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Monday, January 20, 2014

Test the Spirits

1 John 4:1-6 (ESV)
1 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. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 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. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 

I have heard many people tell me that they are spiritual who do not have a relationship with Jesus. Previously, I have thought that they either didn't know what spiritual really meant or that they had been smoking something. I didn't really consider that they could indeed be spiritual but that the spirits which they were relating to could be demons.

Demons are a hard subject to handle for those of us who have been told that there is really no one under the bed, in the closet or in the dark. The bogie man does not exist. We have all heard it and have found it to be true. There is nothing in the unknown but our fears. This is all called into question when the scriptures are read. There are demons active in the world.

Another problem arises once we admit that their are demons. The Hollywood versions stick in our minds so indelibly that we cannot really understand the scripture without having these digital images being brought forth. We think of all sorts of superstitious actions which will rid ourselves of these demons. We see ourselves as being helpless before them unless we can find some holy water.

I watch the movie "Poltergeist" when it came out on video. I admit, it scared the stuffings out of me. It isn't that I thought that this fictional demon was real or that the movie represented a true fear I should have for demons. It was the fear I had for the little girl who was taken by this demon.

And demons really do take people in. Maybe not like in Poltergeist but they do affect and make people feel spiritual. These demons speak to people who know that the messages that they receive come from demons. They see these messages as helpful. The people listening are taken in and never know they are in any danger.

There are two dangers I see. The spirits have led them astray away from Jesus. Otherwise these spirits would be pointing toward Jesus as the Messiah. They would speak of Him as One who gave His physical life for the sins of mankind on the cross. They would tell the hearer of His resurrection and call him to trust in Jesus as Savior.

The danger is also seen in its influence into the world. The world which follows a pattern of disobeying, ignoring and blaspheming God likes the message of the demons. The message appeals to the insatiable lusts of the world. The world simply wants the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

Those who listen to these demons will not listen to us but we need to be careful that we don't listen to them either. We need to remember what the demons will appeal to, who they will not confess and that the truth will come as we set our minds on spiritual things.

We must always remember that the world is seeking to conform our minds. It is a daily tasks to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Each day our minds must be made new by a fresh washing with God's word. A new commitment in each day will make us have great strides toward walking in the truth.

John warned people about these spirits which were not from God. It must have meant that their messages had a great appeal. At least some people must have been drawn in by them. John speaks as if he has heard people speak of spirits which he knows are not from God. We must always be on our guard because these demons can be incredibly subtle.

So, just as in John's day, we are to test the spirits. 


Anthony Chia said...

Some people argue that 1John 4:1 was not about spirit as in spirit being, like an angel, but rather, spirit as in "in the spirit of sportsmanship" or "that is the spirit" or "fighting spirit". In verse 1, "false prophets" was specifically mentioned; and of course, prophets are men, not spirit beings. We don't use the word, prophet, on a spirit being (although man, technically is a spirit being, inside). But still we should know that "the spirit of thing" essentially comes from attitudes, which in turn, comes from our perspective or value-system, and this, stripped to the core, comes from inputs from one of two sources, 1) God or His Spirit or the spirit of truth; or 2) Satan or the spirit of falsehood.

For example, atrocious gang members would embrace the spirit of comradeship to the extent that one would take the fall, for another. That spirit comes from an attitude which comes from a perspective or value-system. You and I will not agree to that kind of spirit; maybe we will call it stupidity or denounce it as lie or deceit. But why? It is because we have a different attitude of the mind, coming from a different perspective or value-system. So, ultimately behind "the spirit of thing" is either the Spirit of Truth or spirit of falsehood who gives us their respective perspective or value-system.

So, while it is not wrong to say, "Obviously, John was not talking about us listening to and believing what spirit beings were saying to us", still, behind the men, prophets, was a perspective either from the Spirit of truth or God, or from the spirit of deceit or Satan; like spirit of falsehood, spirit of deceit refers to the same Satan. Of course, there are people who have both perspectives, sometimes putting on one, at other times, the other. Such people, the Apostle James said of them as people who are double-minded; and he said such people should not think they would get anything from God.

When we look at the subsequent verses or the entire text, it becomes clearer that the Apostle John was referring to the spirit behind the spirit of things. On testing the spirits, the approach advocated here goes with the premise that spirits not aligned to, or no longer aligned to, God, cannot acknowledge Jesus Christ. What does acknowledging Jesus Christ mean? Why can't the demons do that? Commonly, how do we go about doing this testing?

Before we answer the above questions, let me say that the requirement is acknowledgement of Jesus Christ, not "acknowledgement of Jesus Christ has come in the flesh". Too many people got hung up with thIs; don't! Those who acknowledge Him NOT, are NOT of God, but we who are of God, acknowledge Him, and knowledge that He has come in the flesh. To acknowledge Him means we are holding Jesus as our Lord, and we have confessed that, at our conversion, and is prepared to profess that, always. What it means is that we will not hesitate to say, "Jesus is my Lord".

The Apostle Paul explained it this way, in 1 Cor 12:3 (KJV) "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is (the) Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."

Unlike us, believers, men NOT of God, does not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and so, cannot say "Jesus is MY Lord". Bro Anthony, the 1Cor 12:3 verse said, "Jesus is Lord", NOT "Jesus is MY Lord"?! No, it meant that - "Jesus is MY Lord".


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

Here is another recording of "Jesus is Lord", is it NOT "MY Lord"?

Romans 10:9 - "If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Is it NOT obvious, the declaration has to be "Jesus is my Lord".

Do you know that there is segment of the Christian community called the Free Grace, members of which hold to they are in salvation but they accepted Jesus as their Saviour but NOT their Lord, arguing that Scripture said of Jesus, He is Lord, but He is NOT necessarily to be their Lord, for salvation! They are wrong, of course.

I give us another: Matt 22:43 -
He said to them, "Then how does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,' saying,"

Was David merely saying Jesus was Lord, or was he saying Jesus was his Lord. This is what the next verse, v44, reads as: 'The LORD said to MY Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies beneath your feet"'?…

So, the way to test is to ask the (manifesting) man to declare if Jesus is his Lord. I know the 1 John 4 text talked about testing the spirit, but the spirit operates and speaks through the man, and so, we ask the man, in fact, at the time the man is manifesting; meaning, the spirit is in the state of acting up, in or through him. In this way, we are actually addressing the spirit, not the person, really.

So much for the testing of the spirit; now what does it mean there, in v4 of the 1 John 4 text, that we have overcome the spirits of antichrist. Are there many spirits of antichrist? There are many spirits; God is spirit, the Holy Spirit is spirit, the angels are spirits, Satan is spirit, and his minions of demons (fallen angels) are spirits; lastly not forgetting, we men are with spirit. Please understand that the reference here, and in the 1 John 4 text, is not referring to the spirit of man. Although men can be counted with Satan, the spirit of man is not evil spirit. All spirits not acknowledging Jesus as their Lord are spirits of antichrist, but we don't call every non-believer a spirit of antichrist!

Why are we, believers, said to have overcome already, the spirits of antichrist? It is because by our conversion, we have broken-free from their hold, for through our conversion, we have become "of God". Of course, we are to understand it was Jesus who broke us free, but still it is we have aligned with Him, and hold him as our Lord, and must continue to do so. And when we do so, we fear NOT, for the Spirit of God who indwells us is greater than Satan who is in the world. God is greater; Satan has been defeated by The Lord already but Satan is still in the world, not in Hell yet.

Don't be confused and think that the 1John 4 text was for a moment talking to spirit beings; no, Scripture is for us, men, but many men are still in deceived state (under Satan's deceptions) and "working" against the Kingdom of God, and are not helping themselves, although they may not realize.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions