Lesson 7 - Trying the Spirits

Lesson 7 - Trying the Spirits

(1 John 4:1-6)

In our last lesson we learned about the children of God, and the children of the devil.  This lesson deals with "the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."  Earlier John wrote about the "many antichrists," who were out to deceive the believers by teaching that Jesus was not the Christ, the Son of God.  In this fourth chapter the apostle picks up that theme again, writing, "Many false prophets have gone out into the world."  Because of this believers were admonished, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God."

How can we try the spirits to distinguish between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error?  How can we discern between the doctrines of God and the doctrines of demons?  Read 1 Timothy 4:1-3.

We put their teaching to the test.  What do they have to say about Jesus Christ?  This is the key issue.  Who do they say the Son of Man is?

We've learned that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, who leads us into all truth.  A fundamental truth of the Bible is the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  "The Word became flesh."  John 1:14.  God became a man.  "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) Himself shared in the same."  Hebrews 2:14.  You'll remember that John began his letter declaring that he actually "handled" the Word of life.  He actually touched the Son of God.  Now here he states, "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God."

How can we know the spirit of error?  "Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God."  Earlier we learned that the antichrists denied the deity of the Son, denying the Father and the Son.  Here they deny the humanity of Christ.  They believed that flesh was inherently evil, so Jesus could not have partaken of our flesh.  He was pure spirit, according to their teaching.

As then, the spirit of the Antichrist "is now already in the world."  This is evident when we look at the doctrines of modern day cults.  When confronted by them, you need only ask the question, "What do you think of Jesus Christ?"  Without exception they deny the deity of Christ and/or His humanity.  They reduce the Son of God to "a god," or "an angel," or something other than what He really is.

False prophets "are of the world.  Therefore they speak as of the world."  Although many claim to teach biblical truth, they distort the teaching of the Scriptures.  Whenever they are exposed to the teaching of the Word, they cry, "The translation is inaccurate."  They expound doctrines of the world, not the Word.

"The world hears them."  The world has itching ears to hear their worldly philosophy, but "he who is not of God does not hear us."  Paul referred to such people as "men of corrupt minds."  Read 2 Timothy 3:1-9.  The world by wisdom cannot know God.  Jesus was crucified at "a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha."  John 19:17.  This is where man's wisdom ends, and God's wisdom is revealed.

"He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."  He is the Holy Spirit, the anointing, who teaches us what is true.  Because of the believer's relationship with God, and the indwelling presence of His Spirit, His sheep know His voice, and they follow Him.  John 10:26-28.

Put all preaching and teaching to the test.  The Christians at Berea checked up on the great apostle Paul, when he ministered to them.  "These were more fair-minded (or noble) than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so."  Acts 17:11.  God's nobility tests the spirits.

 

Lesson 8 - Loving One Another

 
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