Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
1 John 1:1-4 New England Series
1 John 1:5-7 New England series
1 John 1:8-10 New England series
1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:3-6
1 John 2:7-11
1 John 2:12-17
1 John 2:18-27
1 John 3:1-9 1John 3: 10-23
1 John 3:24 to 4:6
1 John 4:7-16
1st John 4:17-21
1st John 5:4-13 1st John 5:14-15
  1 John 5:16-17   1 John 5:18-21  
To log onto UNITYINCHRIST.COM’S BLOG, Click Here
Unity in Christ
Introduction
About the Author
Does God Exist?

The Book of Acts
Gospels
Epistles
Prayer
Faith
the Prophets & Prophecy
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes

Song of Solomon

OT History
Early Church History
Church History
Sabbatarian Heritage
The Worldwide Church Of God
Messianic Believers
Evangelism

America-Modern Romans


Latin-American Poverty

Ministry Principles

Topical Studies
Guest Book
Utility Pages
Share on Facebook
Tell a friend:
 

1st John 3:24-4:6

 

“And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him.  And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:24).  “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is in the world.  Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.  They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.  We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us.  Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:1-6).

 

“To the Church in Corinth he says this “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith”, test yourselves, “do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you, unless indeed your are disqualified.”  He says, test, examine, do you know that Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit is within you.  And that is indeed part of the Christian life.  Let’s look at verse 24 of chapter 3 [1 John 3:24].  “Now he who keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in him.  And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”  Now John has already explained to us that obedience to God’s Word, to his commands is evidence that somebody is a child of God.  He gave that to us in the last verse.  It’s evidence that I’m a child of God.  But also that I’m walking in close fellowship with God.  When I obey his commands that’s proof of that.  And John summarized the last verse what it means to obey his commandments.  It means that we should believe on Jesus Christ, that is the initial saving faith---Jesus said that one of the works that you should do is to believe in Jesus, that’s the first work, to get saved---and then from that to obey his commandments.  And as he summarizes it, it is also to love one another.  And of course, the rest of the Bible says the same message.  To obey God is to love God with all my heart and soul and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself.  So, when this is true in somebody’s life, verse 24, ‘Now he who keeps his commandments’, when this is true, ‘he abides in Christ, and Christ, God abides in him.’  I think this is an amazing thing, we’ve seen this repeated before, and I was thinking about it.  It is an amazing expression, he says ‘abides in him, I abide in Christ and Christ abides in me.’  That really is a statement, when you think about it physically, me being in him and him being in me.  How does that even work out?  But that’s certainly a statement of intimacy, isn’t it, that I’m actually in Christ, I’m in the body of Christ, but I’m in Christ, if I’m walking with him, and he’s also in me.  Now, I would think then, with that statement, and I believe this is true, I can have a relationship with God so close that I can, that no other relationship with any other being can compare.  The Bible teaches that my wife and I are one, there’s this mystical union that takes place between the husband and wife.  There’s a very close relationship.  But the Bible never says that I’m in Paula and Paula’s in me.  [there is a spirit union though, which he refers to as mystical.  The spirit-in-man of both he and Paula are what make them “one flesh”, and it is a direct picture of the Triunity of God, their spirits mingle, and because they both are believers, their human spirits, in union with God’s Holy Spirit [cf. Romans 8:16] are in a holy and spiritual “one flesh”.  Athol Dickson in his amazing book “The Gospel according to Moses” brings this truth to light as well.  Have you ever noticed guys, that when you’re hiding something from your wife, she intuitively knows?]  And as a Church we are told that we are one, but the Bible doesn’t say that you’re in me and that I’m in you.  But when it speaks about my relationship with God, it says that I can actually dwell in him and live in him, and he dwells and lives in me.  That’s pretty wild, huh?  Speaking of the closeness, the intimacy, the union that can take place, and should take place between somebody who believes in Jesus Christ, somebody who walks with him.  Wow, that’s beautiful man.  And that’s something all the more I want to experience in my life.  Now, how can I be sure, he says here in verse 24 that Christ is abiding in me?  He says “I can know”, of course it’s ginosko, it’s experientially that he abides in me, “by the Spirit that he’s given us.”  How can I know?  And what is the Spirit he’s referring to?  The Spirit is the Holy Spirit.  Capital “S”.  Right?  I can know that I am a child of God, like in the case of Acts chapter 19, I can know indeed that I am because the Holy Spirit, you know, God the Holy Spirit is residing, he’s in me, this gift of the Holy Spirit.  Now in Acts chapter 19 that was seen in the disciples, when they believed, man, they had the Holy Spirit.  When they didn’t believe, they didn’t have the Holy Spirit.  And that is true.  Paul wrote to the church in Rome, Romans chapter 8, verse 9 he said “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he is none of his.”  So if you don’t have the Holy Spirit, you’re not a child of God.  But if you are a child of God, you have the Holy Spirit in you.  Now Paul is not talking about this burning in your bosom, you know, some groups talk about having burning in your bosom, that’s not what he’s referring to.  That’s not evidence to know that you know God.  But he’s referring to a witness of the Holy Spirit in my life, a witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart.  This is what Paul described again to the church in Rome in Romans chapter 8 verses 14 to 16, he said “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God, for you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out Abba, Father.  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”  So I have this thing, I became a Christian.  The Holy Spirit moved into me.  Now there’s this witness in my heart, and there’s even a heart’s cry there that says “Abba, Father” [literally: Abba, Daddy.  Abba is Hebrew for Daddy.]  Abba, that Arabic term.  You go to Israel today you might hear a child say to their father, Abba,  a child is speaking to their father.  And now I have it in my heart to say to God, Father [Daddy], my Dad, my Abba.  This is how I know I’m a child of God, this is the clear evidence of the Holy Spirit in me bearing witness, and also giving me this hearts cry.  But not only that, as you take other Scriptures too, the Holy Spirit within me, it gives me that hearts cry, but also it gives me this sense, that confidence that indeed I have glory waiting for me, I have eternal life, I have [the kingdom of] heaven waiting for me.  Listen to what Paul told the Ephesians, Ephesians chapter 1, verse 13.  “In him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.”  Paul said to the church in Ephesus that when we became Christians we were sealed in the Holy Spirit, there was a mark of ownership upon us.  And now he is in a sense like the deposit, the guarantee in our hearts that all the things that God has promised to me, all the things, even eternity I can know, I have a deposit.  It’s there, there’s fruit.  You know, you get those little lockers, and you put your little quarter in there, and you get that key.  And as you are in the swimming pool or the mall or whatever, you’ve got that key, and that key is like a sense that I’ve got access to that locker, I’ve got all the things in that locker.  And I have the Holy Spirit in me, and it’s proof now, this witness, this confidence in my heart that I have eternal life awaiting me.  Now when Paul said that to the church at Ephesus, Ephesus was the world trade center at that time.  In fact, the world trade center, that trade center was in Ephesus.  The trading that would go from east to the west would often go through Ephesus.  And when a merchant would come to the world trade center there in Ephesus, they would buy some goods, and the people would package up these goods, and then they would put wax on it and the person purchasing it would take his ring and he would put [impress] that in the wax and it would make a sign there, so that when the package was put on a boat and was sailed off to Rome, and the people there in Rome or other Roman port cities or places were unloading one of these packages there would be that seal.  And it would be a mark that so and so owns this package.  And that’s what happens when I became a Christian, the Holy Spirit then came in me, and there’s this mark, this seal of God upon my life that I’m indeed a child of God, and I can know with 100 percent certainty I have eternity waiting for me.  So, Holy Spirit in us.  Paul is saying that’s what a Christian is, he’s saying that a Christian is a spiritual person, he is a spiritual being [i.e. someone in whom the Holy Spirit dwells].  That is what it means too, that I am a Christian, I’m a spiritual being.  I’m not just a good person, I’m not just a moral person, I’m not just a religious person, I’m not just somebody who goes to church.  I’m alive in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is within me.  I’ve received him, I have his power, I have him working in me, I know he’s working in me.  Now there’s this hunger in my heart for God, there’s a clear sense of the conviction of sin in my life.  But also there’s supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Paul says in Galatians there’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  That is what it means to be a Christian, the Holy Spirit in you.  And that’s what he says here, that “By this we know that he abides in us, because we have the Holy Spirit”, this  is what it means to be a Christian.

 

discern the spirits—test the spirits

 

          Now, he goes into chapter 4.  Now he wants us to understand, discern the Holy Spirit, the way he works through a person, as opposed to the way a false spirit works through an individual.  Chapter 4, verse 1, “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.”  Now he says “beloved”, you note there’s a firmness when John writes, but there’s a tremendous gentleness, there’s a lot of love.  In fact that word “beloved”, it would be great if we could read Greek right now, you would see right off, it stems from the word agape’.  It’s a form of the word agape’.  So he’s referring to us with a love of God, beloved, beloved, he has concern, he’s firm, but here his concern is that we wouldn’t believe every spirit, but that we would test the spirits, that we’re not gullible Christians either.  Now so the test of the spirits, what does it mean to test the spirits?  Why do we need to test the spirits?  He says ‘Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, test the spirits, whether they’re the real deal, because many false spirits, many false prophets, many false teachers have gone out into the world.’  He’s already reminded us of that back in chapter 2, as you remember.  Jesus said exactly the same thing.  In fact, Jesus said, he encouraged Christians to discern, because in the end, the latter day we’re in, there would be an abundance, a great multiplication of false teachers.  Matthew chapter 24, verse 4, “Take heed that no one deceives you, for many will come in my name saying I am the Christ, and will deceive many.”  He says that in that discourse about the future.  Peter warned the same, 2nd Peter chapter 2, verse 1, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”  So he says, there’s a need to test the spirits, don’t believe everything you hear, don’t be gullible, don’t just believe every spirit, test the spirits, see if they’re false or if they’re true, because there are many false spirits.  And he doesn’t want us to be deceived.  You know on Wednesday night, we had a very similar study as we were going through Joshua, just coincidentally with the text.  And I posed the question to the people that were there, ‘What does it mean to be deceived?’  To be deceived is to believe something that isn’t true.  Right?  It’s to be misled, like Eve.  Eve partook in that fruit believing something that wasn’t true.  And then she had to bear the horrific fruit of making that decision.  It is to be misled, or as the dictionary says, it is to be caught by guile, it is to be ensnared, meaning somebody being crafty, somebody being quick, trying to deceive you, and if you’re not testing and questioning and seeking the truth, you can be deceived.  It is absolutely vital as Christians that we test the spirits, not just accepting what somebody says, you know, because they’re flamboyant, because they have a great personality, because they’re zealous, because they’re passionate, because they’re a leader in a certain church or even because they can do miracles or signs.  Because the Bible says false teachers and prophets will also do miracles and signs.  I’ve used this example many times.  My brother-in-law is Mormon, and when I started to get to know my future wife, and we knew our relationship was getting serious, and I was spending more and more time with her family, her sister is Mormon.  And I remember getting to know them.  And of course initially they were trying to, or the Mormon church was trying to court us, taking us out water skiing, we were having a great time doing all these things, jet skiing and things like that, and they didn’t realize we didn’t have any interest in their Mormonism, because it isn’t true.  But anyway, as I started to get to know my brother-in-law, I remember we were driving down the highway one day and I felt, I was praying for him, I was confident, I was sharing with him the truth of the Scriptures, to lead my brother-in-law away from Mormonism.  So as we started to talk, I thought of a Scripture like this and other Scriptures.  And what Mormonism believes is that whatever the prophet of Mormonism says, there’s one guy, whatever he says, they will believe.   It [he] is a living oracle, it supercedes all Scripture.  So whatever that top guy says in the Mormon church, it is taken as the Truth.  Kind of like other churches, and you can think of a few, big organizations where the top guy, what he says you know, is straight from God.  Well I was starting to build my little argument with this man, and one of the things I was saying was “Didn’t Paul warn that not just be believe anybody at their word.”  “The Bible says in the last days there’s going to be many false teachers.”  These are some of the things I was saying to him, and as I started to say that he stopped me.  He said “George listen”, he says “I believe if my prophet said to rob a bank,” he says “I believe I’d be blessed if I did it.”  That’s exactly what he was taught.  And my jaw dropped, and I learned at that point I really couldn’t reason with him.  How can you reason?  He’s saying “no matter what he says, even if it goes against conscience, even if he says rob a bank.”  He’s saying, “I’m gonna go do it, he’s a prophet.  And I’d be blessed if I did it.”  Now, John says here “Don’t believe every spirit.”  He says “test the spirits.”  There’s a lot of false spirits.  And there are people today that are in cults, and they’re just believing what they are hearing.  [Some believers at this point may believe that the Torah observant Sabbatarian Churches of God are cults, but they are not.  Read the early church history section for further explanation on this at:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm.]  They are also being blinded by the enemy and being deceived.  John doesn’t want God’s kids to be deceived.  I wish my brother-in-law, I prayed for him, I asked God to remove the blindness.  I wish he would see what John is saying here.  Lot’s of false guys out there.  Don’t just take people at their word.  You need to test the spirits.  Now, we can say ‘OK, that’s a cult, that’s the problems with the people in the cults.’  But the truth is, man, this exists so much in the Church.  God’s kids, not testing, not discerning, the lack of discernment, and because of that they’re being deceived by this teacher, by this false teaching, by this false spirit, and they’re just reaping all kinds of ugly stuff into their lives.  [I think of the “name it, claim it” churches and teachers, Benny Hinn and the like, that many believers listen to thinking these are true teachers.]  There’s the story of George Whitfield, he was speaking to a man about his soul, and he asked the man, “Sir, what do you believe?”  “I believe what my church believes” the man replied respectfully.  So Whitfield asked him “So what does your church believe?”  He says “The same thing I believe.”  So the preacher went a little further.  He said “What do you both believe?”  “We both believe the same thing.”  That’s what he said.  [laughter]  And I tell you, it sounds silly.  But how many people, where if they were to be truthful, they would believe whatever the [their] church tells them, and you ask them, and they say “I don’t really know what the church believes in, whatever they believe, I believe, go ask them, we believe the same thing.”  But John’s saying ‘No way Christians, man, no way children of God, you can’t do that.  You’re going to reap ugly stuff into your life, because there’s an enemy, and he’s a deceiver, and he’s a liar, and he’s real good at what he does, and he wants to deceive you, and he will, unless you’re wise.’  [See http://www.unityinchrist.com/Satan/satan.htm  for more information about this “enemy”.]  I remember a local pastor, I’m sure if you had any questions he’d probably tell you the same story, he told me this years ago.  You know there’s movements that go through the Church, and one particular movement that got real prominent, went through the Church, and this local pastor had some questions, was wondering ‘Was this really of the Lord, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t’, so he decided to go to one of these meetings, and there was all kinds of things going on.  And he said he sat there praying, trying to discern.  “Lord, if this is of you, I don’t want to quench the Spirit, you know, I don’t want to miss out on something.  But I’m just wondering, is this of you?” And as he was sitting there, an usher, somebody that was like an usher, that was part of this meeting came up to him and said to him “Don’t pray” because he could see that he was praying.  He said “don’t pray, you’re kind of hindering the whole thing right now, just let go, just go with this thing.  If you really want the blessing, don’t pray.”  Wow.  You know, that sounds unbelievable to me, but I remember that same movement is continuing today, even leaders of that movement, you can read where they specifically are teaching people “You know, when you come to these meetings, don’t pray, don’t try to reason with it, just go with it, let go.”  But I can’t do that, because John said, the apostle John, “Don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits.”  And you can guarantee that, as my heart, and it should be yours, we want to know ‘Is this of God?’  It’s not a bad thing to ask, to wonder, to say “God, I’m praying, I’m just wondering if this of you?”  When somebody says that’s not healthy, you can be sure there’s something wrong, because that’s what the Scripture says.  Now, Dr. Lloyd Jones, listen to what he said, “People, people may come and say they’ve had visions, they’ve had most extraordinary dreams, they say that strange things have happened to them, they have had unusual guidance, astonishing answers to prayer.  ‘I prayed’ says a man, ‘and this happened’ and we tend to say ‘this man must be full of the Spirit for that great thing to happen’, but believe me, such experiences can be counterfeited by the enemy and often have been.  Experiences have come and do come to us, but let us not rest on them, but let us not put up the test of experience of the soul test.”  [i.e. let us not fail to give this the “soul test” is what this means.]  Not just going with experience, going ‘Wow, that guy prayed and look what happened.  Man, I tried that, they said try that, and look what happened!’  That isn’t the test.  That isn’t the test.  It’s never experience.  We’ll get to the test, as we’ll see.  Of course, let’s stay balanced.  We need to test the spirits, but at the same time let’s not quench the Spirit.  Right?  You can go from this point to that point, and there are people in the Church on either end.  Paul shares the balance with the church in Thessalonica in 1st Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 19-21, he says “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophecies.”  Then his very next words are “Test all things, hold fast what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil.”  [King James Version: “Quench not the Spirit.  Despise not prophesyings.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from all appearance of evil.”]  He says ‘Don’t quench the Spirit, test all things.’  There’s a perfect balance.  And there needs to be in my life.  [Remember in John 14 and 16, when Jesus was describing what the Holy Spirit would do within us?  One of those things would be to reveal new truth, as well as recall old things we had been taught.]  There needs to be in this church.  We want to be a church that is indeed moving in the Spirit, man.  God, whatever you want to do.  We want to know what you want to do, and we want to be available to just allow you to move and minister as you want to minister.  But we also want to be a church that is rock solid in the Word of God.  We want to stay balanced.  It’s a safe place, and that’s a good place for us to be.  Paul warned the church in Corinth, 2nd Corinthians chapter 11, verse 13-15, “For such are false prophets, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ, and no wonder, for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.  Therefore it’s no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”  [King James Version, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”]  I mean, so he says Satan has guys that are seeking and looking like they’re ministers of righteousness, and it’s actually Satan and his spirit working through them.

 

How do we test the spirits?

 

Well, how exactly do we test the spirits?  John is going to give us here in these verses that follow a real practical guideline to follow.  But what’s assumed here is you balance the rest of the Scriptures too, before we move on to a practical guideline, but he’s also assuming as other Scriptures say, that we are strong in the Word of God.  If I am strong in the Word of God, if I know the truth, if I’m reading through the Word as an individual, I will not be deceived.  It’s hard to deceive me if I know the Scripture, because I’ll be able to discern that Satan is lying to me, just as Satan tried to lie to deceive Jesus, but Jesus knew the truth and responded with the truth.  [read Matthew 4:1-11.]  So, be strong in the Word of God.  I think of the Bereans, again the home fellowships going recently through Acts chapter 7, speaks of these Christians.  Paul came, shared the Word of God, and it says that “they received the Word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”  So, man, be strong in the Word, and when you hear things, always going to the Word, testing.  You know, there was an individual not long ago that came to this church, I think he’s a great man.  I wasn’t here when he shared, but later we were talking and he said some things, and I’m like ‘I don’t know if that sounds right.’  And then I asked other people and he stated certain things, so I went in and just studied more, and I’ve discerned, ‘Hey, wait a minute, that isn’t balanced, what he said isn’t balanced.’  And it will come out here, and I love this brother, but that wasn’t balanced.  But I wanted to go even a little deeper, just doesn’t sound right.  Doesn’t sound right.  Now of course, don’t be alarmed, we get people we respect to come here [obviously talking about a guest speaker], and you know, I’ll be honest, there’s been times I’ve said things, and thought later, that’s not true.  You know what I mean.  Once I quoted back in Genesis, I talked about there in the time of Noah, you know, the Nephalim that were there, these giants that were there, these strong men, you know, the descendants there.  You know the passage that I’m talking about.  And the way they are described and the words there, it’s the same that describes the giants in the times of David, the Nephalim.  But anyway I said as I was teaching through Genesis “now this is the same guys, and later they appear in the time of David.”  And then a little later, a week or two later I was just quoting somebody I heard say that or read that, and I said, wait a minute, that’s impossible, because you have the Flood inbetween.  Those guys drowned in the Flood, they’re gone.  All you’ve got is Noah’s family.  They don’t have any descendants later.  Not possible.  [With David it was the Anakin, not even called the same name]  We’re learning, right?  And I can guarantee you, I’m studying, I ask God, “Help me to teach the truth.”  But you need to know the truth, be in the Word of God.  And you can come to me and say “that’s out of line, that’s not true, a little out of balance, consider the Scripture.”  So we need to be strong in the Word, but also we need to be strong in prayer, people who are truly praying without ceasing.  You know, on Wednesday night as we were talking about deception, Joshua is deceived by the Gibeonites, that come dressed looking a certain way, they act a certain way, they present something that isn’t true, and Joshua makes a bad decision.  But it says right there, he did not seek the counsel of the Lord, he didn’t pray.  And being in prayer, seeking God’s face, helps me.  Like that man, that pastor in that meeting, going ‘Is this of you Lord, is it not of you, I need to know.’  I quoted too Wednesday night F.D. Meyer “Life is full of difficulties, the pointed spear awaits the unwary at the bottom of the pit, the top of which is covered by a slight film of earth.  The snare of the fowler, the pestilence that walketh in the darkness, the net privily laid, the decoy bird, the devil in the wily servant form, of these we need to be aware.  But prayer is like the Spear of Ethereal, and before it’s touched, evil will be compelled to show itself in its native deformities so that we may be thrown instantly upon the watch.”  So, prayer, man.  Prayer protects me, man.  Satan’s got a spear, and he’s trying to come, man, he’s got a decoy, but prayer will help me in that battle.  [link to prayer section: http://www.unityinchrist.com/prayer/prayer-teamessentials.htm.]   So we need the Word, we need to be in prayer, these things help us to be strong as we test the spirits.  But also we need to be open to the supernatural discerning of the Spirit.  Paul says in 1st Corinthians 12, he speaks of the gift of discerning spirits (verses 7-10).  And sometimes it takes just a supernatural revelation of God for me to know those are Gibeonites, dressed a certain way, saying the right thing, but they’re not the real deal.  And it takes the Spirit of God to say ‘Look, that isn’t right.  That isn’t right.’

 

Practical guidelines

 

1. Jesus is the Christ:  Well, with these things taking place in their life, now John gives us a very practical guideline to go through and test the spirits.  Let’s look at verses 2-3, “By this you know the Spirit of God.  Every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.  And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is now already in the world.”  So every spirit, he says here in verse 2, this is how we know the Spirit of God, every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ’.  When he says ‘every spirit confesses’ the picture here the way it’s laid out in the Greek is somebody is proclaiming a spiritual truth, so there’s a spirit represented there, and how do I know, is what they’re saying true, or is it error?  How do I know if it’s of God?  Well he gives us a real practical guideline.  First thing he says, “Every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ”, he uses the name Jesus Christ [Yeshua haMeshiach for our Messianic Jewish believers], he adds Christ there [Greek for the Hebrew term Messiah, which in Hebrew is Meshiach.  haMeshiach is the Messiah].  When he says Jesus Christ he’s referring to him being the Messiah.  Jesus the Christ [Hebrew: Yeshua haMeshiach].  That’s his title, he is the Christ, he is the Messiah.  Jesus came and he fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament that God spoke that one day the Messiah would come [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm for a complete and comprehensive study on this].    And there are some more that he’s going to fulfill as he comes back again later [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming.htm ].  But Jesus is the Messiah, so every spirit that’s consistent with that, every proclamation that agrees and builds up Jesus as the Messiah, that’s one of the things.  If it doesn’t, if it doesn’t then there’s a concern.  But the first test is, are they saying, are they agreeing, are they consistent with the fact that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.  Now, there are guys that aren’t, that say they are Christian groups.  Reverend Moon, he says he’s the Messiah, and he kind of builds himself as a Christian group.  He’s not Christian, he says he’s the Messiah.  William Brenham, you know the people that follow William Brenham, there’s people in this area that are into him, he died.  He was initially in a strong Christian church, and then he got really weird, but people that follow him are actually looking for his return, more so than the return of Christ, and they use Scriptures in Revelation that are clearly prophecies of Jesus and they apply it to him.  So, these guys are false teachers.  So when he says “Jesus Christ” there is in that, every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ, there is a heart there.  As he goes on, we were told in John, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would come and glorify him, the Holy Spirit would come and glorify Jesus.  So the spirit that I’m listening to, the words that I’m hearing from that guy on the tube, or at the outing or in this book, is he glorifying Jesus Christ?  If he’s glorifying Jesus Christ, building Jesus Christ up, bringing worship and praise to him, then that’s an indication this is of the Lord.  If he’s not.  I’m going to quote to you anther preacher, “The true spirit always glorifies Christ [Messiah, Meshiach], he is always in the center, he’s always given the pre-eminence, and the true prophet is not the man who talks about experiences and visions and what he has done and seen, but about Christ.  And when you have heard him, you do not say ‘What a wonderful man’, you say ‘What a wonderful Savior.’”  You don’t say ‘What a wonderful experience this man had’, you say ‘Who is the man of whom he is speaking?’  The attraction is to Christ, he glorifies Christ.  And keep that in mind.  Because there’s guys who are watching the TV, and man does it glory that individual, and glory that individual, and right there that just kind of grinds at my spirit.  Because the Holy Spirit makes glory to Jesus Christ, it lifts him up in every way.  Nobody else should be sharing the platform, nobody else should be taking the light and the attention.  So, first thing, he Messiahship.

 

2. every spirit that confesses that “Jesus has come”:  Also, he says, the whole phrase here, “every spirit that confesses that Jesus has come”, that word “has come” is interesting.  He doesn’t say that every spirit that says he was born, he says “has come”.  That right there says the incarnation.  You can only say that about Jesus, referring to how did he come, how did he come on this planet, he came, he came from heaven and he came here.  [i.e. he was pre-existent, the Word, Logos, Yahweh, come in the flesh.]  I didn’t do that.  I was born.  He came, he was also born, but he was God before, and became incarnate as a man.  So, when it says that he “has come”, it is referring to his incarnation.  And in that we understand his deity, he was God the Son.  In fact later John will specifically say in verse 5 of chapter 5, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Son of God”.  So we have his Messiahship, we also have his incarnation, his deity.  If somebody is saying something that’s inconsistent, the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach Jesus is not God, that is a false spirit according to what John says and other Scriptures say.  The Bible teaches very clearly that Jesus is God.  How do I test the spirits?  If you for a moment say that Jesus isn’t God or try to water that down, or like the Gnostics, make it out a little bit different, I can know that Satan is behind that.  This is a false spirit.  You know, you can really be misled by people and not realize they actually believe that.  In years past I’ve told this story, I was teaching a Bible study in San Diego.  We had this gal in worship, she could sing, did a wonderful job, a neat gal.  And her boyfriend was an attorney that was named Morgan that was in our Bible study.  And Morgan was just a cool guy, I really liked him.  And he said all the right things, and just was zealous and eager.  And I was just doing this Bible study for a few months, kind of learning the ropes and how it all worked.  And I was thinking, I need to get other guys teaching.  He seemed like a strong guy, really loves the Lord.  So I was going to have him teach, and I announced to the Bible study on this Friday night.  Next week Morgan is teaching.  Well, I did have another assistant leader in the group, and later in that week the assistant leader called me, he says “you know, George, you know you mentioned Morgan was going to teach next week, but did you know that he believes certain things?”  And one of the things he said, “he doesn’t believe that the Bible is all inspired by God.”  And I said “No way.”  And he said “Yeah.”….but then I learned even more as it started to create a little rift in our Bible study, that he and his girlfriend that was doing worship, didn’t even believe that Jesus was Deity, God.  They didn’t believe that he was God the Son.  I would have never guessed it, unless I was told it.  This was early on in ministry, this was early on for me just as I started ministry.  Man, you really need to know.  People can act, they can say it, they can pray the most beautiful prayers with you, they can agree and nod their head and pipe in all these great comments as you’re doing the study, and they don’t believe that Jesus is God the Son.  Wow, that was eye-opening to me.

 

3.  Jesus has come “in the flesh”: So, how do I know when somebody is being influenced by a false spirit or indeed it’s the Holy Spirit?  Well, we have the Messiahship, the incarnation, we have the Deity of Christ, and then he goes even a little bit further in these verses as he says there in verse 2, “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh”….You have in that whole statement his Messiahship, his incarnation, his Deity, but also his humanity.  He has come in the flesh.  God the Son came and he was a man.  And that’s also important.  You remember, John is dealing with the Gnostics who couldn’t accept that God could become man, so they tried to just come up with these other theories and other ways to just separate spiritual and physical so a lot of them could just have a license to sin.  But clearly, clearly John is saying ‘How do you know a false spirit?  How do you discern?  If they don’t agree, if they don’t believe that Jesus was God and also became a man, you can right there know that this is not God speaking, this is another spirit.’  Key thing to keep in mind.  So you have his Messiahship, his incarnation, his Deity, you have his humanity.  Now, this doctrine that he is God and man is so vital, because as soon as you don’t have that, you don’t have salvation anymore.  As you even read through Job in the back of our bulletin, Job cries out, he needed somebody to make the stand between him and God.  He understood that God was infinite, he understand that he [Job] was a little man.  He needed someone to join hands with God and to join hands with him.  And as you read Job, he like said “I wish, I wish there was somebody, I wish there was somebody.”  And then he comes to chapter 19 and says, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”  The Redeemer is Jesus Christ.  Jesus is God [Jesus was Yahweh at that time].  If you take the hand of Jesus, you take the hand of God, and now I can have communion with God.  Now I can have a relationship with God.  Now I can know God.  Now I can know my sins are forgiven, and I’m going to heaven [into the kingdom of heaven, as some believe].  He’s God and he’s man.  If you have [believe] anything different you don’t have salvation.  No use even going to Bible study if Jesus isn’t man and God, he has to positively be both for us truly to know that we’re saved, and that we have eternal life, and that we have hope.  Lloyd Jones, again, he says it so well.  He says “No man can die for my sins, and I say, and I say this with reverence, weighing my words, that God alone cannot die for my sins.  The incarnation is essential, because we who need redemption are the seed of Abraham.  He has taken upon himself this same nature, that as man he might die for our sins, and because he is the God-man his dying is of eternal worth.  Thereby I am redeemed.”  You know as I mentioned, somebody came up not long ago and they were teaching at our church, there was a little teaching that I didn’t agree with, and I love this brother, and I’ve talked to him a little bit, and even talked to him more.  But they were trying to say that God, when Jesus died, God did not die, because it’s hard to understand how God did not die.  I don’t understand.  But I don’t understand how God put aside his glory and became man.  [This is a hard concept that none of us can completely understand as long as we are mere humans, that God the Son died, while God the Father remained alive and God the Spirit remained alive, and yet they are all one.  I think that is what the pastor is getting at.]  But when Jesus died, God-man died, Jesus the Son of God.  It wasn’t like the Gnostics teach, just Jesus the man, Jesus the Son of God died.  I don’t know what it means, completely.  I don’t know how exactly that happened.  But to teach anything less than that, and maybe some of you had heard that, and I apologize, I didn’t know that that was going to come out.  But Jesus is God the Son, and he needed to be that, he needed to go to the cross, and that way, and die.  Philippians, teaching of Philippians 2, verses 6-8, “Being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself”---that is God, capital H---“and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”  [No capital H in the King James, but this is still referring to God the Son, some translations capitalize it, others don’t.]  ….Jesus the Son of God, he came and he tasted death for us.  So, how do you know a true spirit, how do you know a false spirit, well, what do they do with the Messiahship of Jesus, what do they do with his incarnation, with his Deity, and what do they do with his humanity?  All those are important.

 

spirit of the antichrist

 

  He said in verse 3, “and this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is now already in the world.”---saying that Jesus is not man, saying that he isn’t God, saying that the incarnation didn’t take place, denying his Messiahship, this is the spirit of the antichrist who is already in the world.  Now, the spirit of the antichrist doesn’t come out and deny Jesus, clearly.  It comes out and denies things about Jesus, tries to give you a different shade of Jesus, a different teaching of Jesus.  That’s the way Satan is working, and that’s what’s being said here.  Paul, when he wrote to the church in Corinth, he had concern.  2nd Corinthians chapter 11, he had concern that this church [the “church of God which is at Corinth”] would buy into just about any teaching about Jesus.  He said this, “For if he who comes preaching another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it.”  [read verse 3 also which puts this in context, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”]  ‘They’ll come in and say something different, and because they have a smile, maybe even can pray for people and people can get healed, you’re there.  But you end up with a different Jesus?’  Do you understand what it means to have a different Jesus? [Also this is the chapter, right in context with this where Paul stated, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.  And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”]  Paul reminded the church in Galatian in Galatians chapter 1, he said, “Even if we or an angel from heaven”, he said, ‘even if I come back, or an angel, “preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let them be accursed.”  And he says it again, he says “Let him be accursed.”  [Again, let’s put this in context giving the previous verse, verse 6, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”  Then he goes on to say, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”]  Just imagine, the man’s being pretty emphatic, an angel comes here, a wonderful angel and says something a little different about Jesus, a little different about the gospel, he says “Let him be accursed.”  Even if Paul came back later.  Sometimes there are guys that are right on, and you’re being blessed, you’re being ministered to, and later you’re like ‘Wo, that really blessed me before, how can he say that now?’  So, we need to be discerning.  We need to be discerning about these things.  The antichrist is working in the world.  He says ‘but, don’t be discouraged folks.  Verse 4, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”  “You are of God, little children”, little children he says, you know, both endearing, technia in the Greek, “and have overcome them.”  Little children, kind of neat picture, these false people, teachers empowered by Satan, and then you’ve got little children, get the image, who have overcome them.  “You have overcome them, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  So he speaks here, where he encourages us, that we have victory as children of God.  I have victory, these guys are working, there’s multitudes upon multitudes in the world, and they are empowered by a mighty spirit, Satan, but he says to us ‘Little children, you have overcome them.’  Remember Jesus said in Matthew chapter 16, verse 18, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”  So he encourages us.  [Comment: In the Greek, Peter is the word for pebble, and the word for ‘this rock’ is Petra, which is a massive outcropping of rock, representing Christ.  People, only bothering to read this in the English lose sight of what Jesus was saying, and are misled to think Jesus was saying he would build his church upon Peter.  Jesus was really saying the true Church would be built upon himself, Jesus the Messiah.]  He says ‘You got all you need as a Christian.’  Don’t be overcome with fear or dismay, you got all you need, and you will overcome in Christ.  You have what it takes, and he says you have what it takes because of the power that’s within you.  He says there “because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  Jesus is inside of us.  We’re little children.  But Jesus is in us, and Satan does not for a moment compare to Jesus.  And if the Holy Spirit, Jesus, God is in me, then I have all I need to stand strong.  He’s in me, man, he’s living in me, he’s speaking to my heart, he’s moving me, he’s giving me checks, he’s giving me warnings, he’s helping me along the way.  So, we have the power within us.  Now, knowing that he who is in me is greater, then I should be out in the community, I should be in my neighborhood, not fearing anybody, any attack, any hindrance, because I have Jesus, man.  He’s so great, he’s within me.  Also, I can sit down with anybody from any cult, I can go and stand before a big university theater with all kinds of intellects that are teaching all kinds of weird stuff, and I can stand there and go ‘Jesus, you’re in me, I can stand before kings, I can stand before king Agrippa like Paul or whatever, and Caesar and testify, because the Holy Spirit, God is in me, and he’s working, and there’s incredible power.  As Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.  It is the power of God for everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”  There is, as a side point, there is a greater seed that is in you than is in the world, and  many commentators, and I certainly see it this way, this is a statement about Christians, we cannot be demon possessed if we are Christians [or genuine Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua haMeshiach].  If God is in me, if Jesus is in me, and he is greater, how can somebody who is not as great come in and overtake him, and take control?  God is in me, he’s not going to leave me.  The Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, I mean, God is in me [cf. John chapters 14 & 16].  And greater is he that is in me, I can know without a doubt that I cannot be demon possessed.  And there are groups, there are teachings that teach that Christians can be demon possessed.  No way, man.  Not a chance.  Jesus is in me.  And if he’s in me, the strong man who’s taken all the loot, he’s greater than that strong man, he’s kicked out the strong man, Satan, and he [Jesus] resides there.  And if he resides in you, man, nobody else is moving in.  That is for sure.  I mean, who could possibly move in?  Light and dark don’t dwell together.  He’s the light, man.  Not a chance.  Not a chance.  Greater is he who is you and me than is in the world. 

 

In summary

 

          Verses 5-6, “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.  We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us.  Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”  He goes on, “They are of the world”, these false spirits, “therefore they speak as of the world”, that’s where they’re coming from, all the intellectual human wisdom, all the nice little sayings, reasoning, it sounds right to the world, and the world hears them.  “We are of God.  He who knows God hears us.  He who is not of God does not hear us.”  You know, Jesus said “My sheep will hear my voice, and they’ll follow me.”  That’s the picture here.  The world follows these worldly things.  But as a Christian, I have the Spirit, I hear God’s voice, and I follow him.  And of course, when you teach the Word as a Christian, you teach this truth, man, others that know Jesus hear that too.  “By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”  Jesus made it real clear to us.  He’s given us a real practical guideline.  So, God has reminded us, you have the Holy Spirit, man, you’re a child of God.  And if you have the Holy Spirit in you, you’re a child of God.  He’s in you, you’re bearing fruit.  He’s given you the assurance of eternal life, and there’s the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  But as a Christian, there is a need to test the spirits so that we’re not deceived.  And how do we test the spirits?  Man, we need to be in the Word, we need to be in prayer, we need to be open to the supernatural discernment the Holy Spirit can give us.  But especially, as I listen and I hear the arguments, and I watch the teachings, videos, what are they doing with Jesus’ Messiahship?  What are they doing with his incarnation and his Deity, and his humanity?  That tells me a lot about where it’s coming from.  And thankfully I have all that I need to have victory over these false teachings, because I have great power within me, I have the Holy Spirit, I have God.  Let’s close in prayer.  ‘Lord, we want to thank you that we could just consider these things. And as we leave now on a Sunday morning, and we go out, there’s a ton of other voices, multitudes upon multitudes of false teachers and prophets, many of them even wearing a Christian badge or a title or sitting underneath a steeple or behind a pulpit.  There’s even many that we love and know as friends and neighbors who are, maybe some even know you, but they’re wrapped up in some goofy thing because they’ve not heeded your Word.  Some have gone the route of experience, and they’ve thrown out discernment and the Word of God.  Lord, I pray as we consider these things, John even reminds us, the need for balance.  Yet if the Spirit is in us, let’s not quench the Spirit, let’s be open to whatever God wants to do.  God is a supernatural God, he does supernatural things.  But may we be rock solid in the truth, just praying without ceasing Lord, seeking you.  Lord I think of the words you said to the leaders there in Israel through Jeremiah, that they were dull-hearted and they did not seek you because of that.  Man, they had gotten messed up and messed up others, Lord.  Oh Lord, give us eyes, hearts and ears that are just in tune with you, Lord.  I thank you for all that you have done in our lives.  As born-again believers here this morning we just thank you, incredible, we can be so close to you.  This Scripture says ‘You abide in us and we abide in you.’  Incredible, all the more may we know that, experience that and grow in that, that wonderful, wonderful relationship.  And thank you Holy Spirit, you’ve got your stamp on us, we’re your kids, and you’re in us, and greater is he, you, who’s in us than he that is in the world.  We have just confidence and power.  We thank you Lord, we thank you.  But also we pray for those present with us this morning who do not have the Holy Spirit within them, who do not have that because they have not asked Jesus Christ to come into their heart to be their Lord and Savior.  They’ve not come to the cross and repented of their sin and asked you to be their Lord and their Savior and their King….” [a transcript of a connective expository sermon given somewhere in New England.]

Click Here to print

content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
Questions or problems with the web site contact the WebServant - Hosted and Maintained by CMWH, Located in the Holy Land