True or False “Spirits”
The tests continue in 1 John 4. John writes a lot about love in this chapter, continuing his theme from chapter 3. This is one of the most encompassing paragraphs about love: 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. This is an amazing and comprehensive description of God’s love and our response to that love. You won’t be disappointed if you spend a few minutes meditating on these words.
But I’ll focus on something in the first paragraph, John’s “test” of whether a spirit is true or false. 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. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. It’s not a very complicated test is it? If a spirit or a person for that matter, testifies that Jesus is God in the flesh then that spirit is a true one. If Jesus is not proclaimed as God in the flesh then that spirit is a false one. That simple test eliminates Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism and any other religious belief that denies the deity of Christ as being valid “spirits” from God. Those aren’t my words…they are John’s words and the other biblical writers confirm the same truth. So what are God’s children to do? Proclaim the truth in a loving way. Love those who are in error, but certainly don’t pretend to agree with them or to consent to the validity of their faith. Encourage them to read the Bible. Encourage them to examine the historicity and validity of their religion’s claims about God. The Bible is not a pluralistic book in relation to the nature and character of God. The Bible doesn’t offer a group of gods to choose from. And the central figure of God’s revelation is the person and work of Jesus Christ. If a religion doesn’t get Jesus right, it is simply wrong.