reads to me. Then John added we are to test the spirits to see whether they are from God. Makes sense, if we hear from a spirit somehow, we will want to know if it is from God, because if it is not, then it is obviously from Satan. We cannot assume everything that happens spiritually is from God. We must have a way to test spiritual events or experiences to determine if they are indeed from God. Before we get there though, John warns that many false prophets have gone out into the world. What does this have to do with the spirits that have to be tested is a reasonable question. Let’s see is we get an answer when we look at how to test the spirits.
The next two verses supply the test we are to use, 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, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus [came in the flesh] 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.
As I read through these two verses, I understood the reference to false prophets as well. There was a movement afoot that declared Jesus did not come in the flesh, but only in the spirit. It was called Gnosticism which belief centered around the idea any and all flesh was evil, so Jesus could not have come in the flesh. Thus, they missed the point He came as the second Adam to become a sinless sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
How important is this to us as believers? Important enough for John to write about any spirit or preacher or prophet who does not acknowledge Jesus came in the flesh, This is the spirit of the antichrist. To take such a position against Jesus who came in the flesh is to be giving voice to the spirit of the antichrist or Satan. No Christian would want to do anything that is in the spirit of the antichrist. Nor would they want to say Jesus came in the flesh but was not God. This is just another form of heresy.
I really like how Paul makes all of this perfectly clear in Philippian 2:5-11, In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Our Creator did that, died for our sins. How great is His love for us, His creation.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Let me never forget how great Jesus’ love is for us, His creation. His love for us is so great He died on the cross for our sins. Incomprehensible that God would do such for us. His grace is amazing especially for wretches such as us. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.