Testing the Spirits
1 John 4:1-6
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. [1 John 4:1]
So how does one “test the spirits”? It is by the Word of God. Paul exhorted this in his letters to Timothy and Titus. He gave them clear instruction on the importance of right doctrine, particularly on the Person of Jesus Christ. Here are a handful of Paul’s exhortations, which I’ve bolded parts for emphasis.
“Set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” [1 Tim. 4:12] and “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” [1 Tim. 4:13]. “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” [1 Tim. 4:15] “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” [2 Tim. 2:15] “You must teach what is in accord to sound doctrine.” [Tit. 2:1] “In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” [Tit. 2:7-8]
Knowing, understanding, and standing upon right doctrine are essential to “test the spirits, whether they are of God.” This comes by Spirit-filled preaching, teaching, hearing, and understanding God’s Word. That is why we base all worship services and fellowship around the Word of God. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” [2 Tim. 4:3-4]; i.e., there will be false teachers and false prophets who will flood the pulpits before our Lord’s return. There are indeed many now. We must heed these warnings of Scripture, more so now than ever before, because the Day is near.
Test all things; hold on to what is true and good, and ratified in His Word, and let the rest go. Just as important as the things we take in from the pulpit, are the things we don’t. We must discern [for ourselves] the Truth so we can identify the counterfeit.
Make sure that you are receiving God’s Word daily along with the baptism of His Spirit. It is by these that we can test the spirits and discern what is of Christ and what is of the spirit of antichrist.