#DailyDevotion How To Tell From Whom You Learn Spiritual Things
1 John 4:1-6 Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God. Many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. 3And any spirit who doesn’t confess this Jesus isn’t from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist which you heard is coming, and here it is already in the world. 4Children, you are God’s family, and you have won a victory over these men because He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5These men belong to the world. That is why they speak the thoughts of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are God’s children. Anyone who knows God listens to us. Anyone who is not God’s child will not listen to us. In this way we can tell what is the spirit of truth and what is the spirit of error.
There is a meme going around these days, “When you tell me you are spiritual you’ll have to be more specific. Demons are spirits.” There’s a lot of truth to that. Way too many people just accept anything that claims to be spiritual and they don’t test the spirits. Are they from God or from the evil one. Already in John’s day false prophets had gone out from the Church: People who either driven by jealousy or lust of money pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ to make it more palatable.
John gives a clue here. Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. Now even here we need to be careful. For what and who do we mean by Jesus Christ. On the one hand there were Gnostics in that day (even in our day) who hate creation, who think and teach all that is material is evil. They do not believe Jesus truly became man but only appeared as a man. If you don’t believe Jesus is truly human you are of another spirit than John and the Church. On the other hand some teach that Jesus is only human and maybe he was filled with the ‘spirit of Christ.’ Again, they are denying Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Still some confirm that Jesus is truly God and truly man but deny the work he accomplished in the flesh saying it wasn’t enough. You must contribute to your own salvation. These people too are the spirit of antichrist for they blaspheme the complete, full, perfect work of Jesus Christ in his flesh for the salvation of the world. We need not fear the antichrists that are in the world. In Christ, we have the victory over these people. They cannot drag us away from our Jesus who promises us, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” John reminds us, “He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” That would be Jesus. That would be the Holy Spirit. Even the Father has made our hearts his dwelling.
We often fear for the people of the world because they reject our message, the message of the Church, the message of Jesus. They prefer the darkness to Light. It doesn’t make sense to them God would sacrifice his son and raise him from the dead to give us the free gift of eternal life, justify us by his grace and make us inheritors of his kingdom purely for Jesus Christ’s sake. They are of this world. It what they do just as a scorpion stings the frog carrying it to the other side of the river. So we can tell those who are of the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Those who accept our giving them the free gift of life in Jesus are of God. Those who reject it are not of God right now (they may still repent later). Be discerning. Be judgmental of spiritual talk. Is it of God or of the world? Who is glorified?
Heavenly Father, give us a discerning spirit that can test the spirit so we know whether they are of you or the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.